The activities of educating or instructing; activities that impart knowledge or skill
Knowledge acquired by learning and instruction
The gradual process of acquiring knowledge
Education. It’s on everyone’s lips – the politician’s and the parent’s. Education is vital. Education. Education. Education. You must learn more; you must study harder; you must pass your exams. But what I want to know is, what if there was no education? What if no one was taught anything? Would we still be the most intelligent species on the planet? Would we still reign supreme? Who would we be? I know that’s a lot of questions to ask, but I think this is an important topic, don’t you?
Let us start our discussion by asking a simple question of ourselves. If I had received no education, what would I think about, and would I even know how to think? We are born into this world with a blank canvas for a mind. We make gurgling noises; we cry when we are hungry; we scream when we are upset. But we cannot speak, we cannot walk, and we need constant looking after almost until we reach adulthood. Let’s face it, we are a pretty helpless lot when we are young.
I said the mind is a blank canvas when we are born, and I’m sure some of you out there are disagreeing with me already; but let me ask you another question: What does the human mind contain when the child is born? Does it possess the power of intelligent thought, of rationalisation, of creation, of decision?
No, of course it doesn’t. It can barely do anything on its own. What the child has, is potential, and that is the key here. We are a species with potential (existing in possibility). We do not have skills included in some kind of mind “blueprint.”
Just because our ancestors discovered fire all those years ago, and man went to the moon, doesn’t mean that every child born has knowledge of how to do those things. They wouldn’t even know how to boil a pan of water! So you see, before we get on our high horses thinking how great we are, remember that if no one educated you, and you could not observe (thereby learning how to do something) you would not have the inherent ability to do it.
Let us look at a baby bird for a moment. When the bird is born it too has limited abilities, and is reliant on its mother for food. It cannot fly, and if it were to fall out of the nest would surely die, but the mother doesn’t have to teach the bird to fly by giving it verbal or written instructions. When the baby is old and strong enough it will make its first attempts at flight, and will succeed. Its body is perfectly designed for flight; it does not need to read books on how to do it – just as it doesn’t need to read up on what to eat.
Like all animals with limited “intelligence,” it operates to a blueprint manual. It does not have the mental capacity to decide “Actually, I’m not going to fly today. I’m going to walk,” that would be absurd, as would it deciding to eat lettuce leaves instead of worms because he didn’t fancy worms today, he fancied something a little more healthy! I joke with you here, but if you think about it, it is important to realise that man is the only species born with built in potential.
A bird will always fly. A cow will always graze, but man, man can be, and do, and eat, almost anything he wants; that potential is what sets him apart from the animals. Mind you, the brain operates essential body functions on much the same blueprint as all other animals. That is what some people would refer to as our “old brain” before our higher brain “developed.”
I can see that some of you are already disagreeing with what I am saying, especially if you believe man was created – by an entity called god – in his present form, but please bear with me as we explore this together.
Even if man was created by god and was born with the higher intelligence built in, we must all agree that man’s brain needs filling (if you’ll excuse the word), before it can be used effectively at the high level of which it is capable. It makes no difference who the original creator is or was. The lower brain can, and does, operate at a reasonable level; dealing with breathing, hunger, fear, and generally controlling the body to keep all the systems in balance, but it is the higher brain we want to discuss here, the one that deals with “I.”
The way I see it, when a child is born, the brain is pretty similar to my laptop when it leaves the factory! It has all the connections ready to do some complex calculations, but without the operating system is useless. It seems to me, that for humans language fulfils this function, and until we learn language, have no way of interpreting the world in a more complex way. Without the power of language what would a thought be?
Listen to your mind for a moment, and tell me what you’re thinking. Whose voice is that? What is it using? Language. Thinking requires language.
The next step is the software to run all the complex programming, and that is where education comes in. It’s no good having the computer hardware and the operating system without any applications! We could view these applications like reading, painting, or maths, but we can also have applications like, compassion, understanding, hate, desire, greed.
