Busyness, Control, and Learning
Shaun Kerry, M.D.
Diplomate, American Board
of Psychiatry and Neurology
Thomas Edison was one of the most
creative and productive people that the world has ever known. Yet
he never went to school. Why?
Children learn the mysteries of
language and a multitude of other things before the age of five, on
their own initiative. Why?
Almost everyone in America went
through a traditional school system. Yet if you ask the man on the
|about current events, you will usually get a mindless
Every person, from the moment of conception is
dealt a unique poker-hand-like personality that determines
how and what he will learn, and the kind of social contribution that he
will make, among other things. And this works extremely well until
the child gets into the traditional classroom. At that point, the
teacher says, in effect: "You will learn what I want you to learn, and
do the many assignments that I give you, and if you don't, you're going
to be in big trouble."
There are many problems here but three stand
out: 1) People, and males in particular, absolutely
detest being controlled. In my twenty years of experience as a
psychiatrist, patients have had three main complaints about parents and
teachers: control, abuse, and neglect. Students want to learn.
They don't want to be controlled.
2) Abuse is extremely common in schools,
particularly among men. Almost every school has its bullies
and scapegoats. Teachers often have their favorites and their
"bad" kids, who are targets of incessant humiliation.
3) Excessive assignments or "busywork"
is extremely damaging to mindfulness. Many students spend 70 hours or
more per week on assignments. In this kind of environment, the
brain has no opportunity to integrate the complex array of data that it
encounters, and the result is that the neural circuits become a tangled
|The essence of
meditation is to sit quietly in a place where there is no
distraction. Do you know that most people cannot do this?
The reason is that under these conditions, they come face-to-face with
the conflicts and disorganization that is in their minds, and become
If they stuck it out, there would be a sense of
confusion, which would be even more uncomfortable, but in
time this would clear, and there would be a deep inner peace. But
most people are unwilling to do this, and they are trapped in a rat-race
Without question, the mind needs an environment
without pressure, and time to peacefully reflect.
Contrast this with the common practice of students losing sleep in order
to study for exams.
We could say that Thomas Edison accomplished
his great achievements in spite of the fact that he didn't go
to school. Or, we could say that not going through a traditional
school gave him a big advantage.
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