by Robert Wilkinson
While perusing a political story at MSNBC, I found a brilliant post by a commenter. He speaks of the tricks the human mind can play, and why we have a serious educational problem in the US (and elsewhere!) that has nothing to do with the school system.
Written by someone named “David Walker,” he went completely off-topic into something far more important than the usual political blather. It’s really worth a quick read as something to keep in mind, since we’re all responsible for being life-long learners, and passing our knowledge and wisdom forward however and whenever it’s appropriate.
I took a look at what he linked to, and it’s something I saw back when it first hit the media that truly bears watching. It’s an interesting 5 minute look at SONY’s projections for 2009 into the future in terms of the human race, who is and will be preeminent in several important global trends, and how fast things are changing in our world. The only flaw is they assume what’s happening will continue indefinitely, which of course is totally unsustainable.
For your perusal and consideration, a somewhat anonymous piece by a very insightful person:
.... Try reading the following paragraph:
I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the first and last ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it wouthit a porbelm. This is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? (Bold for emphasis)
If you're amazed, you should see what it did to spell checker. Here's what's even more amazing. There are many people in the U.S., who can barely read or can't read at all. Their handicap doesn't track to a mental problem. It tracks to a background where education doesn't even rise to the level of an afterthought, or worse, that it's dangerous. And it's far more common than you might think.
It's not that our education system has failed. It's how we view education itself. How did we ever allow ourselves to believe that our education begins at five or ends at 18? What makes us believe that every child, each of whom is different, each of whom has differing support, learning ability, temperament, and so on is ready for kindergarten at the age of five? It's ridiculous on its face, and yet we barely question the notion. Indeed, it's clear we have confused going to school with receiving an education.
Our education begins at birth and if we're lucky if it continues right up until the moment we take our last breath. Education can't be stuffed and manipulated to fit into a system. We sure like to pretend it can though. That and that alone is the reason we continue to fall behind the rest of the rest of the world.
If you have five minutes, take a look at this video:
That's two years ago and nothing has slowed down. If anything, the world is moving even faster. Now, take a look at the protestors who are asking where the jobs are. Look at the kids wandering around texting their very important messages, "I'm drinking a two-liter bottle of Mountain Dew and breathing." They're listening to their MP3's or whatever is the latest distraction. Learning? Not even a little. They expect someone else to tell them what to do, because they never really learned anything in school - certainly not independent thinking.
Those who scoff at education, who denigrate the educated as "elite", who see cultivated intellect as snobbery are dangerous. They deliberately snub learning, allowing the unknown to remain unknown. They feed their own fears because it is the nature of mankind to fear the unknown, and how dare we tell them that they act against their own best interests.
It is really time we educated ourselves about education. (by "David Walker")
Robert here - While this was written as an indictment of the general American mindset, the American educational system, shallow American political thinking, and the values of a superficial thoughtless youth culture that values distractibility and instant gratification of the most superficial kind, it’s more or less an eternal problem. Something Plato quoted Socrates as saying about 2500 years ago springs to mind:
The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.
So it would seem that “the children” have always been distractible and not into the behavioral norms of their parents. However, those children grow up to become adults, and not necessarily aware of much outside of their appetites.
The antidote to ignorance and self-centeredness, whether in children or adults, is the embrace of learning as much as we can about as much as we can. There are many linkages that are made when we choose to open to learning about things outside of our usual interests and habits. This enables us to move through worlds outside of our previous conceptions, creates patterns of learning about ever-wider subjects, and opens us to synthesized awarenesses we couldn’t find any other way.
That’s why I always encourage everyone to consider learning what they can when they can throughout their lives. The art of mental exploration is a very good tool to understand many things about our world. There are many things we might delight in learning about, along with seeing how to apply those realizations. Over time we see the interconnections to things, and come to greater awareness on global levels. (We usually find marketable skills as well!)
Curiosity is the mind’s spur to explore all there is to understand. Part of the challenge is to be self-initiating in choosing what to explore, rather than be a passive consumer of information via the various multimedia devices such as TV, Internet, tweets, texts, and so forth. While all these are useful in some ways, it’s also worth remembering that we can “change the channel” to things that are more fulfilling than the usual white noise of daily existence.
I do believe that television and the internet both offer us windows to a wider world of information. That said, we also have to be selective in where we invest our precious time, or we can spend a lot of time learning about things that are fairly worthless in terms of a greater good. When we choose our explorations rather than stay in old patterns which merely reinforce themselves, then we’re steering the boat rather than watch it being steered for us, or merely drifting through life as "spiritual windowshoppers."
There are unsuspected powers within the mind that will grow as we cultivate any sort of higher knowledge, since ultimately all rivers flow to the ocean. As we choose to move between many different types of ways to learn about the many different subjects there are to explore, we come to a greater mental fluidity and openness to ever newer things to know. That serves to keep us in the NOW rather than get lost in speculative imaginings.
Intelligence and Wisdom can only be developed as a life-long learner, since once we master one set of lessons there will always be newer ones that are presented. These all involve foundations in knowledge, and there is always more knowledge to be acquired in any field we choose to explore, as well as other related fields.
Of course, if you’re reading this then you’re already a life-long learner developing higher awareness and critical thinking skills. Those are just two of the qualities that the vast majority of people who come to this site have (I do study my demographics, you know!;-))
I only offered you these ideas today since that’s the world in which we live, and it may help all of us to maneuver through the fogs of exponentially expanding information that have only grown since 2009. And if a few of these ideas help you to bring something forth that's new and useful, and/or help you to help others, then that’s a good thing too.
© Copyright 2012 Robert Wilkinson