Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Life’s purpose explained?
Up early this morning I was reading Aristotle (love to write that….note below I’ll question whether I actually understood what I was reading) and was struck by some of his happiness/well being precepts. Since I’m not writing a primer on Aristotle here I won’t get much into details but a core concept is that virtue relates to the proper function of something. He makes ethics a practical and not theoretical study.
Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m passionate about education. In part, my interest is practical in that I have two kids and don’t believe in education as a passive practice. No, I view kids as that mythical blank slate and feel responsible for what writing fills up that whiteness. Let’s not forget that impressionable minds are especially susceptible to believing what they’re told; kids often lack the perspective to evaluate truthfulness. Hence how they’re trained to reason is critical. I recently explained to my eight year old (seven at the time) that everything on the Internet wasn’t true. It was like a light dawned in his eyes as he self explained all of those contradictions he’d seen over time on a computer screen.
Not that I’m saying life’s purpose is the Internet (though for some people it may be).
But the big puzzle I’m pondering is how relevant school is if it isn’t addressing the bigger person and helping children evaluate and find their proper function. No test will tell you that (as anyone who’s taken one of those career guidance tests knows).
I’m now consciously starting from scratch in understanding education. Yes, in our country it was established to follow the agrarian calendar and enable basic literacy (to create more knowledgeable voters? Better workers?). Education is and always has a public policy aspect to it. Are the government’s goals for my children the same as mine? As my children’s goals for themselves?
I love literature and philosophy for a related reason. If we haven’t defined our life purpose how can we fulfill it? And from what sources exactly is a child expected to draw that conclusion? The humanities allow us to evaluate and decide based on intangibles and not merely a straight linear (rule based) path.
I’ll keep pondering and writing on this issue. Education? Spirituality? Religion? Ethics? Leadership? Which source do I draw on first to begin crafting an answer? We’ll see. I do agree with Aristotle that by taking what we know to be the right actions and for the right reasons we draw much satisfaction (and self respect). The great thing about reading other’s thoughts is that we typically get from them what we want to read. Whether I “understood” Aristotle this morning is irrelevant: I’m now pondering education, learning and self direction in an entirely new way. Our education forms our belief systems and shouldn’t be taken lightly.