(By Joan Umbert Font)
Postmodern education is stuck in a rut because natural hierarchies were lost along with the oppression hierarchies used in traditional education. If we don’t recover natural hierarchies, educational problems will not improve. Adults have a broader and deeper perspective than children, and this fact is overlooked time and again by the flat and equalizing view of postmodernism.
Ken Wilber called metaphorically "Atman project" the desire to be God, but from the little "ego" in process of growth, ranging from the narrow perspective of a newborn to the incarnation of the Spirit as enlightened person, making Atman or Christ, which is our highest identity.
In education, the "Atman Project" is something to keep in mind, and is expressed in two ways. One is in form of desire for unlimited freedom and the other is that we want others to love us and at our disposal at any time. According Wilber, these are the impulses of freedom and communion.
We start from Wilber’s premise that the process of personal growth begins in a very egocentric consciousness (in the sense that it is not able to take into account the views of others) go through the process of detachment from these egocentrism.
Thus, the impulse toward freedom will grow by accepting the freedom of others. What in practice, for example, will make a teenager think if he should turn down the music if his neighbor wants to sleep or to read.
As for the other pulse in question, we can say that human beings grow in autonomy within a growing communion passing of belonging to a family, to a village, to a nation, to the world, up to and including the entire Kosmos.
In education, we should be aware that often we fall into a war of egos, where the biggest ego (ie parent, teacher ...) attempts to subjugate the lower ego (student, daughter ...), who refuses to obey.
It is important to understand that we must go beyond the "command" from parents or teachers, and beyond the "obedience" of minors. As the great pedagogue Ovide Decroly said: "You can lead a horse to the source, but you can not force it to drink". So one of the things the teacher should try to do is that children see if such proposals are for their own future welfare. Although the smaller the child the less forward-looking, and have more immediacy and urgency to fulfill their desires.
Not always our children see the consequences of their actions or attitudes, not always the teacher gets to show the reason why they should do their homework, and get out of the fight by submission to his will. Sometimes it is good to let the child exercises his own will, subject to the consequences that would entail.
Moreover, when the educator must enforce its requirement by force, it is a good exercise that previously have observed himself. Every educator should be aware of his own ego, and judge whether or not the child can not refuse to fulfill the mandate for its own good or, instead, I have wanted to subjugate him to my will because I think that children must always obey their elders. That authoritarian parenting style was practiced in traditional education. Later became fashionable the laissez faire (let do) of hippy education. We must go beyond these educational concepts into a new form that transcends and includes both, i.e. teacher authority with ego awareness and progressive freedom of student aware of the consequences of their actions. Educators must point even impose limits, channel children’s boundless energy and show them their duties, making them understand that it is best for a harmonious coexistence. For example, beginning making the bed; or remove the flatware after eating; or personal hygiene to maintain their health and to not smell bad in the classroom...
In some cases of unacceptable behavior, the teacher will be compelled him to do something or even punish him, explaining him why, and the mood of the teacher can be of disgust or anger. Education is a difficult task. To love doesn’t mean to condone all, far from it.
Another example would be if a child refuses to do homework or don’t want to study for the next exam. First, as adults, we must be clear that the most important thing for the child is to be doing a constant learning process, gaining intellectual knowledge, skills and abilities, to know how can relate with others and increasing his capacity for self-observation.
Meet some academic performance is secondary. While the failing grade can be unpleasant, and it is god to try to overcome the requirements of school curriculum proposed by the Ministry of Education in our State, especially prepared for the insertion into an economic system. And here I clause saying that if parents or teachers want to make education much more than preparing for a future job, no minister would be able to prevent. That said, it is also necessary to note that education, besides being critical with our system, must also be for work, maybe another conception of work, company... It would be a mistake in high school do not start preparing for future work or acquire skills or abilities.
It’s good that some study habits are established (in a tidy desk, good light ...), because it is not the same that a child refuses to do homework at a given time, to not having had a timetable, his own workspace without videogames, games, or TV. It is very difficult to require the child to give a big change all of a sudden. You need to be progressive in establishing work habits and study. In early childhood education they haven’t homework, although it is advisable to start having a space and time where they start painting, viewing stories with pictures, etc., on their desk, but not required, but as a playful proposal.
In the early years, physical play is basic (run, jump, tumble ...). As they grow, it is good to set times for things that for many children are a real addiction, such as videogames. With half an hour a day, they have amply enough, and zero hours for children under 8 years (although many people would disagree with me but I will continue recommending physical and socializing game, touching, because there isn’t little boy in accordance with 5 minutes of game, which is gained in tantrums, arguments and ultimately much loss of playing time and energy. If the child has to be in the future an expert in videogames, he will have time enought to learn about it in shortly).
If education has been steady and consistent, academic results are not a problem, whether or not these are approved. It is important that our children to be happy. They learn that freedom is progressive, that acquiring bad habits leads to losing freedom, and duties come from the fact of living with other people and to prepare for the future within society. They also need to acquire a culture that enriches the soul, knowing its own history and the history of others, that after all there are no "others" but we are all members of a single humanity. And we must all know how that story was forged to understand our present, to be able to write our future.
Finally say that education should be a promoter of sincerity, truth, mutual understanding and socialization, and although there is controversy in each of these four guidelines, such dispute, rather than a problem, in education is an advantage because it gives rise to discussion and constructive dialogue, to go agreeing step by step and increasing complexity about what is true by the scientific method, mutual understanding through cultural setting (intersubjective), who is honest by honest interpretation, and socialization by the functional setting. The person who is sincere, seeks truth, understands other and unfolds in the society in which he lives, is a person who knows how to be. And as Ken Wilber wrote in A Brief History of Everything: "When we point to truth and we are situated in truthfulness, we can reach mutual understanding. This is a miracle. If Spirit exists, you can begin to look for it here."