An inquiry into the impact of employment on education in the light of thomistic theory of appetite and prudence
Mbogo, Mwaniki Patrick
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If millions of people were seen scrambling for years to go through a narrow opening, one would wonder about what would be so valuable beyond. More confounding would it be if an extremely few made it past the gate, but deeply more so if an exceedingly minimal number of successful entrants were happy after the struggle. The analogy applies to the global scramble for education for employment, EFE that exists simultaneously with an alarming and seemingly indomitable unemployment crisis. It is also true that only an extremely few are happy with their employment. Yet the more unemployment and underemployment relentlessly pervade, the more EFE is sought after. This is truly a confounding phenomenon. Surprising enough, philosophers of education have not specifically dealt with this humongous craving for EFE, and when they do, it is from an educational planning perspective of meeting "manpower needs." The problem of this study therefore entails trying to understand clearly the curious if not absurd phenomenon just described and, uniquely, from parents and learners' perspective. The study attempted to understand the nature of the appetite or drive for EFE, and the prudence or reasonableness involved. It concerned us how this appetite for EFE affected parental and learner meaning of education, and if it did, what could be done. Nevertheless, it was a philosophical understanding that was sought, meaning, we sought ultimate causation. Regarding methodology, the study was aptly situated within philosophical anthropology, the branch that specifically studies human beings. A combination of philosophical approaches has been used. Accordingly, the employed the phenomenological-hermeneutic method where human phenomena experienced as personal and educational encounter, were taken as points of departure. The speculative method helped penetrate into phenomena to reach out at their transcendental reality, while the emanicipatory-critical method appears in form of critique to provoke some liberating change. Esoteric conformism has not been tolerated. Words and statements were analysed to extirpate any contradictions and falsehoods. By applying Thomistic theory of appetite and prudence, the study made the following findings. First, ultimately, employment is sought for an hierarchy of appetites that include the desire to earn money, meet basic needs, search for progress, acquire property, participate in the community, and finally, be happy. These appetites can be satisfied through contemplation and the exercise of virtue. Satisfaction of these needs should constitute aims of education. Secondly, the study established that, while learners are mostly incompetent towards making a prudent choice of EFE, parents are mostly imprudent because, not only is their choice dictated by "outsiders," but also their participation and control of the entire educational process worldwide is negligible. Thirdly, education is radically and uniquely defined as the expression of a person's and a primary community's "act of being" - esse - so that, that "being" flows between persons much like a fluid in a communicating vessel. This definition includes previous definitions of education. In it, education embraces the entire human culture and everybody; it is not just for children. Fourthly, parting from what education ought to be, the study further established that, the most serious impact of parental and learner imprudent choice of EFE consisted of a reductive meaning and relevance of education, a situation comparable to choosing a four-wheel drive car, with a 3500 cc engine for its beautiful colour or to drive it within an up-market suburb of a modern city! Parents and learners hardly notice the six essential needs because quest for employment ensnares and exhausts their life ambition. A prudent education should lead to full self-actualization. Fifthly, in order to restore a prudent meaning to education, the study suggests an ideology and programme in form of a cultural revolution consisting of a Primary Community Education Model, PCEM. The model is based on eight principles, namely, person-centredness, family-centredness, community-centredness, work-centredness, democracy, holistic-orientation, critical-centredness and potentiality-reliance principles. Its educational content includes the six needs, while the method for its realization entails formation of wise leaders who combine militancy and mysticism prudently. Remarkable contribution is made to educational theory and practice, first, the bottom-up approach that totally shifts the locus of education "from the child to adult, from school to primary communities, and from the narrow scope of academic curriculum to embrace the entire culture." Secondly, reliance on human potentiality frees all educational stakeholders from the narrow, falsely predictive and therefore unjustly limiting view of educational planning. The study provides a thoroughly empowering educational reform that redeems society from the enslaving limitations of education for employment, just as it is in tune with global human aspirations.