Think for Yourself

Dear Editor:

Paul Simon once sang: “When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school. It’s a wonder I can think at all. And though my lack of education hasn’t hurt me none. I can read the writing on the wall.”

Education should prepare individuals to think for themselves. Individuals that cannot—or refuse—to think for themselves are nothing more than mere illiterates. Or, at best, they are educated zombies.

To many, education is nothing more than committing numerous facts and figures to memory. Others believe that education is all about getting “good grades” by any means necessary. Frankly speaking, an education isn’t defined by how much you have committed to memory, or how good your grades are, or even how much you happen to know at a given point in time. Education is about personal growth. It is being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don’t, and applying what you’ve learned to real-world situations.

The illiterates that we have today are not those who cannot read—although, sadly, we have plenty of them in our society. Today’s illiterates consist of the masses that are able to read, write, and think; they have all the mechanisms. But, regrettably, they refuse to employ their cognitive abilities. Simply stated, they refuse to think for themselves. By not thinking for themselves, those illiterates have forsaken a real opportunity to learn. Instead, they join the ranks of educated zombies that prefer to feast on the scraps thrown to them by placid faced tele-journalists. Educated zombies are incapable of picking up a reputable newspaper to form their own opinions. No, indeed not! It is much easier to have someone else tell them what to think. I guess George Harrison’s message, “Think for yourself” has fallen on the deaf ears of the scholastically walking dead.

A worthwhile education will help you to succeed in life. This may sound like grandpa talking; but, you get out of education what you put into it. If you only want good grades; then that is all you’ll get.

Good grades, per se, do not mean that you are capable of sound thinking. Cognitive abilities are measured by how well you can apply bits of information that have been stored in your knowledge base to create something of value—be it a professional manuscript, a logical argument, fine art, or music. Educated zombies—the illiterates of the modern world—are incapable of creating anything of value.

Paul Simon sang about “All the crap he learned in high school.” If all you do is memorize facts and figures, then, indeed, it is all meaningless crap. If you are learning—or, have learned–to create and to think for yourself, then, congratulations, you are truly a literate intellectual. As such, you have avoided membership in the growing class of the scholastic illiterate dominated by educated zombies.

John Di Genio