Education and the Significance of Life

A book that truly challenge the educator to reflect on their own assumptions about learning and life itself. I read it for the first time in 2013, and reread it in 2020. Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

"Why are we so sure that neither we nor the coming generation, through the right kind of education, can bring about a fundamental alteration in humans relationships? We have never tried it; and as most of us seem to be fearful of the right kind of education, we are disinclined to try it. Without really inquiring into this whole question, we assert that human nature cannot be changed, we accept things as they are and encourage the child to fit into the present society; we condition him to our present ways of life, and hope for the best. But can such conformity to present values, which lead to war and starvation, be considered education?"

"The accumulation of facts and the development of capacity, which we call education, has deprived us of the fullness of integrated life and action. It is because we do not understand the total process of life that we cling to capacity and efficiency, which thus assume overwhelming importance."

"Systems, whether educational or political, are not changed mysteriously; they are transformed when there is a fundamental change in ourselves. The individual is of first importance, not the system; and as long as the individual does not understand the total process of himself, no system, whether of the left or the right, can bring order and peace to the world"

"There is radical transformation only when we understand our own conditioning and are free of it. To discuss what should be the right kind of education while we ourselves are conditioned is utterly futile."

"Teaching should not become a specialist's profession. When it does, as is so often the case, love fades away; and love is essential to the process of integration [of human beings]. To be integrated there must be freedom from fear. Fearlessness brings independence without ruthlessness, without contempt for another, and this is the most essential factor in life. Without love we cannot work out our many conflicting problems; without love the acquisition of knowledge only increases confusion and leads to self-destruction."

"The real problem in education is the educator."

Jonathan Nylander © 2020