Our society has lost sight of what is truly important in life

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Our society has indeed lost sight of what is truly important in life and it is high time to find it again.

What if – Instead of worrying about whether we should give kids gold stars for participating or gold stars for being the best, we would involve them in real world activities where the end result of the activity itself is the reward?

Teach them gardening, woodworking, repair skills, fiber arts, sewing, cooking. Get them out hiking somewhere with a gorgeous view. Raise animals – have them learn to care about something other than themselves. Have them help out a grandparent or elderly neighbor.

Schools, unfortunately, do not teach things that are important to children but teach them how to pass tests instead. Woodworking classes, or even “Design & Technology”, as they were called later, cooking (Home Economics), and such have gone out of the window and instead they are just taught to – basically – memorize what they require to pass those tests so that the schools look good in the so-called “league tables”.

While lessons in “mindfulness”, in meditation, as being introduced in some primary schools in Britain now, are a good idea there are other practical aspects that are important and that from a very early age. Practical skills such as using tools to make things, to grow things, to cook, and so on.

Memorizing dates and events and information that they will, more than likely, never need in their lives after school is not just a waste of time. It prevents proper learning. It would be much better to teach kids to read and write properly, and to enjoy reading for the sake of reading, as well as where to find the information that they may want to know. It is not what you know but knowing where to find the information and to use this information that counts.

Most important of all are life skills, practical skills, and the skill of critical thinking. Schools, teachers, and others also fail kids and society in that they do not teach them how to think but what to think. This is not new at all. School and the compulsory school “education” was, after all, invented for the very reason to indoctrinate children into what to think rather than to teach them critical thinking.

In addition to that everything is geared to academic “success” which in the end means that we have people with PhDs flipping burgers are burger joints. There are only that many places available for all those that have attended university and gotten a degree in this or that, and more often that not, as is now very often the case, in useless subjects. However, schools will insist to push pupils, even if they, the pupils that is, are not interested, towards academic subjects and university and it can be one heck of a fight for the student and his or her parents to get the school to accept the young person's decision to pursue a non-academic career.

Working with one's hands is nowadays seems to be considered by educators and people in general as something dirty and a career in “manual” trades, whether agriculture, horticulture, forestry, carpentry, plumbing, and whatever else, as something that no one really should aspire to. And then we wonder that we have no carpenters or plumbers, and whatever else, and complain that they are all Poles.

Everything is being geared to making lots of money and then still more, often at the detriment of others in society. We have lost what really matters in the pursuit of what really does not and we must rediscover those things that really matter.

© 2015