These are propitious days to reflect on education since it was celebrated Children’s Day on the 12th and teacher’s day on the 15th of last month. In any other paper we could debate pedagogical lines, question the various indexes of child development and percentage of ‘ approval ‘, but here the proposal is different and therefore we will approach something else.
Here we will reflect on how education influences our spiritual development. It is important to remember that education is not limited to school, but must be seen as something we live every moment in our interaction with the world. So the way we relate in the three levels (with myself, with others and with the world), is the essence of what happens outside of us. Society as we see it today is a bare and raw reflection of how we are internally.
“For each society, education is the means by which it secures, in the children, the essential conditions of its own existence.” ( Emile Durkheim )
Through this perspective, we become empowered once we bring to our hands, from our hearts, the possibility of revolutionizing from inside out. If each cell of society, which are us, changes its internal and operation perspectives, then we will create a new world for us to live in.
From a very young age, we are raised thinking that we knew nothing, that the holders of knowledge are always the others, and are usually an authority figure, such as parents, teachers. They know what is best for us and not our inner Being. So if I’m not the one who chooses what I want to live, when things don’t come out according to plan, we blame others. Always. Parents, coworkers, society.
However, this perspective takes away from us all the power to act over our lives, leaving the feeling of sadness and impotence, when in fact it is the opposite. NOW we have the choice to do it differently, inwardly remember our Essence and act and react in a new way. Everyone is responsible for themselves, constantly creating their reality, consciously or unconsciously.
“The individual is social not as a result of external circumstances, but because of an inner need.” ( Henri Wallon)
In our spiritual path, as we observe and develop ourselves, we regain this personal power. We fill our existential emptiness with a sense of connection in the same three levels. But it wasn’t always this way, the path is hard to reach once again this state of mind, which we see flowing so naturally when we observe a child.
Then you ask yourself : ok, but what does that have to do with education? EVERYTHING! When we realize this, comes the thought: if children are complete and we are completely disconnected, that’s because something in the educational and growth process is ruining the chance to feel the divinity within us.
The anti-life foundations of the current system
It is timely to remember how was the historical construction of education in our civilization. At first, learning was something to be lived, almost organic. It was common to see Masters and their disciples walk around town and chat under a tree, extracting the knowledge out of the most everyday situations. Jesus himself after incarnating the Christ did so through his parables, for example.
When we think about that time, we have in mind the great philosophers, who used nature and even a feast to provide deeper reflections. When there was a physical space, it was alive, usually in a shared house, or at most something that reminds us of a rural school of the present days.
In another moment, already gripped by a need to control and domain, came the Jesuit cultural indoctrination. Impregnated by the invasion point of view, the schools founded, especially in the Americas and Africa, truly brainwashed the indigenous and aboriginal people, removing from them what was most precious: the identity. This stance of imposing new visions and values was extremely aggressive and managed to establish.
The main weapons for this internal genocide were the psychological and emotional manipulations for children to feel displaced and completely inadequate, and then strive to meet a standard that was not theirs originally. Anyway, with this tactic completely infiltrated in education, we then got to the industrial system.
Since the revolution, the corporations that were born there were in urgent need of manpower, preferably cheap, achieved by maintaining ignorance. So that parents could go to work, children had to be placed somewhere and that’s when public education was born as we know it today, financed by these companies – and to service them. The institutionalization that occurred at that time followed this industrial model, inheriting military features. The base was made to prepare good soldiers, who valued the hierarchy and focused on the rational. Disconnecting emotions, when they left school for the urban jungle, they would be more “prepared” to deal with the cold, cruel world – spreading more coldness and cruelty, feeding back the very system that created it.
By observing schools, hospitals, prisons and factories, they all follow this format. All uniformed without individuality, doing mechanical work, without any room for questioning, completely conditioned by the outside, unable to even choose what or how much to eat, for example.
These spaces were designed to include mechanisms of control and punishment. There is always a guaranteed space for the self-proclaimed authority to monitor and punish. In the case of schools, the principal’s office is positioned in a location with a global view of the entire property, as the warden watches the inmates in the patio. Supervision is fierce and any offending practice is recorded as an occurrence, describing the behavior of students and teachers, which is subsequently archived and evaluated.
“The habit of correcting others comes from the belief that we can control them. However, whenever we try to control someone we are destined to fail. And what is the secret of success? Being aware of the belief, perceiving the thought that accompanies it and replacing it with the intelligence of influence. If we control others they put a wall in the relationship and nothing flows. If we do not control, we remain more open and have more influence.” ( Brahma Kumaris )
There are also the monitors controlling relations in the hallways and monitoring severely so that no child leaves the cell, I mean, classroom. Inside, the authority is the teacher, whose place of privilege is upon the dais. The millimeter lined up desks, everyone following an order of non-interaction, uniformed and standardized as a way of ensuring compliance of the students. Queues to enter and exit the class, stiffness and high walls portray a real prison. A state machine manipulated by corporatism, performing a mass production, separating children-product by series (lots of 1st grade, 2nd grade etc.). Any resemblance to Another Brick In The Wall is no coincidence, as we have seen in a previous article (in portuguese).
