Assessment of today's educational system.
|It is a common perception that everything we are taught in school is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. All the theories that we know and have learnt are as they were originally proposed by their respective thinkers, right? Wrong! Were you thinking that you know Darwin’s theory of evolution as it was proposed by Darwin? Well, sorry to disappoint you. Kind of ironic isn’t it that the place where you expect to get knowledge and truth is the same place where you are fed fallacies in the name of knowledge?
One such lie is the Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Refer to Richard L. Daft’s ‘Principles of Management’, or to ‘Principles of Marketing’ published by Prentice Hall, and you’ll ‘learn’ that Maslow’s hierarchy has five stages namely: Physiological Needs, Safety Needs, Social Needs, Esteem Needs and Self-Actualization Needs, and that a person only needs a later stage, if his needs of a former stage have been satisfied. For example, a person will only enter the stage of Safety Needs, if their physiological needs are satisfied.
However, any rational mind will immediately recognize a big loop hole in this model. How is it that the immediate stage after we have satisfied our ‘Esteem’ is Self-Actualization? Kind of odd, isn’t it? Let me elaborate by explaining what is meant by Self-Actualization. I’ll start with the meaning of Self-Actualization as given in the two books mentioned above. Daft, in his book, describes Self-Actualization as the state when a person has a complete realization of himself as a contributing member of any ‘organization’ and he has reached his full potential, developed his competence and in the process has grown to be a better person. Daft makes it sound like a Self-Actualized person is, necessarily, the best member of the organization, in particular, or the society, in general. This would sound completely erroneous to any rational being. But even if we assume this to be the case, the assumption that this can be achieved after one has received approval from his social circle is beyond understanding. If this would have been the case then people like Miley Cyrus would have been well on their way to Self-Actualization, but we all know where they are actually going, don’t we?
So, is there something missing? Yes, there is. Let me now put forward the original hierarchy of needs as was given by Abraham Maslow. In Maslow’s hierarchy, there are ‘eight’ stages, as opposed to five which we are taught, namely: Physiological needs, Safety Needs, Social Needs, Esteems Needs, Cognitive Needs, Aesthetic Needs, Self-actualization Needs and Self-Transcendental Needs. There you have it people, Maslow’s ‘original’ hierarchy of needs, and this one makes much more sense. Cognition and love for beauty have also been added to the road to Self-Actualization. Maslow, in contrast to Daft, defines Self-Actualization as the stage when a person has complete understanding of himself, simply as an individual and not as a member of some society or organization. A Self-Actualized person does what he considers right and leaves what he deems to be wrong. He has his own moral codes, which do not necessarily have to be in accordance with those set by the society. So, in a way a self-actualized being doesn't necessarily have to be the best member of the society. He can be the worst, if the codes of the society don't comply with his.
Why is it that this was so easy to point out and conclude for a student like me, but a highly 'educated' writer such as Daft couldn’t ponder upon it? Didn’t Daft research even enough to get number of stages right, let alone their names and meanings? One might be ignorant enough to excuse such a big fallacy, in a book which is consulted by almost every Management student, as a ‘human error’, but same is the case in ‘Principles of Marketing’ published by Prentice Hall which is from a completely different author. The probability of two individuals making the same mistake is pretty low if you ask me. Then, what’s the reason?
One argument might be that Daft only included those points which were relevant for understanding management. If that’s the case then he should have named it as ‘Daft’s Hierarchy of Needs’ and not 'Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs', as he has almost changed the theory entirely. If I were to change Newton’s first law of motion which states that ‘a body continues its state of continuous rest or motion until it is acted upon by an external, unbalanced force’ to a wrong statement that ‘a body continues its state of continuous rest or motion regardless of an external force being exerted’, wouldn’t it be wrong of me state this flawed statement, which was actually made up by me, under the name of ‘Newton’s First Law of Motion’? If yes, then isn’t the argument supporting Daft invalid? I rest my case.
If you ponder over it, you realize that you are not actually told the truth, but instead made to believe that what you have been taught is the truth. But why is this so? Here’s what I think: Today is the age of, as my friend likes to call it, ‘corporate slavery’. Today’s world system comprises of a handful of rich, powerful individuals who are always in search of corporate slaves who’ll make them richer. Now you tell me, would it be easier for the powerful to control cognitive people, who are capable of differentiating right from wrong, or the people who have no cognition at all, who in spite of all their fantasies of freedom are actually mental slaves? Wouldn’t they prefer individuals with no aesthetic sense over people who are aesthetic for a job like wood cutting? Do you really think that they can boss around ‘actual’ self-actualized individuals, let alone self-transcendental ones?
So, you aren’t even told about these things. I can’t remember any text book in which I was taught to love nature and humanity, or to learn for the sake of knowing, and I’m sure neither can you. All our lives, we are told the amended truth, or as I like to call it ‘academic lie’. These lies make us conform to the present system without challenging anyone or anything. Maslow’s hierarchy is just a small example. Just think about all the things which we’ve believed to be true all our lives, but they are instead lies which prevent us from becoming a threat to the current system. The more you think about it, the more you doubt the credibility of what you are so proud of knowing. Indeed, ignorance is bliss.
Now, back to the question I put forward earlier, is this all just a coincidence? You be the judge!