Pillar Five: Education

Education is the fifth pillar I would like to discuss in the Seven Pillars of Society series.  Education as a pillar is fairly easy to understand and explain.  It is the system of a society that is used to educate the next generation.  This education can be as simple as basic language and math skills to teaching the values and culture of the society or to the more complicated systems of philosophy, analytics, and rhetoric.

The education pillar relates to the other pillars across the spectrum in varying ways.  For example, educations relationship to religion plays at least two roles. The church obviously has as one of its goals the education of its follower in the principles of their doctrine.  But the church can also be the master of the who education system such as is found in private religious institutions.  Another great example is how education and the family intermingle.  The family is the obvious first educator of the next generation, but in some cultures the family retains that role into adulthood, but in others the family may relinquish that role to a formal education system.

Considering the question of an education centered society, the best example of a past society where education might have been at the heart of the community is perhaps ancient Asia. I am currently rewatching a show called Tree with Deep Roots. I will blog more about it later, but for now understand that this show is an historical fictional telling of the development of the Korean Alphabet.

Anciently, Korea’s history was tied to Chinese history, and only the upper class were allowed to have an education.  This was primarily because learning the thousands of Chinese characters to be literate was difficult and required a lot of time for study.  So, the ruling class literally became the educated class. So, to a certain extent the society was centered around education even though only a small percentage of the population could read.

This educated class had slaves (the uneducated) and would use their education to justify their immoral acts such as murder and war.  Education was based on your family status and not your willingness to learn.  Education became an important part of their art (Chinese calligraphy).  And educational separation was also argued as part of their religious beliefs.  However, society became very class based. A butchers son would become a butcher. A tailor’s son would become a tailor and so on.  There was little to no possibility of rising out of one’s situation.

So an education centered society, while guided by the most educated of individuals, ultimately leads to class divisions which does not lend to people living to their true potential.  So, an education based society as well is not what is correct for the best society.

Photo Credit: “The Tripitaka Koreana, Haeinsa Temple, in South Korea.” (Will Pryce/Thames Hudson/BNPS/REX)

So, What do you think?