The fundamental principle of education

The definition of education, according to Wikipedia, is “the process by which society deliberately transmit its accumulated knowledge, skills, and values from one generation to another.”  This definition seems to make sense when we look at the current educational system.  Students are being taught with many different subjects, some of which they will apply after graduation.  However, this is only a technical part of the definition of education.  Education itself conceives a much bigger meaning.  In this article, the fundamental principle of education will be discussed to provide the answers to the true goal of education.

Life itself

Education starts as soon as a person comes into this world.  Parents will take care of the baby and even without knowing it, the child is learning.  This baby learns most of the basic life’s lessons from the parents until it is time for him (her) to go to school.  Majority of parents know that they have to send their child to school because there are limitations for them to teach their child.  In other words, they cannot teach their child beyond their capability.  By sending their child to school, the child can be exposed to many different teachers and subjects.  A school may also do its best to provide the best education that it can; however, there are also limitations in school education.  Thus, many parents seek the best schools to send their child as much as they can afford.  There appears to be a positive correlation that if a person goes to a better school, the chances of success would be increased for the future.  This consensus appears to be shared by both the parents’ and schools’ viewpoint of education.

When it comes to the individual who has to go through the educational system, the viewpoint may be a little different.  An individual begins to learn from its parents, and further systematic learning at the schools.  The individual may show interest in some of the subjects that are being taught, but at the same time, may not show the same enthusiasm for some of the other subjects.  This means that the person will enjoy the subjects that he (she) likes but won’t be able to enjoy the subjects that are not of his (her) interest.  Regardless of interest, the individual should go through and complete the school.  One way to make the schoolwork easier is to set a goal to motivate one-self.  For example, if the person is in a high school, the goal may be to get a higher grade-point-average the following year and strive to get accepted into the university that he (she) dreams of.  Setting goals and achieving these goals are relatively easier when they are in lower grades (i.e. elementary/secondary) because the student population generally is not a selected group.  However, at a college-level, it is now harder to achieve these goals because the student population is comprised of highly selected students, similar to him (her).  This means that there is a higher probability of failure rather than meeting the goal successfully.  From this point, the person cannot be motivated by setting goals as easily as before simply due to higher chances of failure.  Likewise, when it is time for the individual to enter the job market, it may be even harder to successfully achieve their goals.  Consequently, life may not be enjoyable.  When a person is in this situation, they probably look for answers to life itself because the person may feel like ‘there are missing pieces of puzzle in his (her) life’.  The person feels that there should be something that would provide answers to the questions about life and suffering from let-down.  But it is hard to identify what it is.  Would there be answers to life and suffering?

Achieved has not been achieved

One way to deal with the situation above is to train him(her)self to avoid enjoying too much of their achievements.  When an achievement is considered to be big and enjoyed, a failure that comes later would be devastating.  Thus, training him(her)self not to be attached to achievements would reduce the pain that may come later when a goal is not met.  Undergoing this type of training, the let-down from any failure could be reduced and easier to overcome.  This training may also help in decision-making since independent mind set from any given situation and emotion provides accurate analysis of the data.  This solution is, however, only good enough in reducing the suffering from a failure and does not provide any eternal answer to the all because the processes of studying and working are still not enjoyable.  This means that a person wouldn’t be able to enjoy something that he (she) doesn’t like.  For example, if someone likes science subjects but doesn’t like history, the person would be able to enjoy only the time studying science but history classes would be painful.  Then the question is – Would there be any way to enjoy everything? 

