“The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence.” – Rabindranath Tagore


How many schools do you know who adopt the above? With education systems seemingly focussed solely on academic achievement and IQ factors, schools appear either unwilling to, or incapable of, preparing kids for life. Perhaps it’s both, because the principle of ‘teaching to the test’, which has become the norm, isn’t the same as ‘creating learning space for life’!

My school at least tried, its motto being, “Non solum ingenii verum etiam virtutis”, taken from the writings of Cicero and referring to the building of, “Not only the intellect but also the character”. We were, by and large, encouraged to explore ourselves in the context of a sense of belonging and contribution, rather than how many qualifications we achieved.

Noble sentiment, but the introduction of league tables and a shift to Academy status means that even that sentiment appears to be lost now in a sea of success based on grades!

So, what to do? Perhaps a greater emphasis on, for example, the practical application of a language in a creative and expressive sense, rather than being accurate or passing any tests. This in itself can help boost confidence and thus build character, maybe inspiring the next Nobel Peace Prize winner, or setting someone along the way of being a great philanthropist! We just don’t know. And that’s part of the thrill.

Building character in young people is important; after all, they inherit what we leave behind and they create what happens next – and when it comes to cleaning the planet, wow, have we left them a mess! And it’s the generation behind ours that is driving what remains of a desire for the benefit of humankind as a collective – all 7.7 billion of us and rising……

They should not be restricted by narrow, academic criteria – rather, they should be further encouraged to grow holistically – and then we should follow their example.

What can you do today that contributes to aligning that which you have been educated in academically to that which you can learn societally? (Yes, by the way, that really is a word!)

Love and light,

Jim Sharman



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