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The opposite of education is not ignorance, but poverty

It has been said, and quite rightly, that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. The reason is clear: both love and hate are in a relationship, be it positive (love) or negative (hate). But in the case of indifference, there is no relationship, and there is no attempt to connect, even negatively, with the other person.

In the same way, the opposite of education is not ignorance, but poverty. The reason, again, is clear: both education and ignorance have a relationship with knowledge, positive or negative. But poverty (understood in the broadest sense of this idea) eliminates all relationship with knowledge because (as it is obvious) its existential urgencies are different.

That is why Gandhi said that poverty is the greatest act of violence that a human being can impose on another. Poverty takes away the dignity of a human being and reduces it to a mere living thing, without a past or a future, immersed in an endless present of suffering.

In another context (but at the same time), the American anthropologist Oscar Lewis (1914-1970) defined "poverty" not as the lack of material resources, but as the inability of one generation to prepare the next generation for the future of that next generation.

In other words, for Lewis, poverty is the highest intergenerational failure and, in fact, the maximum intergenerational indifference for not being able or not wanting for the next generation to have its own future, being unprepared to response to the challenges of that future.

But if indifference is the hostile and conscious lack of relationship between people, what relationship is lost due to poverty or, better still, due to poor education? What are we indifferent to as a result of impoverished education?

We are indifferent to history and, therefore, we live trying to return to a non-existent past and to escape from an overwhelming present.

If we manage to break out of the predicament we have now entered into and which we have built ourselves, it remains to be seen whether current education (worse than the banking education fiercely combated by Freire) has succeeded in preparing the next generation for challenges unthinkable greater than a virus.

Ignorance of the past means that, in the midst of the pandemic, people nonsensically repeat that "Something like this has never happened before", when plagues and pestilence have plagued humanity for countless millennia. And ignoring the present leads to ignoring the warnings of those who, by paying close attention to the present, can already see the future.

If education is not education for the future, then it is not education at all, but rather it is indoctrination, a mental and emotional closure that makes us believe that we are free only because we have the Internet and social networks.

Young people already know that they have no future. Now the "educators" should learn it. Perhaps they will if they abandon their indifference, that, if they stop preparing students for a test and begin preparing them for life. 

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