Thursday, December 26, 2013

Education as an Act of Self-Becoming

A Good Read
George Bernard O'Neill (1828-1917)
Private Collection

If we consider education as preparation for life, the way in which we approach transmitting knowledge from one generation to the next acquires a specific role and significance, namely belonging to the role the individual being educated will assume on the world stage. 

For example, educating an entire populous of beings to become scholars when they are destined to become painters, musicians, or entertainers, is counterproductive and diminishes the amount of time these individuals have to devote to their "craft". 

While the commitment to the future of our offspring is indeed undeniable, there are innumerable differentiations in the fundamental developmental threads we weave for ourselves and our children and should, as a matter of consequence, be reflected in our approach to education. 

Madame de Lamballe reading to Marie Antoinette and her daughter, 
Marie Thérèse Charlotte (1858)
Joseph Carauad (1821-1905)

While a good book can transform the individual reading it, the conscious act involved in choosing a book that directly speaks to a person's interests is as much a fundamental aspect of development as is the content of the book and how it affects the person's mindset or worldview. 

The Virgin teaching the infant Christ to read
Carlo Maratti (1625-1713)
Fitzwilliam Museum
Provenance: bequeathed: Mesman, Charles, Rev. 1842

Following the rudimentary experience of learning how to read, an activity associated with ascribing meaning to symbols, children should be guided -vs- directed toward subjects that interest them. While it is valuable to expose children to many subjects given that their interests are ever-becoming, requiring mastery over arbitrary subjects they may or may not pursue in life does not result in long-term mastery or even interest. 

On the contrary, requiring our progeny to memorize biology terms, for example, if they have no desire to step foot in a laboratory or hospital, is counterproductive to their growth in areas that truly interest them. It is more important to teach a child to pursue an authentic lifestyle, one marked by dedicating their life to something that 'speaks' to them, than to half-educate them in subjects that are not related to who they wish to become as individuals. 

Bored (2012)
Sam Sidders

Education is more about self-individualizing than about memorizing random pieces of information that do not relate to an individual's interests, natural talents, or opportunities afforded them by nature of their circumstances in life. 

The self-individualizing process is a complex one, which, when left to arbitrary standards of education, never fully develops. Simply put: there are only so many hours in a day to develop one's mind, talents, and skills. Wasting those precious hours memorizing random pieces of information that will not be utilized and will most certainly be forgotten within hours, days, or weeks of ingestion will not yield the type of progeny the world needs to continue the evolutive expansion we call progress

American Progress (Manifest Destiny(c. 1872)
John Gast 1842 - ?)

In order to progress as a world community, we need to make room for and recognize that artists, musicians, entertainers, and other non-18th-century-renaissance-scholars are an underrepresented populous in need of recognition. 

Education is about self-actualization and self-becoming ~ not about memorizing random facts. Random facts are useless pieces of intellectual real estate that take away from the genius of the individual. 

Prince Henry Lubomirski as the Genius of Fame (1789)
Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842)
Gemalderie, Berlin


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