I know that I know nothing – ipse se nihil scire id unum sciat
He himself thinks he knows one thing, that he knows nothing (Socrates)
Education is learning what you didn’t even know that you didn’t know
The word education is derived from the Latin term ‘Educatum’, which means the act of teaching or training or to lead out. In a wider context, however, it penetrates and influences almost every aspect of our lives, from birth onwards. Education affects what kind of people we and our families will become.
Education is everywhere and it is supposed to be available for everybody. We can read, hear and see education and its diverse multi-cultural and multi-media implications and implementations in books, theatres, films and advertisements, as well as in kindergarten, schools, and universities, at work, all over the Internet and in all aspects of daily life. Across the world media are saturated with a variety of educational information, research reports and teaching methods.
Our need for education is increasing rapidly. The basic need is significantly enhanced by the advancement of science and technology. In other words, advances in science and technology mean that the workforce needs to be better educated.
Educational systems worldwide are changing in an attempt to meet this demand, supported by governments and private providers.
Meeting the increasing demand for education requires novel methods and sometimes unorthodox approaches to transferring knowledge to the next generation.
The most significant changes in educational systems occurred during the last century although change has been continuous from the very earliest times.
Education, religion and morality are the most significant components of human society. In this work the terms religion refers to all religions, as we will not discuss the differences between Christianity, Judaism, Islam or any other religions; neither will we discuss the influence of specific religions and their associations with particular ethnic groups.
The discussion here focuses on the impact of religion and morality on education and on the relationships among them.
Throughout human history religion has had considerable impact on our way of life and societies throughout the world have benefited from education and knowledge.
Religious leaders are concerned about the increase in secular scientific education as they believe it may have a negative impact on religious faith. This concern is corroborated by social scientists who argue that educational and scientific advancement can lead to reduction or even loss of religious faith.
My observations indicate that there is a clear asymmetry between biblical literalism and secular education. A biblically literate qualified person will not be as open to carrying out or accepting the findings of secular scientific research as his or her counterpart. In other words, a scientifically literate individual will be more open to, and accepting of biblical studies than a biblically literate person would be with respect to scientific knowledge and research.
This asymmetry is obvious in many mixed societies, such as Israel. This observation also suggests that a person who has had a secular education is more inclined to absorb biblical influences than the biblically literate person to absorb secular influences.
We face several problems when we investigate religion and morality, especially when dealing with the claim that there is a conflict between the two. It is sometimes claimed that morality is embedded in religion, or that religion is moral, but a moral education does not have to be a religious one.
There are, of course, obvious differences between religion and morality, especially with respect to their objectives and aims. The purpose of moral education in schools is to nurture virtue and to start a cultural conversation about certain moral issues, which are part of our traditions.
In modern times education has become dependent on economic and technological developments.
However the essence and the meaning of life come from morality and religion rather than materialism.
Religious leaders argue that without a religious component to education we might lose our ability to discuss virtue, love, self-sacrifice, community duties and justice. The absence of religion from educational curricula is generating hostility amongst religious groups and may come to divide communities and start unnecessary cultural wars.
Atheism asserts that there is no link between morality and religious behaviour and that we should therefore teach about morality without reference to religion. Religious groups demonstrate by their practices the falseness of the claim that morality is independent of religion and therefore there is no need to distinguish between them. By practicing the religious beliefs, there are many psychological influences in the morality arena. In other words, endorsement of religious beliefs entails a specific perspective on morality.
After my family immigrated to Israel from Hungary I attended the religious school at the Orthodox Chasidic quarter of Bnei-Brak called Wischnitz. It was a small village named after Wischnitza, a town in the Ukraine. The teacher, who was also the Rabbi complained to my father that I was disturbing the peace by constantly asking questions. I couldn’t accept the Rabbi quoting from the Bible, “Naaseh V’Nishma”, which means “first we’ll do and then we’ll hear and understand” or, in plain English,
“Just do what I tell you to do, explanation will follow”… I wanted the explanation first…
History clearly demonstrates that there is a compulsion to bring religion and morality or the lack of it into politics and that this makes for a dangerous combination. One of the reasons for involving God in fights, conflicts and wars is to unite as many active and non-active believers behind one’s cause, whatever that may be.
Let us illustrate this with a small-scale example. Assume that in a small village somewhere people have blond, black, red or white hair. The four hair colours are distributed evenly among the people of the village. The blonds don’t like the blacks. The blacks don’t like the whites and nobody likes the reds, so there is complete harmony…
The only thing that unites the blacks, reds and whites is their religion; they believe in EGO God Almighty, whereas the blonds consider AGO as God. The villagers built two houses to worship these two gods.
All the villagers have small farms on the same tract of land drawing from the same source of water. The blond men are more creative and invest their knowledge, money and energy in their farms, working day and night with their spouses in the fields. The rest of the village men are lazy, smoking pipes and playing cards; only black, red and white women work in the fields.
One day two neighbours, a blond and a black have a dispute over garden pests.
It is nothing serious and it should be resolved quickly and amicably, but it escalates into a big fight involving some of the protagonists’ neighbours.
The reds and the whites just smile, as they are not involved in the conflict and don’t like either the blacks or the blonds.
The case is eventually brought to court and a jury composed of equal numbers of blonds, blacks, whites and reds is selected. During trial the blond farmer claims that snakes, scorpions and other pests from his black neighbour’s farm are destroying his garden, getting into his house and endangering his children. He says that he has several times asked his black neighbour to deal with the problem but that his neighbour just ignored him. To prevent the problem getting worse the blond farmer built a fence. Now his black neighbour is suing and asking that he be ordered to take the fence down as it disturbs the neighbour’s view and stops the neighbour walking through his yard as he was won’t to do.
It becomes obvious that the judge and the jury are going to support the blond farmer’s case and so the black farmer plays his last card. He claims that he has been unable to worship EGO because of the fence. He also claims that the blond farmer not only doesn’t believe in EGO, but has also been cursing almighty God and that if all the blonds were to build fences this would make it difficult for anyone to worship EGO. Religion unites the majority of the jury against the blond and he loses the case.
As long as the case was a local dispute between neighbours about responsible farming, it could be resolved by the parties directly involved. However when it became a religious issue, it involved and united villagers behind their respective faiths. They were prepared to do a lot to achieve their goals, especially if their actions were supported by their religious leaders.
I had a religious and conservative education, and later a scientific and secular education and this has led me to believe that moral education must be separated from religious education if it is to be rational, independent and free.
Religion and morality should be taught in an agreed and appropriate manner if societies are to be healthy, strong and harmonious.
The signing of the Magna Carta (Great Charter) on June 15th 1215 was an important education-related event. The charter was agreed between King John of England and a group of rebel barons as part of peace negotiations. It guaranteed that the rebel barons would not face imprisonment, promised them justice and exemption from certain taxes and payments levied by the crown.