WHAT ARE WE TEACHING OUR CHILDREN? – Barry Sant 30/09/2018

From my prospective and although through good intentions our educational systems maybe failing our children, we are educating them to be successful and not teaching them how to be and how to live.

We all want what’s best for our children this is just human nature, we want them to become successful human beings, I too want my children to become successful, but it’s in the clarification of what successful means which is where I see the problem lies. As parents we want them to have a good education, so they can go on the get good grades for college and then maybe university, so they can get a well-paid job, afford all the nice things in life go on holiday etc.

Now what is wrong with this you may well ask, this would be a good future for our children, and on one level I agreed, but what I see is my ten-year-old daughter feeling completely stress and crying herself to sleep over home work that even I a 45-year-old has no clue about. She feels pressure from the teachers and school to perform to a certain level, there are lots of tests and evaluations, which are not really for her benefit but for the schools benefit and the teachers to show progression of the school not really the child. She feels pressure from her peers, if she gets good grades she is picked on and called smarty pants, when she gets poor grades she’s called stupid, thick and laughed at.

Now i don’t claim to have the answer but part of the problem in my view is that we are totally goal orientated and only if we reach that goal we have become successful, if we don’t we are a failure. Again, what is the problem with achieving our goals you may ask, maybe that’s fine or we could ask the question what are actually the goals we are teaching them to attain.

With this pressure to always succeed, is it any wonder that children are suffering throughout the country. This will later follow us into adult life, if it looks like we are not going to achieve our goals then we can get extremely stressed, maybe throw a tantrum, generate anxiety within ourselves, which could lead to OCD, maybe depression and in extreme cases suicide.

For me it’s not really the goal that is important, because ultimately what does it matter, the sun will rise and fall whether we achieve it or not, it’s the journey of our inner and moral development as a human being is what matters.

If we take an Olympic athlete as an extreme example, they are the best in the world at what they do, no one can dispute this, they have dedicated they whole life to become better than you in a certain aspect, they are so determined to be better than you, they will sacrifice 10-20 years of their life to achieve it, missing out on the actual experience of life and relationships of all kinds. They may travel the world but actually never see any of it, now let’s say they actually achieve their goal of becoming Olympic champion of which very few do, they have achieved what they set out to do, so what then. They may try a different discipline, maybe become a coach, but what generally happens is that their realization that their time has pasted and there’s nothing else in their life which may create a lot of suffering and depression, hundreds of former sports people really struggle after their career is over and turn to drugs, alcohol, gambling etc. it can be a form of PTSD. Sometimes, if their lucky they get a glimpse of what it was like as they walk in the street and maybe get recognized, which makes them feel good about themselves once more but as soon as the walk up they walk away just as quick.

This is not a sensible or balanced way to live, always trying to outdo the next person, achieving our goals no matter what the cost to others, our relationships and life experiences. In my view we need to be teaching our children to live balanced lives, yes educate them this is very important, so they can discover certain possibilities or direction to work towards but making sure they understand it’s up to them how far they want to take it and highlight what the emotional cost might be, so they can make a sensible judgment.

The majority of great men and women have had to sacrifice so much, the great Albert Einstein had a nervous breakdown and had to have considerable amount of time off to recover in which some said he was never really the same. In more modern times Steve Jobs said on his death bed when asked if he would do anything different and he said he would have liked to of made more time for his family and have more experiences with his love ones. He was so driven by his company, he became his company, he’s sole identity was Apple, then he died. Was he not a successful person before Apple, I think he lost sight of this and lived a very unbalanced life, but most people would say he was extremely successful.

Our children need to learn how to experience the journey of everything that they do and to grow from that. The journey to self-discovery is so much more important than the end goal, life needs to be fully experienced from the moment we are born, this is not a goal because ultimately the goal ends in a box.

Just educating our children for intelligence alone is in my view insufficient, we have so much intelligence we can go to the moon and beyond, which is amazing but for what purpose, to understand how the universe works? what’s the point in that, it really has very little benefit to us. We don’t need to understand the universe and life, we just need to experience our life within this universe in the most joyful way possible.

Ask the question has our scientific and technical intelligence really helping us as human beings and the planet in which we live? Yes, some technology advance has made life easier for us, but it is always at a cost too something else. We can split atoms to help generating power but also with the same technology we can kill millions with one press of the button. Medical advances are amazing but maybe when it’s our time it’s should be our time, do we really what to live a few months longer in pain and with tubes sticking out of us, with someone wiping our arses, for me a dignified death would be more agreeable (I’m obviously only talking about the very end of life). There is always a cost, technologies have replaced people’s jobs and livelihoods, or they are depleting the planets resources.

Don’t jump to a quick conclusion, think about it, are the most dangerous people on this planet the most intelligent or un-intelligent? There is a cost to everything that our developing technologies create, a cause and effect, I’m not against new technical advances, I just think that the intelligent people of the world should have a little more wisdom with what they are developing. I hope they start asking the question do we really need it and if so what are the human and environmental costs of the project? What is intelligence without wisdom? and only get wisdom through a balanced life experience.

We can learn through books, internet and a whole load of other resources that are available to us, you can have the most magnificent teachers, through this we can acquire so much knowledge, gain so much intellect but have absolutely no experiential experiences at all, so what use is this knowledge without the personal, experiential interaction with the subject.

