Monday, October 08, 2007

Corporations vs. Capitalism

So, I've been thinking about like the economy lately. And, umm, here are my conclusions:

Okay, Corporations vs. Capitalism. I'm gonna start with some simple observations, I guess.

Corporations want the most capable person working for them. To make sure they get the most capable, corporations encourage people to ask themselves “What already existing job is my resume competitive enough for me get?” Capitalism, however, encourages people to ask “What’s a job that our society needs more of?” because capitalism rewards people who provide the goods/services that society most needs. That’s always been the strength of capitalism: it encourages creativity and innovation within the economy. Corporations, however, seem to reward optimization (think Walmart), but also sleek presentation (think car manufacturers, alcohol or fast food).

But the important thing is to be aware of the question that corporations and capitalism get people to ask when deciding their careers. Corporations encourage “What’s a stable job that provides the highest salary?” while Capitalism gets people to ask “What do people need more of? What business has the most long-term growth potential?” It’s a difference of “What can I get” vs. “What do people need?”

One concern is that instead of getting people to think about what goods/services society needs, people are just concerned about getting people to choose their particular good/service. Like fast food. I’m not like anti-McDonalds; fast food has its place and all; but I think it’s safe to say that it’s fairly overrated in our society. But, despite it being way overrated (or maybe because it is overrated), people get paid lots of money for coming up with ways to get people to choose fast food over the cheaper, healthier options at the supermarket. (And cooking vegetables or pasta at home isn’t necessarily ‘slower’ than going out for ‘fast’ food, either.)

But it’s not just about advertising, I don’t think. It’s about who gets what jobs. Jobs are a method of allocating money, something that businesses often have a lot of. There’s some people who really need a reliable source of income, and would work hard to keep that opportunity. But other people are used to reliable source of income, and might be more happy if they have a job that makes them feel like they are helping people, even if it’s for a little less money than they would otherwise be making.

I’m concerned that we are over-encouraging people to enter the already-established business world, rather than pursuing jobs that society needs more of. There is something within high school and college, some “corporate force” I guess, that is over-encouraging us to ask “What already existing job is my resume competitive enough for me get?” and under-encouraging us to ask “What’s a job that our society needs more of?” Corporations vs. Capitalism. “What can I get” vs. “What do people need?”

I’m not saying it’s wrong to pursue “what can I get.” Pursuing “What can I get” will probably provide people with a better starting income, and some people need that and would be grateful to get that opportunity. But I think a lot of people would be better off pursuing “What do people need?” Pursuing that question with your career is likely to be more psychologically rewarding, because you’ll believe you are helping people, could be more stable, and could be more financially rewarding over time, because it requires you to be innovative/creative so you might come up with something people really actually want, and have a successful business. That’s how capitalism is supposed to work, right?

So then, why are we being over-encouraged to ask the corporation question? Hmm, something to do with systems and control, maybe? I dunno, basically I think I need to watch The Matrix again. : )

Friday, August 10, 2007

11th grade Enlgish essay

It cracks me up to look back at the essays I have written for various classes throughout high school and college. Not necessarily because I think they’re silly or something now, but more because of the whole idea of assigning specific topics and then assigning grades to those essays. How exactly do teachers give out these grades? Actually, I understand how they give out the grades; it’s whether the essay meets their expectations or not. I can understand writing comments on an essay and giving plenty of your opinions and feedback to the student, but the idea of assigning a grade to it still cracks me up. Remember, this is not like Ebert giving a movie 2 stars, or 4 stars. With movies, the directors want to make the movie. They are the ones claiming that their movie is worth seeing. With the typical high school or college essay, however, the teacher tells students what to write about, and then criticizes or praises it on whether it meets his or her expectations. The analogy would be Ebert requiring Steven Spielberg to make a movie about “how Tolkien weaves historical themes into The Lord of the Rings” or some such nonsense, and then praising or criticizing the job that Spielberg does. That’s what cracks me up. If its “historical themes of The Lord of the Rings" that Ebert cares about, why doesn’t he make the movie about it.

