Contributing writer for Wake Up World
“In the modern age of production and consumption, in the age of money and power, the meaning of education has become distorted. The Latin root of the word education – educare – means to ‘bring out’, whereas the present implication of the word education is to ‘put in’.” ~ Satish Kumar
America — and the world at large — is in crisis. From education to the environment and how we relate to one another, most would agree, something needs to change — and quickly. As overwhelming as this state of affairs can be, Satish Kumar, a former Jain monk, long-time peace activist and ecological champion believes we can radically re-establish balance to our planet and its inhabitants with one straightforward idea. The key to such a metamorphosis? Our educational system.
Satish Kumar is best known for his 8,000-mile peace pilgrimage. Without money and relying on the helpfulness and hospitality of others, he and E.P. Menon walked from India to America, via Moscow, London and Paris, to present a packet of “peace tea” to leaders of the four nuclear superpower countries. For over three decades, Satish has been a significant voice of spirituality and ecology movements. He’s also a firm believer in the power of love and education to transform the world. His formula is exceptionally simple. So much so that we seem to have overlooked it completely.
“Hands, Heart and Head”
Through his spiritual discipline and love of all life, Satish is passionate about befriending planet earth — nature, animals, people and plants, the whole package. He emphasizes that we are not stewards of the environment, nor are we masters. In reality, we are a part of nature’s family. But we’ve become disconnected with our “civilized” and numbing ways. Instead of cherishing the earth and those that live on it as good friends, we’ve become adversaries — attacking, destroying and disrespecting. He believes one of the main reasons behind this lack of harmony stems from our modern educational model.
“Children are not empty vessels in which you pour information and knowledge. The word educare means to bring out, rather than put in. So all the knowledge, all the wisdom and all the insights which are required are already in every child, because every child is divine. The presence of the divine is there. It is like the acorn — an oak tree is already in that acorn. The work of a gardener is to find fertile soil where that acorn can be planted. The work of a forester or gardener is to build a little fence to protect that little seedling so that cows or pigs don’t destroy it, and perhaps to give it a bit of water in dry weather. But otherwise the acorn has the capacity to become an oak tree. In the same way every child is a potential Buddha or enlightened being—and the work of a guru, a master, a teacher or parent is to provide that fertile soil, to provide support and protection, so that the child can become who it is. The work of education is to help the child become self-realized—not to become a doctor, a lawyer or an accountant, someone that they are not, just to earn money. Education is a spiritual activity,” Satish told New Renaissance Magazine
We can bring out a child’s potential by cultivating a good relationship with them, which cannot happen in classrooms filled with 30 or 40 children, in schools with hundreds of students. Each child should be well-known by the teachers and staff. Satish also feels children should be involved in practical activities using their hands, like baking bread, making lunch, washing up. Every activity should be considered education, not viewed as a chore. Students can grow some food, use their hands in the soil. Making clothes, pottery, building a house, weaving — all can foster a balanced school environment. Sadly, these activities are rarely included as part of the curriculum.
Satish stresses learning should not only come from books, but that we need direct experience of the natural world as well. Spending four days in the classroom, with the fifth day out in nature — going to the forest, the river and learning from the trees and watching birds — would support balanced human beings. Instead, children are increasingly kept indoors and in front of computer screens. Recess and outdoor time has given way to the rising demands of testing and academic performance. Watching television further saps valuable hours from the day. Where does this leave us as a nation, as human beings? The answer can be found in our incessant wars, polluted environment, sick children and unhappy population.
But there’s hope. We can transform this downward spiral into a path of respect, connection and harmony and learn to live an authentic good life by teaching the importance of “hands, heart and heads” — in that order — throughout our educational system, from kindergarten to university and beyond.
Additionally, Salish recommends we seek “livelihood” — not a “job” — when we graduate from school. If we become an employee, creativity is suspended. But with a livelihood, we are coming from the heart and creating something. It’s a force of alchemy and dignity.
If you would like to learn more about alternative educational models that encourage respect and a harmonious approach to living, see here and here.
Education with hands, hearts and heads: Satish Kumar at TEDxWhitechapel
About the author:
Carolanne Wright enthusiastically believes if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change. As a nutritionist, natural foods chef and wellness coach, Carolanne has encouraged others to embrace a healthy lifestyle of organic living, gratefulness and joyful orientation for over 13 years.
Through her website Thrive-Living.net, she looks forward to connecting with other like-minded people from around the world who share a similar vision. You can also follow Carolanne on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Recommended reading from Carolanne Wright:
- Plastic Waste in the Ocean Will Outnumber Fish by 2050
- Seed Bombs: A Creative (and Fun) Mission to Save the Bees and Butterflies
- Autistic Boy with Higher IQ Than Einstein Discovers Gift After Removal from State-Run Therapy
- Plastic-Eating Mushroom Discovered in the Amazon Rainforest — A Solution for Our Trash Saturated World?
- Big Pharma and Organized Crime — They are More Similar Than You May Think
- Over 100 Scientific Studies Agree: Cannabis Annihilates Cancer
- Emotional Energetic Healing: The Future of Medicine is Here
- Why Every Parent Should Consider Unschooling
- The Greenhouse of the Future: Grow Your Own Food Year-Round With This Revolutionary System
- First U.S. City Produces More Electricity Than It Uses — With 100% Renewable Technology