Feature: Learning 'How Best To Live'

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By Veronica Somasundram (kinabalu29@yahoo.com)

The history of education is the history of teaching and learning. Since the beginning of human existence, every generation has sought to pass on cultural and social values, traditions, morals, religions and skills to the next generation. Education was what made this possible, and over time it became associated with wealth, authority and power. It was in the pursuit of these things that people came to fully realise the importance of knowledge and philosophy, the latter being a branch of study that dates back to the ancient times of Socrates.

Socrates, who believed that self-development was more important than material wealth, stated that there were different kinds of knowledge; some important and others trivial. He acknowledged that most of us know many trivial things. For example, while a craftsman possesses important knowledge, i.e., the knowledge of his craft, this is important only to himself. This kind of knowledge is not what Socrates considered important knowledge. In his opinion, the most important knowledge is knowledge on "how best to live."

As educators, do you think we have been successful in imparting this important knowledge to our learners? How much have we done to really give our learners the knowledge they need in and out of the working world? Do our learners indeed know "how best to live"?

As educators, our job is to teach our learners the rudiments of how to think. We have to show them the way to think for themselves. By learning how to think, learners can acquire new knowledge and develop conceptual-analytical skills. And this is how they can put whatever knowledge they have gained to work. Simply put, universities and educators can teach learners what a bicycle is, but it is up to them to figure out how they can put that bicycle to good use.

* Veronica Somasundram is an OUM tutor at the Sabah Learning Centre

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