In all my literature classes and history classes, I don’t ever remember the teacher writing and sharing an essay that they wrote with the class. Thinking back on this now, I actually find this kind of odd. Why did none of my teachers share an essay that they wrote with the class? It’s like they were more interested in doing stuff to students instead of with students, is all I can figure.

Anyway, back to the papers I wrote, I basically took the same approach to every essay assignment I ever had: that is, write about what interests me within the general subject we are studying and then force those thoughts into the requirements the teacher asked for. This same approach usually resulted in approximately the same grade, also: usually about a C (I’ve gotten anywhere from a B+ to a D, I think, but C has probably been my average), but I had actually fun writing the essays about ideas that interest me, so I don’t regret it. I haven’t really read enough of other students essays to really know whether or not I have missed something about “writing clearly” or “giving convincing examples” had I actually tried to meet my teachers’ expectations, but I would suspect the answer to be “I haven’t.”

Here’s an essay I wrote in 11th grade about one of my favorite books, Brave New World. I used to actually care about my grades enough to get frustrated when I got below an A-/B+ on anything (though not enough to change the way I wrote essays, apparently), so I threw out most of the graded copies of my essays. But I’ve still got’em on my comp. I think I got a C- on this particular essay, maybe a C+ or something though, but I actually like some of my ideas. And you can actually see how I forced those ideas into the requirements of the assignment (apparently some sort of compare and contrast assignment in this case), so like I said at first, it kinda makes me laugh.

Tom Burwell

Society Exposed

Conditioning is an addiction; perpetuated by societal pressures and the comfort we take from the stability conditioned behavior offers, it tears away our individuality. Both A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley address this issue through the conformity of the societies within the books. Conditioning affects both how people think and what behaviors feel comfortable to us. These two effects work together to deceive us by making us find comfort and stability within certain assumptions and ways of thinking. However, if we resist settling for what is comfortable to us and confront our assumptions with logic, we can break free from conditioning.

Conditioning affects the way we think by making us oblivious to other ways of thinking. When a person is conditioned all of his life to live in a certain way, he often may continue to live in this way, simply because he does not know any other. For example, in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, a farmer helps hunt down his neighbors who had been falsely accused of killing a lord. He and the other farmers “seemed to feel that in a quarrel between a person of their won class and his lord, it was the natural and proper and rightful thing for that poor devil’s whole caste to side with the master and fight his battle for him” (180). They had been conditioned to think in this way all their lives. However, when Hank talks reasonably with him, he is glad to speak of rebellion against the lord, but is also cautious to deviate from conditioned way of thinking. “He looked pleased; pleased, and touched with apprehension at the same time” (182). The apprehension comes from his conditioned way of thinking. The farmer’s loyalty to the lord is formed around the fact that he never thought of another way to behave. When Hank presented an alternate, more reasonable way to think, the farmer, although a little cautious at first, was glad to side with reason.

While one whose community is treated so harshly would be happy to find a new of thinking, in many situations it is not so easy to side with reason. This is because conditioning also determines what we find to be comfortable and what “the line of least resistance,” (222) as Mustapha Mond calls it in Brave New World, is for us. Although people may not find their current life perfect at all times, they have still grown accustomed to it. Many resist change because it disrupts the stability of the system they know. I believe a more complete view of this conflict within man is given in the description of Bernard Marx, who is often miserable within the society in Brave New World. He asks “what would it be like… if I were free—not enslaved by my conditioning?” (91), as if he wished he lived in a different situation. However, when an opportunity to change arises, he is very resistant to it and even cries “Send me to an island?…You can’t send me. I haven’t done anything” (226). The conflict we see in Bernard is the same conflict that arises later in the discussion between Mustapha Mond and John. Which is more important: truth or comfort? John asks the controller “isn’t it natural to feel there’s a God?” (234). The Controller responds saying it is no longer natural because what a person naturally believes is dependant on conditioning. “One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them” (234,235). The civilization in Brave New World has redefined what is natural for man by altering the laws of nature. However, in doing so, they lose what is really most wonderful about life. They lack all that is actually meaningful in life.

