Education as an Evolutionary Process: The Work of Steven Jones

 

Steven Jones:  President of Antioch College

Steven Jones: President of Antioch College

Western culture in its desire to control and dominate has created educational systems that are standardized and corporatized.   Education is a farce in terms of its epistemological roots. The term education is from the French educare, meaning to bring forth. True education is an evolutionary process of unfolding the potential that is within a person.

Instead, what education has become is a systemic means of indoctrination and dumbing down of a population made ready for consumerism and, to use the words of comedian George Carlin, to accept increasingly “shitier” jobs for lower wages and benefits.

Education as practiced in the mainstream is a farce.

Education can be scholarship oriented, familiarizing the brain with the knowledge and wisdom of the culture. It can be body oriented, developing the capabilities of the body through diet, exercise and lifestyle. It can also be mind oriented, in developing the capabilities of the mind to meditate, think through a problem, or learn to garden. These are all evolutionary processes.

Contrast this to the following American scene. Does this signify evolution to you? Or is it a stifling of evolution?

http://foodfacts.info/blog

How do we begin to change this distortion of education?

Huge task!

One person taking on this task is Steve Jones. Steve is the President of Antioch University of New England (AUNE) whose 10,000 graduate degree recipients since the school’s 1964 founding are working towards changing the world.

The primary thrust of education at Antioch is to achieve economic, environmental, and social justice.  Having devoted his professional and personal research, education, and passion to sustainability and environmental science, Steve addresses critical issues affecting today and tomorrow.

Steve puts it this way:

            Remarkably, AUNE’s focus, disciplinary orientation, and aspirational vision align perfectly with my own personal and professional passions… AUNE is like no other university on the planet—a pre-eminent university for educating visionary, pragmatic leaders for a changing world.  It’s an institution embedded in the venerable Antioch University system—one powerfully integrated university.  And it’s a university that melds theory and practice, emphasizing our individual and collective obligation to seek a better tomorrow through social, economic, and environmental justice.

Wow! “Educating visionary, pragmatic leaders for a changing world.” Are the children in the above cartoons being groomed to be visionaries? Or are they being groomed for a “line up, shut up and do as your told” world inherent in the corporate empire.

I made my first revolutionary comment on the status quo of the educational process when I was in second grade. I threw up on my teacher who was badgering me to conform. That probably isn’t the way to change the process, but it was the best my body, mind, and spirit could come up with at the time. I am very grateful to have learned more on the subject of education since then—not in the classroom but in the school of life and independent research.

Perhaps we can send our young adults to Antioch! That may not be feasible, and it may be too late for most students. So, lets take a close look at Antioch and create a community based educational system that focuses on bringing forth the potential within each person.

There is another way. Steve explains that educators for the 21st Century need to be:

            Motivated by enabling employees, students, and citizens to make better-informed decisions; a more sustainable business and societal future; inspiring, educating, and developing future leaders; and encouraging others to understand, appreciate, and commit to responsible earth and natural resource stewardship and use.

To be truly visionary educators, we probably shouldn’t throw up on the “Powers-that-Be.” We need to guide people—the old and powerful as well as the young and powerless—into the evolutionary process. We must help folks bring forth the best that is within them.

In the Christian Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says, “If you bring forth that which is within you; then that which is within you will save you. If you do not bring forth that which is within you; then that which is within you will kill you.” That which is within us is our evolutionary potential. Once we bring it forth, Jesus, one of the greatest teachers of all time, said regarding His miracles: “Ye shall do greater works than these.” Now there is a promise we should fulfill!

Our task, as students, is “to do greater works than these.” Our task is NOT to sit on hard benches listening to a man standing on stage, behind a lectern or pulpit, at the head of a conference table, or in the Oval Office. No, our job is to foster evolution within ourselves and in others. We need not attend to the false wizard behind the curtain! We need to recognize the Man up front is simply a puppet on a string!

Steven offers his assistance to those of us intent on doing the great work of evolving minds, suggesting that we contact him at sjones10@antioch.edu .

Steven, in my opinion, is where we all need to be. True educator don’t have to be Christian to be there. They don’t have to do or be anything at all. If they demonstrate through story, action, and example and encourage good work in others, they are great educators. Belonging to a Church or some other dogma-saturated practice doesn’t cut it. What cuts it is the fostering of the Creative Process.

Steven furthermore lives the message of Goethe who said, “Give them the stone of Sophia and you’ll find philosophy gone. And, what’s left? The Stone!

Philosophy, as currently practiced, is all talk. Who wants a lover (the Philo of philosophy) who is all talk? What we refer to as philosophy is about theories, theologies and all kinds of “isms”. Our freedom of thought; however, is going to come about via letting go of isms. Isms are B.S. Talk is cheap. It is only in letting go of head-based, textbook philosophy that we will unfold our true evolutionary potential.

When we become lovers of Wisdom, academic philosophy dies for the sake of Philo-Sophia. And, this is exactly what Steven is doing. The unfolding of evolutionary potential is “fathered” through the brilliance of people like Steven. He’s definitely not conventional, thank God! If he were, he would not be challenging us to evolve.

To listen to an Envision This! Interview with Steven; go to:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/envision-this/2014/06/13/responsible-earth-and-natural-resource-stewardship-steve-jones-aune-president

The website for Antioch is:

http://www.antiochne.edu/aboutane/mission/

 

 

 

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