Issue 89 / September - October 2012
What Generations Expect from Education
M. Fethullah Gulen
What do we mean when we mention education and training in relation to our current and future generations? How should we teach our values to new generations and who is to undertake this sacred duty? We have to find the answers to these questions if we are to deal with matters related to the education of our future generations.
A system of education without a clearly defined target and purpose will only serve to confuse future generations. We have to be careful that our youth is taught the proper material in an effective manner to ensure that they are actually learning rather than simply becoming conduits of data.
The social structure of a nation is closely related to the importance it places on the education of its populace. The education of the current generation is especially crucial as they will become the educators of following generations and will share with their students the knowledge they have acquired as part of their own education and experiences. It is vital for the society and morality of a society that its values are transmitted to its younger generation in the process of their learning experience. Value transmission is best possible in a successful marriage, which thus makes family an important educational institution, a vital one for the continued existence of a nation. Those nations which fail to establish the institution of marriage on sound and essential values without regard to the spiritual and moral condition of their society are doomed to extinction.
The development of individuals is strongly influenced by other individuals, dominant customs and traditions, and more importantly by their parents. Similarly governments have a strong influence and authority over the different parts of its populace.
A nation that effectively utilizes their resources is closely aligned with the thoughts, concepts, and culture of the individuals who make up the society and with the prudence, foresight, and sincere devotion of those in power. The administrators that are responsible for the level of care given to individuals and their efforts toward becoming a social entity will be an indication of how closely aligned they are with the prophetic principle that "All of you are shepherds, and all of you are responsible for those under your care" and that "being glad with making others' happy instead of self concerns."
Those who are responsible for educating future generations - no matter under what title they do it - should never forget the importance of this. As members of society we try to do whatever it takes to ensure the best possible future for our children by doing everything in our power and overcoming any and all difficulties so that our children are not deprived of anything as we try to prepare a world like Paradise for them. Will it not be a waste of all our efforts if we fail to elevate them to the level of morality and virtue, the capital of true value, if we cannot elevate them to a state of satisfaction, having acquired consciousness and culture? The nations who obtain this capital will have gained a mysterious key to the treasures of the world. On the contrary, the masses that have not elevated to the level of such a cultivation and understanding will lose their first struggle for social life in the future and be knocked out at the first round.
If the new generations' minds are equipped with the sciences of their time and their hearts are not lit up with breezes from beyond and if they are provided with an ample education, with all their needs fulfilled and all opportunities available for them to succeed then they can look forward to a bright future. These future generations will be able to stand up to every kind of obstacle in the struggle of life, they will be able to overcome - material or spiritual - every kind of difficulty and will never give in to despair. All the hardships that we will have encountered along the way in providing our children with a better education will have been worth it.
As for the unfortunate ones who are deprived of this consciousness will waste away the inheritance they received from their fathers, spiritually as well, they will lead an unstable and pessimistic life, and then perish between the ferocious teeth of misery.
The authorities today, who are at the crossroads of elevating their children to the level of humanity or leaving them to be beasts in human form, have to think the responsibility on their shoulders heavier than mountains and find more profound and consistent cures against the decays brought by years-long neglects. Otherwise, the unfortunate generations who lost the most precious ores of their being in the unknown seas for thousands of times through different erosions will completely lose their ability to germinate and they will become completely barren, never be able to find existence with their own essence, and never reach the glory of the past again.