Education as a rite of passage There is an old saying: "If the men in a society are not initiated into it - they will destroy it." I believe that we live in those times. I think of education as two things - an opportunity to learn information as well as the recognition that our learning moves us along to the next stage of life.
This thought brings up the question about which of these should be the main goal of education. Is education about teaching information - or is education about moving to the next stage of life and all that entails. If it is the latter - which I believe it to be - then our learning should include our knowledge about ourselves and our emotional development.
Often those in the education system are mainly trained in educating the mind, and teaching information. This is not a surprise as that is how they experienced school.
Whenever I teach, I encouraged students to consider who they are in this moment, where they are going, and how the information they are learning in the class relates to their personal issues. Honesty in the answers to those questions is crucial. Honesty allows students to be who they are rather than who or how or what they think is expected of them. Honesty allows them to recognize how their learning is connected to their life journey.
Once we have connected our learning and our life - then we have created a class, course, or program which will help to usher the student into the next stage of their learning, and the next stage of their life. Placing some of our attention onto this part of the process will allow that transition to be clearer.
I know that what I've been saying sounds quite theoretical - so I'd like to suggest some questions you might try asking your students to help them along their path:
1. What could you do with the information you are learning in the future?
2. What could make it more meaningful?
3. What do you think about this subject?
4. How do you feel about what you are learning?
Offering these opportunities, and any others that you can dream up will remind your students that the subject they are studying does not exist in a box. It is a part of the interwoven world in which we live. It is learning on a continuum which goes from information to integration of that learning into a person using that information in an ever changing and dynamic world.