Sunday, October 31, 2010
Prescient Education (this is an essay written for SEVEN and the C.I.F.A.
What if, after twelve years of education, institutions of learning produced experts in every field
of study? All of the worlds great faiths make clear allusions to an omnipotent, omnipresent, and
omniscient grand architect that endowed humanity with every attribute possessed and expressed by
itself, but on a microcosmic scale. That each and every individual was made different and special, born
with unique gifts and talents with unlimited potential, is ubiquitous and suggested in the teachings of all faiths. The following essay supposes that the eradication of poverty hinges upon the successful integration of a system of education whose pedagogues are predicated upon the conceit that God gave each human being specific and particular abilities and psychological orientations that are exemplified by a persons earliest behavioral propensities and as such curriculum need be restructured into a pliable comprehensive matrix geared towards and conducive to the healthy manifestations of nascent potentialities.
Undeniably, a stark self-reinforcing correlation exists between ignorance and poverty. Both conditions are characterized by an utter or dire absence of vital necessities prerequisite for a substantive existence. Thus, one begets the other and the two produces the like. Furthermore, any effort, however elaborately conceived, to alter either is the equivalent of running on a treadmill. Much energy is exhausted, yet the runner will inevitably find him or herself in the same place that he or she began.
Likewise, the current educational landscape, particularly the pubic school system is the societal replica of a dog chasing its tail. Annually, millions of taxpayer, private and non-profit dollars are poured into an outmoded, outdated, broken system like water on burning sand, dryly resulting only in lower academic proficiency and higher dropout rates. Steadfast adherents to this trickle down theory as it applies to education continue to debate whether the parents, students or teachers are responsible for such a deplorable state-of-affairs never once questioning in open forum whether or not the system and its precepts are the cause of the malaise. The grossly under appreciated fact of the matter is, as it stands, the present day educational system does not educate, it simply trains. These are vastly different in scope. The current conveyor belt, one size fits all approach to learning and instruction retards the human spirit and its backward effects are exacerbated due to globalization and the rapidly changing technological frontier.
Owing its roots to the Latin word educare, educate literally means to bring out what is within. As alluded to in the abstract, that which is within the very make up of humanity was placed there by creative fate, by god. Early on, every child shows a knack for something specific, be it motor skills, memory, observation, speech etc. and as they age and mature into toddlers, in the proper environment, and with adequate attention and participation on the part of parents, guardians and teachers, these propensities become more pronounced especially prior to the advent of restrictive socialization. There is no shorty supply of stories about how this or that child exemplified a natural and almost magnetic inclination toward certain objects and or activities. “Every since he was young, each time I bought him a toy, he'd either take it apart and put it back together again, or turn it into something else...” marvels the mother of the now unemployed twenty three year old boy who never took a class in engineering.
Without a system of learning based on the idea that every individual is born with a God given blueprint predisposing him or her to naturally excel in specific areas of human activity, the innocence of adolescence, the vitality of youth and the inquisitive reach of early adulthood eventually gives way to stunted growth, disillusionment and marginalization, coalescing into a populace suspended within an overwhelming sense of purposelessness. Can any developed country afford to have a majority of its student collective continually questioning the practical significance and application of whats being taught?
Furthermore, should any policy designed or legislation enacted to eradicate poverty be taken seriously when seniors in high school are graduated without ever having taken a class on or been afforded the opportunity to develop and exhibit a sound understanding of taxes, debt, equity and investment when those same students are being bombarded with credit card and loan applications?
Indebtedness is the omen of poverty and ignorance is the precursor of indebtedness. A poorly informed mass of consumers is a virtual feeding frenzy for predatory creditors. Were children groomed from reading age to thoroughly explore and become masters of topics and subject matters that naturally appealed to innate curiosities and provided with a framework that integrated concrete, real-life exposure and punctuated with financial intelligence would there be as many poor people in the world as there are today? If institutions of learning made the soul of man, its basket of gifts and the highest development of those gifts its top priority would there be a fifty percent dropout rate or wide spread workplace disaffection or students entering undergraduate studies without a clearly defined career path or idea of what courses to major or minor in? Interdisciplinary studies was a step in the right direction, but what is sorely needed from early childhood education onwards is a daily period of study devoted to finding and defining what is the greatest motivator of all, one's purpose!
