“Education, in the sense in which I mean it, may be defined as the formation, by means of instruction, of certain mental habits and a certain outlook on life and the world. (…)
The search for an outside meaning that can compel an inner response must always be disappointed: all “meaning” must be at bottom related to our primary desires, and when they are extinct no miracle can restore to the world the value which they reflected upon it.
The purpose of education, therefore, cannot be to create any primary impulse which is lacking in the uneducated; the purpose can be only to enlarge the scope of those that human nature provides, by increasing the number and variety of attendant thoughts and showing where the most permanent satisfaction is to be found.”Bertrand Russel – Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays (1910)
Setting: Catholic religion class at school.
Characters: New teacher – a man. A bunch of 9-year-olds.
Open discussion about covenants. (Based loosely on recollection, don’t shoot the messenger!)
Girl in my daughter’s class, with genuine curiosity: Why are all the priests men? Why are there no women priests?
Teacher, gently: Well, you see, Jesus was a man, and his apostles were men, and…
Several girls in my daughter’s class: But his mother was a woman!
Teacher, full of kindness: Yes, but she could not have brought Jesus into the world without a heavenly Father…
Red-haired girl: He couldn’t have been born without a mother, either.
Teacher, softly: Yes, you’re right… but, maybe, you know, if some priests were women, then the men in church would stop paying attention to God and stare at the pretty priest…
My daughter, mumbling to herself: But the same can be true the other way around. If the priest is handsome…
Boy seated next to my daughter, searching for a solution: Maybe men are just uglier than women!
Red-haired girl: But if the women were really ugly, could they be priests then?
My daughter, musing after class: What if all the priests were women? Then there wouldn’t be any male priests to tempt… 🙂
(Ah, the dilemmas, quandaries and predicaments that arise when children are allowed to think freely. 🙂 Which, thankfully, they are.)
Motto: “The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn – and change.” (Carl Rogers)
I’m a structured learner. I admit it. I like engorging information, reflecting upon it, and structuring it mentally or on paper. But it is only when I manage to enrich that information with something new, with an additional original thought, to move forward and share/discuss/debate that new understanding with others, that I feel real learning has taken place. And I get a kick out of that.
I did very good in formal education until I became an adult and realized there are so many more ways to learn and move forward. Now I enjoy handpicking my classes, without necessarily pursuing a degree, challenging myself to face new situations, looking at things and people from different perspectives. I guess I’m constructing my own meaning and purpose for learning now. My children have taught me to learn and think about learning in different ways.
There are four types and four theories of learning: cognitive, behavioral, social, humanist. Four reasons why we learn. We learn to know, we learn to do, we learn to live together and we learn to be.
And there are many styles of learning, too. We learn by memorizing and reflecting (abstract learning), we learn by observing (seeing, hearing, touching), we learn by doing and applying, we learn through emotional experiences sometimes. We learn skills, but we also learn wisdom, critical thinking, a better understanding – of ourselves, of others, of the world at large.
I believe in lifelong learning. In this constant moving forward. Not as a compulsory course of formal education, but as a kind of openness to growth and a willingness to open up to new things. Learning is change, the willingness and the ability to understand more and perhaps even overhaul one’s convictions. I believe that is both the present and the future of education.
As I’ve just read in a great book, “what if, in our universe, there is a possibility of becoming that which we aren’t yet…”? (Muriel Barbery – L’élégance du hérisson).
“His conclusion was that things were not always what they appeared to be. The cub’s fear of the unknown was an inherited distrust, and it had now been strengthened by experience. Thenceforth, in the nature of things, he would possess an abiding distrust of appearances. He would have to learn the reality of a thing before he could put his faith into it.”
Jack London – White Fang, Part II, Chapter IV – The wall of the world.
I have aborted myself to feed my children.
my love, my thoughts, my writing – all of them, aborted fetuses,
because my children needed to eat regular
but behold! –
my children are not necrophagous.
they do not thrive on the smell of death and destruction.
theirs are the souls
enraptured by the seed of light
theirs are the hands
that carry the torch.
3. More sleep
6. More cartoons
7. Sun, sand, water, ice cream
8. Sun, rocks, water, ice cream
9. Sun, grass, water, ice cream
10. Reading, LEGO, board games, trees, voyages of discovery, pebbles and insects (except mosquitoes!).
Maybe that’s why young people everywhere are lured by all sorts of fundamentalist ideologies: They feel the same nostalgia for a simpler, clearer, more honest past. A straightforward past of black and white. That seems authentic to them. It’s important to relativize in order to protect basic rights and freedoms, but too much relativity, in all aspects of life, can be extremely tiring. It is a form of uncertainty. And too much uncertainty always leads to some form of authoritarian manifestation.
It’s simpler to say this or that, friend or foe, than try to reconcile the two.
Besides, in a world of fake love and feigned interest, those guys’ hate seems real. And real is hard to come by these days. So yeah, that gives hate a certain aura. The aura of people living out their convictions, no matter how horrendous. What do we live? What do we even believe in anymore? What meaning can we offer our kids to make them stay away from the hate preachers?… That kind of meaning, of reason, of heartwarming faith that gives a soul stability through a lifetime of torments, that is the coolest endowment. That’s what parenting is about.
Instead, we buy them brand clothing and gadgets. The moment you take off that shirt, you’re nobody. How sad.