Only a sith deals in absolutes.
An education system both blossoms out of and feeds back into the culture in which it is found, and our prevailing culture (particularly as most directly influences the mainstream educational field) tends to prize what is on the one hand relativistic and personally ascertainable and on the other that which is subject to empirical verification. These two tendencies might seem at first to either directly contradict or balance each other out the holistic warmth of subjective interpretation combined with the reason and evidence of solid objective fact. However in actual fact both elements rely heavily upon the same fundamental principle that is to say that the only really reliable way to truth is to start from below and working with small truths directly appropriated from experience or research construct one`s understanding of reality. Claims to universal truths or principles, ideals or values that transcend this framework are thus greeted by and large with a dubious attitude and a great degree of scepticism.
To what extent the culture conditions education and education is influenced by culture is in some ways a bit of a chicken and egg question. But in a situation where the validity of transcendent absolute truths are greeted on the whole with at best a wary attitude and often outright rejection, the influence on both culture and education is plainly seen, and their mutual interplay readily recognisable. We move towards communication that focuses on immediacy of impact and gratification rather than content, art that is abstract confusing rather than the bearer of a coherent message, music that rests on repetitive chord loops rather than a directed progression and development. Where the intellect is not challenged to look beyond the scope of what is within its own immediate grasp, it clutches instead at a readily communicable expression of that grasp`s content. Thus simplicity, rather than being a positive servant of the intellect`s pursuit of truth becomes an attempt at fragmentation in order to reduce the truth to what is already perceived. Is it education which encourages independent thought at the price of allowing reason the freedom to submit to principles beyond itself or the culture which operates in a manner that only accepts immediacy and what is within human control to hold sway that is the primary influence? When the primary influence in society tends to be exerted by the educated and the influential tend to oversee education the question doesn`t seem to be one that can be readily answered.
However what can be assuredly determined is this that both education and the culture will influence each other only within the understanding of values that they mutually accept. If absolute truth is accepted as an ideal that one ought to tend towards rather than the tool of a fundamentalist regime to be disregarded, then reason and the development of ideas can flourish instead of being caught in the constraints of an insular web. All in all, in order to progress both education and the culture must not be considered as ends in themselves but as mutually influential servants of a truth, goodness and beauty that we ought to seek both to discover and communicate. Then the pursuit of culture and education is not a construction attempt grounded in trial and error but an exploration of the parameters of reality, accepting an absolute end and this, far from being a limitation, gives freedom and assurance in the quest. We do or do not there is no try.
May the force be with you.
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