In my opinion, nothing apart from the basic survival activities, are built in; the rest are bolt-on applications, just like the word processor is on my laptop. All can be learned through education, and all can be unlearned through education too. I hope you can follow my train of thought here.
Some may say, that this is nonsense, that man is born with an innate (not established by conditioning or learning) sense of right and wrong, and with morals, but the way I see it, right and wrong, and morals are man-made concepts, and depend on your particular cultural or religious viewpoint. All of which are learned behaviours.
Although we are talking about education here, do not get confused into thinking that education is only formal when it is done through a formal verbal, or written process. We are being educated (or conditioned) throughout our lives by observing, by listening, and by talking to others. A child quickly “learns” that it can get what it wants by modifying its behaviour. It has not had any formal education, but has nonetheless gone through a learning process, however simple it might be.
The beginning of learning
In the not too distant past, the only people who received any kind of higher education were wealthy people. There was no state schooling for all – which is still the case in some countries – and although the poor may have been able to get some basic skills, would not have reached their true potential (a sentence that was often used to describe my academic success, or lack of it!). So those with little or no education were resigned to doing tedious or dangerous manual jobs, which could be learned simply by repetition. These were jobs that required them only for their bodies; their minds were surplus to requirements. They were not expected to think, just do. Cut, saw, beat, lift, grind, etc.
But this is still going on isn’t it? There are still people all over the world who do the same repetitive jobs day in day out, where the skill they have in their job, could, let’s face it, be learned by almost anybody. Don’t just think factory work, think office staff, think agricultural workers, retail staff, salesmen, supervisors, managers, all doing a job with a skill that is learned through repetition.
Please stop, and consider your own job for a moment. Could anybody learn it, or do you have a special skill that no one else has? Is your job repetitive? Did you go to university, only to end up doing a job, where even if the job is interesting, relies on memory?
We are all in the same boat. We go to school to get educated, and most of us end up spending our lives just repeating what we have learned, like monkeys (sorry monkeys, no hard feelings), all for a few pounds to pay the bills, buy some shelter and food, and a little left over for “fun.” Not much of a life, is it! So why on earth do we bother learning anything?
The purpose of education?
We all are all told to go to school to get a basic education in life. You know, like chemistry, maths, english, geography, or a foreign language.
We are forced to study from around the age of five (although some parents put their children into pre-school to give them a head start) until sixteen or eighteen in most countries, at which time you can leave it you want. Most people stay on the extra couple of years to get more qualifications, and some people go to on to university to study one specific topic in greater detail.
In most countries, it is illegal to avoid going to school, and in some places parents can be punished in the form of monetary fines or prison if they fail to comply.
Children are shouted at, bribed, punished, and encouraged to stick in at school with constant reminders, that if they don’t stick in, they won’t get anywhere in life. So they learn and they learn. They try to remember the topics off by heart and then they take their exams. You’ve passed or you’ve failed. A pass means that people will look more favourably on you when it comes to getting a job, and a fail means go to the bottom, start again.
So, on the results of these exams, your working life begins. You are either a high achiever destined for great things, or a low to middle achiever destined for mundaneness and boredom throughout your working life. Some end up in manual jobs, others end up pushing paper in an office; you see, not everyone can be the boss! If they could be, who would do all the work? So the education system filters people effectively, and channels them into jobs that need to be done, based on ability.
Some people aren’t good at exams (perhaps they didn’t like school or they had problems at home), but that doesn’t matter to the education system; passing exams show you are capable of “achievement, ” that you are reaching your “potential; ” that you will soon be able to contribute to society, and by contribute, I mean start to earn money.
Some of you will earn a lot of money and will have high positions in society, but most of you will just do a job that requires your labour and not a lot of use of 12 plus years of education.
I wonder if you ever remember how good you were at geography in school as you sit at your computer processing purchase orders?
