Some thoughts on the problem of over-education

I tend to feel that there is a new problem nowadays:  over-education.  I generally define this as conforming your mind, perceptions, interpretations, and reality to a pre-established model or image that someone else created to such an extent that it interferes with a persons growth and association with the world.  In this way, over-education becomes an impairment and a hindrance.   This more or less means that schooling or education is damaging for many people.  This is what my observation is showing anyways.

What I am seeing, particularly in this century, are several generations of kids who have had so much pre-packaged, pre-made, pre-fabricated information and patterns of thinking stuffed into their head that it hinders their growth as people.  In my opinion, this is far more serious than it may, at first, seem.

MY INTRODUCTION TO THIS PROBLEM:  DROPPING OUT OF THE UNIVERSITY

I went to College/University for something like 6 or 7 years and graduated 3 times.  This all happened about 30+ years ago in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.   It was while I was at the University that something happened.  For some reason, I felt that I just “couldn’t take it anymore”, though I had no idea why.  I kept saying, “I got to get out of here”.  Eventually, after enrolling in another quarter I finally dropped out about a week into it.

Thank god!

The cause of this has mystified me for 25 years or so, then it gradually began to surface over time.  Looking back on it now I can see that, basically, all the years of schooling, education, and cramming my head with information, patterns of thinking, and such was destroying me.  I often spoke of this as “being squashed”.  I still believe that, had I of continued, I would of become a “shell of a person”, a robot, a minion.  Its because of this experience that the words “College” and, especially, “University” have a really bad connotation with me . . . I “cringe” when I hear them.

As time has gone on I can see this same dilemma in other people.  I can see how over-education is eating them up inside.  The problem is that they are so over-educated and indoctrinated that they can’t see what it does to them.

GROWTH AND IMPAIRMENT

Over-education tends to hinder a persons ability to grow and become a person.  It does this a number of ways:

  • They aren’t allowed to discover things on their own.  Instead, they are told how and what to think.
  • The amount of information a person must absorb is overwhelming and takes a lot out of a person.
  • It tends to inhibit natural processes by forcing things into a pre-established way of thinking and perceiving the world. In many ways, over-education is like trying to force a square peg in a round hole for many people.
  • It expects and demands people to be a specific and unique way. Oftentimes, there is little variation allowable.  They must develop character traits that are conducive to the over-educated mentality.
  • Most knowledge that is learned has no benefit to the person whatsoever.   I believe most information is a complete and absolute waste for most people.
  • Most knowledge has no “deeper meaning” . . . its just “information”.  What is generally learned has no deep value to the person and, frankly, doesn’t give life any more meaning.  It does not replace things like religions, culture, tradition, belief, etc.
  • Over-education wastes a persons time that could be used in better ways. God only knows how many hours a person wastes in their life stuffing their mind with stuff they will never use.
  • The programming of education creates a false “drone self” that doesn’t reflect ones self.  In this way, over-education tends to create people who don’t have a “real self”, so to speak.

In ways, such as these, over-education actually impairs people.  I believe this is true for most people.  In fact, my observation is that most kids, nowadays, are actually impaired, mentally and personally, by being over-educated.  Many kids don’t even have the time or means to “find themselves” or “who they are”.  Instead, they are too busy studying, doing homework, doing whatever the system tells them to do, and believing everything it tells them.

OVER-EDUCATION AS A CHARACTER TYPE OR MENTAL DISORDER

I tend to believe that because over-education is so prevalent, and endorsed so much by society, that it has created a specific type of character type.  If it gets excessive over-education can become a mental disorder.  In fact, in my opinion, the prevalence of over-education has caused a whole new mental disorder that has now become prevalent and common.

Some qualities of these problems include:

  • Problems with concentration
  • An obsessiveness over some things
  • They act like they are not in the real world
  • They live in an overly abstract world, often of facts and figures
  • They blindly follow things
  • They “do exactly what is expected of them”
  • They have problems associating with people
  • They only see things from their perspective 
  • They have difficulty seeing other points of views
  • They often need to be in a “controlled” environment
  • They have a lack of a sense of self or an absence of a sense of a person
  • They do not know themselves or who they are
  • They are easily lost in life
  • They often can’t figure things out on their own
  • They often depend on things in order to function properly, like having access to the internet, knowing specific information, having to use an “app”, etc.
  • They know a lot but are “dumb” . . . there’s a lack of common sense and a lack of an ability to apply themselves

In short, over-education has become such a dominating force in their life that they have conformed their life to it and, accordingly, its reality dominates their life.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF OVER-EDUCATION AS A SOCIAL POWER

Several things have contributed to making over-education a power in society:

  1. The Christian connection:  the worship of knowledge and education
  2. The impact of social status:  climbing the social ladder
  3. The impact of money:  seeking profit
  4. The impact of a technology-based system:  becoming a “society of drones”
  5. The impact of the “glory of the modern world”:  maintaining pride

These have all contributed to cause a growing tendency to overvalue and intensify over-education in this society and giving it a quality of “being necessary”.  In short, they have turned over-education into a social power, of something that benefits a person.  We must remember, though, that this shows that over-education is a phenomena of a particular type of society.  It doesn’t reflect all societies or all conditions.  As a result, in the society that favors over-education a person benefits by being over-educated regardless of what it does to a person.  In societies that does not favor it, over-education does not exist.  This shows that over-education is a result of a specific condition. 