“Is there any purpose in the formal school? – It’s there to educate. It gives a certain type of information and knowledge that meets a certain type of demand, a certain kind of mental model of a society that accepts, lives and does not question.” (Tiao Rocha)
It is essential for each one of us to reflect on what makes us live without realizing the obvious. Nature teaches us that diversity is life, monoculture depletes the soil and everything dies. This model serves a system put in place to form good citizens and employees who accept everything from top to bottom without questioning. That is slavery! In the name of maintaining order, any individual creative impulse is neutered. This apparent peace is nothing but fear, real terror to escape the rules, and that’s when dogmas are created. The system instills fear to sell a false sense of security and forms individuals who clearly believe the barriers that limit them to be necessary.
“People’s minds are molded from childhood. This is what the parents and the school teachers prefer to do. They enjoy shaping the minds of children and youth. Mind tucked into a mold is indeed a conditioned mind, a slave mind.” ( Samael Aun Weor )
However, the good news is that it is we who sustain this system. Every time we follow what has always existed as if there was no choice, we kill the possibility of a different reality. So it is fundamental to question and decide what you want for your life, this reflection exists as a gnostic feature in its essence. And we have seen that this rampant consumerism ( of money, material goods, food, sex, alcohol etc. ) will not fill our existential emptiness. Your healing is not outside but inside.
“The false identity is established when we consider mental activity to be the true source of perception.” ( Patañjali )
Still today the mind is overrated, the child who can better keep the subject in his or her memory is considered to be intelligent, while the questioning students usually bother and is considered to be disturbing. We prevent children from feeling themselves, from perceiving the world through their intimacy, therefore demoralizing their intuitions.
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” (Albert Einstein)
When we rebuke the questions and avoid the debate, what happens in the classrooms is truly a lobotomy. We are forming robots who follow our instructions firmly, moving away completely from the divine essence in their hearts, from the flame that keeps us alive. The lack of shiny eyes and enthusiasm in young children makes us realize that this routine is reducing them to mere zombies.
“The main purpose of education is to create people who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done.” ( Jean Piaget )
When thinking about school, soon comes to our mind the image of a teacher dictating and children repeating, completely unmotivated and with a face of deadly boredom. This is because it still sees the child as a parrot, and so if they answer the question exactly as written in the book, then they have learned and that’s how we measure their intelligence. However, the real intelligence comes from a reflective thinking full of uncertainty and an intuition that guides the choices. By avoiding this, we are taking away from the child their natural exercise of self-conscience! And we know how hard it is to retrieve it.
“If we really want to become creators, in the fullest sense of the word, we must make ourselves aware of this series of imitations that unfortunately keep us tied. (… ) When we are made aware of them, as a logical consequence, the power to create will spontaneously rise from within. It is mandatory for students from schools and universities to free themselves from all imitation, so that they become true creators. (… ) He who imitates does not learn. She who imitates converts herself into an automaton. (… ) The mind which only knows how to imitate is mechanic, is a machine that works but is not creative, it is not able to create, it does not really think, it just repeats.” (Samael Aun Weor)
The biggest challenge we face is to not put ourselves as carriers of the knowledge, to leave this paradigm, this idea that the child is empty and needs to be filled by us. The development of life is natural and organic, you don’t need to tell the flower how it should unfold or dictate stimuli so that your nails grow. In the processes of nature, external interference has shown been only harmful. If we open the cocoon of the caterpillar, it will not become a beautiful butterfly, but a deformed creature, not crawling nor flying. The same occurs with the development of the Self, because, amazingly, we are part of nature!
“Education is not filling a pitcher, but lighting a fire.” (William Yeats)
We must reconcile the impetus for the sacred with the autonomy and freedom of each individual. Within each child, with their small little bodies, there is a Self, who has had several existences and is here to manifest itself and follow a path that is uniquely theirs.
If people around you don’t respect the child in their opinions and choices, how will they respect the others? If they are forced to think and act like someone else, they forget about who they are and, as an adult, they will replicate this behavior, imposing their beliefs and worldview on others.
“For as long as the human mind is entangled within complexes of authority and tradition, men will be slave to the past and will not be able to comprehend the eternal moment of life in its free movement.” (Samael Aun Weor)
Every doctrine exists to show us a path and they all lead to the same place but in different ways. Eventually the same teachings that helped us indicating the trail will one day be transcended. The Masters themselves teach us that. If Jesus had not sought to go beyond Judaism, he would not have received the Christ, or if Buddha got stuck in Hinduism, he would not have been enlightened. Each one of them did something revolutionary, guided by this inner thirst for self-realization and full communion with the Divine.
If we hold on to what is known, there is no room for the new. The external authority can be overwhelming when we follow our inner guide. We must revere the history, the traditions, but we must not limit ourselves by it. A new world is possible and depends only on us. We look to the past and revere it, so that we can see the present and create the future – check out the following article.
Translated by Luiz Vicentim.
(You can also read this article in Portuguese)