Where Lies The Future Of Education?

There used to be a time when intellectualism and creativity was sponsored and encouraged to flourish through funding and education.  Those days seem to be slipping away.  Some fields of academia and education have suffered from historical actions that determined the course of humanity, while other segments of education and academia are suffering and even dying.

There are things called dead languages.  So, what is a dead language?  A dead language is a language that is not spoken or written, and very seldom even read.  Why is this important?  I believe, and others have and do believe that languages are the key to life and learning.  Especially archaic languages, from which certain highly valuable texts were written when humanity actually started documenting their own stories.

Beowulf, a fantastic Scandinavian tale was not actually written down until the early 700’s AD, while other stories, like those of Charlemagne and Roland, Tristan and Isolde, Cuchulain, anything about the sidhe, and other stories including The Battle of MaldenThe Elder Edda and even other stories are no longer studied in their original form.  I believe that this is significant because the translations into modern english and other contemporary languages are unable to maintain the same quality and interpretation of the original text.

This is where philology provides a reasonable solution, or had done.  Philology is the study of archaic texts, and in this instance, archaic text means those that are written in now defunct languages, like Gothic, Latin, Aramaic, Old English, etc…

Philology started to decline as a field of interest, in part because of the Second Great War.  The Nazi’s used Tacticus Germanicus, a very old Roman treatise about the warring tribes of the Rhine region, as propaganda for their idea of a master race.  The fact that academia could be, and was used to instigated a war that was contrary to the very fundamentals of humanity seems to have been the stone that break this camel’s back.  No university advertises their program in philology anymore.  Oxford maintains a library for the great philologists of the past, but they do not offer the same Ph.D courses that they used to.  The same applies to almost every university.  The PR appeal of getting a degree in a field that allows you to remain in a university and research is losing its appeal and viability all across the board.

Look at scientific research universities, especially in the USA.  Competition for funding for different technological projects is huge, because there is ever more limited funding available to scholars, professors, and researchers to continue inventing and discovering new processes and technology.  This is in part because the federal government and state governments seem to placing far less interest in evolving humanities condition, and in part because it feels as though if technology is not at the heart of a project, then there is no reason to support it.

In my mind, this is why academia is suffering, and why education from early childhood to postgraduate degrees are suffering in quality and quantity.  The emphasis on education and actually learning something is being replaced by a drive to live through technology.  Just look at the ease in which 5 and 7 year old children are manipulating the newest smartphone or are developing skills in advanced programming.  Sure, on some level these are useful skills, but at the cost of what?

Let’s slow down and enjoy our education, and actually learn something.  Enjoy reading a novel written 700 years ago by an author who had to really impress someone with resources to get it published.  Read fairy stories that take you to a different time and world where things were simpler and made more sense than the chaos we currently live in.  Do this and advertise it.  Publish the things you felt when you read that book, and see how it can change your life.

I’ll start.  The first time I read the Lay of the Volsungs, I was entranced.  Valkyrie, dragon slaying, death, and heroism abound, and loyalty and pride resonate throughout the story, not to mention profound sadness and sacrifice.  It is spectacular.  How about you?  What have you read or experienced that makes you feel so?