Tag Archives: West

Education

People sometimes use the word education when in fact they mean brainwashing. I’m quite sure that most people who do that are not aware of the fact that they do so because they have been brainwashed themselves.

An example: “We should put more funding in education of African countries so that they can build a democracy from the bottom up”. Great idea, but how would this look in practice? Money would go to certain organizations, monitored by their funders according to Western standards. They would employ people to build education programs, benchmarked along Western thought, then train people to teach the deep truths that stand at the base our beautiful democracy, powered solely by light and guided by the highest ethics. Then, at the end, of course, they are checked for optimal performance.

Such structures provided by nation states are often seen as education. Mandatory programs, packages of concepts, knowledge that is transferred and tested, ranking the students into their overseeable life paths, may lift society to a different standard, but they are only a limited part, a controllable bit, of a collective learning process that could also be tuned to enlivening, respect and curiosity-driven exploration of whatever it is that the human mind is eager to find out. I would say real education starts at the point where teacher and student receive the space and the freedom to show each other their views on reality in all its colours.

Transmission of knowledge is important, but we should honour the pathway through which this occurs. That pathway would in my view be called mutual trust. The possibility that another might see something out there which you don’t, not because he or she is more or less capable or suitable to see it, but merely because that other stands on a different position. Exams and profiles undermine such trust.

To translate this back to the omnipotent West, perhaps indeed, there was a time when our long fought for ideals made sense and empowered society at large. But these ideals are starting to take the form of dogmas, heritage we should protect and keep in place with tighter rules and regulations. Our knowledge is growing old, expiring, starting to fail us and begging for fresh inputs from the same societies we have kept in the enlightened dark for centuries.

And yet more importantly, I think we should all allow our inner wise guys to sometimes shut up and listen to the voice of the weak and silent for a change. The fact that we still understand education in a top-down way, taking all these quality checks for granted, shows us a whole lot about our status quos. If only we could see that in the mirror…

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Freedom

Today is Dutch liberation day. It is exactly 68 years ago that the Americans hunted the Germans of these lands. An occasion to contemplate what freedom means, if not “being able to live in peace”. It is an interesting concept about which I still think quite often. Is that typical for men?

Some say the West is free. Is that the same as saying that the people living in the West are free? If we are indeed free, then what does that mean? That we have money? That we are able to choose whatever we do with our lives? To be the navigator of our own ships? Reach our Dreams?

Okay, so one way to explain freedom, is by the extent to which we can reach our dreams. But we can go deeper. Who chooses our dreams? Say a person’s dream is to earn money. Then having a lousy job would make that person free, right? The boss would be the liberator. But often, when a person has money, he or she would like to have more. The same is true for meaning. There is a point when our dreams become our prison. At that point, freedom means letting the dream go. It means to be satisfied.

So is a satisfied citizen a free citizen? I wouldn’t always say so. I have met many people who slowly but gradually grew trapped in their satisfied lives. People on a comfortable position, whose light seemed to be dimming. They wouldn’t always admit it, but sometimes you can tell. Then again, how do you break out of satisfaction? By losing everything, perhaps?

I’ve personally always felt freest while hitchhiking. But I know that if I’d do that all the time, it would not feel the same. So I need balance. My girlfriend recently asked me what freedom means. To my own surprise, I answered quite quickly. “To not be guided by fears”. I think I’ll stick with that definition for now. Until it becomes my mask.

Jobhunt mode

The computer drains me. I feel as if I have no space, as if a force tries to suffocate my spirit. I read at least a thousand tweets per day, looking out for that one job I can genuinely write an application letter for. A year and a half since I graduated. 2 Masters, four languages. Nothing fully paid so far.

I write about a letter per day now. I have to orient first, verify if I would want to do the job and be capable of filling the position. After writing I check the letter, then send it. Same story for the CV.

One rejection after the other, even at the most basic jobs. Am I doing something wrong? Lack of experience? Lack of guts? Wrong wording? Background too diverse? Not focussed enough on the job’s content? Wrong font? Lack of picture? Face too strange? Did I do the wrong studies? Am I not serious enough? Too arrogant? Too controversial? Is it because I don’t phone them with some smart question? Not enough initiative? Was I born on the wrong spot? Am I among the first to pay the punishment on behalf of the slave driving West?

In The Netherlands, there currently is one vacancy available for every fifth unemployed. Politicians call it a catastrophe. Ours has been called a wasted generation. We are supposedly not gaining enough self-confidence for the future job market, which puts us into a downward spiral. Some suggest our lives are already over.

So I read advise from the big professionals. Read about how other people, braver than me, start their own initiatives. I talk with others in the same situation. Help them where I can. Write my blog. Do some volunteer work. Garden. Apply some more. Get more rejections. Get stressed. Change the title of my folder from “jobhunt” into “jobsearch”. Relax again. Watch seasons pass.

If you’re out there, unemployed as I am, you are not alone. We should not panic even when people give us good advise. We shouldn’t try to run faster. It will scare them away.

I also have no clue what we should do. Enjoy life, I guess. Be creative in whichever way we can. Hope some will be lucky. “Stay positive”.

I honestly don’t know.