Why education has become a problem in the world is, people become who they are in the world because of what they have gathered.
This is a very unfortunate situation. Right now, whether it is material things or knowledge, whatever information we have gathered, it makes them who we are.
Who we are and what we have gathered are two different things.This is the distinction we are trying to bring into child’s life in schools. Whatever you may gather, it doesn’t matter. What you gather is just information and things. Information is a thing by itself. It should not determine who we are. Who we are is determined by a different process, what we gather by a different process. So, when we keep repeating to everybody, lot of these people feel ashamed,
What we are saying is, whatever we have gathered does not determine who we are, because the biggest problem in the world is this. From the day we are born, all kinds of people are trying to teach us something that’s not worked in life.
We think if we can say one of the major problems is that we didn’t have systems of mass education, as we know them now, pretty much until the middle of the nineteenth century. You know, they were invented.
It was part of the Industrial Revolution and it was associated with the big move from the countryside into the cities to provide a workforce for the industrial economy. It’s very straightforward from that perspective. It was a massive piece of social engineering. It’s why the system is shaped the way it was. We needed a majority of people to do blue collar work, which is why we had a broad base of elementary education, and a relatively small group of people to do clerical administrative work in suits, which is why we had a small university sector, and the system is created that way.
You know, 50 years ago at school, any sort of high school, the grammar school or a secondary modern school. It was really an IQ test, but people thought it was a blood test, you know, that told them how smart they were. And actually, it was just a capacity to do that type of test. And like a driving test, you could get better at it and I mean, a lot of people were trained to do it and they got through it. But the consequence of it is that we created this kind of system, where there were small group of winners and they did very well by it, but the vast majority didn’t. And part of the problem, is that the system of education is burdened with certain ideological assumptions. One of them is a whole set of ideas like intelligence. So, the whole ideal of Western education is to get people to university, and therefore and it’s because the university is abrogated the system to the wrong purposes and therefore we have in the system this deep.
Deeply mistaken assumption that is intelligence is the same thing as academic ability. And academic intelligence is very important, but it’s a very specific capacity, the capacity to certain types of deductive reasoning, certain types of critical discourse. But the upshot is that if you’re not very good at that, you’re thought not to be very smart, because the truth is if you create a very narrow impression of ability, you create a very big conception of disability and inability.
Anyway, there is a child we have seen at the school couldn’t grip the pencil in his fingers. But he could grip it in his toes and he had beautiful writing, actually. Was his hand writing ? We don’t know. But the point is we are surrounded by people like decrepitude, you know, being brought in. But nobody was interested in what people’s disabilities seemed to be. What we were interested in is what they were good at, and if they were smart or interesting or what. And the fact is that many of the things that they had difficulty with, weren’t what really defined them. But because there’s this narrow view of ability, if you have trouble writing or speaking, it’s assumed that you have some associated mental incapacity, which is why you get this big conception of disability surrounding it. But if you reframe the conception of ability, suddenly you discover all these talents and possibilities that are inherent all the time. We mentioned it because it’s a dramatic example, what Special Education is, of what happens all the time in general education. All kinds of kids are told they’ve got problems, who don’t have them. They’re created by the system. And it’s the problem with the system that we need to address, that if you re-frame ability, all of these difficulties people seem to be suffering from suddenly disappear. If you find the things they’re good at, if you create an environment, which is holistic, which is addressing your spiritual development, your physical development, which recognize that human life is not linear, it’s organic and it will take many different courses then you have a completely different set of conditions, under which people will flourish. And it’s the fact that the conditions which are industrial in character, create problems for kids, which they then begin to rail against.
So we now have a system based on competition, narrow view of ability, and one in which people are being medicated to stay with the program, they’re being pathologized for losing interest in what is essentially very boring stuff. And there are different ways of doing it, better ways, You know, education is not one of those things like an incurable disease and we can’t figure out what to do. We know what to do in education. It’s about taking this thing to scale. But taking it to scale doesn’t mean replicating it because as you say, there’s no perfect school.
Actually, there are no two schools alike, that like there are no two individuals alike. But there are principles you can apply everywhere, and getting those principles in place today is the big challenge.