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Virtue and the Failure of Education

Updated: Jul 12

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The idea of normality has a very basic premise: that one should follow it if they wish to be socially acceptable and liked. Regardless of the activity that is considered normal, if you follow it, you will be liked by your peers and in general, even if that norm is immoral or at least negative in some way.

The education system also has a basic imperative: to teach its students to preserve, create, or destroy norms, depending on what those norms are. It provides feedback on how things should and should not be done. For most, it has 12 years to teach the next generation of citizens what is appropriate, what should be encouraged, and what should be condemned. Its role is simple: to shape the mind of the student in accordance with the local ideal, whatever that may be.

For many, education has partially failed in fulfilling that functionality, at least when it comes to basic human dignity in interactions with the world. The archetype of the teacher is no longer the authority that dictates students what to do beyond doing homework and getting good grades. The world itself has drastically changed in terms of virtue, and barbaric behavior, under the excuse of liberty, has largely become the new norm across the world and cyberspace.

It seems that the education system has forgotten that it is there not only to provide people with knowledge but also with an example of how people should behave and interact with one another.

Grades are important in terms of evaluation, but as the Hebrew proverb says, "The way of virtue precedes that of knowledge." What is a person, beyond their knowledge?

A person is also measured by their capacity for "humanity," of being able to act with respect and tolerance. Should such virtue be absent, then the knowledgeable person is but a barbarian who believes that liberty should overthrow equal respect, should they feel like it.

The problem with contemporary education is the fact that anything can be found and learned online. Because of that, its value has been decreased, along with its authorities, the teachers, that represent it. Trolling and cyberbullying have become the norm online, and although some people have killed themselves because of it, it remains a norm nonetheless.

That is because other than basic human dignity, there is little opposition to the justification of "I can do and say whatever I want." That raises the question of, why should one care for another's emotions, when liberty justifies barbarian-like behavior?

Beforehand, there were the religious institutions whose authority was left unquestioned; there are still those nowadays but they're not as powerful. They served as the ultimate justification of civilized conduct: be kind to another, respect the authorities, and you will not be punished for it in either this lifetime or in the "afterlife." Thus, the motive for such conduct was the fear of punishment, which nowadays has been solved by democracy and the freedom of expression.

Should such freedom be limited in the name of civilized conduct? Not at all, but it should indeed be preferable that personal freedoms will not be used for the severity of one's mental health or, for one's potential to kill themselves.

And where does such responsibility lie, if not on the education system? To teach them not only to be smart, but also civilized; to enjoy learning but also to be nice; to teach history and math but also dignity and tolerance. As long as such things will not be taught, people will resume committing suicide by another's guise of liberty.

Why should one care, after all, when one can say whatever they want, at wherever place, whenever time? Should that question not be answered by the authorities, bullying, cyberbullying, shaming and harassment would only continue to grow, as the previous alternative of punishment has gone irrelevant with the times. The irony is, that even those who believe in the idea of a moral-based afterlife, would themselves act barbarian-like.

Barbaric conduct, therefore, has become the norm. Internet trolls are no longer "virgin boys who live in their mother's basement." They can be very normal, very typical people, and anyone can become one, as long as you don't see a reason to feel guilty enough for your actions.

On a personal note, as long as such acts are normal, I will continue to use this site as the only place for my public interaction with the greater world. This is because people have been justifying "public domain" as their excuse for harassment. It is quite sad, but I see my peace of mind as more important than the toxicity of public interaction. It is a far better alternative, after all, than panic attacks and wasting money on unnecessary relaxation pills.

At least in my image, a civilized world would avoid calling strangers "bro" and "sis," would of course avoid cursing and shaming one another frequently, would contain basic respect for any human being, and finally, would appreciate the hard work of others, even if such work has left one largely unsatisfied.

Such a world, I'm afraid, is far from realization, and would mostly work among small communities, as they can better be fueled with sympathy; something that strangers don't always have, especially when they are not kindhearted in personality.

Thanks for reading!

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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