Saturday, January 21, 2017

When Education Stands for Power, and not Curiosity

“This patient had turned for support, as many anxious and unhappy people do, to higher education. For knowledge is power, power is control, and control is safe. And knowledge is approved. Development of the mind became for her an over-compensation for the intolerable lack of the loving touch that was missing in her childhood; but not all the power that words can give, can ever take the place of what one woman’s loving hands could do." (E. Graham Howe & William Stranger. “The Druid of Harley Street.”)

I would love to know the number of parents who secretly aim to get their children into Harvard. One million or two? Ten million perhaps when you also add the aspirations of all the Asian and European parents for the 2000 or so open slots at that prestige institution? I remember our older son when he was around six years old saying that he wanted to go to the Mount Ida Community College - a little commuter college nearby where we live - and his Phd educated grand-father from India barked at him, "You are going to Harvard!" The little boy just wanted to be near his parents and had no idea at that time what "Harvard" was.

Everyone wants status, everyone wants control, everyone wants fame in one way or another. That's why these institutions are able to gather so much money whether they actually further the curiosity for lifelong learning or not. It is ok though, these little psychological cuts also happen for a reason. In the olden days some children had to work in coal mines and inhuman factories, whereas today's students "only" have to be in the parental pressure cooker for 15 years or so, somehow obliging and surviving their parents' scheming agenda. The parents, of course, are convinced that they only have the best of their children in mind. The truth, as always, is somewhere in the middle and as long as parents and children find some middle ground, healing can take place for all parties involved.

Everything happens for a reason. If you have been abused by your parents by sending you on an intellectual rat race, today is a good day to wake up from it. Bless your parents for their efforts because they have got you places, but now uninstall all the conditioning and make sure not to repeat their mistakes when you have children on your own. There is a natural curiosity, an eye for art, a passion for sport, and a search for purpose and meaning that everyone has access to, no matter how old, and no matter how educated. And no matter how corrupt our educational institutions may be, there are always some outstanding teachers who show up just in the nick of time to help their students find the secret of life.

Today is a good day to let the healing begin.

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