April 21, 2015, Chino Valley- After a frenetic day of rushing here and there, I found myself in a sublimely beautiful, rustic part of town. Here, among some well-intentioned, but rather judgmental individuals, I enjoyed a tour of the organic farm, and a delicious, varied vegetarian meal, while doing my best to observe silence.
Then, the discussion turned to education. Some representatives of one of the area’s least progressive school districts were bemoaning the lack of interest in things like organic farming, art and music, shown by their peers and the community’s parents. These people exuded powerlessness.
That set me to thinking- exactly what is education, and what is it not? So, here are my thoughts, few of which I saw fit to share with the group last night, given their own rather narrow minds.
Education is: Observation– Pestalozzi, Audubon, Einstein- in fact, just about anyone associated with achievement, throughout history, has begun his/her quest with keen observation of their surroundings. and expanding outward.
Note-taking- The observer takes copious notes of what is experienced. No one can commit all the essentials of an experience to memory.
Synthesis- Distilling “wheat from chaff”, so to speak, gives us the tools for adaptation.
Application- What makes our species a surviving species is the ability to make good use what is observed and internalized. The same could be said for microbes, but we have been given the role of stewardship.
Wonder- I will never be done exploring, and hopefully, neither will the best of students.
As to what education isn’t:
It is not Test-taking, for its own sake; repitition; blind imitation. “Teacher (or Coach, Principal or parent) says so” doesn’t work, once one is past the age of seven, if it even works that well before then, except in cases of personal safety. Basing our education practices on a misunderstanding of how education works in China, Singapore or South Korea (which has the highest suicide rate, among teenagers, in the developed world), is just throwing good resources into the money and energy pits.
Those are thoughts which went through my head, and which I chose to keep to myself this evening, while in the presence of self-styled heavy hitters.