Thursday, August 23, 2007

Einstein Told Me To Do It...

It's always nice to have your feelings restated by those with literary esteem and stature, though sometimes it can be frustrating to see in words what has been personally transcendent of being coherently thusly. It's one of those, "that's exactly what I've always felt like, but..." moments. I experienced this today as I read from Einstein's collection of essays entitled Out of My Later Years. In a time which sees many of my graduationmates finalizing their classroom setup and meet the teacher preparation, I've spent a great deal of time pondering my decision to stay out of organized schooling for a the time being. I have a strong conviction, hence my position, and yet it is always nice to encounter text that reads like one's intuition and belief, with a little added eloquence and beauty. Without further ado, I offer you a look into Einstein's feelings about a society which I feel directs learning and schooling in the wrong direction. Enjoy.

"Consider from this standpoint...the schools with their competitive method! Everything is dominated by the cult of efficiency and of success and not by the value of things and men in relation to the moral ends of human socity. To that must be added the moral deterioration resulting from a ruthless economic struggle...For looked at from a simple human point of view, moral conduct does not mean merely a stern demand to renounce some of the desired joys of life, but rather a sociable interest in a happier lot for all men.

This conception implies one requirement above all - that every individual should have the opportunity to develop the gifts which may be latent in him. Alone in that way can the individual obtain the satisfaction to which he is justly entitled; and alone in that way can the community achieve its flowering. For everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labour in freedom."

Albert Einstein, 1938

I feel, as many do, that the long-term goals of certain people representing various levels of power, have trickled down to affect all facets of public life and, indeed, many facets of private life as well. The utopian society has been defined as one which is of utmost efficiency economically. I see this viewpoint as being exclusionary and shortsighted. The field of education clearly does not remain unscathed from the aforementioned problematic definition of success and happiness. As we ponder the goals of the institutional leaders, we must continue to ask ourselves what might be the big picture with regards to that person's ideal society. As we do, we may be better able to enter into and strive within systems that, as the trend shows, are oppressive, highly damaging, and even fatal for the human spirit of inquiry. I haven't yet learned how to do that, or maybe I'm just too damn stubborn. Regardless, rest assured that I have my justification.

I implore you to be constantly asking yourself the goal when it comes to your interaction with others, specifically with children, if teaching. Who's definition of success are you preparing your children for? Can your actions be justified in the deepest, most purely ideological abyss of your heart? If so, cheers, you're better off than most around you.

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