This is part four 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.
Success is Achieving What One Really Wants
This next chapter is a very nuanced argument contemplating the standard educational system, and the pitfalls of over-emphasis on objectivity. But beyond that, it’s also a challenge to the progressive education paradigm – which, as he states, places too much pressure on the child to lead his/her own learning path.
As Kriyananda states early in this chapter, kids need faith in something. And, as our Western educational system continues to place more and more value on objective science and less and less on emotional development, we are left as a society with adults who lack maturity. This lack of maturity stems from a shift in focus away from developing the person and their point of view, while doubling down on the natural laws of the universe and our objectivity in how we see it…leaving us with a lack in emotional maturity.
Meaninglessness – as far as reductionist, scientific academia is concerned, trickles down from universities to the elementary schools, where children are left to focus merely on facts and data without purpose.
Children as the real teachers – which was a concept apparently popular in 1986 – when the book was originally published is still a common concept within progressive schooling approaches. Kriyananda posits that this a lazy and insufficient approach to guiding young people.
“A growing child needs faith just as urgently as he needs air to breathe. When he is stripped of his last vestige of faith, his disillusionment transforms itself into a desire for vengeance against those who have deprived him of something so precious to his very existence.”
We can probably recall some adult saying in awe at least once, “These children are the real teachers,” which is of course meant to be cute, but is actually very harmful in the way we seek to help young people mature.
In Western culture, there is a massive emphasis placed on objectivity, neutral observation, and the scientific method. The value placed on objectivity in education is harmful, because it doesn’t actually translate to objectivity in the pupil. It places a high moral value in denying the student’s emotions. And, by denying these emotions they bubble up only to be expressed in irrational ways.
“Let’s keep science and the scientific method in their proper place, and not invite them to decide everything…” says Kriyananda.
What is progressiveness about? It’s about progress, but to what end? To develop young people from a place of immaturity to maturity. So then, what is maturity?
Kriyananda proposes this law, the maturity principle. “Maturity is the ability to relate appropriately to other realities other than one’s own.”
Chapter 4 in Education For Life is likely to make even the most progressive adult squirm just a little bit. But it’s important to consider: How can we help these young people grow, mature and retain their sense of purpose in the world?