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How's your father? – Part 2

About Philosophically

I think, therefore I am.

There are few things more important than education and I wish I appreciated that more in my youth.

My father was a teacher. He was a committed teacher. He believed in the importance of education and the key role of teachers in delivering the highest possible standard of education.

The value of education has been passed down from my father to son and grandson.

The value of education has been passed down from my father to son and grandson. Picture: iStock

He believed that every student, rich and poor, male and female, black and white, short and tall, deserved the best possible education. He believed that he had a responsibility to do whatever he could to ensure every child and teenager got the best possible education.

Read more Philosophically Yours: How's your father? – Part 1

In addition to being a teacher, he was: a senior master; a deputy principal and a principal; a member of the state school teacher’s union, as well as an executive of the union; a marker of Junior Certificate examination papers; a representative of the State Government, selling education services internationally; and a member of countless parents and citizens associations.

He was particularly interested in building the facilities and capabilities of schools servicing the less affluent in our community.

My father also believes in lifelong education and the application of objective, critical and lateral thinking to all information consumed in the quest for an education. A good education started before school, continued well after the final bell, and involved much more than rote learning and accepting what the teacher told you.

From as early as I can remember, my father pushed me to get the best education I could and to extract full value from it.

Unfortunately, while I now see the enormous value in this, I was not listening when I was young. I really did not work at all hard. I avoided school where I could, rarely attended in the last months of my university entrance year, and carried my lack of passion for study well into university.

Fortunately, I did enough to get Honour and post-graduate qualification. I certainly never applied myself as I should have and never realised my potential

This was possibly a reaction to his pushing. I have no doubt that such an attitude was, and is, common among the young. My time at school was made for difficult by a basic inability to read, something I have struggled to overcome. In the early days, this meant that I avoided reading all together.

I also hated the education system, the focus on socialisation ahead of education, the obsession with doing things by the book, the time devoted to what I considered useless pursuits, like sport, and what I considered a bizarre and unhealthy attention to obeying authority. I hated school and everything to do with it. No day of my life has been more joyful that the day I left school.

I can remember times when my father would banish me to his study to encourage me to study. It was a banishment I accepted willingly, using the time and privacy to read to sexy passages in Harold Robbins novels from his amazingly stocked book shelves. Books lay at the centre of a great education, at least as far as my father was concerned. Books were never damaged, kept in good order and always read. 

University was a better experience, but even then, I didn’t start working until the final two years. As it happens, my son did exactly the same thing.

Fortunately, he qualified with a Master’s degree from the top-ranked university in the country. We both resisted applying ourselves to education until the final years, both hated education until the final years, and both had no regard for the education system - preferring drugs and alcohol over class and study.

At the same time, today, we both value education very highly.

In line with the beliefs of my father, we both consume large volumes of information each and every day. We both relentlessly apply our passion for objective, critical and lateral thinking to every piece of information we consume.

I have inherited my father’s belief that every child deserves and needs the best possible education they can get.

I am vitally interested in the education system and how its industrial revolution orientations and systems retard its value to students with talent and those with difficulties. I hate that it is a system of mediocrity catering for the mediocre focusing much more on socialisation and conformity than it ever will on education and creativity.

I have also inherited my father’s passion for books. I have amassed thousands, most of which adorn the wall at my farm.

Education is very important. It is certainly more important than socialisation - and too important to be confused with it. Education is the feed stock for a mind committed to objective, critical and lateral thinking.

The importance of education goes well beyond its role in facilitating employment. It is central to becoming a sophisticated, fully functioning, self-actualised human being – all things taught to me by my father and all things I feel strongly.

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