“Our task – and the task of all education – is to understand the present world, the world in which we live and make our choices” – E. F. Schumacher
Education is the one core element that hinges all attempts at creating change at various scales of society. Whether it is a local, regional, national, international or global scale, education is the main ingredient required for successful change, and becomes more and more critical the further we move towards the global end of the scale.
Being a sustainability student over the past year, it has become abundantly clear that education may be the most critical element for creating a more sustainable society. For issues such as climate change, perceived and absolute poverty, environmental stewardship, plastic pollution, corporate domination, consumerism, industrialised agriculture etc., there is an astonishing educational gap between what I have been learning at university, and the average citizen. While such a gap may be obvious and acceptable for most specialised occupations (I don’t expect to know what a doctor knows), when it comes to sustainability, everyone living on the planet is affected by these discourses and has a right to understand what is happening to/and on our earth.
Unfortunately, we can not rely on government and mainstream media to educate the masses on such important issues of sustainability. Especially when open debate and criticism from our own Australian government regarding the most scientifically proven issue of climate change, has been printed in our largest newspapers, and voiced through major media outlets.
In his book “Small is Beautiful”, Schumacher highlights how no civilisation before us has dedicated so many resources to organised education. He concludes that if we believe in nothing else, we certainly believe that education is the key to everything. Since the modern way of life is becoming more and more complex, it should follow that we become more highly educated. However, Schumacher goes on to explain how simply creating a society full of scientists and engineers – a society of “know-how” – is not an end in itself without wisdom. He beautifully describes the essence of education as the “transmission of values”, providing core teachings that are rooted in metaphysics (the nature of mind) and ethics. Education is only worth while if it creates ‘whole humans’. Beings that are aware of what they know and do not know, yet are always in touch with their metaphysical centre. They will not be in doubt of their meaning and purpose in life. While they may not be able to explain these feelings in words, they are true to reality and transcend the world of facts.
What Schumacher describes here so eloquently about education, is so critical for a more sustainable world to emerge. My personal interest in sustainability bloomed after a few years of becoming clear about my metaphysical centre. I feel an interest in issues of sustainability naturally ensue when metaphysical, or shall I say philosophical education has taken root, and certainty about ones basic convictions are established. I should also point out that general ‘know-how’ education becomes more meaningful once this foundational knowledge is embedded in our life.
So as a human being that is genuinely concerned about the nature of our planet and the social wellbeing of its inhabitants, I believe metaphysical education is the all important key for any chance at an overhaul of current unsustainable practice. The problems I mentioned earlier may not seem so grandiose, given we were all more connected to our metaphysical centre.
Have you experienced metaphysical education? Do you have any ideas as to how metaphysical education could become included in mainstream society?
Schumacher, E. F. (1973). Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered. London, UK: Vintage Publishing
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