Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Problems With Education

From the early years of childhood, children are growing up in environments where they are subjected to the beliefs and ideologies of whatever surrounding they happen to live in. As we are experiencing a series of wars and conflicts one after the other, it is obvious that there is a profound problem in the way we are bringing up children. The conditioning of children takes place in two significant mode of control, which is in the home and the school or religious institutes. It is through these modes, that children are moulded into persons' who they are truly not, contributing to the perpetuation of the present world crisis into the future. The present world crisis affects us all and can be seen in the wars, conflicts and divisions of our time, which have all been the result of the lack of individual awareness and integrated thinking.

Self-awareness and integrated thinking can only come about, when there is a fundamental understanding of the self as well as life as a whole, which comes into being through self-knowledge. Therefore education in its true sense is a way for individuals to understand themselves, for it is from within, that the whole of existence is gathered. Present day education however, has placed emphasize on technique through the accumulation of information from books, which is done so in the pursuit of a future profession, in order to acquire social and economic security within society. This kind of education also imposes a form of escapism as it teaches individuals to become occupied with facts, and placing importance upon technique which inevitably brings dullness and passiveness of the mind; however, like all escapes, this inevitably brings about confusion and misery. In the present day systems of education, the teacher and authority figures ingrain into child's mentality, the importance of practicing technique whether it is in the school where they are taught to acquire facts and information, or the religious institutes where people habitually follow principles and beliefs. However, the acquiring of various skills, rules and facts can only engulf us in chaos and suffering. Learning to read and write are necessary, as well as learning a profession, but can technique give us the ability to understand life and its problems? Surely it is secondary, and when we are taught to strive for technique we are obviously denying a far greater and significant part of life.

The school institutes condition children with information so that they can grow up into professionals, in whatever field. Therefore the individual becomes occupied with a particular area of knowledge and therefore a portion of life, as he or she becomes a specialist; the problem with this though, is how this is achieved and the intentions involved. The over emphasis of technique has given capacity, but without an understanding of life, these skills can only make a person ruthless. Technique has also provided us with a form of emotional and physical security, giving us a sense of vitality and aggressive independence. The teachers and institutes therefore strive to mould individuals into these kinds of people to fit into their perceptions and desires of what 'should be' instead of realizing the reality of 'what is'; therefore, the end result becomes more important than the means. However, what people fail to realize is that, the means determines the final outcome. So, now we begin to see how the past projects itself into the future and how children are becoming the continuation of the past and present. Thus, the present world crisis continues to exist because of this.

The teachers and authority figures are maintaining these systems of control through the means of discipline that ensures a result, which is more important to them than the means. However, the fundamental problem with discipline is that it is becoming a substitute for love, and is utilized continuously as a consequence of fear and personal projections. It is commonly used in the name of a just purpose, yet it is a hindrance to freedom, and freedom in the sense of the state of mind, can never be achieved through discipline, through resistance. Also, discipline is enforced by authority figures through 'reward and punishment', which instills further fear. The teachers subtly condition children with this concept, encouraging them through this fear to fight for the sake of the country, harvesting nationalism and patriotism which divides people, to fight in the name of God or to fight in the name of their family. The school, parents and religious institutes do this in many ways, encouraging children to get good grades and be 'the best', which breeds envy and competitiveness, to be patriotic, which breeds animosity and divisions, and to be a moral person, which breeds superficiality and greed - all in the desire of a reward. Now, the fears of the consequential punishments of not following these ideals are harsh enough for individuals to not even question why they follow them in the first place, but then again, the person would not know any better, due to the extent of their own conditioning and their ultimate submission to these beliefs as 'reality'.

Could it be possible for parents and teachers to demonstrate to the child how to be considerate of others without the use of a reward or love as a bribe? For it is in this self-centred seeking that superficiality is also born , and there can be no respect for one another when there is a reward for it, because the fear of punishment and bribe then become more important that respect itself. How can a parent or teacher have respect or even love a child when they bribe the individual with a reward, and threaten them with a punishment? Surely, this is only encouraging fear and covetousness. Again, these teachers and authority figures therefore do not know any better themselves because they too have been brought up this in this way to act for the sake of a result; and until we truly realize that there can be action free of the desire to gain, the continuation of our fears, greed and envy, which form the ego, will persist to remain a part of our reality.

All this begins to contribute to the desire of escape from 'what is' or the 'present', whether it be through the superficial modes of media, eating, religion, drugs or sex, which all provide a form of temporary self-gratification for the ego. In religion, individuals claim to love their God and may follow the beliefs and principles in order to be a 'good' person, however, the motives of this process are all self-centred and self-seeking for personal gratification. When the individual preys to God in a time of strife, what they are doing is projecting their fears and hopes in their ego where they can satisfy their sorrow. God or Truth, is far beyond thought and emotional demands, it is a space where the mind is still and self-aware, and a still mind is not a disciplined mind, but a mind that understands the workings of the self.

Therefore, it has been established how children are being conditioned by systems of authority and how this breeds a lack of self-awareness, the ego and desires for escapism, so now, one may ask 'what is the right kind of education?'. The right kind of education would help children understand life as a whole and not through the tunnel-vision perspective of 'profession'; it would help individuals become integrated beings with an understanding of the full scope of the problems and miseries of the world in an unbiased and intelligent approach. The young would have the spirit of inquiry, seeking out truth from the bigger picture - political, religious, personal and environmental, which would bring a greater significance upon the young, thus bringing forth the hope for a better world. For this to ever take place, the parents and teachers themselves, must first tear down the beliefs and ideologies they hold and cultivate an integrated understanding of themselves and life; therefore the right kind of education is not only concerned with the young, but with the older generation as well, who must not be too absorbed in their own ways. The fundamental point is that if the individual truly loves the child, for love is essential to the process of integration; they would see to it that they have the right kind of educators, who could provide the child with an integrated understanding of the world we live in, for it is only until individuals possessing this awareness, that the possibility of manifesting a better world can come into being.

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