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The Pygmalion of Modern Schools

When Greek mythology got translated to vernacular its underpinnings shook the modern world through its anecdotal importance. Many references to its characters and myths have been used to describe the modern world. So, when narcissus looked into the pond and fell in love with his own image, the term narcissism was coined.

This treacherous mirror on the wall has powdered many ugly faces ever since. Sometimes in the name of a benevolent side of the evil characters and at others, idolizing the misunderstood villains.

Psychoanalysis is considered a big breakthrough in the development of psychology as a science and ignoring many despicable aspects of Freudian psychology, it has seeped into mainstream discourse on the subject. The current state of modern education and its horrific decline has been psychoanalyzed by many as the failure of societies as coherent and compassionate environments for learning.

In one of my previous columns I have written about the evolution of Islamic schools and how European education system got its early institutions by emulating the principles. The contemporary education system is a stripped down version of it, devoid of its spirituality and frankly many of its foundational principles.

Times World University ranking lists the top universities in the world each year by laying out the criteria of academic excellence. Last year, five areas were analyzed to rank the universities accordingly.

  • Teaching (the learning environment)
  • Research (volume, income, and reputation)
  • Citations (research influence)
  • International outlook (staff, students, and research)
  • Industry income (knowledge transfer).

If the fact that institutions themselves provide the data that Times then use to rank universities doesn’t question the whole methodology there are a myriad of other reasons why the whole idea is an eye wash. Take, for example, the Teaching part. A Certain percentage is given to how much staff members make, reputation surveys and doctors to bachelor’s ratio which has no demonstrable bearing on the quality and contribution of the research.

These money making institutions have now officially invited everyone to join the rat race by making university incomes as a criterion of excellence which is exactly the reason their research should be doubted for conflicts of interest with their research partners. If that wasn’t enough the cartel of fake publications and conference papers upped their game. MIT’s student Max Krohn generated a high school paper generator that would generate gibberish papers that would pass the plagiarism tests and can be used to create papers for conference presentations.

With 30,000 peer-reviewed journals and 2 million articles published per year it is hard not to find a place for any article of any standing. For rich, the donations to get your children to top schools through the back door never gets old. The latest is Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, who got admitted to Harvard allegedly by the generous contribution of Trump Foundation. Rest of it is taken over by multinational corporations that coerce students into publishing pseudo-research to further their goals.

Now let’s compare it with traditional Islamic schools and the 8 principles laid out by Maulana Qasim Ali Nanotivi RA, founder of one of the greatest Islamic schools, Darul Uloom Deoband. These guidelines are the beacons of quality education and disciplining of the soul at the same time.

  • People who work for Madrassas should spend their time to increase donations through private means.
  • Provision of food should be a part of schools and if possible physical exercises should also be arranged.
  • It is of utmost importance that administration of Madrassa should objectively argue for what is right without worrying about their own reputation and benefits. The raison d’etre for these schools is to fight the tumults of atheism and Bidaa and not self-inflation.
  • Everyone in these schools should have their own means of income and should not live off other people’s donations. It is a service not a source of income.
  • Education should be imparted through a set strategy and scheme which is mutually agreed upon previously or afterward.
  • As long as schools don’t have reliable sources of income, it will remain prosperous and impartial. The day it started receiving money from organizations or a questionable individual it will go downhill because between fear and hope is the piety.
  • Donations from government and the rich are detrimental to the school’s impartiality.
  • Donations should only be accepted from people who have no expectations from these donations. Donations should be given without the hope of fame.

Imam Al Ghazali’s famous work ‘Munqidh Min Ad-Dhalal’ is his life story and expose of shoddy works of scholars for dollars. Next time when you send your children to these pygmalion sculptors of greedy, arrogant academics, somewhere in your subconscious never forget the importance of sending them to these priceless mystics so that they may see with their own eyes the real value of education and not its worth.

About Minhaaj Rehman (17 Articles)
Minhaaj Rehman is a consultant, writer, and speaker with multilingual skills. Currently, he contributes to The News, More Magazine, ProPakistani, etc. He writes on diverse topics ranging from technology to education and politics to travel.
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