SAP Debate: Anti-Education

Image: “Geography,” courtesy of the Boston Public Library

On May 22, 2021, the PICT Student Ambassador Program (SAP) organized an online debate on “Anti-Education,” inspired by the PICT manifesto and episode 20 of PICT Voices, “The Anti-Education of PICT,” with Evrim Emir-Sayers.

Initiated by PICT Student Ambassador Onur Karamercan and joined by members of the CUS Project, the debate began with participants sharing their experiences and opinions on structural issues in modern higher education systems in various countries including Japan, the Philippines, France, Turkey, and Australia. The aim of the debate was to shed light on the problems that plague institutionalized higher education and to open the discussion on alternative education models.

There would appear to be a momentum for rethinking the modern system of higher education. How can we draw on the pandemic experience to (re)imagine alternative models for education? And how should we, as students, act to shape the future of education, especially in light of the growing use of technology? Starting from these questions, the debate focused on the advantages and disadvantages of online education and in-person education as well as the relationship between technology and education. The group concurred that the question is not one of a mere confrontation between online and in-person education: what matters is the quality of education itself.

The debate further pointed to the importance of cultivating an inter-cultural mode of thinking, one that can comparatively scrutinize the existing conditions and necessities of education in various regions of the world and does not shy away from asking what “education” means for different cultures and in different languages. Finally, the debate underlined that while criticizing the institutions of higher education, one should consider that the basic underpinnings of one’s critique might already have been institutionalized. Critique should not become a mere “reproduction” of the economic-political system while being accommodated by the same system.

The optimistic conclusion of the student debate was a motto: Do not take school too seriously! Try to find other activities, practices, and social environments that provide alternative modes of thinking. And continue to brainstorm on the issues, because rather than proposing ready-made solutions, our aim must be a continuous engagement and transformation of the current higher education system.

We would like to thank the members of the CUS Project, PICT Student Ambassador Onur Karamercan, and all participating Student Ambassadors for enabling this lively debate.