Virtually everyone would agree that this thing called education is a requirement for living in the world, unless we prefer a solitary life on the top of a mountain communing with animals and spirits. (hey, that’s not a bad idea!) And education, after all, is nothing more than information, right? And the information we each take in will vary from person to person, as a function of each’s interests, past experience, dreams, inclinations, etc. Even when we’re trying to force feed education, as in assignments, classroom, coursework, etc., each person is still only learning what they are inclined to learn.
Conduct this experiment anywhere, anytime: take 10 people to play at the park, to a local museum, out to eat at a restaurant, to the library… whatever…wherever. Leave each person alone and free to observe, act, meet others, eat as they choose. Gather together, after the outing, and compare notes: I am certain you will discover the huge range of thoughts, interests, preferences, and of course, learning, that took place. No two people will emerge from an outing of any kind with the same “world view” on what took place, what they felt, what they learned, what they want to do more of. If you gave a test afterward, how could you even begin to determine what was valuable, much less to everyone … and what gives you the right to think your notions of “what should have been learned” are important or valuable anyway? How about asking each person instead what they felt was important or valuable to them about the outing. Let go of your preconceived ideas about right and wrong and realize that what each finds important IS important.
If you are a parent or a teacher, use each person’s guide of what’s important to help you continue to nurture that. For the person who met new friends and wants to see them again, honor the learning that takes place through friendship and interpersonal communication. For the one who loved all the details of the bugs and leaves or colors of the paintings, nurture their interest and curiosity in nature or art. For the one who preferred to just sit alone and daydream or read a book, get them more books or more daydreaming time! All doors to exciting opportunity, invaluable exploration and self discovery open when we are free to move about the world in thought and action with freedom-to-be.
This is just as true for teens and adults as it is for young children. Follow the interest, one step at a time and watch as doors open with options for incredible learning and growth and sustainability on whatever level is right for you.
When people have the freedom to immerse themselves in the things, people and places that are of genuine interest and value to them – whether you agree or understand it at all – they are growing, learning, blossoming, thinking… and becoming thoughtful and intelligent, resourceful and respectful of self and others. They are learning on their own terms how wonderful life is, how much there is to enjoy, what love is and what it feels like. These are the inspired benefits of education. And inspired education that can only take place when the learner is in charge.