Know thyself

I was recently listening to Yuval Noah Harari, the author of Sapiensand Homo Deus, talking about the role of schools in combating the rise of fake news, AI, and the almost constant surveilling by social media and online platforms. He asserted that what we teach at schools now will not be relevant in a few years and the changing nature of technology and the shifting demands of the labour market will require a different skillset, which most schools do not presently promote. The skills he believes are needed are those which will promote the ability of humans to reinvent themselves:

  1. Mental balance
  2. Emotional intelligence


If you are able to develop the above, he says, you will be able to have γνῶθι σεαυτόν or ‘Know Thyself’, and have a better grasp of yourself than Google or Facebook or any other algorithms will ever have. In this sense, liberal education, an education paradigm, largely adopted in the UK can redefine itself beyond the limiting and limited terms of what is perceived as the ability to pass knowledge from teachers to students. By grasping the Delphic Oracle maxim ‘know thyself’, with an emphasis on understanding oneself and self-reflection, a new approach to education could be promoted. According to Haberberger (2018) this can be achieved through embracing the below:

  1. Critical thinking and broad analytical skills
  2. Learning how to learn
  3. Independence of thought
  4. Empathy
  5. Self-control
  6. Self-assurance as a leadership ability
  7. Mature social-emotional judgement
  8. Equalitarian, liberal values
  9. Participation in and enjoyment of cultural experience

Haberberger, C. 2018. A return to understanding: making liberal education valuable again. Educational Philosophy and Theory.

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