Thoughts from the Philosophers’ Retreat By Choki Wangchuk

With an unprecedented rate of change in society, the concept and purpose of education has expanded far beyond basic literacy and content-based knowledge. It has come to focus more on the process of learning, growing up and becoming an adult, which requires one to develop a personal philosophy.

 One of the main purposes of education should be to enable learners to develop self-consciousness. The process of education should provide opportunities for its learners to discover themselves and recognize their passions, aspirations and calling in life. The education process should help learners develop a personal framework of standard of what is valuable and what is not, which will help them make informed choices in every facet of their lives.

Education should challenge the learners in a manner that it fosters character. At the same time, it should enable learners to connect with themselves and understand what happiness and satisfaction mean to them. That is why, the process of self-reflection is crucial in education. Education should be able to instil in all its learners the dynamic process of self-improvement and the ability/skills to actualize one’s potential. They need to grasp the importance of being able to constantly unlearn and learn, and become lifelong learners.

The education system should provide the learners with the skills to become a contributing citizen as well as the values to be a good human being. Character is built during schooling years, and education should instil in its learners essential traits, such as curiosity, quest for clarity, passion, awareness, integrity, respect for others, empathy, and discernment. If the right foundation is provided during formative schooling years, the learners are more resilient to deal with future challenges.

Values in education is something that has been overlooked and should be brought back to the forefront. Values need to be inculcated just like skills. Learners need to be afforded the opportunity to hone their understanding and practice of compassion, mindfulness and integrity. The knowledge of impermanence and the art of letting go can help learners in various facets of their lives.

At the same time, learners should develop skills that are valued in their profession and can help them become lifelong learners. Towards this end, some of the crucial traits are the art of listening, analytical ability, collaborative mindset, ability to communicate effectively, and willingness to take responsibility and ownership.

In order to achieve the above objectives, the focus of education needs be on skills and processes instead of solely on content. It is imperative that educational systems worldwide go beyond the content-based framework. Today, there is a lot of emphasis on content and the acquisition of information. We need to understand that in such a scenario, when the content becomes obsolete, our learning becomes obsolete. It is, therefore, imperative that the focus shifts to the inculcation of relevant skills and the understanding of the process involved. However, it should be noted that the content is also important. Content builds perspective and gives the confidence to find solutions. Content is, of course, necessary for the process of learning how to learn but education should not be limited to acquiring this content.

Also, the education system must be wary that they do not focus on producing the so-called ‘perfect graduate’ because that will suppress individuality and stifle learners’ natural abilities, competencies and creativity. We need to understand that people are wired differently; the education system should be able to cater to all types and allow them to grow at their own pace. True education will occur when every child is afforded the opportunity to become self-aware, discover his/her authentic self with a unique set of passion, skills and inspirations, and actualize his/her potential.