Mark Twain is reported to have said that he never let his schooling interfere with his education. That statement seems, at first glance, to be an interplay of synonymous words, used for the purpose of humor, but a closer review exposes, in an overtone of sarcasm, the narrow understanding our society takes with regard to education. Our society clings steadfast to an iron clad understanding of education that says, only formal schooling equals education, Q.E.D. All other types of learning such as, self introspection, “self taught,” (we forget that many of our country’s founding fathers were self taught), through informal mentorship, or the learning that Twain was alluding too in his statement, bold and informal following of one’s own ideas in areas of inquiry not sanctioned by formal schooling. All of the above and more, are viewed by our society as something other then education. In the book, Hard Times, Charles Dickens describes the pedantic attitude of Thomas Gradgrind, a teacher of great reputation.
“With a rule and a pair of scales, and the multiplication table always in his pocket sir, ready to weight and measure any parcel of human nature and tell you exactly what it comes to.”…
Our society would whole heartily applaud and support Mr. Gradgrind’s attitude.
In our society, we allow a system of formal schooling, with its initiated authorities and experts, to define and establish educational objectives and the manner in which learning takes place. These experts, over many decades, lead us through a pedantic maze of intellectualized formulas of education all of which included some form of quantitative evaluation to prove the value of their formulas. The overall result of this quantitative approach to education has been to install a strict framework for educating. That is, it keeps learning strictly on a lower or practical bases which subsequently exercises the lower and lower-middle ranges of human principles. It isn’t that the lower and lower-middle principles of human beings should be neglected, but to make of them the foundation on which to build an educational system is at best shortsighted, and at worst an obvious display of ignorance about the true composition of human beings.
In addition to the constricting structure of our education system, its experts have build into it an enforcement process of rewards and punishments. What this enforcement process does is to compound the already low focus of education by directing the student’s mind to the low desire to be first, while at the same time inflaming passion for honor. On the other end, it humiliates and depresses all expression not within its education parameters, and it evaluates, classifies, medicates, and names all offenders.
Our education system, as expressed through its institutions, tilts the students mind towards the lower human principles of animal desires and passions, under the false mantle of high intellectual development. Under this system if a student successfully meets the system’s objectives and becomes wholly intellectual, his entire nature begins to bend downward, for intellect along is cold, heartless, and selfish, because it is not lighted up by the higher principles.
The sad fact is that most of our formal schooling is pure display or vanity. In his Republic, Plato says, “What the mind can grasp and throw away is vanity.” You have been schooled to be good test takers, accurate accountants, award achievers, good employees for the corporate world, etc. etc. Yet as practically beneficial as that schooling may have been, it was not directed at the development of your higher principles; towards helping mold you into a “good” human being. In other words, directed at your higher-self; those more noble characteristics such as, a moral sense, self-sacrifice, compassion, service.
Through some kind of unspoken assignment, that higher part of your education was allotted to religious institutions, parents , and yourself. However, when all the above are products of the same quantitative, intellectualized system of education, all are infected by the same low results. Except for a few brave and unfettered souls like, Mark Twain, Fredrick Douglas, Thoreau, Emerson, and others of the same consciousness, whose lives help us to have a peek under the weighted veil of our own educational confinement, we carry our low educational symptoms around with us, ignorantly contaminating all we contact.
The primary objective of any education system, or any endeavor for that matter, should be to awaken the higher principles of human nature. Given the human composition, and its total involvement with its own process to evolve and express its higher principles, any objective other then the awakening of the higher human nature is a form of vanity. You have at your life core the spark of the Supreme-Consciousness-Power of the Universe, and to recognize and express that god-hood is the most fundamental of human objectives.
To those educational experts who are today in an uproar over the inability of the current educational system to educate, and are under pressure to find a more comprehensive way to educate, let them read a simple book called, The Education of Little Tree, by Forrest Carter. The entire book is a manual for the successful education of children, and in the chapter entitled, Mr. Wine, the secret to a successful system of education is revealed.
“Mr. Wine said figuring was important. He said education was a
two-part proposition. One part was technical, which was how you
moved ahead in your trade. He said he was for getting more modern
in that end of education. But, he said the other part you had better
stick to and not change it. He called it valuing.
Mr. Wine said if you learnt to place a value on being honest and thrifty,
on doing your best, and caring for folks; this was more important than anything.
He said if you was not taught these values, then no matter how modern you got
about the technical part, you was not going to get any wheres atall.
As a matter of fact, the more modern you get without these
valuings, then you would more than likely use the modern things for bad and
destroying and ruining.”…
I will let Charles Dickens have the final words on this topic. In his book, Hard Times, Dickens exposes an ironic flaw in the esteemed teacher, Thomas Gradgind:
“If he had only learned a little less, how infinitely better he might have taught much more.”