Education is a process that each new generation goes through, to learn about the ways of the world so as to effectively integrate into society. We educate our young so that we may not have to reinvent the wheel over and over with every new generation – and it is because of education that we have been able to progress from the horse carriage wheel to the motorized wheel and who knows, maybe someday soon we will implement the hovercraft in its place.
I will argue that education is the most important process for the continuous development of our societies, not only in terms of building on past experiences but also in terms of learning from mistakes made in the past.
Throughout the course of human history we have learned a great deal. We have categorized and sorted the resources of our planet so efficiently that we have turned the planet itself into gigantic organized industrialized machinery that enables us to produce massive amounts of food, fuel and other goods at record speed, all year round.
We used to look upon ourselves as the result of a continuous process of upward progression as we marveled at our own inventions. We still do to some extent, as new technologies are manufactured that seems to break the barriers between the magical and the laws of physics.
There is something else happening as well. We are starting to envision the karmic downfall of our rapid climb through evolution. As our intelligence has evolved, so has our ability to destruct. As our knowledge about the world has expanded, so has the cruelty of our methods of extracting resources from the earth. We are starting to realize that we might not be as smart as we thought, as our eagerness to progress also have brought with it the mass-extinction of entire animal species and seemingly never-ending wars. This too, is a result of education.
“Think of the things killing us as a nation: narcotic drugs, brainless competition, dishonesty, greed, recreational sex, the pornography of violence, gambling, alcohol, and — the worst pornography of all — lives devoted to buying things, accumulation as a philosophy. All of these are addictions of dependent personalities. That is what our brand of schooling must inevitably produce. A large fraction of our total economy has grown up around providing service and counseling to inadequate people, and inadequate people are the main product of government compulsion schools. – John Taylor Gatto
Every animal goes through a process of education, from the baby chicken that carefully listens after its mother’s chuckles indicating which plants are to be eaten and which are not, to the walrus that gently teaches its calf how to pull its weight out of the water or the Nile crocodile that carries its offspring in a small pouch inside the mouth to a water hole where it teaches them to hunt.
The difference between animal and human education is that animals educate their young ones to survive. Evolution is something that develops over time as the need to survive changes and forces a species to adapt. As such, it can be argued that animals aren’t as ambitious or forward thinking as human beings, which would obviously also explain why we are at the top of the food change with no natural enemies… except for ourselves.
I will argue, that with the state the world is in, we are not educating our young to survive. How can we claim to do that with one hand, while the other hand is busy destroying the planet?
If education is where common sense starts, where we learn how to take care of our environment, how to effectively integrate in society, we ought to STOP all education right now and ask ourselves what in the hell we’ve been doing in our school systems to create the situation we are in right now. Because it could not have happened without education. As such, something or someone must’ve educated us to treat the planet so poorly, or rather – something or someone have NOT educated us to actually REALLY care.
It is difficult to say how far back our miseducation goes. Maybe it all went wrong with the onset of industrialization, maybe it was public schooling that did the trick or the ancient Greeks or maybe it goes all the way back to the beginning of human civilization. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that what we are doing right now is not working.
We cannot have a constant continuous progression without also taking time to do maintenance on our ‘machinery’, take time to stabilize and nurture the resources we rely on; such is the law of physics of living on a planet dependent on its Eco-systems to thrive. Instead we live in an abstract place in our minds where time and space is suspended, and we arrogantly think that we can manifest our fantasies and desires into reality without considering the consequences we impose on reality because of it.
As such, we have to look at what parts of our education of our young (that we’ve too learned from those who came before us) are causing us to be destructive rather than protective of our environment – and accordingly realign our education to prevent further damage and find solutions to the immanent matters at hand.
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler
There are so many educational theories, so many pedagogical and didactic philosophies and strategies for how to best educate children to become productive members of society. We want them to be educated as fast as possible, to a small a cost as possible and yet we very seldom ask ourselves WHY we are educating our children the way we do; we simply take the current models of education (or schooling rather) for granted as THE way, while in no way looking at the kind of society that it produces and how that society in turn functions as a part of the eco-system of the planet.
With the intellect and ambition we as human beings have, we ought to be the proud guardians of this planet, not its clumsy and ignorant destroyers.
We ought to honor the responsibility we have of actually being able to actively educate ourselves, not just to survive, but to progress and evolve beyond our instinctual programming.
Come on humanity; show us what you’ve got! Live up to your self-proclaimed ability to evolve beyond bestiality and rise to the occasion of proving yourself worthy as life.
Because we have been miseducated by the generations that came before us, we have a responsibility to firstly deschool ourselves and unlearn, that which makes us destructive as a species. But while we are busy doing that, we also have a responsibility to simultaneously re-educate ourselves and develop forms of education that will enable us to protect and nourish the planet and all life around us and in time, develop sustainable methods of evolution that works to the benefit of all life. That is real progress. That is real education.
Join me Monday where I will be on the panel on For The Love of Learning – Voices of the Alternative Education Movement together with Brandon Hay and Zak Slavback, hosted by Lainie Liberti. It will be one heck of a show where we will discuss life-long learning, digital learning in the 21. Century and how we as individuals can we make conscious choices to continue to grow, evolve and meet the needs of a changing world as a life long pursuit.
The show airs at 8 pm EST on Monday and for European night owls we go live at 1 am BST.