Satish Kumar Teaches Sustainable Holistic Education
Published on: 12.06.2020
Soil Soul and Society is the holistic and inclusive trinity that expresses the spirit of Satish Kumar’s approach to connecting human societies with nature, more specifically with soil as he says that soil (humus) and human have the same root.
Satish Kumar, Indian British, is a former Jain monk, peace and environment activist, writer, and speaker. His speeches focus on social justice, spirituality, ecology, nature, consciousness, and holistic education among others.
In one of his speeches on Holistic education, he starts by saying that we have forgotten the meaning of the word education because children and students are treated by universities like empty vessels that need to be filled with information. Based on this way of thinking, education would end when people complete their studies.
But what is the meaning of the word education?
Kumar explains it referring to the Latin origin of the word Educare, which means to bring out what is in the child or student. But education is a life-long process that teaches people how to bring out what is in them.
Hence, Kumar uses a metaphor when saying that a student is not an empty bucket or vessel. The student is a seed and educators should act like gardeners. They need to provide the right conditions so the seed to develop into a tree. In a few words, the gardeners love the seed and care for it. Like a seed, every child or student has a particular potential that can develop if hopefully, they get some help from schools and universities.
On the other hand, he says that those who are born in tribal societies, maybe will not need schools and colleges because their whole natural world will be their book of nature.
But we are in a civilized world and teachers hopefully will help students to go on a journey and discover who they are.
Kumar highlights that education is a journey of self-realization, but the reality is different as the meaning of education has been reduced in obtaining a degree to qualify for the job market.
People are borne with amazing bodies with a brain, mind-heart, imagination, creativity, but people at universities are told that their bodies are tools to look after their heads. As teachers focus on teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic, the imagination, creativity, soul, heart, mind become irrelevant to education. This is the reason why Kumar, calls this type of education ‘a head education’.
He adds that in order to focus on holistic education, reading, writing, and arithmetic should be replaced with education the head, heart, and hands because they form relationships that are essential in life. People don’t live in their heads, they live in their relationships with humans and nature, Kumar says.
Moreover, he says that hands are a magical gift that together with our minds and hearts can transform things into beautiful things. People need to learn how to use their hand/heart/imagination skills, to get abilities that help them discover themselves and enjoy the art of living. Yet education does not help discover the artist’s potential that everyone has. On the contrary, it suppresses people’s minds with the idea that the only way they can succeed in life is through a good job.
Kumar also says that schools are filling people with knowledge, but depriving them of the experience. They teach about trees, forests, rivers, mountains with pictures and detailed information, but without giving the experience of being in a forest. Hence people just create an idea in their head but without filling it with their senses, it remains incomplete. Schools have turned nature into an object and developed fields of studies to exploit for human benefit.
Kumar’s advice is that if you are learning for wholly sustainable holistic education, you need to challenge the world view of conquering nature. This view should be replaced with the idea of living in partnership with nature and all the species on earth as the whole earth is our community.
This way people can learn and apply reciprocity with nature. Currently, we are not doing that as we use nature’s resources and what we give back is pollution, climate change, and global warming.
Thus education has to go out in nature and in the human community to create a livelihood or job, be self-reliant. Educational institutions should equip students with imagination, creativity, skills, ideas, heart, relationships that make them go out in the world and be happy.
If you’re not getting an education to enhance the world to make it peaceful and joyful, you’re not getting the right education, no matter how famous the university can be.
At the Entrepreneurship Campus, you can gain entrepreneurial training and learn how to become a sustainable entrepreneur. These skills can help go out in your community, to cope with major challenges that people are facing, and to make it more peaceful.