On Ethics: Educating the Schooled
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On Ethics: Educating the Schooled

The discipline of ethics is one of the branches of Philosophy and Philosophy as such is being perceived by the students as just a body of knowledge, a general education, and an additional requirement for graduation. They feel burdened and mind-boggled with the bulk of queries it offers for them while failing to weigh the long-term benefits of their corresponding answers. Our educational system somehow fails to imbibe the critical importance of philosophizing, which is actually the primary goal of Philosophy. We somehow have given them the impression that this is the domain of the scholars and the intellectual elite.
        “If there is no law or rule against cheating during exams, would you cheat?”This is a straightforward question I usually ask about moral development which is one of the topics in my Psychology class. Expectedly, as each would not want to appear a phony, the common answer is yes.

             It is disappointing yet understandable. The implication is that our students’ understanding of ethics lacks the essential depth.  Even for a few who disagree, my probing question on why they would not cheat could not be fully sufficed. They are considerably knowledgeable and guided by the fear for the laws and the corresponding sanctions. But beyond these laws, they fumble. They are limited and they define morality based on these. That is, something is morally wrong if the eyes of the law could see it, otherwise it is just okay. We see this mentalitè all around us e.g. simple traffic violations, graft & corruption, cheating weighing scales, littering etc. What happened to our ethics education?

            The discipline of ethics is one of the branches of Philosophy and Philosophy as such is being perceived by the students as just a body of knowledge, a general education, and an additional requirement for graduation. They feel burdened and mind-boggled with the bulk of queries it offers for them while failing to weigh the long-term benefits of their corresponding answers. Our educational system somehow fails to imbibe the critical importance of philosophizing, which is actually the primary goal of Philosophy. We somehow have given them the impression that this is the domain of the scholars and the intellectual elite. Our “instant” culture unwittingly taught them to get used to instant knowledge i.e. spoon-feeding as every bowl of knowledge is cooked and readily served for them. As an illustration, instead of inspiring them to seek their own ingredients and create new sets of knowledge thru philosophizing, the role of an educator becomes that of a compiler and transferor of ready-made set of knowledge. With this stagnating system, philosophizing becomes a burden to our students and so they get trapped within the boundaries of the temporal and the spatial as they fail to transcend the workaday human life, the very essence of philosophizing. They stopped searching for the meaning of life, the answer to which could give enlightenment about the mysteries of our beginning, queries about death, evil and sufferings.  The answer could have given us the proper guidance on how to live our lives and the clear demarcation line between the right and the wrong. Enlightenment, I believe is the only way to a better life.

            Instead, our students step out of our schools schooled but less educated. They are trained to become economic agents ready to cater to the demands of the economic world e.g. proficient engineers, technicians, attendants, business players, even educators with the primary individual goals of maximizing profits and incomes to attain the good life defined by the advertisements e.g. financial freedom, cars, mansions, state-of-the-art properties, jewelries, prestige, superficial beauty and even power. This may even come to the point of disregarding ethics and forsaking the quality of human life as they become integral parts of big corporate machines working 8 hours 7 days and even beyond. In exchange, the environment and higher human needs i.e. health, family, relationships, dignity, spiritual and the searches for meaning are sacrificed.

            As I have emphasized above, revolutionizing our educational system is high time. We give depth to Philosophy not as a body of knowledge but as a way of life as philosophizing should never stop at graduation. Not only the Philosophy teachers should inspire since this would give the impression that Philosophy is just a field of knowledge and the territory of the academicians and scholars. It should be that an educator of whatever field is a representative of philosophizing, a seeker of meaning and a proper guide of ethics. The schooled i.e. the teachers and the students should simultaneously be educated.

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Comments (4)

Your observations are profound. I like that you are implicitly pointing out the difference between education and schooling. As I understand it, your revolutionized educational system would be like a small boat going against the tidal waves of our capitalistic economic system. It would be blood-draining Jem. But hooray for your ideas!!

Your observations are profound. I like that you are implicitly pointing out the difference between education and schooling. As I understand it, your revolutionized educational system would be like a small boat going against the tidal waves of our capitalistic economic system. It would be blood-draining Jem. But hooray for your ideas!!

I cannot help agreeing with i.thinker. It is rowing against the current. But I have faith... it is not impossible. Real education starts at home.

thanks for your comments! well, I am indeed idealistic. but i was nurtured that way and i take issues seriously.i believe that my idealism is not a case of hopelessness..

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