Education – What, Why, and How We Learn

Education – What, Why, and How We Learn

Chapter 1 Why Education Is Necessary?

Wisdom

The Necessity of Education

If there is one single factor within our control that can directly influence who we are as a people, it is education.

Education is the basis and sustenance of civilization.

In order to produce healthy and wholesome adults, people who will lead selfless and meaningful lives, we must educate our children properly.

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True Education

What comes to mind when we see that word, education?

Many of us may conjure up the same picture: twenty or thirty students, their faces scrubbed clean by loving parents, leaning over their desks or tapping into a computer.

There is nothing wrong with that picture – unless we come to think of it as the only picture of education, namely learning skills necessary to make a living.

Education is learning to understand life itself.

What is life?

Life is the recognition of G-d and the mission that He has charged us with – refining ourselves and sanctifying our world; in other words, making ourselves and the world into a better place.

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True education is something that reaches deep inside a person, empowering one to use the information absorbed to be more productive from within.

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Moral Education

Education means sensitizing yourself, your friends, and your family to an entire world of truth; a commitment to a good, greater than one’s own desires.

Practice

Only once we have begun to instill these ideals in a child, should we go on to teach the tools of survival; the why of education must precede the how.

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We teach children mathematics so they can think in an organized fashion and do business.

We teach them the sciences so they can understand the physical properties of the universe they live in.

We teach them languages so they can communicate.

All this is well and good, and certainly important.

But not a single one of these disciplines will affect the way a child will morally act in his daily life.

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As we have seen throughout history, it is entirely possible for someone to become proficient in the sciences and put his talents to destructive use.

And when this person is confronted, and told that he should behave according to the will of his Creator, he can often honestly say, “I was taught many things during all my years in school, but never was I taught moral behavior!”

Allowing a child to grow up and choose his or her own set of values—thinking that we must not infringe on individual liberties—is as ludicrous as a parent giving a child the choice of whether or not to get vaccinated.

Practice

Imparting information is but a single and rather simple component of education.

A true education—an education for life—consists of teaching children that they have an uncompromising responsibility to G-d, to live morally and ethically, which will sustain them individually and create a better world for their children and for generations to come.

Practice and Theory

The Paradox of Childhood

Education also means dealing with the paradox of childhood.

On one hand, a child lacks the ability to truly tell right from wrong, much less the maturity to choose good for its own sake and reject evil simply because it is evil.

On the other hand, it is during childhood that a person’s psyche and character are shaped.

So children must be taught good habits, to know right from wrong, well before they ever set foot in a school.

As a person grows older and his or her values and personality are engraved it becomes increasingly difficult to affect that person’s outlook.

Practice and Theory

Education is for adults too

As education is life itself, it never ends.

While formal education may stop once we finish school, education itself should actually intensify as we become more experienced in life and gain a deeper understanding of our place in the universe.

No matter how old we are or how intellectually enlightened we become, we must always ask ourselves: How deep is my understanding of an inner meaningful life?

How happy am I?

Many of us might be surprised to discover how tenderly young we are in our spirituality, how much more we have to learn about our own soul and how we have yet to develop a mature relationship with God.

Chapter 2 How We Should Educate

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The methodology of education LOVE

The question of how to educate is really the same as asking, How should we communicate? How should we do business? How should we live?

The answer is always the same: through Love!

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Without love, education is at best incomplete and at worst destructive.

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Love means sensitivity – not to your ideas and your standards, but to your student’s and, most important to G-d’s.

Practice and Theory

True Education is instilling Responsibility To God and Society

A child must be made aware of an existence greater than himself and far beyond his drives and desires, his family and friends, his school and his play.

Such an education is rigorous, demanding intellectual and emotional stamina.

But as young people grow familiar with G-d and acquire an aptitude and intellectual taste for the spiritual, they become attuned to their higher purpose in life.

They become children who relate to their parents with respect and affection.

Children who will not take property that doesn’t belong to them.

Children who reach out to help others, and are generous with their time and love.

Practice and Theory

True education supplies not the information, but the ability to gather information

Education consists of several components, the most basic of which is the transfer of information.

But we must remember, information, is only a tool that we put in a child’s hands; just as there is much more to constructing a house than having the right tools and materials, there is much more to education than having the right information.

The true educator is not one who simply teaches facts, but one who teaches a child to think for himself – to find answers to his own questions based on the principles he was taught, and not be solely dependent on a teacher or a parent to solve a dilemma.

If your answers are constantly supplied by someone else, you may have the comfort of never having to take responsibility for a mistake; But if you learn to think for yourself, you receive the deep satisfaction of having acted on your own initiative.

This is consistent with why G-d created the universe: not so puppets could play out a predetermined script, but so that each individual would have the desire, the freedom, to act honestly and virtuously.

Practice and Theory

Teaching Requires Humility

Teaching also requires humility.

Remember; a teacher is not the source of the information, but a vehicle for information that comes from a greater place.

A teacher must not be arrogant in dispensing this knowledge, but should feel blessed with the opportunity to introduce the student to Divine wisdom.

Practice and Theory

Teaching is primarily Role-Modeling Integrity

Above all, remember this: Words that come from the heart enter the heart.

As a teacher, you must mean what you say, and you must be a living example of what you teach.

Children often cannot distinguish between an idea and behavior, and if you show them that you can behave contrary to what you teach, you are undermining the entire process.

Telling a child, in effect, “Do as I say and not as I do,” is also an education – of a negative kind.

Practice and Theory

Individualized Education

In it is written in Proverbs that we should “educate a child according to his way” so that, as he matures, “he will not depart from it.”

But why the child’s way?

Isn’t knowledge objective?

How can we customize knowledge for each child?

