Are we learning enough life?
Mentor, public speaker and education specialist
A new paradigm for an effective and sustainable education system, going beyond teaching of mathematics and history. Are money and success the only factors, the only drives? Education for Life, Education for Happiness: these are the tools that can lead us towards a meaningful existence; a quantum leap towards a mature society.
What is the meaning of education?
It is a fundamental question we have been pondering on as the basis for any discussion on raising the quality of the education process worldwide, in a sustainable, yet effective manner. Such would be an achievement that could represent the only key to a better society; a dream that urges us to action.
The objective of education is to prepare us to interact with life and society.
In which way has it been happening so far?
The idea of transmitting the knowledge, experience and insights has been there since the ancient times. Throughout the centuries education has been evolving to serve the changing needs of society and times.
In the 16th century schools have replaced the fieldwork and factory work; with the agrarian, industrial and information age education has been becoming gradually a tool to create better workers. It has always been considered as the engine of social, personal and economic growth.
The idea of providing education to all children is being implemented only for about the last 150 years. Since that time many systems, theories and methodologies have been dawning and then disappearing from the horizon, yet, none of them entirely satisfying, thus we have started realizing the more and more urgent need for reforms that would challenge our assumptions about the purpose and process of education.
Today’s society – focused on the pursuit of economic and technological progress – is asking education to produce highly skilled individuals qualified for professions and trades, capable of fighting political and economic battles.
Increased competitiveness has been teaching us ambition, has been teaching us struggling in order to get ahead of others.
Life is not a race against everybody.
Education, instead of being an ambition-oriented process, shall be a love-centered one, free of envy and violent competition, preparing us to understand more and expand our awareness.
So far, education has been focusing on teaching us skills necessary for survival, but not for realizing happiness.
We work for money, we study for money, we struggle for money, we die for money and we kill for money.
Education prepares us to be producers and consumers, to have a better standard of living, but not to live a better life.
How can we raise the quality of education, find more sustainable ways of living, raise our awareness?
How can we teach, learn, grow and live in happiness?
Throughout the years education has been increasingly becoming oriented toward economic ends, not necessary contributing much to personal and collective happiness and people’s well-being.
Our education system is very much goal-oriented; yet, in life goal is not the destination but rather one of the possible directions on the way to development.
Our proposal is to allow a paradigm shift, to place science, technology and economics as a means to an end, to serve mankind and uplift human condition and awareness.
Education cannot convey a complete and holistic knowledge about the world, the nature, the society and its institutions without tackling deeper dimensions of understanding; the concepts of love, happiness, life and death.
Elements of religion, philosophy, ethics have been attempting to tackle those subjects, yet, I am talking here about a global and holistic approach, about developing curricula for all the students, regardless of their gender, race, faith or origin, without linking it to any religious or philosophical perspective.
We might be taking it for granted, but after all, when it comes to confronting ourselves with the reality and its challenging experiences, do we know what is for us love, what’s happiness, what’s life and what’s death? Everyone of us is, in fact, going through life blindly? In this article and in my public speeches and seminars (www.youtube.com/annabarchetti) I advocate that we all have the right to this education because we all want to be happy. Where else, if not firstly at schools, should it be taught?
I would like to stress that same misunderstandings stem from the fact that our conception of happiness requires a certain revision.
It is often believed that happiness is dependent and conditioned by factors such as: relationships with family and friends, financial situation, health, freedom etc.
Why then, once achieved or fulfilled any of these, we continue feeling that something is still missing to our happiness?
Several studies in the past years have however proven that in the long run and at the macro level there is no correlation whatsoever between happiness and income. According to my experience as counselor the supposed correlations between happiness and any other factor are based only on our personal pre-conceptualized idea.
In my opinion, happiness is an expansion of awareness. An expansion which comes out of understanding that happiness is all what we experience in life: joy and sorrow together.
Let me introduce a geo- and country specific political dimension to that by inferring that it is lying in the interest of each and every government to educate and empower its people.
An aware and happy society is necessary to be able to tackle better difficult situations at a personal, national and international level, crises and emergencies; an aware and happy society is more cooperative and acceptive.
There are problems that cannot be eliminated or remedied overnight; only an empowered society can be able to confront itself and cope with such hardships and adverse circumstances. Clearly I am not referring here to empowerment and education process in terms of academic and practical knowledge, but in terms of education for life – teaching happiness skills, emphasizing personal development.
Paraphrasing Mandela’s words, empowering through education is the most powerful weapon that can change the world.
The above mentioned paradigm-shift would allow us to impart education for life and education for happiness in every possible country-specific way, making it accessible to every single citizen; introducing it not only into school curricula, but also through extra-curricular activities; through formal, non-formal and informal education, public seminars, conferences, webinars, homeschooling; through engaging with community education, so to reach out up to the grass-root level in the society.
Let education be the road leading not to pursuit of happiness but to its attainment.
This article was published on June 20th: World Refugee Day in Global Education Magazine.