It is often said that the highest thing a parent can give a child is quality education. Education comes from its Latin etymology “educare” which signifies to “raise” or to “bring out” in other words, to educate is to raise someone or bring out the best in a person. Thus, part of good parenting is inculcating values to your children and by extension, sending them to school. The notion of bringing out or raising is related to cultivation. We Can say that education is the act of cultivating humanity. However, if education is an act of cultivating humanity the question one would ask is; Has this purpose of education been achieved?
Human life is not perfect and so needs constant improvement. Just like a farm that is cultivated, individuals invest so much time on personal development and empowerment programs. This is because they want to become the best of the person they could be. In other words, the best version of themselves. The process of constant self-improvement to become a better version of oneself is term self-cultivation, and we can liken it to a farm because of shared similarities: a farm is tilled, planted and weed to provide a conducive environment for crops to grow until harvest is done. However, unlike the farm, education is the highest if not the only instrument for human cultivation. The problem is that education is misconstrued to mean a career orientation. But, how can this distorted notion about education be dissected?
To begin with, one if not the only way to lay to rest the controversy between professional training and education is to render it comprehensible. That means distinguishing it from career orientation: education is holistic in approach; its benefits are far more reaching than having a job. Thus, the expectation of having a job after studying for long years is very natural and human; it is a good and a reasonable expectation. However, education is far more than that. Without education, we can lack some fundamental values to fit into society. Moreover, we may feel uncomfortable when we find ourselves with others partly because we do not know how to behave among people and mostly because we lack knowledge of what to do and what is expected of us. The aim of education is neither conformity. The norm is just there. Whether or not we conform to it, what matters is why we swing to opposite directions, and that is why education is vital in decisions making and most importantly, being informed about our choices. But how can this be achievable through education as compare to career orientation?
Education is a holistic life orientation vested in the spiritual, psychological, physical, and mental development of individuals to maximize their potentialities and enhance their well-being. As a comprehensive life orientation, it cultivates an individual to be a professional engineer without limiting the person from being a good Politician; it will train a person to be a good teacher without limiting the person from being a good parent or a good citizen because all of these adds up makes an individual. Thus, it is at this stage that a dichotomy between education and career orientation is established, education is a developmental science and not Professional training and so should cultivate self.
Our career is part of us, but we are not part of our career. Hence, education a developmental science: a project for human growth with the sole purpose of making the individuals fully cultivated functional beings: individuals who are educated to think independently and make informed decisions. It is a project of self-discovery; it helps people discover themselves and their talents and by so doing, they can find the engineers, philosophers and maybe the teachers in them. The argument that people ought to specialize so that they can become experts in their area of concentration is good. However, specialization is right for professionalism, but it is just a subset or part of education.
While career orientation reduces options and alienate the individual, education widens an individual’s horizons and enhances their potentials to excel and leaving them with many opportunities. This means that receiving quality education prepares individuals to excel in life in various areas. Looking at education from the holistically standpoint in comparison to professional training, who could be said to be more productive? The person with an excellent educational background or the one limited in his area of specialization? Indeed, it is the one with a good educational experience.
Not Withstanding, there is a difference between what is and what ought to be, and it is to this effect that we must also examine to know whether if the current system of education meets up with this holistic approach as far as individual self-development is concerned. Considering that the current system of education prioritizes specialization and professionalism, the question that lingers in mind is; does focusing in a specific area may be like engineering make a person more educated and successful person in the society than others or is it the development of individual potentials through education that makes them more experience and more successful persons?
Nevertheless, it is ascertaining that specialization is part and passel of education and it is no doubt that specialization enhances productivity and efficiency which is a good thing. But it is not the specialization in a particular field that makes and individual more successful but rather it is the application of the knowledge he acquires that determine success. But should it in any way undermines the holistic approach of education? Certainly not. If it remains a subset of education that is good. But has it in any way undermines the holistic approach of education? That is the question I cannot answer but allow the individual to think about it. One will think that professional training becomes a problem when the whole system of education is transforming to concern itself only with specialty without taking into consideration the holistic approach. Bearing in mind the current educational system, one would say that such a question is problematic. However, based on critical observation, I fear to say that the former is taking over the latter, but I confer this to your own good judgment.
Whatever our educational background or professional training, we need a sense of purpose, good manners and respect for others to succeed because these are held at the highest esteem in society. Any organization have rules and regulation, and any company want to see in an applicant the discipline and willingness to work by organization policies. This is something that we learn in school without even knowing that we are learning it and it earn us that reputation to qualify as the best candidates for the job market. This is done not by specialization but by quality education. If our priority is only job, would Professional training not be preferable than wasting precious years in school to come out as graduated illiterates?
Professional training is excellent to orientate people within a short while to be experts in their area of specialty and at the same time, with a little financial burden. It is obvious to think that going to school to have a job is not a bad idea but going to school for the sole purpose of having a job is a big problem. It is a misplaced priority to spent so many years in the university to have a job and then emerge more helpless when there is a better avenue for professional training that can take less time and less money in a short while. It is a misrepresentation of education to think that graduating with a degree is the same as earning a job. Instead, it is what one can do with that degree. The concept of education today is a failure because of the distortion of meaning. Worse of all it does not practice even the minimum it preaches. The question we are left to answer is, what is it that we want; education or career?