Yesterday, I quoted Freedom to Learn, written by Carl Rogers and Jerome Freiberg. Rogers was probably the most influential psychologist of the last century, and Freiberg is an imminent, world class educator. Point: Better pay attention to their ideas if you come across them, and furthermore, you better have meticulous reasoning and research over the course of whole decades to refute them. Let me take it one controversial step further: if you are an educator at any level and ignore their concepts, you should reconsider your profession.
When Rogers says that “if schools remain as they are, the next generation of adults will need extensive assistance in finding meaning in their lives” (Rogers & Freiberg 291), I immediately know that an integral relationship exists between education and coming to know and live core Self — “finding meaning in their lives.” This clearly implies, and is stated so in the book, that school should have this idea of valuing self and the world as a primary goal, because, as the title of the book indicates, learning — true learning — does not occur without the freedom to know, be, and express self.
The authors focus on the “person-centered” model of not only education but also work and life dealings in general. As I wrote, an interrelatedness exists between all fields of life, and I likened this to the physics concept of a universal field theory in that each field of human experience affects the others; they are not independent. And the key to making it all work in a positive flow, the master formula in the analogy, is we must come to know our deepest core Self through hearing our hearts and then express that Self in relationship to the rest of this life and Universe — IF we wish to be and do the most basic of human desires: be happy.
The difference between a person-centered model of freedom in an organization of any kind, including life, and a hierarchical model is contrasted throughout Freedom to Learn. They are the contrast between heart and ego drives, viewpoints, filters, and motivations. Rogers and Freiberg relate the education model to the corporate world, which I also do in my novel The Fellowship of the Heart, and Rogers discusses the essence of the conflict between bureaucracies (school or corporate leadership) and the freedom of individuals in a case study from the manufacturing and corporate business world.
Over the course of nine years, a consultant who held to heart-driven relationships, beliefs — or as Rogers calls it, “person-centered” — designed an industrial workplace using this philosophy — incredibly, wildly successful with one identical item in the three person-centered plants costing twenty-two cents to produce compared to seventy cents in the three control plants. There was a “mutual regard” (a form of love) and “trust” that made these major impacts — just as I wrote about in reference to schools a few days ago. Even though the successes were noted and rewarded and publicized, the corporate bosses (leadership, oligarchy, whatever) would not shift any more of their plants to this philosophy. Mind you, philosophy, the motivating force and belief, drove actions and change.
Why wouldn’t upper management change? The bosses “realize[d] how much of their power they would have to give away…they [were] not willing to give up that power” (372). This illustrates the principle of ego over heart. Hoarding power = informal conspiracy = the drive of ego, even at the expense of the fulfillment of employees (or students) and profit (learning). The book goes on to state that “Administrators of educational institutions may place a higher value of power over people than on the enhancement of learning” (372). That ripples down to building administration to teachers to students and their relationships with one another, requiring “even greater control to sustain power from the top… and the need for control is so great that some schools become prison-like while others stifle all forms of creativity” (372).
I have already made this too much like an academic essay; however, I value the confirmation of my philosophy from the force of men like these. Nothing is more crucial, basic, and necessary for humans than to hear their hearts, choose core Self over ego, and live that self for personal fulfillment. Nothing. And education and schools should be leading the way in such an approach. The existing system has no unifying field; the heart unifies it all.
Freedom is the antithesis of what currently exists: “We must trust our feelings and risk…and give…all the freedom to learn” (375). Yes, education must be redefined to work for the good of humankind.
In the meantime, restart learning: hear your heart and learn what it means to live with purpose.
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!