Education is something always very dear to me. I spent many years as a schoolmaster and lecturer and have often found myself placed in the role of teacher, sometimes willingly, other times more reluctantly.
It is not because I view myself as especially wise or over-flowing with knowledge but rather that I have always had a deep inner urge to inspire and encourage others so they in turn may desire to grow more into their own talents and abilities. And I have always considered that a good teacher is not simply one who fills his students with information or facts, or even just passes on some of the skills he has acquired. A teacher’s role is mainly to inspire, nurturing and awakening the gifts within those he or she teaches.
Our modern education systems tend to be based upon the acquisition of information, remembering it, and then subsequently regurgitating it later as required. The curriculum is so geared to passing examinations. The creative imagination and the joy it can bring when it is allowed to function freely is often relegated to that of an unwelcome interloper who is best satiated by a “hobby” such as painting, singing or writing poetry.
Yet education is not about putting stuff into another’s head. Rather it means to “lead or draw out”. Of course such a process is risky for the status quo as it is more likely to cultivate original and challenging thinkers than manufacture stressed out and unfulfilled clones expected to conform blindly.
Recently, some eyes interested in education have been turned to Finland. This small nation in even colder climes than the UK and most of the economic national powerhouses of modern times has had its education system consistently rated one of the best in the world, producing some of the most well-adjusted, high performing and happiest young people on the planet. Whilst all such “league tables” might be viewed with not a little caution further investigation reveals some interesting facts.
It would seem nearly all pupils of every age in Finland really appear to like school. That in itself is some achievement. But it would also seem their system is considerably focussed around the needs and wishes of the children – what we used to call “child-centred” in my day. School days are much shorter and there is little or no homework. The first public exams are taken at 18. The teachers wish the children to have good quality time in their lives outside school so they can explore their own interests, imaginations and social relationships. One head teacher when asked what she saw as the main purpose of her school, replied “To make the children happy”! It may sound idyllic but it resonates powerfully with me. There is too much stress, depression and fatigue amongst our students of all ages and competitiveness has gone mad. We seem to think that more is more when in fact the opposite may well be true.
For me it is about flowering. As beings we are meant to discover what is within us, to nurture it and allow it to unfold. We all have vast reservoirs of talent, originality and happy creativity hidden beneath the surface but if it doesn’t quickly feed the voracious material appetites of our societies as they rapidly spiral out of control then it is ignored at best, at worst suppressed.
We all have gifts, creative possibilities beyond our wildest imaginings, simply wanting permission to blossom. And we all have every right to pursue what allows us to be truly happy, most if not all of the time. We are all meant to flower, beautifully so.
How about sprinkling on a bit of mental fertiliser right now? How about getting things going? It is never too late to start dreaming again. Despite what some may say, the world, if it is to really flourish, needs its dreamers, now more than ever. Do you dare to dream, to feed and act upon your dreams, to start allowing your dreams to flower?
Take time to reflect, as the children in Finland do. Take it regularly Have a look in the garden of your heart to see what wonderful seeds you may have planted, perhaps some time ago when you were a child, but have yet to nurture. Perhaps you were told you couldn’t do this or that or it was fanciful, silly, and not practical. These seeds need feeding and only you can do that. And if you prefer, plant some new seeds. Your heart’s garden is huge so there is plenty of space there. Clear some soil where you can start afresh and grow whatever you like from today. Let your heart educate and guide you. Let it teach you so you may explore your greatest beautiful ideas and watch them flower in all their magnificence.
There is no time like the present and the present also means “gift” in English so now is the time for gifts to be unwrapped, for wonderful dreams to manifest. Commence your true education – homework is voluntary!!
Exercise – “Lead it out and let it Flower”
In these times of change there lies hidden in the turmoil and uncertainty, great opportunities for those who dare to dream, to imagine. It is a time of renewal.
Take time in your day to reflect on the dreams you have that bring a feeling of joy to your heart. Lead them out into your mind.They may be large or small – the unfinished novel, the business you wish to create, the instrument that says“try me”. Select one creative idea and, whatever it is, imagine how you would feel if you were doing it, right now. Enjoy that experience as much as you can until it fills you completely. You are there doing it. Now.
Then let it go for the moment but return to the idea often in calm moments. Feed it.
If any “can’t do” thought (‘can’t’ means ‘won’t’ to your subconscious) comes up just bless it, thank it and love it so you can dissolve it and set yourself free from its limits permanently. It is your friend disguised as a problem or worry, revealing to you what you need to let go. That is all.
Be vigilant as you continue to nurture your dream on the inner levels so that you notice any opportunities that arise in the outer world seeking to lead you to it. They will come. Just be patient and let the seeds you have planted grow and flower.
Enjoy your summer break and I look forward to seeing you during the autumn on my courses and private sessions.