This our 500th post on this blog. Our thanks to everyone who has read (and commented on) our posts, and we look forward to hearing more from you in the future.
We’re passionate about education. There’s so much that needs changing in the system – we hope our comments contribute positively to the discussion. Almost every day there appears to be a new directive or missive about education. Today, we have a statement from Sir Michael Wilshaw on Early Years education and the need to “prepare children” for schooling. There’s also an announcement on changes to GCSE grading as well as a worrying report about religious influences in Birmingham schools. It’s ceaseless.
Education is vital. As Nelson Mandela said,
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Our focus on education is an important and integral part of our broader interest – in the development of human potential; of living life well. In order to live well we need to be mindful of all the intelligences, and the need to take time to nurture their development.
In order to live life well, we need to use our intellect – to think, to reason. We need to be aware of our instincts – to react, to do certain things without thinking, to be aware of our instinctive emotional responses and sometimes keep them in check. We need to be socially intelligent – to empathise, to share, to appreciate and understand the needs of others. We need to be aware of our personal needs too – to know our passion, to use our imagination, to understand what makes us tick. We need to be physically well – to use our senses, to look after our bodies, to exercise and eat healthily. We also need to be spiritually well – to be able to use our intuition, to live virtuously, to appreciate all that this incredible world has to offer.
And we need to do these simultaneously, every day, using our heads, hands and hearts together in order to live well.
This is why we think and write so frequently about education. If we are aware of the need to develop all of our intelligences throughout life, then we’re more likely to live life well. If children are encouraged to be creative, to know themselves, to be unique, then they are more likely to be content and far more likely to learn and understand important knowledge, skills and attitudes to life. If children are taught and encouraged to be empathetic, the impact on society is immeasurable. If we get it right at the beginning, we are providing a pathway for understanding, appreciating and enjoying life to the full. We want education to encompass real, holistic learning and the development of all of the intelligences. We want our schooling to reflect an understanding of all of the intelligences and not restrict “structured” learning to the development of the intellect alone.
Decades ago, Albert Einstein said,
“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”
Sadly, there are too many young people today who would echo these words.
This all may sound like an unachievable Utopia but education is the key. We also think that the development of the intelligences within education is the key too – to sustainable and lifelong learning, and to living life well and enjoyably.
“What we learn with pleasure we never forget.” – Alfred Mercier
We’re not suggesting that all the ills of the world, society and personal grief will be completely resolved in this way. Life is not that easy. So we also need to prepare our young people (and adults too) for the times when life serves up unpleasantness – when there are challenges to our wellbeing, when we are unwell or when circumstances threaten our contentedness. We need to be intelligent about how we live, about how we look after ourselves and how we treat, value and respect others.
Education is key here too, as is the development and understanding of our six intelligences – intellect, instinct, personal, social, physical and spiritual intelligences.
In order to live life well, we need to deconstruct and reconstruct an education system that enables people to flourish. This is our focus. This is our passion. This is why we will continue to write our posts and continue to learn as we do so.
This final quote from Sir Ken Robinson summarises our thoughts on education and its value to the individual and society.
“The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn’t need to be reformed — it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions.”
If we do this, we nurture human and societal development, we live life well – compassionately and empathetically, and we support each and every one of us to be in our element.