“The value of an education”–Daily Metta

September 5:

gandhi-21“It is not literacy or learning which makes a [man], but education for real life.”

–Gandhi (Harijan, February 2, 1947)

Education has undergone a dramatic shift in recent decades. Where it once served to expand the mind, it has become a tool to expand the wallet and the ego. An education seems to be worth less somehow if there is not a paying job on the other end of it — a change that has been effected without discussion and by all parts of the political spectrum.  Of course, with the high cost of schools, and materials for classes, housing, transportation and other basic requirements, getting a job at the end makes undeniable sense. But let us also point out that when a system disempowers you for years by leaving you with the impression that the only thing you can do with your life is finance it, and by other structures and ideas within modern education, you will come out seeking power. And if you have been taught only the dynamics of having power over others, that’s how you will most likely will come out seeking it.

Gandhi tells us to ask what needs our society has, and to direct education toward those ends. In the Nai Talim of his conception, he offered the following, “Our sense of frustration should give place to hope; our penury and starvation to a sufficiency of means to maintain ourselves; unemployment to industry; discord to concord.”

Wealth and power over others are not our society’s needs. Housing is our need. So we need to educate people to build houses, and make them eco-friendly, solar powered, modeled after nature. There is power inherent in this. Food is our need: teach people to cultivate healthy food. There is power inherent in this, too. Bonding is a need: teach people how to work together for the well-being of others. This is real wealth. This is reestablishing dharma or purpose in education.


Experiment in Nonviolence:

What are some clear societal needs that you would like to see addressed in a new educational system?