Twain writes

“We have no thoughts of our own, no opinions of our own; they are transmitted to us, trained into us. All that is original in us, and therefore fairly creditable or discreditable to us, can be covered up by the point of a cambric needle… And as for me, all that I think about in this plodding sad pilgrimage, this pathetic drift between the eternities, is to look out and humbly live a pure and high and blameless life, and save that one microscopic atom in me that is truly me: the rest may land in Sheol and welcome for all I care” (91).

Although at first Twain seemingly agrees with Mustapha Mond, (that man believes what he believes because he is conditioned to do so), Twain also speaks of a speck of meaningfulness within people. This, which civilization has eliminated in Brave New World, also is the only thing worth saving.

What exactly is this speck of individuality of which Twain speaks? When I am trying to make a judgment about something, I usually think of situations that I have experienced in order to determine what is right or wrong. However, to “humbly live a pure and high and blameless life” suggests that there is an absolute ideal out there; right and wrong are not dependent on my experiences. There is also a truth that I can learn through reason, and, while my experiences may be helpful in discovering this truth, they are not necessary.

When Mustapha Mond asks John if he claims the right to be unhappy, it is the controller who is at last held back by conditioning and John who is finally under control of reason and not reliant upon Shakespeare for his answers. It is the controller who has been so conditioned his life to detest the “necessary” tears and pains of unhappiness, that he automatically rejects the notion that unhappiness would be worth the good that accompanies it. He sees happiness and truth as equal ideals between which man must choose. John, however, understands the true difference. He realizes that, in the end, the smallest truth, although it comes with “the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind,” (240) is better than even the absolute happiness offered by the society in Brave New World.

Truth is all that can have real meaning. Stability and comfort use pleasure to create an instantaneous sense of fulfillment. This is where the civilization in Brave New World has its flaw. Citizens are conditioned to believe that their purpose is to be a proper part of the “social body” to ensure its stability. However, while most of the citizens will be fooled by the sense of fulfillment from the pleasures available in their society, one such as Helmholtz or Bernard, who do not have the pleasures, may discover the lack of fulfillment within this purpose.

Conditioning controls us through our ignorance of other ways of things and the deception of comfort. However, when we stand up against it with logic, truth will win every time. Of course, this leaves us with the problem of knowing what truth is. It is important to know the difference between being conditioned and using experiences to help discover truth. We must always look for the beauty that lies in understanding. Truth has a certain “thunder” that awakens that speck of individuality within us and allows us to see the beauty of reality that is inherent in all that is true. It is through this beauty that we can realize that the pains and sufferings in life are necessary. The choice of sin, including all the pain and discomfort that comes with it, must be available to us in order for the selection of virtue to possess the beauty and goodness that lets us know it is right.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

More on Religion

"I came to the conclusion long ago … that all religions were true and also that all had some error in them, and whilst I hold by my own, I should hold others as dear as Hinduism. So we can only pray, if we are Hindus, not that a Christian should become a Hindu … But our innermost prayer should be a Hindu should be a better Hindu, a Muslim a better Muslim, a Christian a better Christian." - Mahatma Gandhi, January 19, 1928

(When asked if he was a Hindu) Yes I am, I am also a Muslim, a Christian, a Buddhist, and a Jew.

What if Westernized Christianity got it wrong? What if Jesus's Great Commission to us (“go and make disciples of all nations”) does not call us to convert individuals of another faith to Christianity? What if, rather, we are called to share the transformative influence of Christ’s message with members of other religions? In other words, we are called to help members of other religions to interpret and live out their faith in a more life-transforming way, in a way that is more in line with God’s purposes for their lives.

