Wed | Jan 23, 2019

Promote Lisa to education minister

Published:Sunday | December 28, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna addresses the 2014 graduating class of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security's Early Stimulation programme during their valedictory service.- File

Gordon Robinson, Columnist

On Sunday, August 31, I wrote extensively on the link between poverty and education.There's no doubt in my mind that lack of education is the greatest single contributor to poverty.

I wrote also about the poverty statistics from PIOJ and elsewhere which are on the rapid increase. However, living below the poverty line isn't poverty's sole manifestation nor is it, without more, a determinant of poverty. Some of the world's materially wealthiest people are the most spiritually impoverished. Even material wealth itself is transient. For example, many of the world's most creative entertainers, wealthy through their art, have, consequent on their spiritual poverty, abused their wealth until it dissipated.

Where there's an abundance of talent, it must be complemented with a proper education or it'll avail the talented ones naught. The temporarily successful will find themselves and their wealth vulnerable to self-destruction and to more educated hangers-on whose talent lies in larceny. Lacking the character or the ability to think clearly (available only from education), some succumb to wealth's many temptations. Show me a wealthy illiterate today and I'll show you tomorrow's pitiful pauper because the ability to maintain that wealth was never acquired.

But, like poverty, wealth doesn't only come from riches or material acquisitions. Truly wealthy individuals are unable to lose their wealth. The truly wealthy are those who recognise they're on a journey of self-discovery (aka education) that has little or nothing to do with material acquisitions, except to learn how these acquisitions can be used to help fellow travellers on the same journey. Their wealth can't be bought, sold, stolen or given away. It just is; is with them; and will always be with them.

More than three "Rs"

So, like all of this life's experiences, "poverty" and "wealth" are not as they appear. Similarly, the concept of "education" includes much more than the three "Rs". Regular readers will recall I often refer to "education for life", as opposed to education to pass exams. What do I mean? Education, properly-so-called, is available everywhere for everyone, and each of us must keep alert for opportunities to learn about life and how to live the lives we're meant to live. In school, we need teachers of excellence who can spot the individual student who is 'special' (which is each and every student) and give each 'special' student the type of education that'll appropriately ready that child for his/her life.

Maybe a fifth-form science student shows an aptitude for motor mechanics. The teacher's duty is to find a way for that student's educational experience to be channelled in that direction and for the student to understand the relevance of the general syllabus to his life. Instead of forcing that student to memorise abstract chemical reactions, he/she could be shown how chemistry works in a motor engine. A student who won't read but who loves music should be taught to play the piano (cures many ills including hyperactivity and indiscipline); to write music; and shown how to read books and observe life around him with a view to create inspiration for musical composition. Without realising it, through his nurtured love of music, that student will blossom into an avid reader.

Sports alone not enough

There's a huge misunderstanding about education and sports making the rounds, especially among sportsmen. Sports alone can't educate for life. Sports are adjuncts to education that teach life skills, especially in teamwork and loyalty. Teachers who fabricate academic results so that sports stars can run at Champs aren't doing anybody any favours. The rationalisation that the student has a chance to get rich by running but will never be a bookworm is a cop-out. To begin with, less than five persons from each and every Champs are likely ever to make a living from running. The rest need alternative skills.

So, we come to the fundamental questions: What is education? What's education's purpose? Education is life's purpose. We live to learn about (experience) this world; ourselves; and our fellow life travellers. Eventually, if we seek education everywhere, instead of just at school, we'll understand where we come from (God, an absolute existence by whatever name); why we're here (to experience relativity and interaction); and where we're going (back to God) which is when we'll finally be Who We Really Are. While we're here, education should strive to deliver skills that'll assist with that journey. Passing exams can never be the purpose of education.

We're here to learn from experience, so schools should try to teach us diverse 'subjects' based on a spiritual understanding of why we're here. Field trips should be compulsory to show students how education works in real life. Students must be positioned to gain full benefit from an adult life in a global village. We should be taught reading (so we can learn from the written word); writing (so we can pass along what we've learned) and arithmetic (to promote logical thinking). But, most of all, we must learn how to learn and how to think things through clearly. This'll ensure, after graduation, we'll learn from rather than just react viscerally to our experiences, and we'll understand the imperative of helping others along the way.

We gain education from our teachers, our experiences, and, almost most important of all, from the experiences of others. We should be taught that to talk is to teach; to listen is to learn. Silence is golden because it permits us to meditate and find answers within ourselves. Talk is cheap (except you're like Arnaldo "Browse and Talk" Brown), and it usually teaches our less-educated enemies more about us than they should know. This is what Jesus meant by

"love thy enemy" and "turn the other cheek". Why would we want to give our enemy more reason to hate us or excuse/opportunity to attack us? Only an uneducated dunce (NOT a tautology) waves a red rag to a Bull he can't control. Don't believe me? Ask the USA how its expressed and pro-active contempt for the sacred beliefs of Muslim nations are working for the US now. However, we should talk about ourselves and our experiences to every deserving, inexperienced person who wants to learn. Before we die, we're spiritually obligated to pass on the benefit of our experiences to (i.e. educate) all who can learn from them.

This is success
- helping others along the way or contributing to mankind's continuing
education. This is wealth - an excess of experience from which we can
understand our true purpose, and success is passing this understanding
on to others. Success, by dealing spiritually with true wealth, leads to
immortality. Decades after our worldly bodies have died, we'll still
live as those we taught pass on that which they learned from us. So try
not to be one dimensional in whatever you do and don't encourage
sportsmen to know only sports. Insist on producing as rounded a graduate
as possible, who may excel in sports but also acquire critical
complementary skills. Education doesn't cease after graduation even from
tertiary institutions. For many of us, it might not yet have

Too many sports

Educational institutions that teach
academics, extra-curricular activities including sports, and also try to
feed the spiritual (not religious) needs of young students are real
schools. We've too many sports factories and robot manufacturing

For 2015, we need a new educational paradigm
that's unlikely to come from a soon-to-be 70-year-old fossil. Lisa Hanna
has served her apprenticeship; paid her dues; made her mistakes; and is
likely to bring a fresh, futuristic approach to education. It's time to
shake up the system; combine the ministries; reduce the burden on
taxpayers; retire the fossil; and promote Lisa to minister of education,
youth and culture.

Peace and Love.

Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to