Since time immemorial, it has been typical to esteem education with prestige, wealth, and status in the elite. An educated individual was more likely to navigate the quirks that cost the lives of countless common people and escape relatively unscathed.

Even when tracing the annals of history, it is easy to note that a population prioritising knowledge above wealth and strength tended to find those things as an effect of that priority. And with that came the ability to dominate their fellow man, rival tribe, village, or nation.

Every advantage of intellect a nation had over its surrounding nations counted as an automatic point on the scales of victory in war. Survival of culture, and overall influence on the ebbs and flows of history. Only occasionally did the sheer mass of brawn overcome the weight of wit. In those instances, it was common to see those dominators quickly assimilate the technologies their rivals possessed. Think of the Germanic Barbarians and the Romans, the Vikings and Northern Europe. You’ll see a favourable disposition towards the most useful skills and interesting ideas to guarantee the next dynasty’s success.

Knowledge prevails over all, and Solomon, the wise man of ancient Israel, in all his wealth and pomp, couldn’t have put it better when he said that wisdom is the principal thing, better than gold and rubies. With wisdom came all the finery and nobility that the foolish chased after, almost like a beneficial side effect.

The Advent of Formal Education

The advent of Christianity brought about the idea of formal education and education of the masses. For the first time in history, anybody could acquire the means to decipher the workings of the world and its creation. This is all in a bid to aid the understanding of scripture by even the layman. In most European settings, the institutionalisation of education arose as a byproduct of Christian institutions pushing for mass education and birthed many universities, colleges, and schools of thought. Such influences on the elevation of the mind have also been seen in other religions and cultures, such as Hinduism and Islam. Still, few have attained the sheer scale of success as the Christian concept, especially in women’s education.

In the modern world, the same vigor of attraction of ideas and novel ways of viewing the world still captivates us. The ease of access to education has promoted a spirit of curiosity unlike ever before. New advances and inventions rise and fall daily, and new ages arise quicker than most envisaged. It has become more difficult to create a compendium of all the world’s knowledge in a single space. And that has led to a narrowing of individual worldviews, not because of a stagnation of the individual mind but the exponential expansion of the total worldview in relation to any individual ability to acquire the knowledge on ground.

The solution has been to craft communities of similar views and combine heads to see a bigger chunk of reality. The ability to acquire knowledge at light speed without needing a teacher, a formal setting, or even a stationary location summons the question of using the archaic method. That involves imparting knowledge to the common mind.

What’s the Use?

Is there any upside to the concept of the formal institution of education? Or has its use, like cannons, plate armor, and the phalanx formation, become obsolete? Well, the answer is as complex as the process that birthed the concept. In a world where many countries have legalized the ability to get high-paying, skill-intensive jobs without the need for a badge from a formal institute. It seems like the use of such hovels of knowledge has outlived their usefulness.

But one can argue that even though the wealth of knowledge in the libraries and faculties of these institutes can be found in many niches of the internet, there still seems to be a need for a rigorous setting and timeline to impart knowledge to the untrained mind. Some professions, including medicine, law, and the more mechanical forms of engineering, are not teachable from the convenience of your bedroom. The concept of physical forms of artwork, drama, and theatre still needs physical settings to transfer skills from teacher to student successfully.

As such, while the majority of the world drifts away from conventional forms of education and begins to view the world in a way that doesn’t require the guidance of stuffy lecturers and outside the rigid, rule-laden boundaries of the schoolroom, all the merits of formal education can’t be fully discredited.


So, the answer to the novel question of the need for education as an institution bears the annoyingly indecisive status of a yes and no. Until we can find a way to impact the theoretical and practical knowledge of major professions in a setting that leaves no stone unturned and is just as capable of churning out professionals with the same or superior levels of skill as the current process, formal settings of education will continue to exist.

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