The Evil Nexus Between Advertisement and Education
The advertisement and education industries are not necessarily new industries. However, they have both undergone different stages across the years.
From the surface, Education and Advertising might look unrelated, but the similarities would be glaring if you dig deeper.
By education, I mean compulsory schooling or forced schooling.
Before Compulsory Schooling
Compulsory schooling is a relatively new concept. It first appeared in 1852 in the United States of America, and by 1961 and 1972, Ghana and Nigeria had picked it upon it. But, then, nobody was required to go to school for a certain period through different stages with people of the same age group, with a teacher who tells them what to do and how to do it.
Countries like Lesotho, Uganda, Singapore, Liberia had compulsory education introduced in their countries less than 20 years ago. On the other hand, countries like Bhutan, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vatican City do not have compulsory schooling.
Before compulsory education, there was no fixed best way to educate a child. Most often, parents decide what a child is to learn and where to learn. Also, kids learnt by doing rather than memorizing. For example, if a child wants to become a hunter, the child is sent to a hunter.
Unlike what we have today, grading was done differently. The assessment was by carrying out a difficult task associated with what you have learned. Using our hunting example, to know if you have learned all that you have been taught, you will have to hunt down a Lion, for instance.
The success or failure of this expedition is the basis of judgment. If successful, you go to the next stage, and if not, you are either eaten by the Lion, or you repeat the stage till you can subdue the Lion.
Also, cultures and traditions were passed down via stories. A child grows up listening to stories about their root. The elders in the community ensure that every child knows where they are coming from and what is expected from them.
Industrialism, Advertisement, and the School System
At that time, human needs and desires were fundamental – Food, cloth, and shelter. They planted crops, hunted animals, built houses, made clothes, etc. Those that could plant gave part of their harvest in exchange for meat from the hunters and vice versa. It was effortless to live then. Hunters exchanged meat for food crops from farmers.
However, with the advent of the industrial era, things changed. Small-scale manufacturing was replaced by industrial machines that could perform the same function in a matter of seconds. In addition, commercialization led to a massive increase in the number of goods available, which gave rise to a need to sell these goods to cover the cost of production.
At that time, money was not valuable to people as they could fend for themselves by planting their food and making shelter. Hence, there was no reason to work in the factory. The industrialists influenced the economy by increasing the standard of living. The second thing it did was to create what we call advertisement.
According to Britannica, advertisement is the techniques and practices used to bring products, services, opinions, or causes to public notice to persuade the public to respond in a certain way toward what is advertised.
The advertising industry was to serve two purposes:
1. To get people to work in these factories so that they can have the money needed to meet the standard of living
2. To get people to buy as many things as possible from them so that they (the industrialists) can make as much profit as possible.
At the implementation of this, things didn’t go as planned. While they could get people to work in the industries, people did not buy from them as they wanted. Many people did not still see the need to buy what they do not need as they have always been frugal.
To solve this, the industrialists joined hands with the government to create what we know today as the public school. Of course, other factors led to creating the public school, but this was a significant factor.
The Job of the School
The public school was designed and funded by the industrialist to train kids for a certain number of years, to do what they are told to do and how to do them. Also, they were trained to be like cogs in a system that knows how to consume stuff and not produce.
These kids were to be in line. They had no say in what they studied, who taught them, and who they learned with. They had rules for everything- when assembly, classes, or break time starts. In addition, a black book for students who committed grievous offenses was introduced. In essence, the goal of the school was indoctrination.
The end goal was:
To kill the need to create stuff and imbibe the urge to consume. They did this by robbing students of their power to control their learning, by discouraging them from solving problems or taking risks; instead, they forced kids to play safe and follow instructions.
To kill delayed gratification and imbibe immediate gratification by putting a time frame to everything. For instance, you get to forfeit your break time if you do not go for a break during break time.
Break the doggedness in them so that they will be easily influenced to do the bidding of the teachers. This was done by using rules and punishments. If you break the rules, you will be punished and shamed as a scapegoat in front of other students.
All of these were to aid the work of advertisement. The less critical a person is, the easier it is to influence them. The industrialists knew this, and for them to sell as much as possible and make as much profit as they could, they needed to break down whatever stronghold there was in the mind of the masses.
Via the creation of the school, the masses were promised good jobs with good pay if they came out from school with good grades. The industrialists were smart enough to fulfill their promise by rewarding those who did well with decent, well-paying jobs.
The Family, the Society & the School
The industrialists needed to fulfill their promise for their plan to work. If a child is rewarded with a job, it means that the child’s family becomes a bit privileged than the others. So, parents were encouraged to send their kids to school to improve their economic status. This led to widespread adoption of the school.
