Can we create education that evolves human consciousness? Or will schooling continue to reproduce a toxic worldview and state of mind?
Technological advancements are outpacing human wisdom. We don’t know what the world will look like next year. Yet schooling pretends there is a fixed body of information to memorize. We also pretend that we need an army of young people trained in coding, data science, and UI/UX design more than wise generalists.
What we really need is people who can access their innate wisdom and peace to come up with innovative solutions. Unfortunately, schooling systematically breaks our access to our inner knowing.
Schooling is Maintaining the Status Quo
The world is growing increasingly complex. Humans have spent centuries manipulating the natural world with our technology and we see the shadow effects every day in pollution, plastic in the oceans, and soil degradation. People are addicted to fear of the unknown. My teenage daughters are inheriting this world. The people in positions of power are trying to fix the deplorable state of the world with outdated worldviews that created many of the problems in the first place.
Einstein’s told us years ago, “The world we have made as a result of the level of the thinking we have done thus far creates problems that we cannot solve at the same level at which we have created them…We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humankind is to survive”
The school system designed in the 1800s cannot handle this level of complexity. Educational reforms have “failed” since the 1950s despite billions of dollars being poured into the public school system. Parents and reformers get distracted by conversations around content, standards, and testing. We are doing young people a great disservice by continuing to fill their brains with outdated information as if it’s a fixed truth.
Bias Against the Self Educated
Most truly innovative people have been self educated: Buckminster Fuller, Steve Jobs, Sir Richard Branson, Thomas Edison, Jane Goodall, Malcolm X, Walt Disney, Agatha Christie, and many more. Yet, we expect people in a position of power and authority to have impressive schooling credentials, even if many successful entrepreneurs do not.
The people who are in charge and making the decisions for all of us? Highly schooled. Look at the U.S. House of Representatives. Since the 1960s, no less than 94% of the members of Congress have had a bachelors degree and 72% of the members of the current House have a graduate degree. Every President since 1953 has had a bachelor’s degree. If schooling produced wisdom, one would expect wise policies that foresee the long-range implications of choices being made. Do you see much wisdom in the policies being advocated?
We fear that, without schooling, we would end up in poverty and failure. There is a strong bias against people who don’t have a college degree. We are currently engaged in an expensive and foolish credentials race. Companies and institutions offering these credentials are winning but most people are finding themselves deeply in debt. I understand that I would want a brain surgeon to have the appropriate credential, but for most fields, I would be satisfied with work samples and testimonials, which don’t cost anything except sweat equity as a person gains experience and expertise.
This is all fueled by companies requiring a college degree for entry level positions that can be performed without a degree. This is a new phenomenon. Self-education used to be the norm. Self-made people were respected. It’s time to question the schooling paradigm and see if it is really serving humanity.
What if this narrative about the necessity of schooling is not true? What if all of this is just made up? What if schooling is impeding the evolution of human consciousness? Stay with me, please.
Schooling Impedes the Evolution of Human Consciousness
Based on my own K-12 schooling experience, guiding my two teenage daughters on their home education journeys, and designing alternatives to factory schooling for the past 15 years, I realize that schooling lowers human consciousness.
The fatal flaw of schooling is that it’s founded on the outdated worldview of materialism that says only separate blocks of physical stuff exist. Energy and Intelligence do not exist in this dead, materialist world. Materialism has been debunked by advances in quantum physics, evolutionary biology, genetics, and consciousness studies, yet it persists as a cultural myth and in the design of our command and control institutions.
In the materialist paradigm, learning is viewed as a material thing separate from the learner. In this flawed view, learning is a thing that can be tracked and measured. Schooling assumes that students are just meat-sacks carrying around brains. Students are forced to sit still and process information, endlessly memorizing random data and proving their value when they retrieve it for tests. The student who processes the most information wins.
Humans aren’t computers. Yes, we have computer-like brains that are handy tools in the service of our much vaster human intelligence. But you can only get out of your brain whatever you put into. A brain is handy for memorizing directions, vocabulary words, and multiplication tables. It is not suited for innovation or handling complex situations like the current pandemic. We have never been faced with a situation quite like the current one.
People Don’t Know How Their Minds Work.
Schooling doesn’t acknowledge the creative power of thought. People are taught that their mind is like a camera that records a world that exists outside of and separate from them. They don’t understand that they are more like a movie projector. We all live 100% in the experience of our thought-created reality. Individuals generate a unique reality by projecting their thinking onto the empty canvas of their lives. We can use our thinking to create wonderful things when guided by our innate intelligence. And we can create horrible things and experiences when we are disconnected from our inner wisdom.
When I looked into the eyes of my newborn baby, I saw inherent wisdom, peace and love. It is the same with all humans. Infinite intelligence is innate in all human beings irrespective of social position or economic status. It comes in the form of intuition, common sense, and insights. It is the same intelligent energy that grew you from a single cell into a functional human, that opens roses, and turns acorns into oak trees.
Humans learn to tap into this innate intelligence when they are able to quiet their busy brains and listen to the quiet whisper of inner knowing. Students have no time during the day to be quiet and follow their curiosity or explore personal interests. Their inner knowing and intuition is slowly drowned out by the overactive thinking brain which is forced to continually process and memorize information.
