Education problems we see today have deeper roots than many people realize…
Many of the processes and systems we see in schools today stem from colonial times, where western powers were attempting to settle lands and take control of territories. (including the US, as populations immigrated from Europe). As populations grew and became disorderly, schools then became an avenue for helping these powers keep order in the population. As the industrial revolution took hold, schools also became place to teach populations how to work in factories.
We now live in a different era, a highly interconnected and interdependent world where each person can individually – and without needing to seek an authority – access information and networks in the blink of an eye. This New Economy is much more about standing out from the masses, rather than blending in. Yet many education systems we see in the world today have not yet caught up with the new skills and qualities needed for navigating these new interconnected landscapes.
The following principles are leading many schools to hold students back from thriving in today’s world:
1. The teacher is the ‘holder’ of knowledge, and anyone who does not have access to this ‘holder of knowledge’ will be debilitated in the world
2. Punishment and shaming are the same as discipline (a dangerous myth that thwarts human progress)
3. One way to control a population is to make it believe that it cannot thrive without gaining a certain type of skill or information
4. Questioning the status quo would lead to chaos, and therefore should be limited as much as possible
5. Intuition, inner wisdom and gut instinct are not major factors in success, and therefore should not be overly emphasized. (Science is showing us that nothing could be further from the truth.)
Although we are evolving, schools are still built on these foundations. Our obsession with results, numbers, data and measurable success keeps us from feeling inner victories that come from qualities and experiences that cannot be measured, categorized and labeled.
Every time we lead our children to focus on our approval or disapproval, or on numbers from a test score, we block them further and further from their own sense of inner approval.
This gets them to become addicted to our approval, to external approval and results – instead of turning inward to that feel-good-feeling that can only come from within. By not teaching children how to listen to that quiet inner voice, the current education system does little to help us return to our own sense of inner wisdom.
So what do we do to try to minimize education problems stemming from these limiting beliefs?
One of the most important areas of research that will help classrooms become forces for positive and evolutionary change is research about the mind, how it works, and what it needs to be used to its maximum potential
To do this, educators, leaders and parents should learn about and highlight the following:
imagination, empathy, socratic questioning, intuition & gut feelings, turning inward for a sense of well-being (instead of to external things such as approval from others), trusting our inner guidance. These abilities drive improvements in academic behaviors and performance – and help students become innovators who make bold, unique decisions – rather than make choices only because they will be approved of by the masses.
In the upcoming February 2018 article, I’ll give you five concrete strategies for helping the next generation survive the suffocation of outdated factory-school education.
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