From Ego Education to Conscious Classrooms
When we change ourselves, we change everything.
The systems, structures and institutions that were designed for a world that denied its Spark are no longer fit for purpose. In this blog we’ll explore the shift from old models of education to new systems of schooling that honour the whole child.
What’s at the root of our problematic education systems, you ask, aside from the archaic practices, lack of clear purpose, and old-fashioned curricula? It’s that schooling is a system that has been conceived, designed, implemented and upheld by collective ego.
It may not be a surprise to learn that our world has been on a super-ego-trip for decades and it’s been significantly ramping up of late. Nearly all of our systems and structures have been created at least in part by ego, including our school systems. School has been created by ego, founded in a system of ego, and is producing young egos. Yikes.
Understanding the Ego
The ego is a largely misunderstood term, often equated with arrogance and selfishness, but is best described as our mind’s identification with form. It’s the attachments our mind makes to all the stuff it thinks it is and identifies with, from our political beliefs to our habits, personality, values and so on. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, it’s what makes us human in part, but when the mind becomes totally attached to those ideas to the extent that it will fight to uphold them, well then, we’ve got a problem. That’s what’s playing out right now, to varying degrees, as people judge, criticise, condemn, attack, battle for their viewpoints and so on. This is a world that has lost its awareness of who it truly is, beneath all the labels, beliefs and ‘stuff’.
A world consumed with ego creates in its image, and so we’ve seen the rise of corporations, institutions, governments, and broader systems that are more focused on the desires of the few rather than the needs of the many, all requiring humans to conform, produce, be standardised and so on, including our children.
The Ego at School
Ego education systems focus on the ‘I’ of the personality, ignoring the ‘we’ of our collective goals and the fact that we’re all interconnected – what affects one, affects all. When we focus on just ‘I’ and ‘me’ we end up pitting kids against one another, creating false beliefs about winning and losing, and huge pressures to succeed individually, and screw the rest of you.
Ego education systems focus on the mind’s identification with form, to create and enhance the mental image of ourselves, which means individuals obsessing about image, about exam results, qualifications, and weaving a personal narrative that says ‘I mean something because I have achieved X, Y and Z.’ Schools in themselves become a collective ego, strengthened and validated in the same way as the individual.
This typically looks and sounds like:
- Qualifications and results as measures of success – a way for the ego to validate itself
- Separation and other-ness by comparing and contrasting schools and children against one another (e.g. results boards and examinations)
- Superiority with a fight to be the ‘best’ in local, national and international league tables
- An inherent focus on externally-agreed measures of right and wrong; success and failure
- Externally-enforced reward and punishment for ‘good’ and ‘bad’ behaviour, using forms of fear and bribery to obtain consent and compliance
- Zero-tolerance policies for specific behaviours and actions (power-over children, rather than power-with)
- Control and predictability of the masses through rules, timetables, enforced order
- Image over substance – new buildings and equipment yet old curricula and modes of teaching
- Size as a measure of success and validation (e.g. the creation of super-schools over smaller, personal learning spaces)
- One size fits all – there is one right way of obtaining success (e.g. one standardised curriculum for an entire country of children)
- Deflection from meaningful self-reflection and from ‘being’ by constant focus on ‘doing’
- Hierarchical systems, with children being at the lowest end of the hierarchy in importance, authority, power and respect
It’s Time for a Conscious Education System
Unless schools and education systems are designed in consciousness and facilitated by people who understand and can set aside their ego when approaching the business of nurturing young hearts and minds, schools become yet another egoic structure, and children follow suit, developing hardened egos in order to cope.
Right now, kids, parents and teachers everywhere are crying out for something new. They don’t just want the system to be tweaked and tinkered with, they want to burn it to the ground and start from scratch.
What we’re beginning to realise is that our foundational beliefs about children and childhood may be wrong.
Kids are not empty vessels to be filled with knowledge.
Kids don’t need to be taught how to conform and toe the line.
Kids don’t want to engage in learning once in their early lives and never again.
Kids don’t want to be taught what to believe, they want to find their own meaning.
We need a new curriculum for life, a new model for schooling and a new, shared definition of the purpose of childhood.
Convinced? Get in touch to talk about bringing the principles of The Spark to your school, and discover how to start a Spark-inspired revolution in your classroom.
Hi, I'm Nikki
I created The Spark when I realised I’d lost touch with my own inner light, buried under years of over-work and overwhelm. After witnessing far too many children becoming smaller versions of themselves, shrinking back, disconnecting and becoming disillusioned, I’m on a mission to ignite my Spark to help children to find theirs, changing the way we nurture small humans into being.
What started as a journey of self-discovery is growing into a global movement to create a better childhood for all children and young people. Will you join me?
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