We Need an Education Revolution
The lack of spiritual education
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Society has a funny way of reinforcing old habits. School, friends, the media all work together to reinforce these old ideas and try and shape you into their own form or perfect so you can more perfectly fit into the system. We all have memories of sitting in school and losing our focus. The teacher is explaining something and we get lost in the window, daydreaming about how nice it is outside, or just mindlessly staring at the clouds. We get yelled at and told to pay attention; to stop daydreaming. From an early age we are taught that it is bad to meditate with this negative reinforcement. Read Part One here.
The fact is that school is set up in such an unproductive manner. It is unrealistic to expect kids to be able to stay focused on memorizing content day in and day out for 7 hours a day with only a couple breaks for lunch and recess; apparently physical education is becoming less of a requirement and more of a recommendation. So, school is becoming less diverse as far as education goes, abandoning the physical aspect because common core takes more time. Schools expect kids to be less active throughout the school day, then act surprised when more kids start acting up in class with restlessness. I won’t even start on the rise of childhood obesity. Fidget spinners became a huge hit for a while, and it is how our system takes advantage of children’s legitimate problems. Someone pitched to a board room that he could profit off all the distracted children. Instead of trying to solve the issue of attention problems in school, these people wanted to profit off it. I will admit I bought a couple myself as they are rather entertaining.
Why do we want our kids to grow up learning how to memorize all these useless facts? When I went to school, I day dreamed too. I spent most of my high school days doodling in my notebook, scrambling to finish homework assignments due that day, and when I could get away from class, playing euchre with my friends. Sounds like a kid about to flunk out, but I was a straight A student because I had learned how to game the system. That is what school taught me. If you just memorize these facts for a few days throughout the year and write down some notes, you can daydream throughout most of the year. Some students carry this mentality into their adult lives as well. Go check on your coworkers and see how many are actually working right now. We waste time as adults too. Checking social media and perusing the internet instead of accomplishing our goals. Then we wonder why we have a life of mediocrity. Because the system encourages that type of behavior and to break free, you have to find new ways of thinking and take a risk.
Change the Mindset
I argue that instead of force-feeding kids all these dates, names and locations each day, that we start attacking their mindsets. Teach them how to think critically, but maybe our society doesn’t want that. What the system is set up for is to teach them how to be good little worker drones. It’s only those that rebel and begin to think for themselves that can break out of that life of mediocrity. Why don’t we let children have more agency in school? We grow up reading the same books that honestly don’t really have that much to offer to the 21st century. Don’t get me wrong. I love reading and many old books are among my favorites, such as The Tao Te Ching and the Norse Eddas. Later this year I will read the Epic of Gilgamesh and I have read through the Bible, which is more than most Christians can say. But Animal Farm, Of Mice and Men and The Great Gatsby only offer so much, though I did enjoy The Great Gatsby. Still, kids today should be encouraged to read and most of these books are doing the opposite. Why can’t we let kids decide for themselves? Teach them that it is OK to be different and maybe share their thoughts on the book that they choose. A book like Little Brother by Cory Doctorow should be required reading for all high school students, but maybe it makes people too uncomfortable. I am sure parents would complain about the explicit content in the book like skipping class and teenage drinking. Never mind the actual issues in the book that need to be talked about today. Topics such as government surveillance, augmented reality, and the debate between security versus freedom.
Because in this post 9/11 world, we should be very concerned with teaching the youth of what happened to society on that day and how this world changed. Every day I see our lives stray further and further from the pre 9/11 world and as more people grow up, the less people are left that remember how everything used to be. It has become a bit ironic however since the Patriot Act sought to wiretap the American public all in the name of stopping terrorism, yet today most of the population willingly shares that information on social media. The problem is that we lost the freedom to decide what to share, yet very few ever spoke out against this injustice.
There are always detractors to the thought of changing our course curriculum and expanding the types of education we offer the youth. The tired old argument of saying “It is the responsibility of the parents to teach that at home,” is losing more credit by the day. In this post 2008 financial collapse world where many adults are either working two jobs or bringing their work home with them thanks to technology, when exactly are parents supposed to take the time to wrestle for the attention of their kids from their iPads and phones? So many great parents are doing this or at least trying to educate the kids, but our time is a precious commodity that is running lower and lower each year. We keep such busy lives and fill up so much time with distractions, that we leave so little time for introspection and critical thinking. Maybe there is more to this life than filling our heads with details about history, biology and chemistry. All of these are important but we spend so much time teaching without offering much education about why it is important. Why we should pay attention in school or how we should think about learning. Maybe the carrot we hold out in front of children of learn this so you can make money and buy stuff has lost its impact on the youth? What if kids today don’t value material goods the way our parents did. We are living in interesting times where college graduates are living out of vans to travel the country or out of necessity while foreign investors drive up the housing market for profit and capital flight without considering their effect on the homeless rates.
This point is that we are so concerned with bigger, faster or better but maybe we need to think smarter and not harder. Maybe it is time we change the way we do things and the way we live our lives. It all starts with education and it is no secret that the education system is failing the youth and our future. This isn’t the fault of underpaid and undersupplied teachers. This is a top down system problem and the fact that we aren’t questioning how to improve this broken system is beyond frustrating. But at least Bill Gates can make a fortune by selling common core software to the schools. Profit over ethics should be the name of our National Anthem.
Maybe I am just frustrated that in 3 months of working in the real world, I learned more than I did in 4 years at college, and I went to a great University. Maybe I am just frustrated that it seems as if the entire system is designed in a way to keep the average person so fat, busy and entertained that they never take the time to sit back and think that maybe we have a systemic problem and we should start asking more questions. Maybe it is time for an education revolution. Maybe I am just frustration because after 12 years of school, 4 years of college and more years in the real world, no one preached the ideas of critical thinking or how to be happy, or general philosophy for a better life. Somehow, we are just expected to take what little free time we have and to just figure it out all on our own. Maybe that is why I made this blog and maybe I have somewhat of an idea of what I am talking about. Maybe I do, and maybe I don’t, but either way, there are not a lot of people out there even having the conversation. I guess it is too uncomfortable. Change often is.