Probably not. School and education suddenly seem a lifetime ago when you are working nine or ten hours a day, travelling to work in a packed city, just so you can have a nice (or not) house, car, food, the odd social night out, and one holiday a year. Millions of years of evolution, and then repetition. Day in, day out.
A quick run-down on my scholastic life
My father told me that school was a preparation for adult life, and by all accounts I started preparing for adult life all too late! I was always seen as a failure in my father’s eyes. I was average at primary school; my report cards always said I should “apply myself more,” and “pay more attention” to my lessons – generally do better! I always got low grades, although I thought I did pay attention, and did study.
My teachers said I was a bright boy, but the work I put in was substandard, and that if I didn’t stick in, I wouldn’t reach my “potential.” At 12 years old, I took the 12+ examination, and duly failed it. All my friends couldn’t believe it, they thought I would sail through. I couldn’t believe that some of the people I thought were less intelligent than me, passed!
So here was I at 12 years old, on the education scrapheap, about to go to a comprehensive (a large british secondary school for children of all abilities). My father wasn’t having that as it would probably look bad for him if his son didn’t go to a grammar school, so I was sent off to do the entrance examination for a private school. I got in and was sent off on the bus to this orthodox all boys school, where obedience was the order of the day.
Now, I’ve always been a light hearted sort of fellow, who thinks if there was more humour in the world there would be less hatred, but my teachers didn’t see it that way.
I was never a bad student, but I did like to “have a laugh” in class, which was probably detrimental to my (and others) school work. I don’t have a clear recollection of that school, but I think I enjoyed it. I liked running, and canoeing, and latin, english and french, but for the rest of the subjects, I really didn’t have the time for them, and as such, was beaten by the teachers regularly.
Corporal punishment (the infliction of physical injury on someone convicted of committing a crime), as it was known, was still in full swing in our school, and I was hit on the head with books, and rulers, spent time dodging board erasers, and getting the cane (a large stick, used to hit your posterior several times).
All this in addition to detention, and work squads, where you were forced to stay after school, and pick up litter etc.
As I said before, I was never a “bad” student. I never had (nor ever have had) any fights with any other pupils, and I was always polite, but they just didn’t like my humour, it undermined their authority; and the need for absolute control and order was how the school ran. There was no tolerance for back chat. If you refused an order you went to the headmaster’s office, or were given a physical punishment, or detention.
I completed my exams at 16 (just scraping through), but needless to say, I dropped out in the last year at 17. I can’t really remember what the trigger was, but I’d pretty much had enough of that school and travelling 18 miles a day to a different town where I had no friends. So I left. Oh, I forgot, my parents did split up when I was about 14 which caused huge upset, but given that I was always “bad” at my school work – according to the teachers – I shouldn’t really apportion the blame to that.
Soon after I left school, my mum found me a job. I started off as an accounts assistant, followed quickly by a telesales operator, followed quickly by a year planner salesman, followed by a recruitment assistant, followed by another recruitment assistant, followed swiftly by a corporate hospitality salesman. I think I was fired from most of those, and they all lasted approximately one to two months. But after messing around, and making a general nuisance of myself for about two years, my dad asked me if I’d like to go to college to restudy for my a-levels, because, without them, he said, I’d never get a good job. So I did.
It was great, I got to live in a flat with some other students for a year, went out partying and drinking all the time, and duly failed my exams at the end of term. I was sent back to study for another term to retake them again, but I just went out and partied, and didn’t turn up for the exam. Education over. I won’t bore you with details of my other jobs, but I did end up working in a high paid job as a project manager, until I decided to give it all up in search of true education…
Self-education about self
We are taught daily for all of our pre-adult years. We learn everything about how to behave in public, what food to eat, respect for your elders, how to manage your money, or how to make babies; and then you hit eighteen and it all stops. In most countries, from then on, you are supposed to be an “adult.” So what is an adult anyway?
