The book discusses the prevalent impression of oneself as a separate ego covered in a bag of skin that is similar to a hallucination that accords neither with experimental philosophy nor with the religions of the east, more specifically Hinduism. This hallucination undermines the use of technology and of formal education in general, because of its involvement in the destruction of humanity. Watts favors the kind of education that gives us a sense of existence.
Allan Watts, in his book: “On the Taboo Against Knowing Whom you are” starts by questioning the amount of knowledge that a young person is supposed to seek in order to be in the know. He suggests the presence of some inside information and some special taboo on life that most teachers and parents have not taught. Culture plays a crucial role in the education of the young people through offering a platform for cultural taboos. For instance, religious taboo imparts religious education. It is advisable to engage in religious arguments than to create a show of piety. However, on a closer analysis of the interior of almost any typical-brand religion, one wonders the cause of the hush (watts 265).
Allan Watts refers to the human being as the centre of existence circled by the emotions of life like joy, pain, love, death, amongst others. The growing apprehension is that existence is like a rat race in a trap, human beings are merely tubes that consume knowledge at one end and produce in the other. The cycle continues, and wears them out in some instances. What motivates the search for more knowledge is the competition produced by the rat race that prompts everyone to strive to be better than the other (watts 300).
Allan Watts appreciates the role of formal education in facilitating the spread of religions and the growth of faith. However, he questions the extent to which formal education has led to the decay of spiritual values. For instance, Christianity has become extremely difficult to explain to a contemporary person. Current standards demand that one waters it down to being favorable and resembling the Savior. Nevertheless, no one ever offers directions on how to do that. To achieve such expectations, one needs power from God referred as “grace.”
The popular-brand religions like Christianity, Hindu, Mohammedan, and Buddhist; presently practiced as exhausted mines, have suffered at the expense of the contemporary education. Watts brought about unclear exceptions and believed formal education changed the ideas about human beings and the world. Their imagery, rites, and notions of a good life do not conform to the universe (watts 362). Allan Watts opposes the education that spearheads a rapid kind of change, resulting to loss of value, to the extent that a great proportion of what an individual has learnt in school is almost obsolete upon graduation.
Watts perceives formal education as inadequate in that it aims in creating consumers and cogs for a grand economy driven by machines. In the process, the whole meaning of life is lost. Allan Watts questions how pedants produce graduates who do not think past the questions repetition and status of the knowledge they acquired in school. The only aim of formal education is to stuff the memory, leaving the understanding and conscience void and unfurnished (watts 399). He points part of the problem to the notion that educators are always in a quest to searching for the perfect education for the last generation, as opposed to the current one. The sad reality is there is no other way of learning it other than going through it. The other part of the problem stems from the fact that it is easier to rehearse than understand. It is quite difficult to get students to reflect and comprehend on a study. Allan points out that it becomes almost impossible to teaching an individual when one lacks confidence in his/her own knowledge. Allan (623) suggests that if the teacher does not believe that he knows the content of his topic, then he cannot teach it. Therefore, it makes complete sense that the pedants would be deliberately avoid anything that would question their expertise or knowledge.
The three philosophers reveal the degree of opposition to contemporary schooling. The impact sources from the eccentrics who oppose the system than by the reformists who come out as the system designed. The schools are production lines converting stereotyped consumers and personnel for the industrial technology. Human beings behave like machines, not conscious to human needs but pursuing the profit maximization syndrome. An ideal education is one that focuses on developing the individual as a whole, and equipping him/her with eternal values. A quality education should focus on preparing a human being to deal with the complexities of the modern world, at the same time upholding the highest values of humanity.
In conclusion, the role of education differs from one society to another, however, the fundamental principle should hold: quality education should be one that centers on developing all spheres of an individual-spiritually, physically, intellectually and mentally. All of the afore-mentioned philosophers are of the idea that education should aim at producing individuals possessing what it takes to bring transformation to the society.
Nietzsche, Friedrich. Twilight of the idols. Trans.Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale.
London: Cambirdge university press, 1895. Retrieved from http://www.handprint.com/SC/NIE/GotDamer.html
Plato. The Republic. Trans. B. Jowett. London: Cambridge University press, 1998. Retrieved
watts, Allan. On the taboo against knowing who you are. London: Jonathan Cape limited, 1969.