What is it all about?

Got this in my inbox the other day:

Peter, if it was just about surviving, getting by, and keeping things the way they are, then how would you explain imagination?

If it was just about sacrifice, selflessness, and altruism, then how would you explain desire?

And if it was just about thinking, reflection, and spiritual stuff, then how would you explain the physical world?

Get the picture, Peter? Want it all. That’s what it’s there for.

It’s a daily inspirational email from Tut.com an inspirational website for people who believe in higher powers, the law of attraction and other “Foo-Foo” stuff.

I subscribe to it because its got swag while also being spiritual, profound, and irreverent.

What I’d like to be when I grow up. 😉

I was moved to share this one above, because it reminded me about how flawed our current educational model is; we completely miss the mark in what we teach our children.

Traditional education completely misses the mark on what’s important

We think it’s important for them to regurgitate facts and formulas on exam days and not important for them to engage with what will really lead them to develop their human potential.

Most of the stuff we teach children in school they can learn online with a lot less resources than it costs to push them through the physical school system.   Provided of course that they are sufficiently motivated to do so.  Which suggests that we should be spending their school time teaching them or rather instilling within them that fire to learn, that sense of wonder.

Why do we leave it to chance whether our children engage with questions like “What’s the meaning of life?”  Is there some universal meaning, or is it up to each of us to make that meaning for ourselves?   Why are we focussed on feeding them answers when ..

it’s the questions that matter

  • What is it all about?
  • Is there one right thing, way, philosophy, religion?
  • Why can’t we agree?
  • Can you reconcile contradictions?
  • Are there really contradictions or is it simply the way you look at things or ask the questions?
  • Is it possible to support a woman’s right to choose, but yet personally never support or encourage a woman to make the choice to end her pregnancy, (as I do)?
  • Is it possible to remain a member of one party and vote for another as Colin Powell apparently did in the 2008 presidential election?
  • Is it possible for a good person to do really bad things, (like a Bill Clinton or a Tiger Woods) or do the bad things cancel all of the good that came before?  What if it’s just one really bad thing?
  • What about the other way around; with a bad person doing a good thing?

Ok, not all of these are appropriate for a twelve-year old, but some are, and who knows: your child might surprise you.  Why not spend their time in school teaching them that for many of these questions there is no final answer; that rigidly holding on to answers—especially answers given to them from other people—inhibits growth and development; that it’s OK and likely that their answers to these questions will change as they get older.

Educating our children and young people to pass exams in subjects that they can quite easily learn for themselves online (see Coursera or Khan Academy), and not facilitating their personal exploration of what life is all about and what it means for them to live a great life is a fundamental error that causes much pain and suffering in society.

Perhaps this is the greatest irony of religion, or at least religious education; it purports to answer these questions for people and all it does is teach young people to close their minds to anything that questions church dogma.

Not to beat up solely on religion; our entire educational system encourages obeisance to orthodoxy. That’s insane in a world of accelerating change, discovery and untold wonder.   Actually that’s always been insane.


Any thoughts? Contributions/acknowledgments welcome.