I have been on a reading kick lately that has led me through more modern literature than I have ever read before. The past two years have been a watershed for me as a reader and professionally. Even as my reading has taken me deep into the “heart of darkness” my own life has met what I guess we all refer to as that “mid-life” crisis of seeking my vocation, of re-examining the foundations upon which I am to move forward. I won’t say it has been fun. It has not. But it has been worth the difficulty and tears. There is a refining process that is only found in the midst of fire. There is no “cool” way to go through it. And I am not done with it, and not sure if it will ever end, but I have been hesitant to share much of this darkness publicly such as on this blog. But there are some things that should be shared.
Education is about life. It is not a business. It is not about production. It must be brought to farming terms for it is about the forming of life. The industrial model of our day does not promote learning, education, or life. It churns out products, period. And yet most of my career in education has been reduced and evaluated by the industrial model of education. One friend, in commenting particularly on the money issue in education, said, “It’s like blood to the body. The body is not about blood, but boy you sure need it.” I think that sums up the issue of money, business, bottom line thinking in education well. Money is not why education exists. It cannot exist at least in its school form without it, but it does not exist to earn a profit of money. It exists to grow a soul.
This confusion of ends is much of the trouble we have not only in education but in the general living of life these days. There must be more to our existence than subsistence. In this election year there are so many promises, so much angst about “the way things are” and the desire to elect someone who will make it better. But at the heart of that is our appetites – what we want is what we will elect, always. And there may be the problem. We want the wrong things, perhaps. We are too easily pleased with the notion that a good education will get us into X college, or will provide us with a job of Y salary. We should want more. It should be about life, not just money.