Saturday, July 21, 2012

Our Out Of Date Western Educational System - A Guest Post by Michael Brine

Kin School in Russia 

Our Out of Date Western Educational System

"I tell you that the children of yesteryear are walking in the funeral of the era which they created for themselves. They are pulling a rotten rope that may break soon and cause them to drop into a forgotten abyss. I say that they are living in homes with weak foundations. As the storm blows - and it is about to blow - their homes will fall upon their heads and thus become their tombs. I say that all their thoughts, their sayings, their quarrels, their compositions, their books and all their works are nothing but chains dragging them because they are too weak to pull the load. But the children of tomorrow are the ones called by life, and they follow it with steady steps and heads high. They are the dawn of the new frontiers; no smoke will veil their eyes and no jingle of chains will drown out their voices. They are few in number but the difference is as between a grain of wheat and a stack of hay. No one knows them but they know each other. They are like the summits, which can see and hear each other - not like the caves, which cannot hear or see. They are the seed dropped by the hand of God in the field, breaking through its pod and weaving its sapling leaves before the face of the sun. It shall grow into a mighty tree - its roots in the heart of the Earth and its branches high in the sky."

Kahil Gibran.

Perhaps the time has come when we need to seriously re-examine just what we understand when we use the word "education", and especially as it pertains to the younger members of our societies. Has it lost sight of its real purpose? What is its real purpose and how successful is our current system in its accomplishments? Just what are these accomplishments meant to achieve? Is there real learning about the world they are entering into - is their real wisdom and insight available within the present system or is it more memorizing and rote designed to pass an exam? Is there enthusiasm showing when they are in class? Is there joy and excitement in discovering what opportunities may be available to them when they move out into the 'big wide world'? Or even in just their day-to-day experiences and interactions?

Sadly, I think we know what most of the answers would be to these probing questions. Again I ask - have we allowed our educational system to lose sight of its real purpose? To quote the words of T.S.Elliott that I used in an earlier article:- "Where is wisdom lost in knowledge, and where is knowledge lost in information?"

The advent of this technological age which seems to emphasize speed over almost everything else does not help in my opinion. Indeed, where IS the wisdom which should be moving hand in hand with these so called 'advances' being witnessed in our physical world? Speed has become the dictum and certainly no where is this more evident than with our youth. Yes, this is a new age but let's not throw out the proverbial 'baby with the bath water'! Balance in all things!

So, having said all that can we learn from this, and if so, how may it be applied to our present educational system?

Let us start by assuming that except in certain unhappy cases all children are endowed with genius, talent and creativity. Our children and youth should not be treated as so ignorant as we tend to do in our societies. We tend to see education in large part as social preparation rather than living in this moment fully.

Recently, I have been privileged to receive a DVD which is about a most unique "Russian Kin School between the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains in the land of the mysterious Dolmens" to quote from this DVD. Its format is certainly in accord with the views of that young Siberian Russian women, Anastasia, and certainly the results are quite astounding. However, in fairness, credit must be given to in full to the school's founder and visionary, Mikhail Shetinin who has, to quote again:- "Been shattering both main stream and alternative views on education, while creating humanity's new future."

One of its main principals is that youth should be allowed to advance at his or her own speed - somewhat similar to the Montessori school's view, if I am not mistaken. The basic view of this Russian school is that all children are endowed with genius, talent and creativity. There is no checking of I.Q.s - "If a child's heart is open he or she is a genius. If you open the heart, remove complexes, tensions, and fear you'll see a genius already on their right path."

It is felt that inner growth matters the most. If there is a spiritual base - not religious please - spiritual - which is of the inner personal feeling part of us - then learning almost any subject is easier. "We merge all knowledge into a holistic perception of space separate from the world. We try to think in terms of the Universe - not just on the scale of a person separate from the world - our thoughts should encompass the whole of Creation. This is the core of our educational approach.:- Shetinin.

One of the things that has horrified me recently is the suggestion coming out of governments is that consideration be given to reducing the school syllabus of much of the Arts and Music. These creative elements are essential, uplifting and healthy. They also create a needed balance between the mind and the feeling/heart/creative part of us.

If I may be personal for a moment to illustrate my point above I was fortunate, in that my education in the '40s and early '50s these elements were still very much part of our syllabus which also included acting and dance - both of which led to me getting a few years later a small part in a play on a stage in Central London which included dancing in a ballet. It was called the "Beggars Opera". This opportunity almost changed my life at the time had I pursued this option which was offered to me. This would not likely have happened had I not had that exposure in my boarding school days in Ontario,

In our present school system we tend to stuff a child's mind with information - It's the quality of thoughtful information that is important. We create our reality with our thoughts and the energy we put into them.

As one of the students in this Russian school said :- "Life is not something you prepare for - You live it every moment you breath." Wow! What wisdom! THIS is passion - something sadly lacking in most students in to-day's world and something we need to desperately re-invigorate within our youth, indeed, we could all of us benefit from a bit of this type of passion - absolutely!  :)

We seriously need to examine our current educational format in the light of these examples being demonstrated in Russia at this school - wouldn't you agree?

Our societies are stagnating in almost all parts of the world - stuck in the past and resisting, and indeed fearful, of change. It seems to be "Better the devil you know that the devil you don't know" - Right? WRONG! Look at the mess we have allowed ourselves to be drawn into. We see our happiness in inanimate things - newer car, bigger house - things! Controlled through the fear of never having enough because ' you never know what may happen in the future.' Well, with this kind of fearful attitude we ARE creating  our future - and indeed our children's - unless we wake up and re-examine this downhill direction we have allowed ourselves to be goaded into.

This Russian school and its students are an inspiration and a glimpse of a future we could all get involved in and work towards. "And a little child shall lead them". Hhhmmmm. Indeed. A young fresh uncluttered mind and heart can indeed open the door for us all to move through into a life full of passion, beauty and peace. What we put out we draw to ourselves - fear begets fear. Equally so is the opposite. Now you choose. Those students in Russia have, and so have an increasing number around the world. Yes, change IS happening - don't fear it - Welcome it, and leave all the garbage behind where it belongs!

Life is for living - to its fullest. You owe it to yourself. Go for it! Don't be chicken! See ya, Cheers, Michael.

For more on this Russian school and securing the DVD go to < >
Thank you. Michael.

Link to Michaels' writings:


Laura Grace Weldon said...

Wonderful article Michael. I couldn't agree with you more.

I've read the strangely marvelous Ringing Cedars series about Anastasia. I too believe in (and see every day) the power of freeing children to follow their gifts. This doesn't just happen in one remote school, it happens all over the world. I wrote a book about it: Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything. 

Stranger in a Strange Land said...

Hello Laura Grace:

Thanks for stopping by for a visit. Yes, you are spot on. There are innovators everywhere. Most unknown, but non the less active helping to make the world a bit of a better place.

Kind regards,
ps: Michael Brine will be happy to hear your comment

Anonymous said...

Hello Laura Grace:

I appreciate this comment and YES, it is happening all over the world like the Montessori schools to which I sent my son when he was younger. I chose the Russian School as it was so colourful and it is rare to get a glimpse so deep inside this country - apart from the fact that I hold Anastasia - and Vladimir, lets not forget Vladimir - with such deep respect as clearly you do also, Laura. Thanks for the connection and you to Mike. "Hold High the Torch!"

Michael B.
[ and Laura, I'll check out your site - of course!] M.B.