Making wisdom the essential factor in learning.
Academic education treats of intellect. However, our society needs to teach more emotional intelligence (wisdom).
Academic education is important and it has its value. However, it’s a relative value that seems to be overestimated.
There are differences among the countries when it comes to describing their educational systems. However, they all have in common that they try to provide their students with facts from natural and social sciences. There’s nothing wrong with that and knowing facts is important. However, there’s more to education that we should convey to the young generations. Until now we’ve decided that it’s theoretical knowledge and vocational training that we should teach. However, knowledge and vocation are only one part of the issue. We’ve neglected the other part which is wisdom.
Wisdom is applied knowledge about character development and our mutual relations with each other. You could say wisdom is just another word for emotional intelligence. Public schools and colleges are meant to convey objective facts and are not supposed to convey values and ideals, because apparently that’s not their domain and also because there’s been no common agreement about what our values actually are.
However, emotional intelligence (wisdom, social behaviour – call it what you want) are the most important things we bring into our new lives as adult citizens when we finish education. They are the basis for how we’re going to behave, handle crises and treat our fellow human beings in the course of our lives.
We are thought the objective side of the world but no one gives us guidance for our subjective inner lives. Apparently we are supposed to learn it based on experience with our families and friends. But successful practical experience presupposes theoretical insight, and if no one is giving us clues, how shall we or our predecessors know how to work up personal experiences successfully?
If education gives us no guidance for our subjective lives, then our inner values will always feel empty.
Admittedly, we learn as we proceed in life, but often based on painful and totally unnecessary mistakes. We rely on our parents and friends to provide us with some orientation, but let’s be honest, most people don’t have a clue themselves, and deadlocked false beliefs in our heads continue to thrive right into a very old age. We might get more experiences, but the mistakes of the parents descend upon their children because no one has told them differently. Especially political and social upheavals repeat themselves, because no one learns how to do it better.
We are not being thought wisdom because our teachers don’t know any better. They had more experience, but they still err in darkness together with us, telling us about physics, biology and mathematics, but nothing about how to handle a relationship well, or how to treat your neighbour with respect.
Some might think teaching values is the domain of religion, but religion requires you to believe, and if you’re after knowing, believing is not the place of knowing. Believing is for believers, and knowledge is for knowledge seekers.
Some might think teaching values is the domain of ethics and morality. However, the concept of morality or ethics can be easily corrupted to teach basically anything foolish. A terrorist, whether a religious fundamentalist or a political activist, always thinks he or she is morally on the right side and the victims were the baddies. Apparently just teaching anything is not enough, otherwise follies can be the result.
What then needs to be thought so that wisdom (morality, conception of right) doesn’t become an object of abuse or misunderstanding? The answer is: common sense.
Common sense and compassion should be the guidelines for our 'emotional' education.
bullet points for common sense morality
Here’s a very casual recipe for a successful application of the knowledge of life (wisdom, emotional intelligence, morality, whatever) based on simple common sense.
We need to agree that the goal of humanity is to flourish and thrive together as human beings. If that’s already a difficult thing for us to grasp, then we shall not wonder at the ideological mess we live in.
Every individual must have the freedom to become and pursue what they want to do or achieve in their life. Any personal development is based on self-initiated activity and cannot be enforced. In this context enforcement is already a lie in itself.
There cannot be any enforcement of opinions. Every person is entitled to their own thoughts, opinions and their own personal world and life view. An intelligent person must have the right to become even more intelligent in the same way as a stupid person must have the right to remain stupid if they wish so. However, the stupid ones don’t have the right to impose their views on the intelligent ones in the same way as the intelligent ones cannot expect the stupid ones to understand them.
If you have complete freedom, so do have others as well. Every one can do whatever they want as long as they don’t violate the physical, emotional and intellectual freedom of others. Physical freedom is the right to your body. Emotional freedom is the right to your character. Intellectual freedom is the right to gain knowledge and understanding. Your freedom ends when you violate one of the 3 types of freedom of another human being. This restriction applies to both individuals as well as the state. It's the best common sense protection against authoritarian society.
“Do as you would be done by” (Matt. 7:12) - treat others as you would wish to be treated. This maxim of reciprocity results naturally from point 4. It's the simplest and most famous formulation known as the Golden Rule that has also been expressed in many other ways, such as “What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others”, courtesy of Confucius (Analects XV.24). It’s timeless wisdom from around the world.
Our goal should be the maintenance of a peaceful and happy society.
You don’t need an academic title to understand those basic principles. That’s all ever needed for creating a peaceful and happy society. There’s many values and practical ideals you can derive from those bullet points, but the fundamental principles remain the same. If you already have a problem with those basic principles, then you’re overthinking and complicating an issue that should be absolutely self-evident.
Now go and teach that in all our schools and colleges additionally to the already existing scientific subjects. Those principles are not difficult to grasp, are generic and totally characteristic of what constitutes healthy human relations in a healthy society.