Success and failure are judged by the grades you get from the assessment given to you in every school year.
Those that did not do well in school are given mediocre jobs with mediocre pays. It was almost impossible for such a student to get a well-paying job with a low grade or degree. The only alternatives were to create your industry, or you get married into a wealthy family.
It was an unspoken rule in society – you do not get a well-paying job with a poor degree. In essence, the better your degree, the better your pay. Unfortunately, this unspoken rule crawled into the family as well. As a result, the children are saddled with the responsibility of taking their families out of poverty.
If a child fails, that child is regarded as a failure. Yet, that same child grows up, gives birth to children, and saddles them with the same responsibility. As a result, many people give birth to more children to increase their odds of having a child who will take them out of poverty.
There was pressure from the family and society on innocent kids to go to school to study courses they had no interest in. This was with the hope that society would reward them with well-paying jobs and the family becomes more comfortable financially to buy stuff they do not need to impress others.
The school system was not designed to train these kids for work. It takes barely 1000 hours for a person to be able to do almost any job well enough. Instead, it was intended to imbibe a consumption mindset and act as a sorting mechanism.
The mindset was to aid the work of advertisement. A consumption mindset will be easier to sell to. Also, the school needed to be a sorting mechanism to show the public that it worked. If some people got good grades and got well-paying jobs, it was enough to believe that the school worked; hence, many kids were sent into the school system.
In reality, more than 90% of people who went into the school system came out to be mediocre with low-paying jobs. The remaining 10% were rewarded with a decent job.
Advertisement – How it Works
The industrialists’ plans worked perfectly well. Advertisements became way more fruitful. Once a new product is out, all you have to do is put it up on billboards and newspapers, and sales will come around. It became even worse with the advancement of the media via TVs and Radios. The internet doubled down on this and produced way more results.
Advertisement was designed to sell average products to the masses; they solved no problems per se but rather a means to profit. For these entrepreneurs to sell these products, they came up with different tricks to get people to buy.
They give fake discounts, propound wrong theories and stats, and fake testimonials to ensure that people are enticed to buy. Advertising wasn’t about the deep connection to know what people wanted and why they wanted it. Advertising wasn’t about making good stuff to make people’s lives better. Instead, it was about getting the average person hooked on a product.
Because we have not been trained to think through stuff, we cannot see past the gimmicks. We fall for every trap they set for us. These advertisers take it a step further by inspiring the fear of missing out, and because we do not want to miss out, we have no choice but to buy. Meanwhile, in reality, there is nothing we are missing out on.
True advertisement seeks to create a true connection with its users. This isn’t easy to do because you need to have an excellent product and good intentions. While selling an average product might be very easy, it is difficult to fake a true connection. Humans can sniff that deceit from a distance.
True advertisement does not seem to use gimmicks to sell. It doesn’t try to doctor outcomes or influence decisions. Instead, it presents its facts as clearly as possible, trusting that the customer will make the best decisions.
Unfortunately, it works the other way round. Customers do not want to think before making a decision. Customers want to buy stuff that gives an illusion that they are better and happier than others. Customers want fake discounts, testimonials. But as much as they want all these, it is still a passive decision. They are not in control. They are what the system has made them become.
Conclusion: What is the Essence of all these?
I have written all these to prove that advertisement is very effective today because there is a dent in the educational system, which is proof that the educational system is faulty. The amount of money spent every year on schooling kids is outrageous. This is not because it is not worth it but because the school system is faulty.
When you spend millions of dollars educating children to consume, follow and not take risks, you don’t expect kids to come out of the system doing otherwise because that is what they are built and trained to do. Unfortunately, entrepreneurs worldwide are capitalizing on this to make more profits for themselves by creating average products for average people.
I want to clarify that there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a business or advertising these businesses. However, my argument here is against the educational system giving room for mediocrity by churning out average students. These average students consume average products because that is what they have been trained to do; hence, filling the pockets of these entrepreneurs.
If we build a better educational system, entrepreneurs will seek to make better things and connections with their users. When students learn to find meaning and happiness in themselves and not in things they develop a production mindset, more willing to take risks, solve problems and make tough decisions.
This then forces entrepreneurs to make better products and services to solve real problems. To sell these products; you have to connect with the buyers. A better educational system thus not only makes better people, but it also makes better businesses who are not only seeking to make a profit but also to make an impact.
Let education be meaningful for students. Let education be student-led and focused. Let’s do away with the systems that trump risk-taking, creativity, production and heralds obedience, compliance, consumption.
Let’s build a system of education that does not have an ulterior motive behind it. Let’s build a system of education that will bring out the very best in our kids.