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The debate on education and what it should be has been going on for many years, and it is still difficult to say exactly what the objectives of the learners should be, particularly in higher learning institutions. The question of what it means to be well trained seems easy, but very difficult to answer. Most people describe being taught as possessing the capacity to listen, to think judgmentally, to examine evidence thoroughly, to reason logically, to conceive innovatively, to formulate questions, to explore alternate viewpoints, to maintain analytical inquisitiveness, and to communicate persuasively. Professors and college students can apply Friere’s and Edmundson’s ideas concerning education to their studies to appreciate that education is an empowering process that self-cultivates, and guides and allows the learners to develop their passions, compassion, orientation and critical thinking towards gaining wisdom for timely action.
Currently the education system is continually aiming at producing products that are viable economically, which are employable citizens. The attempts made ensure that the graduates are prepared for the workforce, thereby not fulfilling its role to self-cultivate. In his book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, Freire (240) notes that education should not be focused on teaching methods, training or the political propaganda. It should not be a method to be imposed on every student, but a moral and political practice that provides the skills, knowledge and social associations that enable the learners to expand the prospects of what it means to be critical and logical citizens. This means that professors should understand the importance of engaging students in discussions. In the current education system, the professors serve as oppressors while the learners become the oppressed. Failure to engage students in discussions constitutes the problem posing method. However, making students not to feel oppressed can be achieved by allowing them to have an opinion concerning what they are being taught. Moreover, students need to be motivated to have individual opinions about a given subject and be at a position to share with their educators and classmates. This way, Freire says that students feel free with their education because the professors are available for them to ask questions and expect feedback because “Only through communication can life hold meaning” (247), and so is education. The gap between the role of the student and that of the professor need to be filled.
Similarly, Edmundson (391) terms college students as passionless and one-dimensional because of the manner in which education is delivered to them by the professors. Today, observation is the only consciousness level the professors allow them to achieve in the classroom. Students are only required by their professors to listen to them and memorize what is said. This is mechanical distribution of information, which has currently denied the students the opportunity to take action by stepping beyond observation. Drawing from Edmundson’s assertions, students need to be encouraged to live a life beyond observation by living an independent life that has responsibilities to accomplish, decisions to make and no other person to credit or blame but themselves. This way, students will notice that inspiration, failures and improvisation are the most rewarding life elements. Both professors and college students need to appreciate that there would be creativity without inspiration, because it leads to no risk-taking decisions. As a result, students fail to understand what failure really is and becomes unable to recognize reality checks that encourage them to look at themselves in a levelheaded manner (395).
To Edmundson, real education should be oriented around the prospects of getting students to know themselves by figuring out who they are and what they really want to do with their lives. Therefore, students should not go to college having been primed to take a certain course if that is not what they feel appropriate for them. They should be allowed to have an opinion of who they want to become, and allowed to fulfill their dream. Just as noted by Freire, Edmundson also believes that students should be given a chance by their professors to present their opinions about a given assertion and be asked how they would apply the different concepts in real life.
Colleges should stop being consumer oriented because education is not a means to prepare learners for the world of careers, but a preparation for a life that is self-managed. Students become self-managed when they are allowed to do self-reflection for self-knowledge by understanding the world in which they live in economically, politically and psychologically. Therefore, education should help the students become more aware of the forces ruling their lives and shaping their consciousness. Education should help set conditions for having better life by transferring powers to create a social world through transformations. Although basing education on humanities is what Edmundson advocates for, Freire is more general and advices that education should be focused on invention, which is only possible through “hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other” (244).
In conclusion, these educational ideas by both Friere and Edmundson are very important in recognizing the self-cultivating nature of education, which calls for efficient communication between the professors and college students to allow them to pursue their dreams and be critical thinkers that the current society requires.
Edmundson, Mark. "On the uses of a liberal education." Harper’s Magazine 295 (1997): 39-49.
Freire, Paulo. "Pedagogy of the Oppressed. 1970." New York: Continuum (1993): 125.
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