In biology, I think it is a creature that is mature enough to reproduce, and that in the human world would be a lot earlier than eighteen. Take four or five years off, and that would be more like it.
Imagine children of thirteen or fourteen having to go out to work in the western world – most of them wouldn’t know where to start! I do know that in some countries less financially well off than britain that young children are forced to start working early, to help provide food for the family. One could even say they are getting an “education” just by working.
Some children, who come from homes where the parents are abusive, violent, or criminals, get a “street education,” where they learn to stand up for themselves, be tough, and to get by in the world where no one else is looking out for them. But that’s not what we want to talk about here, all the above educations are bolt-ons.
These are the applications which run on the computer, and are not the computer itself. What I would like you to do for a moment is sit back for a moment and imagine your core. The core of you, whatever it is, wherever it is, and try to imagine what it looks like, and what it feels like. I know this may seem strange, but it’s of the utmost importance that you try it with me now.
You may think the core is the magical “soul,” but that is just a man-made concept. The core is something like a nucleus, where underneath all the bolt-on conditioning and education, something resembling the real computer lies. Something which may seem out of reach right now, but which you will be able to access once you know how.
So who is this “core” I speak of, is it the “I,” the “me” who makes all the decisions in life? To which I would answer that the “I” is the operating system. The core is a little like my laptop, which has all the connections in place ready to do work if the operating system and applications are compatible with it, and function correctly.
The problem with the operating system and the applications is that, although they are compatible with the computer, the results they give may be flawed. This could be the result of bad, sloppy programming, or the deliberate infection of the software by a virus. This you could compare to a parent who unwittingly programs a child to think a certain way, or to hate a certain race of people, or a government or religion which brainwashes the population into believing its propaganda or dogma.
A set of instructions coded so that the computer can use it directly without further translation
In our analogy with the computer, we can see that machine code is a way of communicating with the system directly, without the need for an operating system or applications. This binary set of instructions are alien to most of us, but it is what the central processing unit really understands. 10001, 1011001, 1001, 100010, 1110011, Ones and zeros, that’s it! Direct instruction. Direct communication. No bolt-ons necessary. This is what I am talking about when I talk about communication with the core.
This may all seem a bit far fetched to you, and I can hear some of you grumbling “What’s he rambling on about now?” But if you pay close enough attention, you will begin to see what I mean.
Language, ideas, and formal education get in the way of knowledge. Sure you need to know how to fix a carburettor if you are a mechanic, but that is a job, here we are trying to get to know ourselves. The real us.
I am not so naive as to think that a few words from me here will get you started on a process of self-learning. Some of you may not even want to read any further because you are happy to just stay the same. But I’m sure most of you know deep down that there is more to know than just how to fix a carburettor, how to do complex equations, or manage a large corporation. It’s time to strip away the bolt-ons and expose your core. How? Through the development of awareness.
Start to notice other humans, notice how they dress, how they walk, how they look – happy or sad. Notice what car they drive, the music coming from the window. Now start to notice man-made objects. The concrete buildings, the rows and rows of houses, the litter, the factories. Look at the drunk people falling around the street at night, the arguments and the fights, and now look at yourself. Your job, your nice house, your nice possessions. How do you feel about everything you are, everything you have? Your garden, or lack of it. Your desires, your loves, and your hates. Your prejudices and your opinions.
Just look at everything we have bolted on to the core. The core that is nature. Everything that surrounds us in our daily life is man-made, made possible through education. For what? Money? Happiness?
Everything you are, and everything you have learned, you need to forget. All of that is past. You are now right here. Open yourself up to learning about your true nature, without your job title, your religion, or your bank balance getting in the way. Everything man-made is an obstacle to understanding. Only when you can psychologically toss all of them aside will you be able to speak to the core. Remember that language is also man-made.