Will that not cause education to become, in a sense, arbitrary?

Of course, there are absolutes in the value system that G-d has given us.

But true education must be sensitive and apply these absolute values to each child individually, for each child has his own way and his own strength.

Practice and Theory

Special Needs

Especially special-needs children deserve a personal catered education to their unique “handicap.”

No matter what difficulties a child may posses, it is incumbent upon us to educate that child with as much care and sensitivity as any other child, if not more – for if there is ever a child who needs individual attention to achieve his or her potential, it is the “handicapped” child.

When we lovingly apply ourselves to their education, we will be gratified to discover that they have far greater abilities than we could have ever imagined.

Practice and Theory

Relevance

For any child, a teacher must pinpoint and draw out that child’s strengths, not the strengths we think he should posses.

The goal is for a child to grow into an adult who can stand on his own feet, not on your feet.

We often think that if we teach absolute dogmatic values, then a child will undoubtedly perpetuate that value system.

That is only half the story.

Yes, those values must be expressed, but in the child’s language, so that they become a part of the child, integrated with his personality, instilled in his spirit.

Chapter 3 On Becoming an Educator

Practice

A teacher who is too harsh, who thinks that he or she is in large part a disciplinarian, will never teach a child well, for the bedrock of education is love.

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If you feel that you are in competition with a child, do not be a teacher, because the child is not your equal.

Whether you are a teacher or a parent, G-d has entrusted you to teach the child well and to treat the child well.

The respect and awe we must have for a child is no different from the respect and awe we must have for G-d Himself.

Practice and Theory

Isn’t it difficult to deal with children, to patiently cope with their inattention, their discipline problems, and the chaos?

Wouldn’t it be more convenient to develop a career that would be more lucrative and lead to recognition by your peers?

Or perhaps, do something that involves personal growth, whether it be music or art or writing?

If education were nothing but the process of imparting information, the answer to these questions might be yes.

But because education is far more than that, because education is life itself, the reason why we should teach, extends directly from why we should live.

Because life is a continuous education for all of us, teaching is a lifelong obligation and responsibility for all of us.

We should not look upon this as a burden, for the very act of teaching is a vital ingredient in our own education.

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Your students, who really include anyone with whom you communicate – sharpen your tools of communication and introduce you to a new dimension beyond your own experience.

In order to reach a student whose mind is less developed than your own, you must reach deeper into your own mind and heart – and the farther you want to reach out – the farther you must reach within.

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Even if there were not so many advantages to being an educator, it would be well worthwhile, for what greater gift is there, what greater act of love, than to have the opportunity to help shape a person for the rest of his or her life?

Chapter 4 How this generation must be educated

Practice and Theory

Constant Vigilance

Because a child is impressionable, he or she will be influenced by whatever is around him.

Children today are inundated by many influences that are detrimental to proper education.

After fighting through all the modern day distractions – whether it be television or the internet or the lure of drugs – there is precious little time to cultivate our children’s minds and hearts and souls.

It is not enough to send your children off to school with a packed lunch; education is a full time duty.

We must always be as vigilant as when the child was a newborn – always on the alert, always ready to serve the child’s spiritual needs.

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In G-d We Trust

Why do the Ten Commandments, which include moral laws, begin with “I am your G-d”? Because without the acceptance that morality is derived from G-d, morality – and therefore education – is guided by nothing more than human whim and conscience.

History has shown us that a society can be extremely well educated and yet, if not guided by G-d’s precepts (e.g. Nazi Germany,) it may be steeped in malevolence.

 Practice and Theory

What your child learns is society’s responsibility

Establishing a system of morally sound education is one of the primary responsibilities of society.

To hand off such a responsibility to a group of administrators is both ineffective and neglectful.

While there must be a certain group of people whose primary responsibility it is to implement education, each member of society must take an active role.

For parents of young children especially, the responsibility is clear.

Think how disturbed we would be to learn about a parent who had a sick child but refused to take the child to a doctor.

If that is the case for the child’s body, shouldn’t we feel the same concern for a child’s mind, for his soul?

And yet, because of the heavy workload of so many parents now today, our schools have assumed much greater responsibility.

There was a time when basic values were taught at home while schooling served primarily to give children the skills for a career.

Many parents now depend on the schools to teach their children both skills and values.

This underscores the great need for schools to establish moral curricula.

Especially today, children as well as adults are longing to learn about higher values.

We need to appreciate this receptivity and respond to it with the most effective aggressive educational campaign possible.

Practice and Theory

The Imperative To Bring G-d Back into The Educational System

Why has the moral fabric of this country (U.S.A.) deteriorated so badly?

Because children are no longer taught about G-d.

From its inception the United States has been the refuge for millions of people of every religion who fled their homelands so they could worship freely.

It was in such a spirit that we used to educate our children.

Then a slow but devastating process began that often resulted in diluting and, ultimately, eliminating an education based on our personal responsibility to G-d.

The old battle between G-d and science extended into one between G-d and education.

That is one of the primary reasons for much of today’s moral deterioration, and that is why there is no choice but to return to an educational philosophy in which we teach children not just the value of a mathematical equation, but the value of their souls.

Practice

Remember it is children who can best relate to simplicity and the essence of G-d.

Do not project your own skepticism onto children.

Children, unlike adults, do not chew over every piece of new information until its essence is diluted or distorted; they just listen and absorb – which is why they learn so well.

Practice and Theory

An Important Check List To See If We Are Living Up To Our Responsibility As Parents Regarding Education

We must look at our children and tell ourselves again and again: Here is a fertile soul, an open heart and mind that I have been given by G-d to nurture and teach.

This child’s life will affect many others, and I must teach him as best I can.

Will G-d and society be pleased with the job I have done?

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