And, perhaps, (I would say it is very likely, in fact) this process of sharing in our faiths will lead us to grow in our interpretation of the Bible, God’s Word to us.

As Gandhi also said, "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Limits and Potentials of Words and Religion

Words are not reality. Words are just metaphors that tell us about the way humans categorize the world, the way we conceptualize our experiences. Words are the map, not the territory. Words should be judged based on usefulness; not “rightness.”

(For more about this, look here or maybe start here)

We don't "see" reality. The word "sight" is a metaphor that we use to conceptualize patterns of color and light that reach our eyes. Sight is a map, and the map is not the territory. Sight should be judged based on usefulness, not “rightness.”

We can't "hear" reality. The word "hearing" is a metaphor that we use to conceptualize vibrations in the air. Hearing is a map, and the map is not the territory.

"Smell" is not reality. "Smell" is a metaphor that we use to conceptualize gas molecules that reach our nose.

But then again, these terms, “patterns of color and light”, “vibrations in the air”, “gas molecules”, these terms are not reality either. These terms are words, meaning they are metaphors that tell us how we humans categorize the world. Really all we can say about the sense perceptions, sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste, is that they are metaphors that we use to conceptualize the “bits of reality” (patterns of color, vibrations in the air, gas molecules that reach our nose) that reach us.

The point is that reality exists completely independently of the words (the categorizations, classifications, and divisions) we use to conceptualize it. Words categorize, classify and divide reality in ways that are extremely useful to us; people find sight, hearing and smelling to be very useful metaphors by which to remember and communicate their experiences to others. However, the “rightness” of words is determined solely by the usefulness of those words; not by some philosophical or theological truth.

Applying this to religion, we see that “religion,” like any other series of words, cannot exist independently from humans, from our limited ability to conceptualize and interpret reality. All religions are just human creations used to explain who God is. And God exists outside religion. There is no “absolutely true religion,” in the same way that there are no “absolutely true words” that “correctly” describe reality. The “rightness” of religion must be judged only by usefulness, just as the rightness of any other words must be judged. Reality exists completely independently of the words we use to describe it, and God (whatever your conception of this word is) exists completely independently of the words we use to describe Him (or it, or whichever pronoun is most suitable to your line of thinking.)

Some religions are good at “drawing people closer to God”, “giving people direction in life”, or whatever you think that religion is for. But the idea that some religions are “right” and others are “wrong” is a misconception. Some religions are useful; others are less useful. That is all.

Addendum: The reason I consider myself Christian is that I think Christianity is the most useful religion for my life right now. (I also think the Christianity presents a very powerful set of beliefs for anyone to order their life by, but I’ll address that in a minute.) Christianity gives my life a strong sense of direction and a strong set of ideals to live by. But if someone is currently productively involved in another religion, Christianity probably would not be the most useful religion for their life, given their place in their society; such a person should not convert to Christianity, if doing so would decrease their usefulness to society as a whole.

Given Christianity’s prominence in my culture, even if I thought there was a more powerful, useful religion out there, I would be Christian right now, because given my place in my culture, it would still be currently the most useful for my life. The goal of society is for natural continued growth and evolution. You don’t have to believe in the most useful religion (whatever religion you believe that to be) to contribute to this goal.

I would hope these opinions would not make me “undevout” in the eyes of other Christians. I believe that the story of Christ’s death and resurrection, combined with its historical significance to our world, contains a very powerful set of ideals and a very powerful vision of the potentials that life has, and I love being part of a community that shares in this belief! The danger with religion, as with any words, is that we let the conception (the words themselves) cover up the purpose, the usefulness that the ideas have for our lives. We should remember that God exists outside of religion, and that all religions can be useful at bringing people closer to His purposes for their lives.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Review of the movie Freedom Writers

This is an extra-credit essay I wrote for my education class about the movie Freedom Writers, which tells the story of a teacher and her students in a public school in LA in the mid 90's.