People of faith more so than any other segment of society understand and appreciate the saving power of purpose because people of faith are in effect people of purpose. Establishing purpose reinvigorates the will to create and produce. It galvanizes the human spirit and broadens the perceptive faculties of the mind enabling the vision necessary to see, seize and exploit opportunities heretofore unrecognizable to the disaffected and apathetic. Purpose is the foremost impetus to positive and constructive change as it calls upon and draws forth the largely untapped human potential that lies dormant within the cavernous psyche of man much like a sleeping giant. Everything in life takes on added meaning and usefulness when viewed through the lens of purpose. If students had a mere inkling of their life's purpose the importance of education and technical training would carry a premium of greater significance. Just as water seeks its own level, so does a person inspired by a thorough sense of purpose labors tirelessly to ascertain and utilize conduits for its fullest expression.
The challenge for this generation is to establish and institute a universally recognized and accepted mandate for making person-specific purpose and financial intelligence an integral part of curriculum at every grade level, increasing in depth and scope as individuals advance and mature through each successive level of schooling. Also, as the individual progresses he or she should assume a less and less passive role in course design because the more involved a student is it increases the likelihood of that student overachieving. Lastly, instruction and learning should no longer be relegated to the confines of the school buildings. The neighboring communities and the business world supporting them needs to become a permanent part of the classroom experience.
Faith-based organizations are the torch bearers of this grand experiment because their memberships incorporate every area of industry and expertise. Volunteerism and mentoring are the gateways of infusing purpose in the lives of students and the community at large. A consensus that each and every individual, regardless of race, creed, gender or ancestry was born with unique talents and abilities and therefore deserves the opportunity to explore, develop, enhance and monetize said gifts engenders an environment where innovation, entrepreneurship, service and industrious acts become the order of the day. Instead of people being prepared for careers, careers are being prepared for and by the people.
In order for poverty to exist and persist, the milieu and relevant elements must remain present. Likewise, poverty will be eradicated once its means of subsistence is terminated. Can a well-informed, purpose-driven individual or people ever be poor? Unemployed? Hungry? Idle? Once more, ignorance is the cocoon of poverty and all of its ills. People of faith see a universe and a world of abundance being sorely mismanaged by a powerful and greedy elite, but its atop the ignorance of the citizenry that their strength rests and unwarranted opulence thrives. People of faith, operating in the realm of social improvement are more often than not motivated by a spirit of morality and genuine compassion, not for monetary gain, so it is the responsibility of inter-faith coalitions consisting of industry professionals encompassing every discipline to instigate the educational reform since their interests are not vested in bottom lines, but in the uplifting of a fallen humanity.
Summarily, the development of educational reform that inculcates the ascertainment of an individual's life purpose and proficiency in financial intelligence as a gradient for present and future achievement, empowered by inter-faith based initiatives, manned by committed professionals spanning all fields of human activity is a sure fire way of ending the sprawl of poverty. The sooner an individual is certain of his or her purpose in life, the more apt the individual will be to begin valuing education as a life long investment and using time, information, and energy efficiently and systematically to materialize the type of existence that ensures him or her an abiding sense of purposefulness and well-being.
Purposeful life and financial intelligence is the new gospel of the twenty-first century. Educational institutions must undergo a radical makeover and position at its core the concept that all people are created with a divinely inspired blueprint. The worlds foremost thinkers and industrial pioneers who see faith as the cornerstone and guiding principle in their lives must bring to the fore their ingenuity and expertise in the reshaping of the world's educational landscape. Poverty is a primary byproduct of ignorance and poor education. Once an individual's life-purpose becomes the compass with which he or she begins to navigate the seas of consciousness, life ceases to be a string of seemingly endless storms as the clouds of confusion and despair are driven away by the light of purpose and beacons of hope.