Rethinking Education in the Highlands

Scotland Education

Science. Mathematics. English. History. Language. These are the conventionally
accepted lynch pins of a proper education. And they spoon out little more than what
is found in a textbook. But if we could renovate this current format, and infuse these
subjects with Creativity, Imagination, and Experiment, we would see a progression in
society further than once imagined.

At Culdees Ecovillage, where I currently live and work, there are plans to eventually
establish a new education system. The hope is to welcome families into the community,
and provide the children with an education beyond the textbook model. It would teach
not the program of intellect, but provide a basis for innovative thinking.

Education Scotland

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world

There are no students enrolled yet.

Currently, education produces imitation. In the classroom, there is a set criterion, a kind of standard of knowledge that is followed, in which whatever is taught has already been
learned. This doesn’t really teach thinking. We all end up just imitating what the other
knows. In this model of education, our own creativity and imagination are exchanged
for what has been realized by the creativity and imagination from others in the past.
This belittles what the human mind is still capable of, and brings a kind of stagnation to
thinking. If the classroom model of thought was never broken, if the limited perception
of possible knowledge was never overturned, then Newton, Shakespeare, Einstein, and
Goethe, would never have realized their own potential.

What is lacking in the current system is room for experiment, room for imagination
and mistake…

A common theme of mainstream education says, “Here are the laws of science. They
have been prescribed for you. Take them so you can better understand the world.”

Whereas a great educator or education system might say, “Here are so-called ‘laws of
science’ so far. Take them so you can disprove them, build upon and strengthen them, or
throw them away in pursuit of something better.”

So, this isn’t to imply that we should do away with “the system” of education all
together. There is a basis of knowledge that is important or at least helpful to know. But
if everything is presented as “knowledge of the commons,” there is really no reason to
continue learning how to stay common. There certainly isn’t any inspiration to do so.
What is lacking in the current system is room for experiment, room for imagination
and mistake. Experiment not in the science classroom sense, in which the outcome is
already known, but in the sense of conducting something new and unknown. From the
experiment of imagination come mistakes. The discovery of the law of gravity wasn’t a
one-time hypothesis-to-conclusion deal; it was a series of tests and revisions that used the
mistakes as a rising step towards its newly discovered conclusion. The mistakes aren’t
even thought of as mistakes; they are understood as part of the process of learning. This
is an approach to learning beyond what the textbook already tells us.

At Culdees, whatever new approach to education it takes, it will be an experiment. And
mistakes will naturally follow. But from these mistakes, hopefully a finely tuned model
of education will develop.

Eco Village

In the current model of mainstream education, the validity of an original thought depends much on what has been said prior. Take for example school papers. If a student writes
a paper on some particular theme, it is regarded appropriate to quote the statements of
other known and respected individuals. In fact, it is encouraged to quote what others have
said. Actually, it is often required to quote what others have said. If I were to refer to
Einstein’s statement about imagination verses knowledge, in which, “Imagination is more
important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world,” my
argument suddenly seems more valid, more credited.

This style of education continues on and on until finally the entire enterprise of what
we know, what we think, and what we think we know becomes one big quote. But if a
student could use not just his own words, but also manifest his own thoughts to clarify
and conclude an original argument, he would become the success of true education.

Global Whisperer Guy Walker is currently living and working in the Culdees Eco-Village in Scotland.

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