The age of mass education has reshaped the world, helping to raise billions of people out of poverty. And, if education is ever going to reach all of the world’s children, the assumption is that it will be through mass education.
So, it was a challenging messaged delivered by Indian spiritual leader Sadhguru as he outlined his vision for more inclusive education to delegates at the Global Education and Skills Forum 2017.
“Mass education programmes started around 200 years ago,” Sadhguru told the Forum. “Sometime in the future we will probably look back and see that this mass education process was one of the most divisive things human beings have ever done.”
The spiritual leader explained that today’s education systems are too standardized and fail to achieve a number of fundamental goals.
“Education has to be about every human being becoming a ‘seeker’,” said Sadhguru.
Broadening young people’s horizons
In his keynote speech to the education conference, Sadhguru said that education should be about helping children find lives full of expression and encouraging their curiosity.
However, he went on, current education systems do not take into account children’s individual sensibilities and talents but train young people in a uniform or ‘packaged’ way.
The purpose of this is to feed the needs of the global economy rather than teach young people to expand their horizons.
“This type of education will smother human genius. Nothing new and wonderful will happen,” he said. “We are only teaching our children to exploit everything.”
Instead, he advocates children being given incentives to expand their knowledge more organically than many education systems enable them to do now
Toward a more inclusive education system
The limitations Sadhguru perceives in today’s education systems also extend to a lack of inclusiveness.
The premise of his talk was that we all suffer from limited identities, defining ourselves along racial, ethnic, religious and other divisive lines. “When we talk about people, we don’t refer to them as humans. We refer to them as Indians, Americans, Emiratis or whatever else,” he stated.
Alongside economics and religion, he views education as a major contributor to shaping limited identities and reinforcing divisiveness. This is, at least in part, he believes, due to the pressure to standardize educational outcomes.
Personal experience of different cultures is critical
Sadhguru underlined that achieving inclusiveness greatly depends on personal experience: “We need to overcome limited identities by experiencing other people as part of ourselves.”
He therefore advocates that every child under the age of 10 should experience as many cultures, nations and religions as possible to help foster greater inclusiveness.
In addition, he calls for at least 50% of school curricula around the world to be made up of common, global education, alongside more nationally driven educational content. In using the word ‘common’ he stressed that this did not mean boxing up educational content but rather ensuring that this content had common global ground.
“We need,” Sadhguru concluded, “to breed inclusiveness into every child.”
The Global Education and Skills Forum is taking place on 18th and 19th March 2017 in Dubai, UAE, with the theme of “How do we make ‘real’ global citizens?”
You can watch Sadhguru’s address to GESF 2017 on Vimeo.