Saturday, March 31, 2012

Speech Day: Educating our Young

This morning we braved the rainstorm to go to our daughter's school. It was speech day and she was there to collect a prize for academic excellence. I think all the kids and their parents were happy for their achievements. The school leaders' were unstinting with praise. My view? Dangerous and superficial. It is the system that is producing the type of elite recruits for accelerated progression to leadership positions in our nation's key organs.

It is frustratingly hard to persuade a child to take the road less traveled, to cast her sight further. What's the big deal to bag a prize for academic excellence? All the talk I heard in school and I often read in the papers are so self focused, which is just a foil for deeper self centredness.

I have been trying to persuade her that the purpose of education is to protect and advance freedom. Firstly for yourself and family and then the wider society and globally. I have countless examples bolstering this point. My last example, the day before she collected her prize was Isaac Newton. Coincidentally she is reading a book on him.

We were riding in the car and I said the freedom to travel in this manner would not have been possible without his laws of motion. In fact many more characters had to contribute to the freedom enhancing knowledge to make this possible, especially thermodynamics.

We really cannot afford to just think of what we want to do for ourselves, discover our passions which are directed at our satisfaction, building up our self image. I wish Viktor Frankl's book, "Man's Search for Meaning" is compulsory reading for all our kids. The present system is based on a few winners and uncountable losers. Ultimately a self defeating system.

She has ways to mature. More time is needed for her to connect academic excellence with freedom. I hope she has that luxury of time before it becomes too painful. She is not keen to achieve and qualify for next year's Speech Day awards. Meanwhile many high achievers are making great strides for all the wrong reasons. Most were baited like the Serpent had with Eve, and they went on to build the Tower of Babel, which turned out to be a fiasco.

Our freedom is precious. If we take it for granted, we deserve to lose it.

The God-man was not born with striking handsome features in a palace. He had nothing, not even supportive siblings and his parents never understood him. What he had was a very good education. As a 12-year old he had astounded the leading teachers of his day with his learning. He needed that because he would go on to not just gain but define what freedom is. He would take out that Serpent who since the beginning had abetted us to take the wrong track.

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