Teaching fear

For so many of us, education boils down to fear.

First we have fear on behalf of our children, and then, at the appropriate time, we transfer the fear to them while still retaining a measure for ourselves.

We fear "not getting it." Not being good enough. We fear failing grades. We're afraid that we won't get into college, that we'll flunk out of college, that we'll choose the wrong major, that we won't get a job. 

We compete with other individuals, amassing AP classes and extracurricular activities in an academic arms race. And as a nation, we're worried that we'll be left behind as other countries train up generation after generation of highly skilled workers. 

We are relentless with standardized testing in a desperate attempt to prove that we are gaining ground. We wring our hands over the corruption that results from the brutally high stakes. We are so entrenched in the battle that we don't ask whether there is even a war on. 

There is no war. There is just you and me, breathing in and out.

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“Everything in the universe is a pitcher brimming with wisdom and beauty.” ― RumiOn this earth, we need to earn a livelihood for our families. We ought to be of service to the world in some way. We owe it to ourselves to be happy.

And that's about it. Everything we think we need to know - well, it's great if it serves us. If not, what's the point?

Why are we trying so hard to prepare our children for every contingency when we don't know what their world is going to look like? 

That's not to imply that education isn't important. It absolutely is. But an education based in fear will prepare them for a world we don't want. It will create a world we don't want.

The solution is to start with love instead of fear.

Lots of our schools can pull that off until about second grade, or even through elementary school in some exceptional environments. Then our collective fear kicks in, just when students need love the most.

I don't know how to fix it, except to notice the things I do, think, and say that are fearful (most of them) and replace them with love - or at least, authenticity. Humanity.

I will let you know how it goes.

"Good night, my friends!" said Galadriel. "Sleep in peace! Do not trouble your hearts overmuch with thought of the road tonight. Maybe the paths that you each shall tread are already laid before your feet, though you do not see them. Good night!" - Tolkien