The Yin and Yang of Education
For the past 25 years I have been in positions of management, responsible in part or in whole for interviewing, hiring and training people within a variety of organizations for which I have worked. I have also acted in that same time period as a mentor for diverse segments of our male population ranging from 5th graders to church and civic organizations to adjudicated and incarcerated juveniles. What I have done is only material because of what those experiences have taught me and the benefit derived by those whom I’ve touched.
In this brief article are, in my humble opinion, areas of opportunity within our educational system for vast improvement and at the same time great healing within ourselves. Please understand that my intent here is not to bash teachers, educators, or educational institutions, many of whom I hold in the highest esteem. My intent is to encourage my readers to consider the consequences of personal responsibility or maybe more poignantly irresponsibility regarding who, what, when, where and how they or their children will be educated.
By sharing shortcomings within my own life experiences I hope to offer some examples of the consequences and paradoxes each person may consider individually and collectively about our current educational systems and what we are getting from and giving to them.
Right up front I want to disclose that I was capable of making my own choices and frankly did so. However, what would have been beneficial to learn was not, in my opinion being taught or disclosed in school or at home. I am not looking to place blame as I now know it clearly was my responsibility once I reached the age of reason. Even then, there were so many very important elements to successful living (however you view that) that were omitted intentionally or otherwise from my life’s educational experience.
So, it is for that reason I offer this opinion about improvements to help educate future generations.
1. “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” John F. Kennedy.
Our nation is currently embroiled in controversy over entitlements of all kinds. Education may or may not be a part of it but my first recommendation is that we shift our perception of education as a must for a good job. In my view, the value of learning is a must for human growth. We seem to cut it short unless there is a new financial end in mind. When we view learning only as a means to a specific end we tend to stop learning once we reach that end. Holistically, this may be a reason why there is such a huge gap in our country between the generations. One is - learn only to earn, the other stopped earning and no longer learns. My recommendation is to encourage a lifestyle of life-long learning not because there is power in knowledge but because there is greater power in the love of sharing and execution of applied knowledge from beginning to end. I would term this Educational Consciousness.
2. “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand” – Albert Einstein
One of the things I wish my parents had fostered or at least discussed with me was the ability to imagine. I’m getting pretty good at it now but I would have loved to have learned it in my youth and had the past 50 years to practice it! I can never remember being taught or evaluated on my ability to imagine. I understand that it probably was an element of some of my educational requirements but I know it was not taught as a primary skill. If Einstein thought it was more important than knowledge why do we leave it unattended or of a secondary or tertiary attribute in the minds of our students.
Companies of all kinds look for innovations and innovators but do we teach people how to accomplish or achieve this state of being? Only for those who have the mindset. Let’s expand that mindset!!!
I’m all in favor of educating our people, no matter how young or old. But I’m not in favor of systematic education for the sake of education. I look forward to the time when educators are not required to certify but teach because of compassionate conscious desire for learning and sharing that desire with those who may be unaware but are inspired to learn by the actions of those who teach, especially those who, like Einstein and Kennedy inspire us to imagine what seems impossible and achieve what seems improbable.
Are there educators out there like this? You bet! In my experience and humble opinion most that fit this category of conscious, caring and inspiring educators are strapped by a system that somehow supports another end.
There are, on the horizon, new and innovative trends for teaching and for learning and for living! I am anxiously awaiting their emergence! In the meantime, I encourage you, your children, family and friends to remember the old, old slogan “a mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Each second elapsed without a decision to combine inspiration, innovation and compassionate collaboration into our means and methods of education runs the risk of wasting the mind of those longing to participate!