EnglishPilihan EditorTwo Cents

KACAMATA KU: Post-October 7 Edu-Cide: Time To Go Beyond Harvard?

By Dzulkifli Abdul Razak

A few years back, the writer curiously bought a book entitled “Beyond Harvard” (2017) written by the same best-selling author of “What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School” (1984).


Are they interrelated?

That the latter is still in print today and outlived the author who died in 2003, indicates the legacies and ideas are still relevant.

Why it is not taught (anywhere, regardless) is simply because it cannot be “taught” as such.

Some said it must be “caught” instead. Meaning to be experienced, not memorized and regurgitated – popularly promoted to score in exams!  The author of the book called them “street smart” experiences, using anecdotes to bring to life lessons from the real world or the living laboratory as it is currently known.

In other words, experiential learning is becoming more important by systematically being introduced into the learning process and input.

Conventional and rigid classroom-based teaching is said to be no longer adequate.

Interconnecting with nature and other fellow beings, including the various non-human species, is imperative to education like it once used to be before hi-tech dominated the big picture.

And further restricting learning to screened-based environments. Practical classes turned into “simulation” classes devoid of human touches.

Thus, the author introduces more anecdotes offering yet different sets of insights that could be replicated beyond Harvard as suggested by the title.

In chapter 7, he noted on setting structure and values that “the education system – the Harvards and Stanfords of the world – focused on the mechanics, the tangibles of business, while his approach came from experience, and the focus on the intangibles.”

His perceptions will be verbalized in a way that the intangible will be more tangible.

The two are complementary as often quoted from Albert Einstein: Not all that can be counted counts. Not all that counts can be counted. Today, we are stuck only with the “mechanics” and “tangible,” that tend to dehumanize “education” through “automation” producing “digital natives,” not spiritual ones.

Allegedly, Ivy League universities established as an athletic conference in 1954 came into being due to their elite prestige in the realm of sports resonates this very well.

For example, when a sportsperson is randomly asked how a particular winning goal is scored, the response is likely to be imprecise, if at all. “I kicked it or hit it at a certain angle and/or speed,” comes the spontaneous reaction that is often not reproducible the next time around.

Yet there are many other winning goals being recognized as world-class streaks.

That is, beyond the Harvards of the world as described quoted above! Or to quote Einstein – it counts, that cannot be counted (explained or taught!).

Here is where values and principles are vital underpinnings.

Shared values are based on the whole approach with integrity and focused towards the “greater good” directed at the larger society it is engaged with.

More so, through the investment in relationships and the building of trust and respect. These core values are universal in that they are considered empirical or “inherent life forces” or truths.

Like nature’s gravity, it is potentially there, only to be discovered; not invented by the likes of Newton who noticed it.

And be the first to verbalize and contextualize it, before gaining universal acceptance as a scientific “fact” that evolves through the application of ethical behavior, character, and honor; humility, and passion, at the very least, in ensuring the “greater good.”

They form part of the organizational DNA, shared by every individual. No need to reinvent the wheel, but connected through humanity as spiritual beings collaboratively.

Not just to thrive on competition, including greedy ones. People are treated honestly and fairly, be inclusive and sensitive to the cultural differences of all those involved.

All these are important lessons that go beyond Harvard as reasoned by the author. Although limited to discussions on business or economics and templated worldwide, the values and principles involved apply to many other sectors.

Well-described in the framework of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) since the sixties, Harvard has created the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (OEDIB).

The primary aim is to bring about a just, equitable, and inclusive society by fully embracing “individuals from varied backgrounds, cultures, races, identities, life experiences, perspectives, beliefs and values.”

Unfortunately, it is now being contested as sparked by the controversial Congressional testimony against the then Harvard president and two colleagues from other Ivy League schools.

With the 30th president who was forced to resign, and the first African-American at that, it reportedly claimed that “certain forces have manipulated the mounting number of antisemitic incidents around the country to attack freedoms of speech and thoughts on America’s campuses, and to portray DEI as antisemitic and racist,” according to the Black Alumnae of Harvard Equity Initiative, highlighting the then president was held to a different standard because she is a Black woman.

If that is so, going beyond Harvard is not only timely but encouraged given that the post-October 7 edu-cide is coming to the eight month!  – BACALAHMALAYSIA.MY

  • The writer is the Rector, of the International Islamic University Malaysia

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