Thursday, January 10, 2013

Raising Funny Kids 16 - Cultural Edification

In the United States, cultural edification for kids has been the least successfully cultivated of all the departments of speculative sciences. The age of Technology is too intent upon its immediate tasks, and too completely absorbed in its newest updates, to pause reflectively over the history of its own creative or ingenius working. 

Cultural edification has for its object the wide domain of human ingenuity, or more precisely, the entire history of human ingenuity. 

Exploring the world through the discovery of artifacts and objects of worth in their relationship to ourselves and society is the ultimate children's story. 

When seeing a new painting or object of worth, the creativity we apply to understanding it evokes the feeling of wonder within us; this is where the fun lies. We can play games with ourselves (and our children) that help us delve deeper into our philosophies about any manmade object, irrespective its origin or distance from our own life experience. 

Our first impressions, unbiased by theory or context, allow us to experience the world for ourselves. After which, we are intrigued by the theories of others (as they relate to art, religion, sociology, or the nature of the material universe) because we've had the opportunity to FIRST formulate our own memory or experience of something. 

Whether you travel the globe to culturally edify yourself (and your children) or choose a location closer to home, getting out of the house "to go off exploring" is every bit as educational as traditional educational approaches whereby primary emphasis is placed on quantity of information rather than quality or synthesization (of it). 

Traveling (and exploring our surroundings) for the distinct purpose of cultural edification not only makes for wonderful family memories, but also for wonderful family photos. 

Instilling within our children an aesthetic appreciation of works of art, with knowledge of the historical circumstances conditioning their production, when undertaken with consideration and insight, supported by meticulous historical documentation (and a little creative imagining), is a particularly unique, thoroughly enjoyable hands-on method of parenting a future global citizen. 

It's nearly impossible for most people to learn how to communicate in every language, and also to travel to every country in the world whereby they can communicate with locals in meaningful dialogue about what is important to other cultures. It is for this reason that we can look to our common global history as seen through objects of worth. 

From abstract principles to concrete productions coming from insight or talent, this mode of examining the world distinguishes itself from the present educational systems which are falling apart faster than I can write this post. 

Considering the trajectory of what we're building today as it relates to what we've made in the past demonstrates the universality of our species' desire to create objects outside ourselves and - with the advent of modern medicine and technology - inside ourselves, too. 

A determining principle of edification is our understanding of self with respect to our own inwardness as well as to our place in the growing world community. Whether or not we ascribe spiritual meaning to material form is an inward permeation not discussed in this post. However, what constitutes a whole in education is our understanding that individuality is a human passion, action and event; the wide domain of human feeling can be found in objects we've created. 

These objects are on exhibits around the world in varying modes of formative expressions (paintings, sculpture, jewelry, tools, music, instruments, letters). It is my belief that education is meaningless and devoid of understanding until we leave home - so that we can explore, ask questions, make observations, have experiences, and finally, when all is said and done, come up with a few theories of our own. These naturally derived theories are far more meaningful to me (and dare I say to many others) than are the theories of those held by (educated) strangers. 

I enjoy seeing the world from my own eyes rather than through the digital lens of a film maker. You just never know what you're going to discover about the world - or yourself - when you leave home. 

Classification, clarification, and organization can occur within the confines of walls (libraries, schools, research laboratories), but the content is usually outside these walls, without which we'd have nothing to classify, clarify, and/or organize or synthesize into meaningful textbooks. 

Go outside and become a part of living history. Walk in the footsteps of those famous persons who came before us, climb pyramids and cathedral stairs, delve deeper into the symbols and significance of historical objects of worth, and most importantly, formulate (and allow your children to formulate) their own opinions about the world and their place in it - this is the role of an educator: guiding others to knowledge where they can, for themselves, formulate a personal opinion based on a unique, meaningful experience with the topic at hand. 

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