creating feature slowlivingactivism vanlife

on education

December 29, 2018

I have something to tell you. These words have been clawing beneath the surface for some time now and I thought that by changing course I could sink them like river stones but they snag at my soft belly as I roll over landscapes, so I will write them here, cast them out into the world and retreat. Education is a lie. I am sorry to say this because my father is a retired teacher who gave his life to the education system, and I know a lot of good people who teach. Perhaps I write that in an attempt to disentangle ‘who people are’ from ‘what they do’. If that can be done. I will tell you why I can no longer support the idea of formal education in any manifestation: because, simply, it does not work.

I read the dictionary definition: “To educate: Give intellectual, moral, and social instruction to (someone), typically at a school or university.” This is the undoing of us all. I will tell you this now, there is nothing worth knowing that can be taught. A decade of running workshops, of visiting schools and communities, of ‘inspiring people,’ has planted an acorn in my mind and every workshop I produce waters this seed of doubt (or understanding) so that she has grown into a great oak tree in the mind. I can ignore her no longer. The quandary here, the stick in the craw that I have tried to evade is that teaching (to support my writing) has been my life’s focus for over a decade, and if I do not do this, what then do I do? Over recent weeks I have continued to cultivate the surface, write blogs, accept workshops, send facile messages to distract from the deeper commentary I have been trying to tune out of.

But a year ago we moved into this van to embrace a new way of existing with the world and this new life despises lies and self-deceit, it strips away the ego, the ‘I shoulds’ and the self-doubt; it makes a person see with new eyes every day, because every day is truly different, no matter how we might pretend to keep things the same; gone are the routines and behaviour patterns that enslave the soul, and with this new way of being a growing awareness of deep-rooted insight and the need for these ideas to bud as I sit in winter sun enfolded in the dreams of eucalyptus trees watched over by snow-capped mountains.

Education separates us from lived experience and I believe that experience is the only true way to learn. Our children no longer understand the workings of their own minds, or how to be part of a community, but they can pass endless test after test and the argument is put forward that it is not the duty of teachers to teach morals, or social behaviours. Which is absolutely correct. But they do. The teacher teaches without teaching. Some teachers give the children their heart and soul, some are bullies, some use work to hide from their families, some have great insights to share, some reward only those who will do exactly as instructed. What does this teach our children?

Moving forward, I have seen people who have never left the confines of the education system be encouraged to teach. This cannot be right. I have seen people who have never left the confines of education become university lecturers. How can this truly reflect the pure art of creating a life – that most sacred way of connecting with ourselves, each other, and the universe? When we buy education we convert our souls into marketplace commodities. We shackle ourselves to a lie so that we might purchase the surety of the outcome; so that we might control the future either for ourselves or for our children.

But the future is a fickle mistress who cannot be bought. Gone are the joys and pains of making mistakes, of learning how to exist in the real world, of pushing and exploring the boundaries of self, the world, and our place in it. Instead we have created a giant and intricate simulation of life, and we call it ‘education’. There is something I have to tell you. I have faced the truth of myself. All we can do is give is who we are. Teaching is about ego and control. Education is a lie. It is time for new dreams.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Sally Hirst January 1, 2019 at 5:04 am

    Very thought provoking Sophie. I really enjoy your posts.

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