Like me, Americans understand the basic purpose of our educational system is to develop our youth.
The prevailing scholastic attitude says this is accomplished by developing their intellect, a singular focus that seeks to empower the individual with knowledge, college and jobs.
This intellect-is-all system turned academicians into a nobility and universities into modern-day palaces, where they measure success by how many students they can reject. The achievement process has placed students in mind boggling debt of $1.3 trillion-- to be made up in increased income.
However, only 40% of Americans achieve two- or four-year college degrees.
So how well is this system serving our democracy?
Does this singular emphasis actually warp our personal and national development? Surely it encourages ego control in our lives--unhealthy for us and for others.
Competition, not curiosity, is emphasized to develop intellect, and students are taught to compete against each other, not to learn how to work together. I wonder how much of today's conflicts and divisions stem from that emphasis.
Developing the intellect requires special preparation--only teachers can do it, with professors and PhDs, the crème de la crème. Significantly, this specialization freezes out our most powerful developers of humans: parents and families; our society has suffered from this neglect.
Further, this system is alien to America's problems of inequality, poverty, family dysfunction, division and other major concerns, which are an integral part of the lives of American youth.
Like most American kids, I didn't "get" school, and was finally dropped from the college track in high school. But the GI Bill of WWII gave me a prep school year and a summer school trial at Bowdoin College, where I barely squeaked by.
But as a teacher/coach, I finally combined my intellect with my understanding of kids, which led to my students' high SAT math achievement scores in my calculus classes.
But then I had a crisis of conscience when I realized all this achievement wasn't addressing the students' deeper potentials. Today, plenty of evidence clearly indicates the intellect is not the core to child development:
- A child cannot even think logically or abstractly until age 11.
- Neuroscience studies make us increasingly aware how powerfully our emotions connect to and can even control our minds.
Limitations of the intellect are not new:
- Aristotle: "Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all."
- Albert Einstein: "We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality. It cannot lead; it can only serve."
I founded Hyde School in 1966 to see what would happen if education's basic purpose was the development of our unique potential and character.
This produced a focus not just on our"Head," but on our "Heart" and "Soul" as well. Briefly, "Head' represents intellectual efforts to develop our best and our self-confidence; "Heart," symbolizes where others see our best in ways we do not: and "Soul" signifies where we are able to transcend our egos and listen to conscience, the compass of our destiny.
Heart (emotions) plays a central role in our self-discovery process, and our humility in trusting the help of others enables us to transcend our egos, opening us to deeper potentials in our subconscious: Soul-- like intuition, insight, serenity, love, conscience. Such qualities are vital in the development of our unique potential.
For the last 50 years, Hyde has been learning how to help individuals develop their "Head, Heart and Soul." Working with and helping improve parents and families--the primary teachers and primary classrooms--is central to this deeper process.
How is this process different from traditional education? When students, parents and teachers have a meeting to share our growth (called a "seminar,") several boxes of tissues are on the floor, because emotion is the more common language. For example, a student or adult might share a struggle or gratitude for receiving help.
This deeper process creates a synergy that encourages the expression of Soul and its amazing insights, intuitions and expressions of love and conscience.
Achievement? Hyde-Bronx, in a district where only 47% graduate from high school, over 90% of our graduates are accepted to college, producing a 50% college completion rate--5 times the national average for such communities.
Using a model like Hyde, Americans working together to add their Hearts and Souls to the best of our present system would truly create the American Dream.