What is Education?

Raising a Generation of “Downloaders”

by Jamie Harris

Ed·u·ca·tion (ejəˈkāSH(ə)n) Noun: The process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university. “His education is encyclopedic and eclectic.”

E·duce (ēˈd(y)o͞os) Verb: To bring out or develop, elicit or evoke (something latent or potential). “Out of love, obedience is educed.”

It’s plain to see that we live in extraordinary times. So why are we educating our children through ordinary or common means? As a personal trainer and yoga instructor, I teach the simple mantra, “Train the way that you want to perform.” For athletes, this means practice mimics the game and is designed to develop skills specific to each athlete’s purpose on the team. In classrooms, kids may actually be justified when they ask, “Why do I need to know this?!”

Parents and teachers all over the country are fed up with the current model of education which is centered on Common Core, or STEM, curricula and standardized testing. It’s no secret that the companies that provide the books and tests, namely, CTB McGraw-Hill, Riverside Publishing (a Houghton Mifflin company), and NCS Pearson, have massive lobbying budgets which influence educational policy at the federal and state levels. Very few are offering a new model which could replace the current corrupt system.

What would the great historical philosophers, scholars, scientists, artists and engineers think of our current educational system? The great American scholar, Ralph Waldo Emerson, had many prolific observations of modern culture and education. From his seminal work, Nature, 1836:

“Our age is retrospective… It writes biographies, histories, and criticism. The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes. Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs? Embosomed for a season in nature, whose floods of life stream around and through us, and invite us by the powers they supply, to action proportioned to nature, why should we grope among the dry bones of the past, or put the living generation into masquerade out of its faded wardrobe?… Let us demand our own works and laws and worship.”

The high level of apathy and low level of creativity on display in public schools across America should come as no surprise. Our entire system is based on filling kids’ minds with information, much of which is only half-truth, half convenient narrative. (Evidenced by our continued observance of Columbus Day, albeit I recently heard that the 1492 narrative is being updated in most social studies text books.)

Memorization of data holds almost no function in the age of the internet and smartphones. Time spent at school needs to be centered around developing life skills, vision- and purpose-driven mentorship, authentic face-to-face communication, technology integration, fitness and nutrition, self-soothing and mental health techniques, and fostering a ‘Do Whatever It Takes’ mentality in the spirited pursuit of a future that is healthy, happy, peaceful, loving and abundant!

Most teachers aren’t even aware that the transformation is already underway. Adaptive learning apps can teach literacy, science, math and music faster, more efficiently and less expensively than hiring a teacher (in fact you can buy 100 student licenses for one particular literacy platform for less than half of a typical South Florida teacher’s salary). These apps will soon dominate the educational landscape and teachers will be forced to evolve to teach the subtle, intangible skills that are essential for lifelong success and significance.

It’s 2016…I’m in a high school library in Miami doing 8 x 90-minute Transformational Mentorship sessions with 60 kids each. How did I get here? I looked up the definition of the word education and traced it back to its roots in Latin where I discovered the word educe. To elicit, to draw forth, to awaken, to evoke, to develop, to bring out were all synonymic phrases. At some point between the great philosophical educators of the classical age and Emerson’s life, we stopped educing from the hearts and minds of children and started to educate them as if everything they would ever need to know about the world and their relationship with it had already happened in the past. Emphasizing the absorption and analysis of information as the means of learning and growth has severely hamstrung the last several generations.

Why not train our kids to be uploaders rather than downloaders? Originality, outside-of-the-box thinking, self-selection and expression are being sacrificed in the name of memorization of status quo narratives about science, history, literature and math. When we don’t ex-press ourselves, we re-press and de-press ourselves. The epidemics of youth violence/suicide, school-to-prison pipelines, drugs, obesity and depression will be reversed when we transform the ways that we educate our youth.

As a professional trainer and mentor, I go into schools all across the country to generate intrinsic motivation within students and teachers. The most powerful shift that my colleagues and I at My Life My Power are able to deliver is the change in focus from WHAT WE DO to WHO WE ARE. We call this exploring our “Way of Being,” synonymous with character/personality traits or disposition. The idea is that everything we do flows from a personal commitment to being (for example) loving, compassionate, trustworthy, peaceful, generous, joyful and abundant, to name a few. Understanding this distinction is priceless for self-reflection and for peer feedback. Our higher self operates on trust, accountability, abundance, compassion, surrender, openness, faith and love, while our egoic operating system consists of fear, control, righteousness, comfort and scarcity.

Jamie Harris is the COO of My Life My Power and Transformational Technologies. He fulfills his vision of transforming the landscape of education and the future of America by being fully committed to youth development of character, health and well-being, career and relationship skills. He is committed to fostering a generation of servant leaders. Harris is a true creative, expertly expressing himself through music, poetry, yoga and, most importantly, family. He brings joyful energy to all aspects of life and has earned the nickname Cannonball for the exuberance he shows while making a ‘big splash’ in kids’ lives.

For more information and to bring My Life My Power to your school, police department or other organization, call 914-714-9261, e-mail [email protected] and/or visit MyLifeMyPower.org.

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