‘When you are educated, you are elevated’.
The role of education should prepare students to think and see life in its true wholeness, physically, mentally and spiritually. Enthusing young minds to be motivated and cultivate a belief that enables each individual to make a valid contribution to society. By living a life of purpose that connects them to the world. In the words of Pablo Picasso, ‘The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.’
Education should nourish the soul and inspire the mind to become the game changers to the world changers of tomorrow. When one is inspired to inquire, debate, research and grow personally to accept similarities and differences in each other with respect and kindness. This makes all things possible through uniting humanity, as one to live in harmony with one another. Stephen Covey says that ‘We need to begin with the end in mind.’ To live a truly satisfying life, one has to think, what type of legacy do I want to leave and how do my aspirations fit into that? The actions will flow from the dream or goal directing your steps.
Life is made up of events and decisions that go beyond the job remit; education should, therefore, equip students for life in itself and not just working life. Life skills such as making good choices to coping with adversity, Chip Ingram refer to this as “teach your children to suffer well” are essential to thrive and flourish in a broken world. The current system can be considered as outdated in the twenty-first century, which has been characterized by change. It would appear the culture of education need to go through radical reforms in its content and context to be transformative and life-changing.
Education is an ideal way to encourage exploring philosophies of life, as it’s always difficult to be something that you never saw. In the words of Dr Seuss, ‘The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.’ A modern education system should move with the times and lead by example. In real life, nothing is static or stable. One must be comfortable enough to embrace change rather than be paralyzed by it. If students don’t develop a broad mindset that goes beyond what they have been taught, it’s likely they will only exist and inevitability not live.
The role of education should prepare students for adulthood in general; such as dealing with change or the unknown and the importance of looking after yourself, as the saying goes you cannot water from an empty can. The development of a mindset that is resilient, solution focused and relentless should be overarching principles that adapt to external circumstances. For students to be engaging in the full range of life experiences that make them more rounded citizens from travelling to helping the less fortunate.
Ideally education should influence and instigate dynamic thinking to be encouraged in spite of life’s trials, as there is no doubt that we live in a difficult world. Learning should be a time of exploration, reflection and envisioning on possibilities. It has been said that we are more limited by our mentality than our physical circumstances. The job mindset is somewhat limiting; a job is a way, not the way. The market today is often characterized by fluctuations of uncertainty from restructures to downsizing, which are all common practices.
A broad mindset has therefore never been more necessary in starting a journey of self-discovery that leads to personal enlightenment and empowerment. That gives life purpose as Viktor E Frankl will say, ‘The meaning of life is to give life meaning.’ The big idea could be to embrace individuality within the world that is susceptible to cultural and social norms very much prone to distractions. A common issue is peer pressure to fit in and follow the crowd this may set the tone for the path ahead.
It’s difficult to lead a rich and fulfilling life if one doesn’t take time to get to know self and being self-assured enough to take a different path.
Lifelong learning is not just terminology but a lifestyle choice as it will open minds and possibility doors too, if one is willing. Life seems to be getting tougher and jobs are harder to come by that truly set the soul alight. A good job is neither here nor there just on its own, as a successful life goes far beyond monetary values. A job as a high-flying city banker doesn’t necessarily equal a satisfying life; one can become enslaved to the rat race and living to work rather than working to live.
The primary role of education is a basic foundation that provides a starting point. Building knowledge of the world, developing basic competencies and cultivating life skills. When the brain reads, listens and pursues information the mind will invariably expand and soar. The ability to think and live outside of our comfort zone is needed to coexist in uncertain times; as there is no longer such thing as a job for life.
It is impossible to fully prepare students for jobs because the jobs of today may not even exist by the time they enter the workforce. A good example is the advancement of technology, which has greatly reduced the need for manpower. Jobs have become scarce in some industries due to automation; replacing part or the whole process previously completed by humans. The face of jobs is forever changing or even dying out. The ability to think comprehensively will help students to bridge the gap of the unknown into the known, such as identifying gaps in the market that will lead to job creation.
A practical application could take in the form of a regular book club in school that explores life topics, such as healthy relationships and boundaries. This may help to fuel the desire of young people to become lifetime readers, which sets them up for life. Education gives direction as the pursuit of knowledge highlights the joys of reading for leisure. The system at present mainly fosters a mentality that treats education as a means to an end whether it is to get into their chosen university or an entry requirement for the next phase. It does seem to neglect the significance of learning as part of life in itself.
Education should shape students into being independent and accountable citizens valuing life in spite of their circumstances, as the total world’s knowledge is so easily accessible to empower themselves to change their lives. If the internet is used in a purposeful manner it usually leads to personal transformation for the better, despite the haves or have nots. A personal story of trials into triumph can give hope, someone’s wounds can turn into wisdom for the future generation and in the words of Maya Angelou, ‘When you know better, you do better.’
Above all education should aim to give self-confidence so that one can cope with the demands of modern life and not dwell in the voids and hardships that life entails. The past cannot be changed but the future can be. In the words of Edmund Burke, ‘Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.’ This follows on from another quote by Thomas S Monson, ‘The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it.’
In closing, education should be grounded in a broad all round teaching, highly academic but also advocating reading or learning for life that can change the trajectory of life for the better. If individuals aren’t proactive in pursuing knowledge, they may find themselves stagnated and at the mercy of social conditioning and other external influences. There is nothing worse than coming to the end of a life filled with regrets.
‘The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.’-Mark Twain. Finding out our why or our reason for living doesn’t just give structure to our day but also purpose that will inspire future generations to dream and leave the world in a better place than they found it.