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Education Is Wasted on the Young -by Mark S. Goulston, M.D.
Summary : What good is trying to educate people who do not value learning for its own sake, are not curious (beyond the desire to feel excitement) and sadly have lost their sense of wonder?
What good is trying to educate people who do not value learning for its own sake, are not curious (beyond the desire to feel excitement) and sadly have lost their sense of wonder?
I see fewer children from fifth grade through college and beyond with a passion for learning, understanding or even reading. That passion was present before the Four Horsemen of the Intellectual Apocalypse -first movies, second radio, third television and fourth the Internet -turned the masses into passive excitement/adrenaline seeking observers after having been intellectually active participants that voraciously read Mark Twain, Horatio Alger, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe or even the daunting Herman Melville.
People need to become educated, more instead of less literate and almost proud to be so. However people don't do what they need, they do what they want. And what they want is to be stimulated, maintain that stimulant high and to avoid boredom at all costs. Thinking, contemplating, understanding and learning that are necessary for lasting satisfaction in life are alas no competition for the immediate gratification that seems to drive so many people.
So consider the following proposal. Give people what they want in hopes that they discover what they need. If children beyond the fifth grade (it appears that many children will hold onto their innate curiosity through the fourth grade) are more concerned with and even obsessed with having, getting and then in high school and college with getting ahead; let's provide them with the training and skill sets to do just that. Don't waste education or even teaching on them.
Instead offer teaching and education only to those who want it. This will often turn out to be future leaders, because such individuals appear to inherently know there is more to life than transaction myopia (find the deal, do the deal, next deal).
It may even turn out to be bloggers that write on such topics as these, because I was one of those people who wasn't particularly keen on learning for its own sake, understanding things beneath the surface or even reading (even now I write with much more facility and enthusiasm than I read).
I find it such an irony to have been a kid who once felt that the longest ten minutes in life were those that occurred just before a school day was over and now feel that the greatest luxury I could imagine -if I didn't have to earn a living as a provider -would be to go back to school (or even do this online) and listen to and savor the best lectures from the wisest and most inspiring speakers I could find.
I wonder if it's too late to educate this old dog with some new tricks about the richness in life that is still out there for the taking and the learning.
MARK S. GOULSTON, M.D. is the author or the upcoming book, Just Listen (AMACOM, 2009) and is a psychiatrist and business coach in Santa Monica, California. Visit him at: markgoulston.com.
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