For a number of months, I have thought about what was said during an English lesson while I was at school. A number of years have passed since that moment, but I can hear it as clear now as I did back then.
The main reason why I have thought about this moment in my life is due to what has been taking place on social media, at universities, and in the real world. Nowadays, it is often seen as perfectly acceptable for someone to label another person in some way, without providing any evidence.
This can mean that someone will call another person stupid or they could go even further, and say that they are racist, homophobic, xenophobic or islamophobic, for instance. When something like this takes palace, it will be as though they haven’t taken the time to engage their brain.
If anything, what they have said will be more like a reaction, as opposed to something they have consciously thought about. Their response is then going to be very similar to how a reptile can just lash out.
When a reptile behaves in this way it is excusable because they haven’t got the ability to think. Yet, when a human being behaves in this manner, it is not because this is the only thing that they can do.
The trouble is that even though someone like this is not going to be engaging their brain, it doesn’t mean that they will feel bad afterwards; in fact, they can end up feeling good about themselves. Additionally, they can receive positive feedback from other people.
Still, as surprising as it can be to see this kind of behaviour online or in the real world, it is even more surprising to see this at a university. This used to be somewhere where people would go to learn.
Therefore, if someone doesn’t get taught how to engage their brain here; where are they going to learn how to do this? A university like this is then not going to allow someone to evolve; they are going to encourage them to devolve.
When I first came across what was going on at certain universities I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had always believed that this was somewhere were people went to expand their mind and that you had to be really intelligent to go there.
But after seeing this behaviour, it made me wonder what had happened to these places. It was as though they no longer existed to educate people and that their purpose was to indoctrinate them instead.
Back In Time
So, coming back to what was said during an English lesson at school, the teacher, Mr Wiseman, asked us to share our views on what we had just watched. I think it was Educating Rita or The Breakfast Club, or maybe another film that I would almost fall asleep to.
One pupil put their hand up and said that it was ‘shit’ or something similar, and the teacher said that that was not an acceptable answer. He asked them to go into why they thought it wasn’t good, to explain how they came to that conclusion.
The Missing Part
The teacher was emphasising how important it was for us to engage our brain and not to just blurt out whatever came to mind. At this time, I knew that it wasn’t right to say something was ‘shit’, but I didn’t know much about what the teacher was trying to teach us.
Nevertheless, behaving in a civilised manner was something that I was completely on board with. What was clear is that it took a lot more effort to come up with the reasons why something wasn’t good.
I believe that one of the main things that the educating system should do is to teach people how to think. If they don’t do this, they are simply teaching people what to think, and this is all about control.
The purpose of education is surely to empower people and to give them the tools that they need to function at their best. Ultimately, using words as a way to try to silence others is easy; it is not as though someone needs to go to university to learn how to do this.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.