Friday, 26 January 2007

Education creating more rats?

I once heard a joke :" Don't bother winning a rat race, you are still a rat by the end of the day."

I am now reading a book written by Henri Nouwen on Creative Ministry. I am only at the first chapter yet he gave me lots to think about. Coincidentally, i finally manage to read Kea's  blog only today where she  mentioned a bit on competitiveness.

What really interest me is that Henri Nouwen made me realise that with the fallenness of human beings, our education systems have consciously or subconsciously create individuals of competitive spirit. Just take a look at our own schooling experience. Isn't it "survival of the fittest? " The smarties who also scores As are always praised by teachers etc... What about those that are behind? As if to score A is the only criteria to be in the good book.  Some students take joy not because they score well, they take joy at the expense of other's inferiority. We stepped on others in order to climb up. Evidently, this system has implied that knowledge is selfish and not to be shared, in fear that others will outperform us. What happen to "rejoice with those who are glad, and weep with those who weep?" Even some parents ( praise God, not mine) compare their own children with others. "Why aren't you as smart as X? "

What follows next? FEAR. The fear of "not being good enough". This fear becomes the invisible wall in our interaction and relationship with others. We maintain a distance with others to protect ourselves. Classic expression of Chinese teacher in the past, where they only taught 90% of the skills/ knowledge to their followers and keeping 10% to themselves in fear that their follower will outperfom himself. This fear creates barrier to our relationship with others.

Why do you think there's politics at workplace? Because all of us are rats running the race !

Paraphrasing Henri Nouwen, is education merely a training ground to train warriors to equip themselves with the skills and knowledge to outperform their mates, conquer the cruel world out there, earn lots of money, have a brighter future than their mates so that they can boast before their mates? Becoming rich and famous, is that the goal as a human being?  Do schools ever mention about caring  for the weak, orphans, widows, and the disabled ? 

Or rather close to home, do we look down on those who clean the streets for us, clean our rubbish bins? Do they not need as much respect as a CEO of a company? Do we place a price tag on human beings, like how we price our clothes and shoes? If we do, what criteria do we use to stratify that?  Are we valuing human beings by their usefulness and contribution to the society ?Are they less human the those who are rich and famous?  What do we do with the disabled?  We don't see many of them on the streets. Where are they? Have we imprisoned them with our fallen "value" system? Are we all too blind to see our faults?

I am not rich , and i am not famous. Am i a failure? My mum never worked in a full time career. She is reaching sixties now. What has she achieved? According to the rich and famous criteria, she doesn't qualify. Is she a failure?  Yet, her greatest career is loving her family, 24/7 , with no annual leave, and  pouring out her life, always putting others' interest before herself.

Are we becoming more competitive, jealous, selfish rats or loving human beings , created in the image of God?

Bible book of James, chapter 1 : 26-27
26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world

Well.. just a thought on a Friday.

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