In last weeks post, The First Step to Happiness, I shared the importance of authentic connection and modeling genuine love to people in legitimate need. This week, I want to delve a little deeper into something else I touched on in that post. The need to move beyond basic reading comprehension, to making the shift to question what is read and taught.
How often are we encouraged to ask ourselves
what WE think
instead of blindly accepting
what we are taught?
The need to question what is read is not for the purpose of intentionally making others ‘wrong’. After all, exchanging information and ideas is a fundamental practice necessary for our evolution and growth. Questioning information moves us beyond blind acceptance and comprehension, to engaging higher processes of discriminatory thinking. This is one of the faculties needed in order to learn discernment.
A few weeks ago, Seth Godin released his free education manifesto, Stop Stealing Dreams. If you have not had the opportunity to read it yet, I encourage you to do so if you are interested in the future of education and transformation.
At one point in his manifesto, he touched on some possible goals for a new school system. One of the things he pointed out was the need to teach reasonable doubt by using scientific method to question authority and to re-imagine a better reality. I couldn’t agree more.
In the movie, Dead Poets Society, there is a scene where Robin Williams encourages his students to climb upon his desk in order to view the world from a different perspective. He also said, ‘When you read, don’t just consider what the author thinks, consider what YOU think.‘ And I feel this is exactly what we need to be encouraging our children and students to do.
In a system of education that has been more focused on teaching obedience and compliance then creative thinking, we are experiencing a major fallout from this. We have created a culture that has taught people to believe that others have more power and have the ‘answers’ and not ourselves. When this happens, these deeply ingrained beliefs can keep people stuck feeling helpless and powerless. We wind up looking to the government or other systems of ‘power’ because we did not learn or come to realize that we also have a measure of power of our own.
When this is taught and reinforced over and over again throughout the life of a child, is it any wonder so many of us go through life looking for someone else to tell us what to do?
We look to others to tell us what to do
when we do not believe that we have any power
or answers inside ourselves.
This only serves to create a crippling dependency. For a more effective and efficient society, I believe what we need to be doing more of is teaching and creating interdependency.
We can help create this shift from dependency to interdependency, in part, by teaching our children and students to not just comprehend what they read in school. But to question what they read so they begin to learn to think for themselves. So they begin to understand the creative power of their own brain. And more importantly, to recognize and own their own creative power. To know that the power is not all ‘out there’ somewhere else, or inside of someone else. They have it too.
I believe that teaching, mentoring, and guiding is an essential part of learning. When we create an environment rich in authentic connection, love, and hope in the potential of our young people, we provide a fertile soil that enables them to become who they really are and are meant to be.
What do YOU think?
1. What other ideas can you imagine to encourage children and students to move beyond comprehension to creative thinking and questioning?
2. How do you currently respond/react when your children/students/subordinates question your methods, beliefs, or teachings?
3. How can we create environments that encourage creative thinking without threatening authority figures?