So how do you do it? Do I have the answer ? Is there some magical trick I can write the instructions for you here? No, unfortunately not. Only by being aware of yourself without judgement, without interaction with the brain, can you start to see more clearly. You do not need any text books to do this, but you do need to give it your fullest attention. Do not distract yourself with music, idle chatter, or thoughts.
Be silent. Communicate.
I have just started on my journey to the core, and it can be scary at first. You find out all sorts of things about yourself you don’t want to know as you start to peel off the layers. With each layer comes some unpleasant feelings, but stay with it. The rewards of getting closer are truly wonderful.
As I throw off the shackles to modern society and modern education, I find myself communing more with nature, and it amazes me what a transformation has gone through my whole system! I, who used to know nothing, and not want to learn anything, still know nothing, but I want to learn! I want to know it all. I want to know the secret of life. I want to know the secret of the universe. But I don’t want to look in a textbook or go on a course. They can no more tell me what I want to know than an astronomer could. They see what is visible. They see what is past. They talk with their own voices, but with the knowledge of someone else. That is what a teacher does.
Teacher I am ready…
Teachers pass on someone else’s knowledge, someone else’s discovery, and pass it off as truth. But as we both know, truth is something that can only be discovered, not told. And whilst it makes no sense to drive yourself crazy, like I did, questioning everyone and everything every day, you must be aware that there is always another layer to peel off.
When newton first made his discoveries in physics, no one thought they could be bettered, they were accepted as truth; until a young man called einstein appeared 200 years later and turned science on its head!
I am sure it will happen again, maybe it will be you who discovers something amazing, maybe it will be in a thousand years. But remember that no education is absolute. There is no absolute truth. So although one and one is two according to ninety nine percent of us, there may be someone who comes along one day and proves to us that it isn’t. That is why we must never stop discovering, never stop questioning, and never stop learning.
Once you decide to embark on your journey, you must be sure that the reason you want knowledge is to understand yourself and nature, which is the planet around you and the other species we share it with.
Just learning so you can get a job, is what the governments of the world want us to do. You see, it is vital for them to make sure children go to school, otherwise the economy of the country would suffer, and if the economy suffers, it means people haven’t got as much money as they once had, and if the people are not quiet and happy with their lot, they might just consider starting a revolution, and no government wants that!
You may think I am cynical, and that all the government wants is for a good future for the children. They also know they need educated people to run the country, develop new weapons, and generally keep the whole social status quo going.
Basic education, as it is now, provides that. It is only when we start realising we are our own teachers, that things will change. When we stop conforming to what other people tell us we should learn, and start discovering for ourselves, will we start to truly understand.
The social elite fill children’s heads with knowledge about historical dates and battles, conditioning them with their traditions and culture, leaving no space for self-discovery. It is a futile waste of such a magnificent brain. Such a brain, with what we called, “potential.”
Those in power believe that potential means they will get a good job and contribute to society. I mean they have the power to discover the universe within themselves.
All schools do is condition children to conform. Each new school which starts up promises to be different, but becomes the same as all the rest, as they are all trying to push their ideals onto the children. “This is the way you should think,” “no, this is the way you should think.”
There is a tug of war going on for who will control the child’s mind. What will this child’s mind be filled with? They would argue that without this education the child would not be able to function in society, but maybe it is high time we took away precisely this education to see what really is in a child’s mind, and then help the child to discover himself and the world around him.
You may say that this is precisely the role of the modern day education system, but if that was the case, we would not place such demands on the child to perform at all costs. Each light illuminated in the world has its own journey to undertake; that is what we should be helping with, not trying to extinguish it before it even gets a chance to truly glow.
Who are we adults, after all? What right do we have to say what someone else should learn unless we have got more than just their interests at heart. We must not let the most advanced computer we currently know about, be crushed under the weight of adult idealism, greed, and power. We must free ourselves from those who dictate what we learn, and embark on our own journey, on a voyage of unlimited discovery.
I have embarked on mine. When will you begin yours?