Idols Of The Theater
If Education were born as human, its first words would be “come one, come all.” Precisely in all nations that practice Social Democracy, everyone in the hierarchy, be they peasant, middle class, or filthy rich are entitled to have an education. Seldom would we find any man who would refuse to be educated on the grounds that it earns him no benefit, for the fact is that any semblance of education reaps rewards for those who undergo it. Needless to say, education is the most effective weapon to possess when faced with the nitty gritty of life.
From the time of the ancient Greeks we read of students being educated under the shades of trees in open-aired spaces and in public places such as the market (agora); these students were exposed to the elements and whatnot, but however in spite of that and despite the absence of a cohesive system of education during that period, ancient Greece was able to produce some of the most important thinkers in history such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.
Throughout the course of the years we have been witness to the many changes in the dynamics of education until we arrive in the here and now, the modern times, wherein with the persuasion of liberal ideas and perhaps technology, education has been made more accessible, oftentimes not needing to go beyond the four walls of the classroom in order for students to learn.
Now having this in mind, one can’t help but realize that however drastic the changes are to the system of education, what certainly remains the same is the presence of a learner and a teacher. Of course this is not to say that the crucial relationship between teacher and student has not been subjected to tinkering here and there, for it has, and suffice to say that whereas the world of yesterday saw students look to their teachers for guidance, in post-modern times where practically all systems march under the behest of liberal dogma, the teacher or professor sees the student as just another sucker to be indoctrinated to lofty ideals that are plainly wrong upon close inspection — a useful idiot, as Lenin would say. And this is not just plain speculation: casually observe any rally or protest against the establishment or for the propagation of an ideology and it will be hard to miss students among the protesters clamoring for “change” or any such tomfoolery that their university professors have wittingly instilled in their eager minds.
Unfortunately, this is one major reason why society is deadlocked over the questions of harmony and prosperity: the young, idealistic minds are enamored with chaos which they falsely believe to be the baptism of fire for that change they so desire, a belief which unsurprisingly comes from their professors at university.
It may not be apparent to all of us but there should be a longing for the bygone days of Socrates whose famous method brought about an almost divine blessing to his students in the form of the ability to think for one’s self and to question the ways of the world instead of trying to force change on it under the banner of classroom-made ideology, a characteristic inherent in today’s universities. What rational-thinking student would not give up something just to experience first-hand the manner with which Socrates taught for they know that along with it comes the acquisition of true wisdom which is the acceptance that one can never truly know anything: indeed a far cry from the smug assumption of the college student of today that he or she already knows everything that there is to know from their professors.
The Socratic method is nowadays limited to philosophy and law courses not least because of its insistence on critical thinking. This begs the question: how is it that despite the forward-movement of the clock, most of the university professors of our time insists on backward, dogmatic teaching methods for their students? It is almost an anomaly to encounter anything within all fields of study that is not tainted with Leftist-ideology. Ironically enough, what started out as anti-establishment has now emerged as the establishment itself despite their denial of this fact.
The cliché of the four walls of the classroom, instead of denoting the path to knowledge, has now turned into another term for ideological prison because it is in these classrooms where university and college professors spoon-feed into gullible minds their own perverted views, making no room for critical thinking or any semblance of encouragement for the students to think, and think for themselves.
It would not be far-fetched at all to infer from these developments that the good-natured Socrates himself would be outraged. And not only him but various other philosophers as well even if they themselves were Left-leaning thinkers precisely because love of wisdom transcends all ideology.
One such philosopher would have been Francis Bacon. Bacon, also renowned as a scientist, classified four nuisances which should be eliminated if one is serious in the pursuit of scientific knowledge; he calls these four as “false idols” for the reason that we revere them without being aware that they stealthily steal us away from the possibility of gaining true knowledge.
First of these four dangerous “idols” are what Francis Bacon calls “Idols of the Tribe” and they are best explained as our tendency to not second-guess the evidence laid out to us by our senses; next are “Idols of the Cave” which from the name itself is a reference to Plato’s Myth of the Cave, and according to this, we are all reared up in our own “caves” wherein we shelter our own interpretation of what is apparent based on how we are wont to and brought up to interpret things. Then there are “Idols of the Market place” which are conflicts caused by the misuse of and confusions arising from language; finally, there are what he calls “Idols of the Theater” which refer to the blind allegiance to academic dogma or ideologies that pretend to portray reality. Under this false idol one fails to question the authority offering what seems to be reliable knowledge.
It is this fourth idol, the “Idols of the Theater” to which the focus should be on if the prior line of thinking regarding the misuse of the classroom as a learning ground is to be followed. Reiterating the fact that Francis Bacon held the view that the “false idols” ought to be gotten rid of, he would be absolutely appalled at the condition of the classroom dynamics particularly in the universities and colleges of today. The main point he wanted to drive with this fourth idol is that critical thinking is essential to achieving true knowledge.
Without asking questions about the world, nor investigating facts about a particular ideology, one becomes stuck in a bubble of unreality that he or she may never escape from. Moreover, he or she shall be deprived of the chance to make use of the mental faculties Providence equipped him or her with. Surmising from the fact that it is there, our brains are meant to be used, not to serve as a stockpile of Leftist-ideologies for future nugatory revolutions.
Education should be for all, no one deserves to be ignorant unless they prove themselves irreconcilable with the truth that knowledge should be used for the proper progress of an individual or the collective, and not to oppress others. Education should be truthful, as false learning is dangerous and can never lead to one’s well-being. It is upon the shoulders of the educators where the responsibility of honing students to become well-rounded individuals fully armed with knowledge and not fantasies or lies. Education should be open to critical thinking; and while some may argue this to be self-evident, most of the time the opposite is true. The stories of professors brainwashing over-eager students to support a certain view is not uncommon.
The educators, instead of imposing their ideologies on the students, should cultivate critical thinking as it leads to the awakening of one’s interest to search for true knowledge and wisdom. If an educator is able to comprehend that the student is an entity deserving of his own unique thought instead of ideological hand-me-downs, then willingly encourages the student to go the path of wisdom, only then will he have succeeded in being an educator in the truest sense of the word.