Gimmie That "Old-time Education"

— Urmas Kaldveer, Ph.D.

Remember the old saying, "a healthy mind makes for a healthy body"? True isn't it. Like so many of those homilies passed down to us by previous generations, it has taken many of us a long time and a circuitous journey to understand the wisdom in them.

I don't really see where there is much difference today. The homilies still hold up and the next generation (not all of course) is still reluctant to fully contemplate the message and assimilate it into a working philosophy of life. But why should they be able to do something we could not?

Not to imply that a generation is not able to rise above it's predecessor, lord knows we of the 60's generation thought we were clearly intellectually superior. And to a degree we were, but only to a degree. Now it's someone else's turn to shake the foundations of the paradigm.

The ancient Egyptians stated that knowledge was a great and wonderful thing, but if it was not assimilated, it was worthless. That word assimilation is the key.

We are capable today of transmitting more information faster than any previous time in the history of humankind. Yet we find ourselves in a world totally out of balance. The Navajo have a word for it, koya-an-nisqatsi. So do the Q'ero of Peru. They say it is a time of Pacha-kuti, world turning.

Whatever word is used it is pretty clear that the present paradigm is no longer tenable. That is an essay in itself and as tempted as I am to launch into it, I will refrain and stay on course.

For centuries—no, millennia—the human race has passed on a good part of its wisdom through mythology, family histories and folk tales. Formalized education is a relatively recent innovation. In the short time that formalized education (education designed to prepare the masses to be incorporated into the prevailing politico/economic system) has been the first world's means of maintaining it's desired paradigm, we have gone from interactive classroom dynamics (life), to interactive electronic isolation.

I have been a classroom teacher for 27 years. I have taught at the middle, high school and college level. As a person devoted to the Egyptian ideal of assimilating knowledge, I suggest that we as a culture must do everything we can to preserve the concept of a "healthy mind making for a healthy body." This is not happening in our schools today. More and more of classroom time is taken up with some form of media interaction rather than dialogue and/or lecture.

There is no argument that electronic delivery systems accelerate the retention of facts. But this is not what education in it's most worthy form is all about. It is about opening the doors of perception and encouraging the joy of sharing knowledge through verbal intercourse. It is the discussion that follows critical thinking, based on information and then articulated in a way to encourage the transmission of ideas.

We must not let our schools become the corporate world's training ground for a virtual reality world.

Dr. Urmas Kaldveer is an "old-time teacher/mentor". He has been a teacher in the Ukiah area for 27 years and is currently employed by Mendocino College as a part-time instructor. His one great professional love is to share his thirst for knowledge; which he believes is a life long pursuit. Whoever want's to join him is always welcome.

Beginning August 21st at the Willits seniors Incorp., and August 23rd at the Ukiah Senior Center, Dr. Kaldveer will be continuing his Janus Lecture Series for Elders. Lectures begin at 10:00 am and last for 1 1/2 hours. The subject changes every eight weeks. All members of the community, young and old are invited. A $5.00/lecture tax deductible donation is requested.