I found Freedom Writers to be a valuable movie for anyone who would like to see real improvement in public education. It’s important to understand the movie is trying to tell an inspirational story. It does not attempt to paint a realistic picture of the problems and solutions of American education. Yet, in telling its story, it does show some first steps we can take in improving education in America.

The film created a strong contrast between Erin Gruwell’s way of teaching and the “standard" school approach of “getting students to obey,” as the movie put it. The movie showed how effective teaching requires us to build off of the everyday experiences of the students.

In an interview I found online, the real Erin Gruwell was asked how other teachers can replicate her success in the classroom. Her answer was, “Allow your students to teach you about what they know and where they come from. Make your curriculum relevant to their lives. I believe this is excellent advice; advice that every teacher should remember and apply. But how can we apply this? A teacher like Mrs. Gruwell’s “opponent” in the movie can stand in front of a class and talk about how important and how “relevant to their lives” it is for them to do their work so they can get into a top college, but is this what Gruwell is talking about? I would argue possibly so in specific cases, but definitely not in general. Gruwell is saying to design your curriculum in a way that applies directly to students’ lives; in a way that might affect how students spend their free time that day.

In the movie, Mrs. Gruwell paid attention to what her students said about the effects of gang violence in their lives, and responded by designing the curriculum around that theme. The lessons involved what the students cared about; not what the teacher or state had required. The first steps to effectively teaching any group of students are to interact with them, “learn what they know and where they come from,” and most importantly, be responsive to who they are.

An important question for teachers to answer is “what is the point of education?” Mrs. Gruwell faces this question the moment she steps into school. Is the point to “follow orders,” to “make the children obey, and learn discipline”? Or should education involve being responsive to individual students? Should teachers restrict their lessons to what the system has decided is best for the students’ futures? Or should teachers take an interest in what the students are interested in?

Mrs. Gruwell made it clear that she was going to put the students ahead of any regulation or requirement the school system had in place. An important part of being a teacher is to make sure that your students know you’re both on the same side; that you genuinely care about their goals for the future; that you will try to help them in whatever issues they are dealing with. Mrs. Gruwell was honest with her students and encouraged them to be honest with her, not to be afraid to voice how they really felt about something. Also she was open to their suggestions about what activities and issues the class should cover. The ability to express their feelings and having some influence over the curriculum were key elements in getting the students to form relationships and “feel like a family” with their classmates. It’s only in such a supportive atmosphere that students like the quiet Latino student will be able to open up and express how “this classroom is the only place where I feel like I’m at home.”

Granted, the movie probably did leave out a lot of the struggle of how hard it would be to reach the average student in the way the students in the movie reacted. I found it a little difficult to believe that students would be so diligent in their reading and so personally affected by The Diary of Anne Frank, etc. just because Mrs. Gruwell assigned the book to them. I think a scene showing Mrs. Gruwell talking about what literature is, how it can affect us, and maybe suggesting some questions for her students to think about while they were reading would have fit well in the movie.

I personally like the idea of ungraded assignments, such as the journals that the kids wrote. I think school should encourage students to explore their different interests and possible career paths freely, without the threat of “bad grades.” But, whether assignments are being graded or not, the important thing is to emphasize what the subject can tell us about how to approach our everyday lives; to emphasize that aspect of education over grades, “getting into the best college,” “getting a high-paying job,” etc. For example, Mrs. Gruwell used journal writing as a means for her students to reflect about who they were and where their life was headed, and used literature as a means for her students to find inspiration and hope that they can look to when making decisions about their life.

Luckily for us, we don’t even have to give emotional speeches about the holocaust, or fly in speakers from around the world to get students to be affected by what they learn in school. Because these issues arise naturally from the subjects we already are studying in classrooms. Unfortunately, the way it is now, pressures of grades and rewards often overshadow the true benefits that education has to offer. But if the emphasis is taken away from grading and rewards, as the movie illustrates, issues about how we live would return to their rightful spot as the central emphasis of the subjects.

