My Philosophy of Education

If you had asked me why I want to go to university, and why I am studying what I am studying, a few months ago, I would have replied with superficial answers like, “Get a job” and “I love mathematics”. But after taking the class Critical Encounters, my answer is completely different. This class made me rethink several aspects of life, and question who I wanted to be. One of the final assignments for this class was to give my statement on the philosophy of education. Here is the prompt for the assignment:

What do you want from university education? How do you want to approach it? What is its purpose in your life?

And this was my response.

At the crux, education is a very simple notion. Who is educated know that they know nothing. And I want my university education to be an embodiment of that idea. I want to be challenged every day, and every moment - I want to be constantly reminded that the only thing I can ever know for sure is that I know nothing. I want my education to equip me with the tools necessary to wrestle with the thought that I will forever remain this way. And through these challenges, I want to identify, and maybe invent, myself. Finally, I want my education to allow me to make my own choices - not those defined by the society - with the newfound perception of myself. As Merton says, “[…] to identify who it is that chooses”.

I want to approach my education from three different avenues - curiosity, skepticism, and suspension of disbelief. Though they are conflicting at a superficial level, I think they reflect the idea that “Knowing that I know nothing” is the essence of education. Firstly, I want to approach education with curiosity, a yearning to know more about everything. Only with this constant dissatisfaction of what I know right now can I ever truly learn that I know nothing. Next, I want to approach everything that my curious mind wants to know with a degree of skepticism. The fact that I know nothing should make me question whether the source of this new idea, be it a book or a lecturer, knows anything. Doubting and questioning everything is the key to understanding that we all know nothing. Finally, I want to approach education by suspending disbelief. Sometimes, perhaps to prevent the elusive case of Ivan Illych-ism, it is better to suspend your rationality, and believe something surreal for the sake of it. For education to be complete, I think there are times when we need to temporarily give up logic and reason, and indulge in something completely preposterous for pure enjoyment and spontaneity. Approaching education from these contrasting paths is a great challenge by itself. And I think that this is the way to identify myself.

The purpose of education in my life, on an abstract level, is to be able to make my own learned choices, and have my own conscious opinions. Armed with these, I want to spread the same to my society. I want to help others to make their own learned choices, and have their own conscious opinions. I want to use the gift that is my education to help others. Concretely, this would be something, but not necessarily, along the lines of setting up a charity for those in need; bridging the scientific gap across the world and; coming up with technology that helps people with terminal illnesses like cancer. In short, with my education, I want to make a difference in others’ lives.

This made me really think about what is it I want from my university education. Now, that I have discovered why I truly want to be educated, I think it is of utmost importance that I never lose sight of this. I also think that it is important for others to know what I value the most in education. Due to those reasons, and others, I have made a permalink to my statement on the philosophy of education to me homepage. You can find the link on the navigation pane. And here you go - Philosophy of Education