How does a society that teaches preschoolers to play well, share toys and not hit raise highly educated leaders to justify revenge, invade countries and develop weapons to kill?
In countries such as the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom, education is highly valued and the golden rules of virtues are spoken to children. Still, these nations are often seen involved in power-plays, violence and wars. Although their involvement is taken as a protective role against aggressors, leadership justifies violating the lessons we try to teach our children. Somehow education falls short of facilitating higher methods of resolving conflict above violence.
Our education system is “half-baked” — we think we know what we want (to teach our children to grow into global world citizens creating a flourishing peace world), yet we produce our most educated to be partakers in violence (from putting toxins in consumer products to building instruments of mass destruction). From creative toddler to higher education graduate, there is a missing link in our education system that holds humanity back from progressing to our higher evolution — a world of fulfilled individual and peace world citizens.
The United Nations has put universal education at the top of the list of goals to fulfill their mission to fashion and maintain a peace world. The idea is that if people are educated in order to create economic stability through jobs, then conflicts will be reduced. Yet, our economic system defies natural law in that economic rules change with human whim (often creating imbalance with one party having power over the other) while laws of nature are constant (creating changes for balance.) Reasonably, effective education goes beyond reading, writing and arithmetic to how to become a responsible global citizen living in harmony.
For example, China ranks highest in math, reading and science and has also increased military spending 170 percent since 2002 to become second in military spending to the U.S. By these measures of better education, the correlation with creating global peace world citizens is highly negative.
Today, we need to look at what we want as the outcome of education globally. Nations increase military budgets. Violence fills our news, such as the back and forth killing of Israeli and Arab neighbors. Women and children are abused. We have social ills in the world that parallel physical disease in people and deterioration in environment.
Our intellectual advancement may be creating more instability than harmony. The ability to read, calculate and understand science needs to be directed toward sustainable living. “We have not reached people in their minds — how to teach young children growing up as determined persons to promote peace and nonviolence in their own lives,” explains UN Ambassador Anwarul K Chowdhury, former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations and chair of the U.N. General Assembly drafting committee for the U.N. Declaration on the Culture of Peace. Children can be taught anything. They learn from what they see, hear, and act upon. Evidently, much of what they learn now is increasing their math, reading and scientific ability towards building a greater ability to overpower; opposed to building a world Culture of Peace.
If the goal of education is to increase power through economics, we will continue to produce the same war infected world that we have today. “Humanity needs to find another measure of advancement other than consumerism,” stated Mikhail Gorbachev, former Soviet Union President and founder of Green Cross International, in a meeting in Geneva upon the 20th anniversary of the organization on April 18th 2013. The then 82-year-old Gorbachev pledged to align with young people to facilitate the transition to a sustainable world.
If the objective of educational upbringing is to create global world citizens who take responsibility for attaining stability, the current system needs to align with the new goal. “There are new waves of resistance, especially among young people, who are insisting that casino capitalism is driven by a kind of mad violence and form of self-sabotage, and that if it does not come to an end, what we will experience, in all probability, is the destruction of human life and the planet itself,” reiterates American scholar, Henry A. Giroux in his article last June. Schooling for a new future must stand on a peace education foundation.
The preschool lesson of “play well, share your toys and do not hit” is not just words to be heard, but accumulate experiences so that acting as a responsible global citizen is habit. “If you think something, feel something, and put action to it you’ll wire a psychological trigger within yourself. So most of us know about triggers when it comes to something negative, but we can also use the same process to make it positive,” explains Jenny Craig, LMSW founder of The Check UP from the Neck Up. Learning occurs in a multi-sensory physical, intellectual, emotional and social experience.
Starting in preschool, children begin learning global citizenship through playing out imaginary and actual care for one another. Later in a person’s education, respecting one’s own and other’s views builds real global citizenship. We need to mindfully develop and execute critical early childhood education, if we hope to create a functioning society and sustainable world.
All quotes in the article came from direct interviews apart from Mikhail Gorbachev (from my notes of his live web cast speech at the U.N. in Geneva on April 18th, 2013 noting the 20th Anniversary of Green Cross International) and the reference to the article by Henry A Giroux.