I especially appreciated the way the movie paralleled the class’s struggles with Mrs. Gruwell’s own struggles involving family life. Her students are learning to treat the classroom as a place to grow and develop relationships, instead of just somewhere they have to spend the next 45 minutes; she is learning to treat teaching as an important part of who she is, instead of just a job she is doing for money or status. This parallel highlights an important theme of the movie: should we view work (and school also) as a shaping who we are, or should it just be a way for us to make money? Certainly there is no one, correct answer to this issue; everyone must find the balance that is appropriate for themselves and their situation. When her husband leaves (assuredly to go to Seattle and find his true calling in medical school), Erin is clearly hurt and shocked, but her identity is in no way devastated. She has chosen to allow her job as a teacher to define who she is, at least as much, if not more so, than her marriage.

When her father tells Erin how much he genuinely admired what she had accomplished, an important truth about education is revealed. Parents and teachers pressure their children and their students to make good grades and get good jobs as a way of expressing their love and care. At first, her father was skeptical that Erin would be successful as a teacher and so was trying to push her toward law school, a career path he understood. Tragically, this “loving pressure” often discourages children from exploring new areas and, perhaps, from finding a job or activity they would love. Parents and teachers want to expect the highest from their children. Unfortunately making demands and pressuring are the primary ways our culture has taught them to communicate these expectations.

With Mrs. Gruwell as an example, we can learn to pay attention to what children care about, and adapt our expectations with the child’s goals in mind. Like Mrs. Gruwell did in reevaluating her class’s curriculum, we should make sure our expectations are in harmony with what our kids care about and take interest in. We should replace the demanding expectations that we too often believe are “necessary” because “I went through that in school” with supportive expectations that are still set just as high, but, like the journal assignment that Mrs. Gruwell gave her students, are guided by what the students care about.

Mrs. Gruwell’s father’s admission of his admiration is proof that miscommunicated supportive expectations are behind many of the demands placed on students. If we follow the example Mrs. Gruwell sets in Freedom Writers, the power of supportive expectations could be set into motion in classrooms across America. Of course, for this to happen, some fundamental changes need to occur in the way education is approached. Rather than seeing learning as a “one way street” with knowledge passing only from teacher to student, classrooms must:

1) allow students to define for themselves what is interesting about a subject and

2) become places that encourages students to build relationships around their interest so that they will continue to explore the subject as far as their interest takes them.

If there is one message to take from “Freedom Writers,” it is that change is possible. Mrs. Gruwell’s class of Freedom Writers showed us that simply being honest and genuinely caring for eachother make up some of the most powerful motivations available to us and can overcome some of even the hardest obstacles. If we start by simply striving to establish those two values in our classrooms, and we refuse to let the current mess of the system get in the way, I believe we’ll be well on our way.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Why I'm in education

The primary reason I feel called to education is concern.

I’m concerned with the way education tends to be viewed solely in terms of an individual’s economic abilities. I’m concerned that teachers go into the profession with the primary goal of preparing students for standardized tests rather than cultivating a real love for learning within them.

I first got interested in education when I read Summerhill School by A.S. Neill. At Summerhill, students were never pressured to learn; they did not have to attend classes if they chose not to. Education was a completely natural process.

Clearly public education cannot hope to replicate Summerhill's system of allowing children to go to class only when they want to. However, the message that could be applied to public education is that children do not need to be pressured into learning. Summerhill shows that, if you show children caring support, they will eventually come around and listen to your advice and respect the caring expectations (as opposed to demanding expectations) you have for their lives.

My vision of public education is one that does not use grades, evaluations and rewards to pressure students into learning. (I believe grades are needed only for certification purposes once someone has decided what career they want to go into.) Education should not just be about preparing children to plug the open jobs in the economy; it should enable students to excel in all aspects of life within society: how to stay healthy, how to be a caring person, etc. These issues arise naturally out of studying subjects like biology and literature, but only when the emphasis is taken away from grading and rewards, which often overshadow the true benefits that education has to offer.

