Quick question: Who discovered
America? The almost guaranteed answer:
Why, Columbus, of course. The bright student may even know the
famous story that Columbus thought he had reached India and therefore called the people he found Indians.
If providing sound knowledge and developing critical thinking
capabilities are any goals of an education system, the answer highlights the miserable failure of the education system prevalent
in the world today on both counts. For no one asks the obvious: How can anyone be credited with discovering a land that was
already heavily populated? Columbus was the first European to discover America, not the first man. Hundreds of thousands of
other men and women had reached there before him and had been living for centuries. The assertion about Columbus reveals a
Euro-centric mindset but the bias goes undetected and unquestioned.
This is not the only questionable fact that our schools and colleges,
and textbooks and teachers have been dispensing. In every field of study, they have been passing on "facts", ideas, values,
assumptions, perspectives, explanations, "truths", and principles that are questionable and secular. All while sincerely believing
that they are providing a great service by promoting education.
Education is a wonderful thing. But, what are we really teaching?
In science, we are teaching our students to look at the universe
from the viewpoint of a person who does not know. A proper study of science would make one appreciate both the Power, Majesty,
and Grandeur of creations and the humbleness and limitations of human knowledge and abilities. Today our science education,
in its best form, gives exactly the opposite message. It also fails to enable students to separate scientists opinions from
their facts. Lets ask: In the wide world is there any, school teaching science whose graduates can challenge Darwins
Theory of Evolution on scientific grounds? As we teach science, are we teaching our children to put science in its proper
place, to know its limitations? Can they competently question the "technological imperative"?
A medical doctor would not be considered competent if he did
not know the limitations of the medicines and procedures he used. An engineer would be considered unqualified if he did not
know the limitations of his tools. Why then our teaching of science does not include a discussion of its limitations? Because
for the secular mindset science is the ultimate tool, the supreme arbiter of Truth and Falsehood. Without even realizing it,
we have accepted the proposition and our science education reflects that assumption.
The problem is not limited to science and technology. The best
of our MBAs have learned that the goal of a business is to maximize profits, the goal of marketing is to create demand, and
the proper way of making business decision is through cost-benefit analysis. All of these are as solid in their eyes and as
questionable in reality as the assertion about Columbus. The best of our journalism graduates do not have a different model
for journalism than the one presented by the West. They do not have their own definition of the news, their purpose for gathering
it or their own moral standards that must regulate its dissemination. In economics we have been teaching that human beings
are utility-maximizing animals governed by Maslows hierarchy of needs. In our teaching of history, we see random events without
a moral calculus driving them. We do not see laws that govern the rise and fall of nations. In psychology or sociology,
medicine or engineering, civics or geography, it is the same story. In fact, our schools and colleges have been the main agency
for secularization of societies. They have been effectively teaching that truth and facts are irrelevant to
understanding this world or to solving its problems. Many of their graduates develop misunderstandings and doubts about their
faith. But even when they are strong, they have not been trained and educated to detect and challenge the secular dogmas that
have been integrated into their curriculums.
This great tragedy is of a recent origin and a historical perspective
may be helpful. For centuries our societies, culture, and education system were free of the secular/religious dichotomy. Our
schools taught all subjects of importance using a naturally unified approach. As long as truly educated people were
the leaders in all the sciences (until the fifteenth century C.E) subjects like medicine, astronomy, and chemistry had not
developed their secular biases.
The dichotomy started in the West during its "Renaissance"
as it threw away its religious dogmas which had become a burden and found a speedy path to material progress using a-religious
or secular approaches. The industrial revolution gave it momentum. Colonialism brought secular ideology and the religion of
secular humanism to many areas. At this time, well educated
individuals were at a low point on several fronts. They had surrendered intellectual leadership to the West and had failed
to keep pace with scientific developments there. They found themselves in a no-win situation. If they accepted and taught
the Western sciences, they would also be teaching against what they knew was right. If they stayed isolated, they would be
left behind in science and material progress.
They are not equipped to provide leadership in most other areas
of the society. This role has gone to the graduates of the Western-style schools and colleges. Unfortunately, these schools
and their curriculum nurture secular ways of looking at this world and solving its problems. The tensions created by the diametrically
opposed systems can be seen today in every country.
This dichotomy must end. We cannot move forward without revamping
our education. Without producing educated citizens and leaders needed for our society we will not have educated citizens in
our societies. The time is now to develop true integrated curriculums and remove biases from all of our education.
Merely establishing more schools is not the answer. Developing
educational institutions that can teach every subject correctly is. It is a monumental task. But without it we will continue
to spread ignorance in the name of education.