One of the things that is apparent with all these qualities is that knowledge and education are only a means to some other end . . . that’s their value.  By themselves, they don’t have the value it seems.

1-The Christian Connection:  The Worship of Knowledge and Education

I’ve always been stunned at the worship of knowledge and education in this society.  It seems excessive almost to the point of being obsessive.  As I said above, most knowledge is really worthless and has no real value.

I tend to believe that this worship is a carryover from the Christian conversion.  Basically, to convert people to Christianity they had to be “educated” into the knowledge and beliefs of Christianity.  Over the years, this slowly turned into a glorification and worship of knowledge, in general, and in education. 

Because this worship is associated with the Christian conversion the worship of knowledge and education takes on a quality of being a “savior” much like Jesus Christ . . . we’re going to be saved by knowledge and education!  What this means, at least to me, is that the worship of knowledge and education isn’t really because it is that important but because it is a carryover of a former condition that no longer exists.  In actuality, the worship of knowledge and education isn’t because they matter but because they are associated with the Christian idea of being “saved”. Watch how people talk about knowledge and education.  If you watch closely you can see the Christian idea of being “saved” hidden in it.  Isn’t that how technology and science is generally spoken about . . . that its going to save us and make our lives better?  Its a restatement of Christianity.

And so the question becomes:  if knowledge and education is really a restatement of Christianity then do they really matter?  In my opinion, no.  They are over-rated and over-valued.

2-The Impact of Social Status:  Climbing the Social Ladder

With the arrival of an established civilization in Western society there naturally developed a knowledge-based power structure.  As this power structure grew in power it made it so that people who could “get their foot in the door” could benefit from that power and climb the social ladder.  This gave knowledge and education great importance and value.  In this way, knowledge and education really is often only about social status and not about knowledge itself.

3-The impact of Money:  Seeking Profit

With the growing knowledge-based power structure that was created over the years it became clear that a person could make a lot of money through knowledge and education.  This became particularly apparent with the industrial revolution in the 1800’s.  It started a great movement of people, like a flock of geese, seeking knowledge and education.  This has continued down to today.  As a result, the so-called quest for knowledge and education is often more associated with the seeking of money and profit. I personally believe that if there were no profit to be made very few people would be seeking knowledge and education.  I believe it makes that much impact.

4-The Impact of a Technology-Based System:  Becoming a “Society of Drones”

With the way this society is the over-educated “drone mentality” is starting to be favored and actually benefits a person.  This is because this society, at least in my opinion, is no longer a human society but a technology-based system society.  It doesn’t want human beings.  It wants robots, computers, and drones.  This means that people are now treated as a “support” for the technology-based system.  Because of this, people are expected to replicate and display qualities seen in the technology-based system.  That is to say, people are now expected to be more like a robot or computer than a human being.  The more a person has these qualities the better a person is off in this society.  As a result, this society favors the “drone”, the over-educated mentality, and over-educated person.  This fact only gives further fuel to over-education and the problems it causes.  Because of this, over-education is creating a “society of drones”, of people who are no different than a robot or a computer.  This shows how the technology-based system has now become more “powerful” than the person and the human being. Instead of having technology serve us, we must serve it!

5-The Impact of the “Glory of the Modern World”:  Maintaining Pride

The success of the modern world, with all its apparent “glory” and its subsequent pride, is something that promotes over-education as a value.  This is because it is perceived that this “glory” is caused by over-education.  In this way, we can see that over-education has become a matter of prideAs a result, to maintain this “glory” and pride its viewed that we must enforce over-education and to great lengths.  One effect of this is that it has now made over-education something that is forced upon people, particularly the younger generation, which has gotten to the point of an abuse (see below).  For America, especially, over-education is perceived as being a part of national pride which makes it particularly strong and abusive.

OVER-EDUCATION AS AN ABUSE

One thing that is apparent with all this is that things are not about knowledge and education as it seems.  As I said above, these are just means to some other end.  Knowledge and education, by themselves, don’t have the value it seems they have.  In this way, over-education is something of a waste, something that has very little value for most people and does more harm than good.  But, yet, it is imposed on people and forced upon people.  In my opinion, the forcing of over-education upon many people has now reached the point of an abuse.  This is particularly so with many kids nowadays.  I have sat and watched all these kids forced to over-education by their parents, society, their peers, etc.  Many of these kids are forced to succeed, achieve, get excellent grades, go to the University, get great jobs, and so on, something many have no desire to do.  I sit and watch, regularly, all these kids who “don’t have a choice”, who are forced by society and their parents to go in a certain direction.  Over-education is now a condition that is “forced” upon many people by an outside force.  I have been nothing but appalled how kids, nowadays, are treated no different than a machine, something to be “programmed” and “do what they are supposed to do”.  When I was going to College/University in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s I would say that no one was really “forced” to do anything, be over-educated, go the University, achieve, etc.  People chose that path willingly, it seems to me.  But people typically chose these paths because of “baser” personal motives, such as money and social status.  Nowadays, it seems that society, parents, or other people, are “forcing” people.  People don’t “choose” this path.  Instead, its chosen for them.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

This entry was posted in Education, learning, and over education, Modern life and society, Psychology and psychoanalysis, Twenty first century and post cold war society and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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