We Need Human Ingenuity Right Now
We need humans to awaken their imagination, unleash their creativity, and innovate like never before. But many cannot. Schooling confuses human intellect with intelligence, blocking creativity and ingenuity. We become entranced by our intellect and habitual thought patterns (that flow through the brain) because it got rewarded in schooling.
People don’t own their creative power because they have been schooled to believe that their power comes from their intellect. They are easily manipulated by fearful programming because fear and shame were used to force them to march through boring, irrelevant curriculum day after day in school.
We tend to walk around like we have toxic iPods in our brain, narrating our experience of life. Until we wake up, we live in our heads, disconnected from our inner wisdom that comes to us as intuition, common sense, and a sense of knowing.
We Cannot Create Solutions from Our Intellect
Learning is an internal, subjective experience of the learner coming to know self. And through this exploration of self and the environment, the learner gathers skills to navigate life and society. Through this process, consciousness can expand or contract.
Humans are designed to learn so that they grow into self-sufficient beings who self-direct their learning and lives. Thousands of years of human evolution show us that human beings are designed to learn in cooperation with their environment so that they can become functional, contributing members of their society. When we understand this, it makes absolutely no sense to lock children away in rooms with their peers of their same age and stuff them full of information while disconnecting them from the society they are expected to run in the future.
Learning is a natural, internal process of awakening to Self that best happens as the free inquiry of a relaxed, peaceful, playful mind. We need to educate young people in a way that connects them with their innate creativity, boundless imagination, and their inner wisdom so that they can innovate solutions to the complex problems they are inheriting.
Why do Parents Support Schooling?
The results of public schooling are shockingly grim, evidenced by the high illiteracy rates among 15-year olds, college graduates, and adults; lack of engagement; student boredom; skyrocketing anxiety, depression and suicide; continued teacher turnover, and widespread ignorance of fundamental knowledge. In addition, 45% of people with student loans don’t think college was worth it, 36% of college graduates had no cognitive gains after 4 years of college, and 70% of graduates from half of U.S. colleges make no more than high school graduates. College tuition has risen 1200% since 1978 and the average college grad has $30,000 in student debt with monthly payments of $393. Young people are bored, anxious, depressed, not learning much, and college becomes indentured servitude for many people.
Yet most adults cannot conceive of their lives functioning if their children aren’t being cared for by the institution of school. Schooling occupies a central position in society. Everyone admits that the school system is broken, but parents still support public schooling. Why is this?
Rational irrationality is one explanation. If you believe that you cannot change a situation (schooling), you will not accept evidence (kids hate school and aren’t learning much) that refutes your cherished belief (school is good and necessary) because the emotional cost is too high. Most people do not think that they personally can do anything about the school system, so they refute any evidence that shows how damaging it is to kids.
Another explanation of the widespread support of forced government schooling is confirmation bias. If someone raises an objection to government schooling or proposes an alternative, school supporters will raise the question of what the objector has to gain and question the person’s motives. School supporters also require impossibly high standards for proposed education alternatives while relaxing the standard for research supporting government schooling.
In addition, confirmation bias will lead people to focus on one amazing teacher or the one child that “seems to” love school. I have always been curious why a parent’s perspective is often so different than their child’s own experience of school. Many children have told my daughters over the years that they dislike school and wish they could homeschool too. When I speak with the children’s mothers, they universally tell me that their child likes school and their school is the best in the community.
Another explanation is motivated ignorance. When we choose not to know more, we actively choose not to understand. We have developed a conception of the world and willfully remain ignorant to avoid cognitive dissonance which occurs when we hold two opposing ideas in our minds. Motivated ignorance makes us more confident in our belief systems and less likely to consider facts that contradict our beliefs.
Breaking the Trance
If we break the trance of schooling, we can set free all of the teachers who have dedicated themselves to following their calling and mentoring youth. We can free children to remain enchanted by the world, driven by innate curiosity, and guided by inner wisdom.
In order to break the trance of schooling, we need to look at the design, content and results of schooling without bias. We need to be able to look at the structure of schooling without blaming any of the well intentioned adults who are part of the system. We need to be willing to let go of outdated worldviews that are foundational to forced government schooling. We need to move forward from a place of love and understanding not of fear, blame, or anger.
We are at a Major Fork in the Road
There are two paths that our society can travel at this moment. One is our current trajectory of Scientism and Technocracy based on the myths of materialism and separation. This path calls for increasing control over the natural world and the activities of humans using centralized government institutions and technological surveillance. The other path is a Consciousness-first orientation guided by Science freed from materialism. This path calls for new approaches to living and learning to replace the command and control institutions that are running society.
Let’s break the trance of schooling and co-create a living education network that expands human consciousness. When we educate to preserve young people’s innate wholeness, wisdom and well-being, they will unleash their unlimited capacity to innovate. They will evolve the world and society in a positive direction through their fresh insights.
To make wise choices and feel relaxed and confident about your kids’ education, get my new book Instead of Schooling: Educating for Creativity, Resilience & Happiness