These multi-million pound companies are really only after one thing and that goal is not humanity it’s shareholders, profits, money and power. Politicians are some of the worst for this as they cut costs in every which way they can and at the same time continue to increase money for the few, but at the cost of the majority and the environment. In these recent times of austerity, the majority of public servants’ wages have dramatically gone down in real terms where our ‘elected’ Members of Parliament decided the give themselves over a £10,000 pay rise with the money that came available with all the cost cutting of public jobs. These are not successful people, if fact they are the complete opposite.

Even our higher education and universities have their own set goals, yes to educate their students in a way that makes sure they virtually guarantee them the very best grades (goals) to beat all the other schools and university so that they get a better rating by Ofsted, which means more students and more money and more power. These institutions are not really there to produce educated, high moral young human beings with a balanced outlook of life, no matter what their brochure might say. We may see it in some primary and secondary schools but from then on, it’s all about the goals.

To add to this, we have face-book and social media, where friends are trying to compete with each other making out that their lives are better than everyone else’s. They put on a 3 second pose with a fake smile until they hear the shutter sound and then suddenly drop their smile while they think of a good caption to explain, how great there life really isn’t.

This is of course is not everyone’s experience, but all of us can relate to these feeling at some point in our lives.  Is it no wonder that anxiety levels are hitting the roof like no other time on earth, there are more people suffering from anxiety and depression now than during world wars. In a time when the world is safer than it’s ever been (fact), where scientific and technology has never been so advanced, where medical advances are just quite incredible and more food then we could ever consume. We should all be living a magnificent life, every single human on this planet should be enjoying every single second.

So why aren’t we? Money, greed, selfishness, modern living and people in suits, who’s only aim in life is to repress the rest of us, so they can continue to make money at the cost of the majority and where there is money there is power.

In reality, there are only a few of these people controlling the rest of us and are destroying the planet of its resources, all in the name of the dollar. We are also to blame for allowing this to happen, I wonder what would happen if we just stopped falling for this corporate marketing, if we just stopped wanting things that we actually don’t need or what doesn’t actually enrich our life’s or our families and friends for the better and I certainly don’t mean the latest i-phone. What if we became more satisfied with ourselves and our relationships no matter what influences or marketing are put before us. If we can sensible ask the question do I really need this, do I really need a gadget to turn on my lights just by asking a white box in the corner of the room, does this really enhance your life in anyway?

The older I get the simpler I want to live my life. If you live in a simple way what stresses do you occur, have I got shelter, food, security, love and friends. This is basically all we need, and when we become content with this, we start appreciating life for what it is and therefore becoming more joyful within ourselves. When we have an understanding of this, the ego will start to fall away and the simple things we take for granted becomes beautiful and without fear.

Is it really worth working 60-80 hours a week, working so hard that I actually never really get to experience life, I mean life moment by moment. I’m not saying be lazy, we all need to earn a living and whatever we decided to do we need to put in 100% effort and involvement into in, otherwise we are not living to our full potential. But ask the question why I am doing what I do, could I be living another way, am I doing what I love to do. The trouble is do you know what you love to do? When we choose a profession just for the money it brings, then your natural humanity starts to change and all we start to care about is the money and what that brings. Don’t delude yourselves in thinking money brings you happiness the only thing money can bring us is material things. Some of the unhappiness people in the world are what some might say the most successful or goal orientated people, some famous actors or musicians have more money than they know what to do with yet behind the camera a high percentage of them are alcoholics or drug abusers, if you chase the money the chances are you are going to live a miserable life. Now for some people they are so desperate they work all the hours they can just so they can put some food on the table, you could say they are also chasing the money but in this case understandable so, but they too will live an unhappy life, if you follow the money be prepared for the consequences that it will bring.

If you choose a profession that you love then everyday becomes satisfying, if it’s satisfying and you enjoy it, your become completely involved in that moment, experiencing life as it should be experienced and when this happens money will tend to follow, at least enough money to live a balanced life. When I’m on my death bed all I’ll be thinking about is the experiences I’ve shared with love ones and friends and hoping that I may of touched one or two hearts, not wishing that I’ve worked an extra 10/20hrs a week in a job I hated just so I can buy that performance car, that bigger house or that dreaded i-phone.

It is human nature to strive to want more, this is why we have arguably become the most successful animal on the planet, but we have let big business and money put so much pressure on us right from the beginning, which have made some of us into individuals who only look out for themselves, with our ego’s of judgment getting out of control. We need to look inside ourselves, and whatever we find become comfortable with it and if we are not comfortable then change it. When we are true to ourselves we can grow as human beings, actually realize that there is nothing more important in life, then life itself. So start living, get out of the past, stay away from thinking of what might happen in the future and start living this very next breath. When we come into the moment we fully experience the moment which is your life, this is what I believe we should be spending a little more time on regarding our children.

We have become a marketing society, where we have accepted this way of life of constant accumulation as a way of feeling validated or successful. You may be reading this thinking to yourself well that’s not me, but maybe we need to look a little deeper. The most important aspect of life is how you are within yourself. In my opinion this is the most important lesson we should be teaching our children. If we are joyful within our-self’s then anyone and everything we touch will become joyful. If you are only driven by needs you will live a very needed life which only suffering, and unhappiness will manifest – but if you learn to be without any need and only do what’s needed, then you will learn to live a very blissful life, this is my blessing my hope for all children.