GRE Issue Essay 177
“It is primarily through formal education that a culture tries to perpetuate the ideas it favors and discredit the ideas it fears.”
Every culture sees changes where some ideas are perpetuated while some are discredited. Since there can be many ideas that are not in accordance with the needs of a culture and can only harm in some way or the other, it is best to shun them completely. Similarly, the ideas that are favorable need to be carried on further. However, how is this change brought about? While I agree that education helps in the knowledge of good and bad, I would like to add that there are other means as well that are effective in changing ideas. Education is one of the means, but such cultural changes need not be brought about primarily through formal education.
First of all, let us discuss the role of education in embedding the ideas a culture favors and discrediting the ones it fears. A child’s mind is like clay that can be molded in a desired shape. It is in school that many of the ideas develop amongst children. For example, a school can influence the patriotic feelings of a child by giving him the knowledge of the acts of great leaders and freedom fighters towards one’s country. Such ideas are generally perpetuated indirectly by education. Formal education includes imparting knowledge of various subjects and also making the child capable of thinking, reasoning and understanding things on his own. Therefore, when it comes to professing the ideas of a culture, education may not be used as a direct medium of perpetuating them, but makes the students capable of understanding the usefulness or uselessness of the idea.
However, in some cults, formal education requires the students to understand and imbibe by the norms of the culture. For example, in Buddhism, along with formal education the monks teach their disciples the complete discipline of their faith and culture. Similarly, education in madrasas is influenced and dominated with religious studies and cultural ideas. Nonetheless, these are but a few examples. Speaking in general, formal education only professes the cultural ideas to a certain extent in an indirect way. As I have mentioned earlier, there are other means apart from education that are effective in carrying forward ideas favorable to a culture and discrediting those which are not.
Means of mass communication like television, radio and newspapers are extremely effective in encouraging or discouraging the masses about cultural ideas. These means not only reach out to a great number of people but also are helpful in influencing their ideas. It is through the television that people can watch their leaders profess the virtues and condemn the bad elements inherent in a culture. Consequently, the followers of these leaders get influenced by their speeches, documentaries, films, promotional advertisements etc and as a result, there is a change in the ideas held by people. Similarly, many programs can be relayed through the radio that have a similar purpose and can reach to a greater audience.
Newspapers are another means of communicating the ideas of thinkers. Through the articles published in these papers, there are many changes brought about in the thinking that influence the cultural traits of people. What is done indirectly by formal education, the media is capable of doing in a direct and a straightforward way. For example, a documentary on backward villages can help in exposing the shallowness of backward thinking and promote modern outlook.
In the end I would like to maintain that education is only one of the means to perpetuate the ideas favorable to a culture and discredit the others. There are other means used for this purpose, which are extremely effective and successful.