“Fright never injures anyone. What injures the spirit is having someone always on your back, beating you, telling you what to do and what not to do.”
Carlos Castaneda

Journey to Ixtlan

A Shitty Lesson


A few days ago I completed watching (I watched it in chunks) the movie ‘Waiting for Superman” which offers a dramatic and critical view of the USA education system.

I made some twitter comments about it but I didn’t feel like writing a post (that was me practicing being less critical – this post is me failing at it). The whole time I was watching the movie I had a feeling it was completely sidestepping the problem. Almost every experience I have that originates in the USA is that it has fallen for the “American Dream” it represents – it has deluded itself into believing that capitalism is an end.

Life is purpose (dharma) PERIOD(.) Living in ignorance of purpose is a life that is bound to break. Consumerism and ownership (cornerstones of capitalism) are devoid of purpose and if that is all your system (capitalism) is geared to do (whether you are an individual or a country) then that system is going to break down. The “success” of the system IS in breaking down.

Just now, Andreea and I were discussing, again, our waste-management options (there are no sewers) in a village house we are building. The most difficult challenge we face is, bluntly put, how to remove shit from the house. The conventional and comfortable way is by using flushing water. The most simple and ecological way is by carrying it out (into composting bins). It’s a major decision with many aspects and effects. It’s a difficult decision because we really like not having to carry around our own shit (aint that a rich metaphor).

We then came across The Humanure Handbook – a prominent resource in ecological circles. There in chapter 4 I found this quote that went to the heart of the education problem:

By emphasizing the intellect at the expense of intuition, creativity, and conscience, our educational systems yield spiritually imbalanced individuals. No discussion of a subject should be considered complete without an examination of its moral, philosophical, and ethical considerations, as well as a review of the intellectual and scientific data. When we ignore the ethics behind a particular issue, and instead focus on intellectual achievements, it’s great for our egos. We can pat ourselves on the back and tell ourselves how smart we are. It deflates our egos, on the other hand, to realize that we are actually insignificant creatures on a speck of dust in a corner of the universe, and that we are only one of the millions of life forms on this speck, all of whom must live together.

Education systems in almost every developed country (east and west) are either in overdrive or collapse, and no attempt to fix them seems to work. This, to me, is a classis platypus situation where rational observers are ignoring and denying what is actually there. Education systems don’t need to be fixed, they need to die. Education needs to be reinvented – from scratch. Our kids will not go anywhere near a system of education. For better or worse they will be nurtured by us and by others in our community – learning through life and naturally gravitating towards and discovering their own sense of purpose.

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