July 26
The aim of education should be to
teach us rather how to think, than
what to think--rather to improve
our minds, so as to enable us to
think for ourselves, than to load the
memory with thoughts of other people.
Bill Beattie


Today's Meditation:

Why do we learn?  It seems that in the eyes of many politicians and policy-makers, we learn in order to perform on tests and to know the same things that everyone else learns.  The current thought seems to be that we all should focus on learning information rather than process, on learning by rote rather than learning to be creative and expressive.  We should learn to consume rather than create, it seems, and these focal points are definitely showing up in our culture, where fewer people are able to understand what's going on in our society and more likely to be addicted to TV shows and video games.

But if our public education systems aren't focusing on teaching the skills and abilities that will help us to reach our potential and grow as people, then what do we do?  We can't change the systems, can we?  More than likely we can't, especially on a broad level.  But we can change what we want to get out of our education-- what we personally want to become through the education that we receive, and what we want our children to become.

We can affect our own education on any level by asking the right questions, by paying attention to what's being taught and questioning it.  We need to ask "why" more and "what" less.  We need to truly listen to the things being taught to us, and if we don't understand it completely, ask for clarification on the points that we've missed.

Most teachers yearn for students who will show enough initiative to think critically about the material that's being presented to them, and most welcome well-considered questions.  Our educations are up to us, no matter what's being taught or how it's being taught.  And if we run up against inflexibility, then we need to consider why someone is being inflexible--and then we can learn about the teacher and his or her methods and issues.

Thoughts of other people can be very valuable, but they should act as a catalyst to spark our own thoughts.  If we learn them only to present them later as our own thoughts, then we haven't learned anything at all--we've simply attained a certain level of knowledge that won't truly help us at all in the lives that we're living.  Take charge of what you learn and how you learn it, and you'll find that you grow much, much more than the educational systems are designed to help you grow.

Questions to consider:

What's the difference between learning information and learning to think more effectively?

How can we affect what we learn and how we learn it in positive ways?

Why do educational systems tend to be rather rigid when it comes to what they teach and how they teach it?

For further thought:

We provide an education in specialization.  We produce clones for the modern world.  We throw people into a mold, which we call an education system, to form cogs for the global economic wheel, all the time dangling the golden carrot before them as incentive and reason.  Truth be told, our modern education systems crush the very spirit they claim to instill.

Matthew Kelly


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