Thinking is the most enjoyable process for human Thinking is the most enjoyable process for humans.  Nature provides each species with survival tools and made the learning to use these tools fun so that they can learn without any trouble.  For example, lion cubs are learning hunting skills while they are playing.  They practice how to use their claws and biting skills while playing each other.  When the time comes, they can hunt because all the skills are embedded in them.  For human, thinking is the survival tool.  Because of this skill, human could build protections and tools to hunt or to farm.  This indicates that thinking should be the most enjoyable process for human.  Most of the young children start asking questions as soon as they develop language.  The ability to question does not need to be taught, instead it is a spontaneous process because they have to think and the thinking is fun play for them.  However, many parents stop their children from this thinking process without realizing that they are stopping the most enjoyable time of their kids.  When kids are in school, they are learning knowledge, skills, and values as mentioned above.  But they rarely learn how to think.  From this point, kids start to suffer since they need to think as nature designed but they haven’t learned how to think and they are not provided with tools to think.  Most people have a misconception about teenage problems.  Most of problems are not from the conflict viewpoints between kids and adults.  Some of the problems are due to the biological changes in their body such as hormonal changes.  However, most of problems are coming from the kids themselves because they need to think but they cannot.  This means, if kids were provided with tools to think, there would be higher chance that they won’t be any communication gaps or conflicts from different viewpoints.  The same problems occur at college and work places.  This is why many people feel that there is something they look for but not sure what it is.  This is because they haven’t learned how to think.

For the most part, parents and schools have a limitation to what level they can teach.  This is why students wish to go to better universities and get better jobs.  However, anywhere they go, there are limitations and it is like an invisible glass wall around them.  As we live on, some are able to break through these walls one by one, and some would stay where they are and not advance anymore.  Not everyone will be successful because there is a limited number of positions.  These invisible glass walls make us stressed and feel trapped emotionally.  However when we can obtain our natural ability to think, we will see that there are no glass walls at all.  It is just us who think there are invisible glass walls blocking us.  Once we are able to think, we will develop tools if required as Newton did with calculus.  If we observe a phenomenon and think, we could develop new theories as Einstein did with the theory of general relativity when he thought, ‘what happens if we travel faster than the speed of light?’  If we can think, we can measure something that people never consider possible as Eratosthenes measured earth about 2250 years ago by using only the sun and shadow.  Thinking is so powerful but we just don’t know how to use it to the fullest potential.  Here we ask another question – how do we get the powerful ability back?

Teaching how to think – babies

Before they develop their verbal skills, babies are mostly exploring the world.  Parents can start developing babies’ thinking ability by describing their activities.  For example, if a baby is drinking milk, parents can simply say, ‘you are drinking milk’ and when the baby spills some, parents can say, ‘Look! You spilled some milk while you are drinking’.  In this way, the baby will think and connect his (her) activity with the consequences following.  Since babies are not fully verbal, they may not be able to respond to this description.  However, descriptions from parents will turn baby’s brain on and will make the baby think.

Teaching how to think – before school

At the age of about 4-7, kids will start asking questions.  Their brains are now ready to be stimulated for thinking by verbal external input.  They will ask questions like ‘what is this?’ or “why is the sky blue?’  From this stage, parents have to think together with their kids.  It would be the best if the parents learned how to think before their kids.  When kids start asking questions like ‘what is this?’, it is better not to give them answer right away.  When answers are given to kids, their thinking stops with the answer mostly.  A better way would be asking questions back to them.  For example, ‘what do you think this is?’ followed by ‘what do you think this is being used for?’  This is because many times kids are not asking the name or terminology of an object.  They want to know the use of the object and want to learn how to describe it.  More importantly, they are asking questions because they need stimulation to think and asking question is key to get it.  When parents are asking questions back to them, their brains start thinking.  Amazingly, most of the time, they know the answers.  They just don’t know how to connect them.  If parents know the answers to kids’ questions, it would be easier to handle.  However if kids are asking questions like ‘why is the sky blue?’, many parents tend to say ‘stop asking questions.’  When this happens, parents are taking the most joyful time from the kids away.  To initiates thinking process, parents should think the answer together.  This can be stared by asking question back to the kids like ‘why do you think sky is blue?’  Then, parents start think together and ask questions together about the atmosphere.  As exploring the atmosphere together, kids will learn about air, water, and dust in the atmosphere while having fun.  If the answer is still not clear, search the internet for the answers at the end.  In this way, parents don’t stop their kids from thinking.  In fact, parents are stimulating their kids’ thinking and providing the enjoyable time for the kids.  As time passes, the number of questions that kids are asking would increase significantly rather than decreasing.  The very same strategies can be applied throughout early school years.

