School trains us to ignore the present moment.
School opposes the teaching of Eckhart Tolle to be in the present moment and value the NOW. School teaches we will get rewards in the future if we can tolerate the boredom and drudgery of standardized, factory schooling. This breaks our connection to our inner wisdom and intuition.
When I look back on the 18 years that I spent in formal education, in K12, college, and graduate school, I realize that the most profound and harmful lesson I learned was that the present moment has no value.
This lesson is in direct opposition to what our greatest spiritual teachers instruct us to be: fully present to the now. The present moment is all that there is. The past only exists in our thoughts and the future has yet to unfold. The only thing that is real is this exact moment.
School, on the other hand, coerces kids to sit still, be quiet, ignore their bodies’ natural need for movement so that they can accumulate knowledge. Never mind that most of this knowledge can be acquired in seconds through an internet search.
This forces us to hope for a better present moment in the future. School conditions us to ignore our inner wisdom.
Spiritual teachers like Eckhart Tolle caution us that there is too little wisdom in the world.
“You need to become present. If you are not present, you have no access to wisdom. If you don’t have access to wisdom in your life, and wisdom is not IQ, it is not analytical intelligence. Nor is it accumulated knowledge. Wisdom is something that this world knows very little of in our civilization… Wisdom is an intuitive knowing that is much deeper than the intellect.
You need to have wisdom so that your intention does not produce unintended access. In any course of action that you undertake, it is very important, perhaps the most important ingredient is to have access to the dimension within yourself where wisdom arises.”Eckhart Tolle from Conscious Manifestation
How is Eckhart Tolle teaching opposed by schooling? Let me give you a personal example.
I remember sitting at my desk in my 2nd grade classroom watching the second hand move slowly around the clock on the wall. I would spend afternoons willing it to move faster. My body wanted to get up and move. I was so incredibly bored. I forced myself to will my body to sit still. It was torture. I felt like I was in prison.
My intuition was telling me to get up and leave the classroom because my body needed to move and I wasn’t learning anything.
When I was in 1st grade, I was sent to the corner for the rest of the day for reading ahead in a See Spot Run book. I remember the moment clearly. I loved reading. At the age of 6, I was reading chapter books. Our 1st grade teacher’s method of teaching her students to read was that everyone would have a turn to read out loud from a picture book. Sentences went like, “See spot run.” and “See Dick run. Run Dick run.” Yeah, they used the Dick and Jane reading series.
The shame and humiliation of having to sit in the corner of the room facing the corner all day long taught me to obey the teacher even when I wasn’t gaining anything from the instruction.
What is the promise of school given to all parents and children? Do well in school so that you can get into a good college so that you will get a good job.
How is that working out for everyone? When 70% of American adults are disengaged at work, I would say that they system is poorly designed. Or that it is designed merely for obedience and accumulation of knowledge. Definitely not for wisdom.
We are living in the dream of a promised better future that never seems to arrive.
I heard on NPR this morning that 1 out of 10 children are being diagnosed with ADHD and that 4% of adults are dealing with ADHD.
We are so busy cramming information into our children who intuitively know that these random facts are irrelevant to their lives. If they were building furniture using the Pythagorean theorem maybe it would look more useful. But they aren’t. They are sitting in desks chugging through math problems and waiting for it to be over.
Most teens drop out of high school because they are bored and see what they are doing in school as irrelevant. A vague promise that a high GPA and good SAT scores will get them into college so that they can do more school is not enticing.
All power is found in the present moment, as spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle instructs us. At a time when our planet needs wisdom and creativity, we are breaking the connection that children have with their inner wisdom.
If you find that your connection to inner wisdom was broken by school, you can reconnect again through my Fearless coaching program.
Perhaps it is an innocent misunderstanding of how learning really works or from where wisdom arises. We can only hope that Eckhart Tolle teaching can be incorporated into school design.
I invested 15 years trying to create alternatives to the factory system of schooling and had to turn away $500,000 in federal charter school start-up grants because I couldn’t get two innovative charter schools authorized. I saw first hand how much money there is in content (textbooks and edtech startups trying to replace textbooks) and in standardized testing. School is a big, thriving industry even if it is failing another generation of wise, creative souls.