URGENT EXPLORATIONS: Doing Our Homework – Lesson 3: Education


My parents hated homework; my homework! My earliest memories of attempts by my parents to help me or motivate me about my homework assignments are of high tension and mind fogging confusion. All of this despite the fact that I was successfully home-schooled, sort of, for the entire 1st Grade.

Having spent the last eight years being directly involved with students in both elementary and secondary education environments, I know that my homework experiences were not unique. So, is this going to be a major critique of parental failure to inspire their offspring to succeed academically? The answer is both yes and no. Is this going to be yet another expose’ of the failure of our public school systems? The answer is both yes and no.  Most importantly this third in my series on Urgent Explorations seeks to sharpen our focus on the critical importance of education in its relation to other factors that influence a successful spacefaring civilization.

Before we look further into the education factor, we need to consider what I mean by a spacefaring civilization.  First of all, as key scientists have already pointed out, if we wish to persist in the universe we must explore and to explore we must be spacefaring.  So why should we bother?  Way into the future, humankind on this planet will cease to exist as our dear, sweet Earth succumbs to the natural decay of our parent Sun. The thought of all the good things, as well as those bad things we have done being swept away is, to me, horrendous.  It is my belief that we are not some temporary life form just piddling through a timed existence.  We are a viable, vital and very creative life form that has an evolutionary inheritance to persist and to reach out into our universe. There are new discoveries to make and most importantly many, many meet-ups to attend with other galactic civilizations. Education of our offspring, our future, is a critical step in our preparation for those future galactic events. Let’s get started.

Education:

In an earlier post in this blog I wrote about observing newborns as they explore themselves and their immediate surroundings.  It is random and accompanied mostly by exclamations of glee or wonder.  In the process, the infants begin to learn about themselves and their surroundings and their explorations become more directed or focused. In my view, education provides us with focus, and focus allows us to direct our explorations and to make discoveries. Most  importantly that education allows us to begin to understand our discoveries and to be able to clearly explain them to others. When I write this I think not just science, I think of the arts as well. The focus education provides to the creative urges of a future author or artist insures that those inherent virtues are successfully expressed. What a magnificent and exciting challenge for those who take part in providing that focus.

I love and respect teachers. Despite current gabble of threats and criticisms, my experience certifies that I never witnessed a lazy teacher. Most importantly, I never saw a teacher, at any grade level, respond to a student’s comment by simply shrugging out a “whatever.” Every comment was considered an opportunity to explain, thus to improve the child’s focus. Especially for the elementary school teacher there are no eight-hour work days and only a few free weekends.  I would get exhausted just watching a teacher work day in and day out. Sadly all this hard work does not always provide or improve the desired focus. Is this a failure by the teacher?  Again, my experience shouts out, no!

Faced with strange interpretations of what makes up a successfully educated child, most teachers are dictated to on what and how they will teach and with a strict emphasis on national and statewide standards that often don’t even understand the concept of focus. The brightest of students and those others with a solid understanding or “feel” for the concept of focus manage to swim through the rapids of fluctuating and inconsistent education policies.  For the less fortunate students it becomes a trial of lock-step learning that produces questionable focus.

So what is it about focus? My definition of focus centers on the important process that education provides. That process is how to observe, discern, and explain which teaches the child how to think. Equipped with this along with specific learning in the arts or sciences and the child matures into a discerning and curious adult who readily explores, discovers and explains, These attributes are, in my opinion, the vital ingredients of a spacefaring civilization.

Like my parents, I was pretty dysfunctional as a homework aide for our four kids.  I finally learned that they managed to complete their homework with little difficulty.  What seemed to be lacking was a pervading desire to explore.  I set about taking some or all four on a variety of expeditions  in which we jointly explored, discovered and then mutually tried to explain.  It was very rewarding for me, and hopefully has rewarded my now adult offspring.

Maybe the course for parents to take is to be exploration guides that introduce their children to the thrill and challenge of discovery and explanation.  This can both encourage and amplify the focus abilities that their formal education should be providing. Linking these activities to the goals of the schools and the teachers in a cooperative manner extends that education process and should clearly support the efforts of the teachers.  I know of parents who do this, and coordinate these expeditions with their children’s teachers with an amazing and very rewarding effect.  Perhaps one of the most important lessons from this for the child is to reduce their fear of the unknown; replacing it with increased curiosity and a desire to explore.  In accomplishing this we are helping to fulfill our evolutionary imperative to reach out and explore all that surrounds us.

Regardless, right now in the turmoil of what is happening to our education systems, that includes the deranged calls to disband all public education, we must pressure policy makers to focus on focus.  This will be an educational challenge and should not be put aside or downplayed. We have responsibility to future generations and to the continuation of our civilization well beyond the limits of our current solar system’s existence. It is definitely one of the most important contributions each one of us can make in our entire life on this planet.  While you are at it, hug a teacher, you are revitalizing the key educational source of our future; our children.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Deep Space Explorations, Education, Humankind and Exploration, Precious Planet

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