“Knowledge is power” is how I started out on my application form to the School of Education that I was eventually admitted to. I forgot the rest, but I think I went on to write about how strongly I believed that education can, and should, instill knowledge in the young minds that will give them greater freedom to choose what they want to be and how they want to live. I had a great time at this School living out this belief, gaining as much knowledge as possible to grab a brighter future.
Unfortunately, though, I found out soon after graduation that simply believing, no matter how strongly, does not necessarily result in making it come true, when I came back to my homeland. The knowledge I studied hard to empower me either appeared to my people to be too powerful, incompatible, or not applicable… I quickly ran out of choices, and I could not find a single streak of light in my future. I had to learn to hide my knowledge to find a place for myself in our society.
Despite a huge pitfall right out the gate, I think my life has turned out just fine. Although I rarely get to display the knowledge I learned in school nowadays, I have taught myself to apply them to the roles and tasks I take on in the place I have found for myself (which, I suppose, can also be seen as an empowering body of knowledge I gained). It is not where I strongly believed I would be, but I am quite happy being here… even if my people tell me I “could have done better” after finding out my alma mater and educational background.
Maybe I seem to my people as though I have fallen off what they believe strongly to be the (usually widely accepted, and only acceptable) path to success – graduating from a good college to get a good job and a good pay, a good partner and a good family, and a good life after retirement, leading to a good death.
But maybe because I have fallen off this path, I have gained freedom to explore many other paths… some of which were dead ends, but many others leading me to places I never believed I could go.
I have mentioned before that the young minds in my homeland is taught to study hard from a very young age to get on this path. And a vast majority of them are not given a choice to get off it – they live their entire young lives in preparation for a nation-wide aptitude test for admissions to college, and subsequent entrance examinations at each college, normally held in the month of February.
I have also mentioned before that I have mixed feelings about this. I see that they acquire a ton of knowledge, and we generally give the impression, to them and to the world, that this education system of ours produce empowered individuals with unlimited choices for future. But I believe it to be a false, and potentially harmful, impression.
Maybe because it actually deprives the young minds of exploring the many other paths available aside from than the one they are shown.
Maybe because it drives them to study hard an array of knowledge that give them little power to get back up and keep on walking when they are knocked off the “good” path.
And maybe because the “good” path is rougher or non-existent for some – I do not have the exact numbers, but receiving “good” education still does not promise “good” life to follow graduation for girls, and practically no path, “good” or otherwise, is paved for international students.
I believe that our education system is at a crossroad to change or lose power completely – our top colleges are already rapidly falling in world rankings. I hope that this fact is powerful enough a knowledge to urge our policy makers to explore as many other paths available as possible, so that the knowledge we instill in our young minds will regain proper power to allow them to be whatever they want to be and live however they want to live.
Maybe knowledge is not power in and of themselves – maybe they become powerful only when we become sensitive to their potential, or lack thereof, to empower.
Maybe we need to first teach ourselves to increase detection power.
As I make this post on March 21, 2017, cherry blossom authorities (yes, they do exist!) have given official notification that they have begun to bloom in my town. “Cherry blossom blooms” is an expression widely used to notify successful admission to college, because they usually coincide. I hope to be notified soon that “cherry blossom blooms” in our education system as well.