This, for me, is the most important aspect of education change but is the one that is least likely to be considered. For many people including myself there is an important step that one goes through in a maturing process, and that is when people ask you to unlearn what you know. In this maturing process people are rejecting the academic education they have received in order to understand more about life. Many such people are seeking spiritual understanding or awareness through a deeper understanding of religion or spiritual approaches such as Eckhart Tolle, and many more. And what are they asking us to unlearn? Minds full of memorised contents, arrogance because we passed exams at school, methods of thinking that lead to conformity, and many more. And what are they asking us to accept? Insight, intuition, creativity, critical thinking, and so on.
But wait. Aren’t these the processes that people concerned with education change want? Isn’t it want Dan Pink suggests business wants?
Now these processes are what mature people might suggest are processes of self-realisation, and this is what I am suggesting is natural development.
But this natural development takes on a wider understanding because it is asking that self-realisation be considered in line with nature ie being ecological. It is asking that we be taught self-realisation and respect for nature, to learn to understand the position of man within nature. Now many of us including myself cannot know exactly what that means but as teachers we can accept this principle of self-realisation within a natural context. As a curriculum we could respect that principle, but of course the corporations don’t. They put profits before people and lay waste to the environment. Their only acceptance of caring for the ecology is when they persuade or apply pressure to the government to pay for ecological damage out of the taxes. Look at the way BP is wheedling out of paying for the damage they have caused in the Gulf of Mexico. The rest of us pay for our sins, corporations don’t.
But this is not only asking for a natural principle, it is asking for natural development. What is that? One might describe it as self-realisation for the appropriate age or level of development. And this might be a guiding principle but of what practical use is it? But there are some guides that are generally accepted. Piaget’s stages of development are accepted. What about Froebel? He is accepted, especially in Finland. But what works against this? Desire for academic success introduced at too early an age. Finland starts primary school at 7. Other western system will fasttrack students where they can, but are academic successes self-realised people? Often far from it. It is not enough to have the factual knowledge but it is important to have an awareness of having knowledge and applying it with respect for nature.
What do we know of mind? If we look at our current education mind is a vehicle that is to be filled with factual content, and as proof of intelligence we reproduce those facts in exams. But isn’t mind more than this? Intuition, insight etc? I have used the word processes to describe these. Do we educate to bring out these processes? Far from it. Wouldn’t such processes be part of what is thought of as self-realisation.
Do you meditate? If meditation is all that it is cracked up to be, why aren’t you? Because you were never taught to do it, and perhaps when you have wanted to do it you didn’t have the discipline. But what if meditation was developed from an early age? What of meditation was used to calm students before every class? Wouldn’t that help? Even if it was only used to make the students silent at the beginning of the lesson. How much would meditation help develop the mind, help develop self-realisation?
We waste our minds by filling them with useless facts that we could know at the push of button, a tap of the keyboard. But if we developed our selves – mind, body, and energy – in line with nature towards self-realisation, wouldn’t that be a much more purposive model for education?