We hear it all too often: Education is the key to a better life. While “a better life” means something different to each of us, we, arguably, can agree that a greater intellect shapes perspective and gives us the ability to see a greater picture – not just think “inside” of the box. It is the very first tool that gives people the power to be more creative and, hence, take matters into their own hands.

Knowledge is powerful. The engine that keeps you moving forward; the drive that pushes you to question; the fuel that helps with (personal) innovation. The more we know, the more the world unfolds before us. We have the chance to react and act. Our choices become informed; our ethics and morals improve. Knowledge is superior to all physical strengths, it is the brains that take over and strategize. Minds for the win. Knowledge is powerful in that it is a tool of power. 

Knowledge of Power and Powerful Knowledge 

Born in 1926, French philosopher Michel Foucault is known for his theories on the impact of power – as subtly used – in and on societies, as well as interpersonal relations. He, interestingly, argues that each and every one of us is subject to the influence of power, in numerous ways. And, surprisingly enough, we are technically not even aware of the fact that we are moving within a framework of power. In all we do; norms, values, the way we act in certain situations – those are all results of power being exercised one way or another. In this regard, knowledge plays a crucial role. According to Foucault, those two go, inevitably, hand in hand. The more we know, the more powerful we are. 

Knowledge linked to power, not only assumes the authority of ‘the truth’ but has the power to make itself true – Michel Foucault

The knowledge applied to the real world forms it as we know it. It becomes our reality, because we believe that these are the set standards, this is the truth – in many ways. Therefore, our minds are conditioned to move within this pattern of society that is being constructed by certain information, a set of thinking and believing. Knowledge allows us perspective. Yet, the interpersonal discourse, the way facts are presented, shapes our points of view. Going back to Foucault’s theories, the way, as well as what, we communicate creates our very ideas, norms, the social world at large. Here again, power relations form, as mentioned above. The intentional language someone uses, based on the knowledge they have, transfers into speaking and writing. How they do it and what they share has a significant impact on our perception of reality and how we see this world. 

Therefore, discourse is a result of applied knowledge that, if exercised with the right intentions in mind, leads to better education – and the cycle of knowledge and power in sharing information goes on. 

Education for Thought

Touching on the latter, there is, in fact, a difference between actual knowledge and education. Knowledge is taught in the process of educating someone. And here, again, power comes into play. This is because what is being taught is selective. Someone put the curriculum together, which, ultimately, means someone has deliberately chosen topics to be taught, and, hence, left certain ones out. 

Education is the key to a more flourishing life; the foundation of knowledge that gives us perspective – Monterey, USA

We can all agree that education at large is important to encourage people to think for themselves, as well as learn the skills needed to live an autonomous life – asking questions and never wanting to stop learning. But it is important that educators, who are in a powerful, superior role at first, take their position seriously and don’t abuse it. In addition, when it comes to news channels: News are highly selective. We may be able to collect information about certain events, yet, we should be aware of the fact that there is more. Always.

Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family – Kofi Annan

The more knowledge we have as a collective, the greater the chances to solve problems. Especially the pressing ones that concern us as a people. When we bring all of our different knowledge together, share it, draw inspiration from it, we eventually learn from it. Then, we are on the right path of what education should look like. And today, knowledge has become more of a commodity; it is so very easily accessible, mainly because of the world wide web. That, of course, means we have to question the authority and trustworthiness of sources more. But we also have more ways to inform ourselves. 

With information, we can help those who are less fortunate. Knowledge, a combination of skills, experience, and our education, is guiding us through life. It makes us the people that are capable of bringing about change in various ways, on a micro- and macro-level. 

The Most Powerful Teacher 

We can be hungry for information, research and read as much as our brains, like sponges, can soak up. Yet, nothing beats the wealth of first-hand experiences and the life-lessons we can learn from it when we go out into the world. When we see with our own eyes, talk to people, experience and immerse ourselves in something new to us, our eyes will open, our understanding of the world and its different cultures will expand and deepen. We return as storytellers and can share the things, honestly, we have seen, ultimately teaching others. We share our knowledge and view of a portion of this earth. By exchanging our impressions and opinions, in a tolerant way, we can grow and have our perspectives constantly widened.

I read; […] travel; I become – Derek Walcott

Going out into the world – there is no selective information, just our very own experiences and personal, enriching knowledge drawn from exactly that. And so traveling will always be the most powerful teacher. The things we may see and experience might be humbling, but they will teach us just how important it is to keep the wellbeing of humanity and this earth at the core. Knowing, having access to information, gives the ability to make better choices on a quest to live a more balanced life, understand the world, be able to tolerate, be compassionate, enter into informed dialogue. 

Knowledge has the power to drive about change and, most importantly, enables us to understand the underlying dynamics of our society, of different cultures. Knowledge gives perspective that we all can never have enough of.

How do you want to bring about change with the knowledge you have? How do you educate yourself?