Chapter 2: Education Should Be Experiential

This is part two of a multi-part series summarizing “Education for Life”, the philosophy behind our curriculum. Reading these articles will familiarize you with the principles and ideas that make the Living Wisdom School a unique educational experience. Please check our site regularly as we post synopses of additional chapters from this original and pioneering text.

Education Should Be Experiential, Not Theoretical

Kriyananda questions the educational status quo in this chapter as he does consistently throughout his book. Simply stated, modern education in the West is primarily theoretical, and the trust that the theories are strong, is problematic. It is too easy to focus on the methods rather than actual tangible results.

Kriyananda takes a look at university professors who are so hung up on theory, and pedantic, elaborate theories of thought that are so stuck on themselves, that they fail to serve a realistic purpose. He mentions the prevalence in elite universities of the teachings of Sartre, a nihilist, whose writings (which are brilliantly developed) is intrinsically non-productive and impractical:

“Theories imposed on reality are allowed to pose as substitutes for reality itself.”

In short after years of education students are left with theories entirely divorced from actual life experience. This leaves the door open for alternative or holistic education to fill in the gaps. If a private education is to succeed, as we will see in later chapters, it has to be willing to be flexible in its approach.

He emphasizes an education that stresses direct experience and observation—not just for the sciences but arts and humanities too. Instead of a system that favors repetition, memorization, and the regurgitation of facts, he believes schooling should be practical giving students useful skills that will help them to understand the world and serve the world around them.

Junior high students serving at Ananda Farm on Camano Island.


“It’s no accident, surely, that many of the world’s greatest men and women – scientists, thinkers, teachers, molders of public opinion – either never finished their formal education or did poorly in school.”

He references Einstein, Edison and Goethe as figures that didn’t fit into the paradigm of formal schooling. More modern references are Buckminster Fuller, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Innovators, scientists, and writers like these individuals were inherently creative and did not simply wish to think about something. They had the passion and ability to make their thoughts a reality.

As we will continue to learn through Education for Life, the approach to learning is about critical thought, experience, feeling, and appropriate handling of the humanity of each student in the system.

Tying these thoughts to our Living Wisdom School, we see here the importance of personal experience and consciousness. As a mainstay of the Education for Life approach, meditation is taught as a practical tool for self-exploration and inner-peace. Living Wisdom school teaches the practice of meditation. If you think about the practicality of sitting quietly and calming the mind and one’s emotions as well as developing inner confidence and strength you can understand very quickly what sets apart Living Wisdom from traditional educational structures. More on this subject will be elaborated in future chapters and blog posts!

Living Wisdom School students practicing meditation.

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