Teaching how to think – teens

If kids have been trained to think, they should continuously enjoy their thinking and learning.  However, most of teenagers are probably not trained to think yet.  This causes some problems with their parents.  Since they cannot think by themselves, they need stimulation from outside.  Most of the time, parents are not the ones who provide the stimulus to think.  Thus, they look for different sources of stimulation from outside.  Playing electronic games, reading books, chatting with friends, and (or) playing sports are most common stimulations for kids to think.  Many parents consider the electronic games as problems.  But in terms of thinking process, electronic games are one of the stimulation tools.  Problem starts when parents try to stop their children from playing games without providing them alternative solutions.  When they cannot play something that they like, they will look for other sources of inputs to stimulate their brain for thinking.  If the alternative stimulation were to study, parents and children wouldn’t have difficulties or conflicts.  However, most of the time, they find other sources than study.

The best solution to these problems is for the parents to initiate their kids’ thinking by asking questions on some topics that their children like.  However, this solution would be one of the hardest solutions to do because parents are probably in the same situation as their children – not able to initiate thinking.  This means, parents should start training themselves to think together with their children.  In other words, parents should be just friends of their children and think together – NOT teachers who teach.

How to think – college students and adults

College students and adults are mostly independent.  This means that they need to learn how to think on their own will.  Only the difference between college students and adults are whether they earn money for living or paying money for education.  Either way, many of these people in similar situations where goals are harder to achieve and their lives are getting complicated.  It is important for college students to explore various subjects from the school and it is important for the people in their job to think outside of box and creatively.  To be able to enjoy the learning and working, they need to learn how to think.  Since many people lose their ability to think throughout their lives, they will need to turn that ability back on.  Only way to activate this is to ask questions.  It seems oddly too simple.  But it won’t be as easy as it sounds.  Here is an example.  Let’s assume that you were given ‘light’ as a topic and you were asked to think about ‘light’, many people would have hard time what to think about and what it does to our life.  Some people would start to think of some physical characteristics of ‘light’ but mostly they would stop after one or two steps such as ‘UV’, ‘tanning’, ‘seeing’, or ‘heating’.  To trigger the thinking process about the topic ‘light’, only thing to do is to ask series of questions.  For example, ‘what happens when I am under the sun?’, ‘what happens if there is no light?’, ‘why do I feel warm when I am under the sun?’, and (or) ‘what does light have to do with my sense of sight?’  As the questions asked each step of the way, our brain would be constantly working to find the answers.  Sometimes, the answers are already in our brain but just have not been used because we didn’t know how to collect them. 

Thus, college students should ask questions in their classes and people at work should ask questions about the projects which they are dealing with.  By asking questions, brain will light up again and more importunately, studying and working won’t be painful any more.  Rather, they will turn into some sort of fun game that people can enjoy.

The power of thinking

People feel boundaries and invisible layers everyday life.  Studying and working are not fun, instead are heavy burdens that have to be carried out to be successful (or to be considered as a person succeeded).  However, regardless of places, stages, or types of work, people always realize that there are limitations.  When they feel that their life is restricted with these limitations, they would feel the burdens get heavier and heavier.  Even if they want to get out of the invisible boxes, they cannot because there is no visible exit in the box.  However, the limitations people see is not the limitations that exist in reality.  They are there only because we lost out power of thinking.  When people start to think again, they will notice that there are neither boundaries nor the invisible layers.  The thinking itself will provide the power to think through any situation from the basic fundamentals.  In other words, when we think about a clock, we won’t think about long and short arms.  We will think about ‘why do we have time?’, ‘what is a clock for?’, and ‘what is the benefit of measuring time?’.  We would also notice that clock is just a terminology that represents all the answers of the questions above.  Thus, by going beyond the terminology, people would understand the world itself from the fundamental basics. 

Since the thinking is the most powerful and joyful tools, there will be less social problems once we get this ability back into our life.  Students will enjoy their time in school and people will enjoy working.  Thus, teaching how to think should be the principal of education.