Assessment can be a useful source of feedback for students, but as soon as a reward, a ranking, or any other college acceptance criteria is attached to the assessment, those things begin to block out the original reason for studying the subject. We should teach students to be motivated by the natural rewards of an activity; not pressure them into activities with an onslaught of artificial motivators and pressures.

The key to getting education to reach its full potential is to get students to understand how the subject should affect their lives outside of the classroom. To do this, it is important that students understand the reasons for studying each subject; to understand what makes the subject relevant to the way they approach everyday life. (I’m not talking about when science textbooks explain how GPS works and so on. Those things can be interesting, but I’m talking about how subjects can change the way we think and act, as opposed to just being aware of how things work.) For example, math and science teach us not just about how technology works, but also how to think about the world rationally.

In fact, each subject can teach us a way of thinking that can be applied to our everyday lives.

Making some slight alterations to Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, I think intelligence can be separated into six primary areas that define the way we approach life. Gardner defines intelligence as “the ability to solve problems that have value in at least one culture.” The “problems” an individual faces can be separated into three areas: mental, bodily, and social. There are two general approaches we use to solving these problems: a rational approach or an emotional approach.

So, for example, when we approach social problems in a rational way, I would claim we are using what Gardner called “Logical-mathematical” intelligence.

These distinctions leave us with 6 core intelligences that people use to approach their problems:

Core intelligences

Means that you apply:



Reason --> Society

Understanding society rationally

Bodily-Kinesthetic/ Athletic?

Reason --> Body

Understanding your body rationally


Reason --> Personality

Understanding your feelings rationally


Feelings --> Society

Understanding society emotionally


Feelings --> Body

Understanding your body emotionally


Feelings --> Mind

Understanding your thoughts emotionally

What makes this significant to someone interested in teaching is that the subjects taught in school naturally address these same problems. This chart answers the question “Why do we study these subjects?”

6 Core Intelligences

Means that you apply:


Subjects/activities that teach this intelligence:


Reason --> World

Understanding the world rationally

Math, Sciences, History

Bodily-Kinesthetic/ Athletic?

Reason --> Body

Understanding your body rationally

Health and exercise, Sports


Reason --> Personality

Understanding your feelings rationally

Philosophy, Reflection, Journal writing


Feelings --> World

Understanding the world emotionally

Social interactions, Story-telling, Group activities


Feelings --> Body

Understanding your body emotionally

Dance, Rhythmic aspect of music


Feelings --> Mind

Understanding your thoughts emotionally

Art, creative writing, melodic aspect of music

From this we see that education does not need to be solely about economic preparation, and also that grades and rewards are not needed to make academic subjects relevant to students’ lives. Rather, educators should show how lessons apply to the mental, bodily, and social problems that students are dealing with. Rather than emphasizing grades or other methods of assessment, math teachers should emphasize how math teaches us to use logic and reason to understand our society; art teachers should emphasize that drawing or painting can help us reach an emotional understanding about the thoughts that pass through our heads, etc.

There is great potential within education to improve the way people function in society in their life outside their work. Certainly, it’s good that education can lead to many good economic opportunities, but I believe we need to view education in a much broader context. Education should involve all aspects of our relationship to society. Good parenting, being a supportive friend, and keeping yourself healthy: education should cover all these aspects of life.

When education is limited to just the economic aspect of life, those students who are concentrating on other aspects of life get unfairly criticized. What’s more, that criticism pressures students to devote themselves to economic goals not out of a genuine interest in achieving those goals, but out of a fear of the criticism that will follow if they fail. So instead of exploring different topics and searching for a career they will love and enjoy, the pressure causes students to push themselves into career paths they may not be happy in. The end result is a lot of unnecessary time, energy, and stress spent in service to the economy. This occurs at the expense of our mental health, bodily health, and social health.