How Learning can Prepare You for A Successful Career, Provided You Learn the Right Way
My grandmother wanted me to have an education, so kept me out of school.
— Margaret Mead
School vs. Learning
The Grammar School Nonsense
Learning and Career
Points to Ponder
Most of us were taught that learning is absorbing knowledge. Only a few have absorbed the knowledge that learning is more of a process of how-to-absorb, rather than absorbing itself. The good learner, then, is the one who knows the how-to of learning. And the good teacher is the one who knows the how-to of teaching.
At the university level, we of course need lecturers, because at that level we should have learnt how to absorb lectures. The how-to of learning is unfortunately left to the basic school system. And there it is in bad hands. Learning innovations are generally not the outcome of the school system but rather the result of professional training, coaching, and management schools.
In the past we went to school once for a lifetime whereas today learning is programmed into our whole life cycle. Therefore it is so important to learn how to learn fast, effectively, and joyfully! Clearly, if we want to come back to something over and over, we need to experience pleasure doing it, and that is what learning traditionally really never seemed to be, pleasure. But ask the highly evolved scholar, as the famous writer, ask the successful entrepreneur, ask the artist of world renown: they will all tell you that learning is for them sheer pleasure, and a challenge to grow.
Once we grasp the truth that learning is made for our pleasure and not for our torture we are open to accept change in our learning habits.
It begins with questioning the effectiveness of our former learning methods. Sometimes we are motivated by a particular teacher or the mentality of a particular school. But at the end of the day, we might want to change the teacher or the school — all schools. The learner is in us. It is inside and not in any teacher, school or system. We cannot change our brain but we can use it more effectively so that the results we get with learning, memorizing and realizing things are enhanced.
I learnt this truth when I was confronted with my baccalaureate. This was something of a shock after eight years of hanging around in a high school that bored me and where, lacking stimulation, I was dreaming my days through.
Not that I was stupid in school, but I had been absent almost all the time; not physically absent but mentally, emotionally. I felt that the world I was living in was strangely different from the world those teachers and those other students were living in. I just felt different, and they felt it too, and let me feel my difference.
I guess it is not helpful for career if others make you feel disintegrated or marginal. However, in a certain way it is an advantage. You mature more quickly. Since you do not trust or believe your outside world, you begin to develop more trust and belief in yourself, in your intuition, your inner world, your creative intelligence.
And I really needed that trust then, because I was far behind in some subjects. Yet despite all, I wanted to succeed above average in my diploma. However, there was nobody to teach me what fast learning was about. I had left the boarding one year earlier and thus went home every day after classes, eighty miles to ride every day. I thought I better use the time creatively, and the car’s tape player.
Thus I prepared tapes for English and French vocabulary, and Latin grammar. However, it was dreadful to prepare these tapes because at that time I hated my voice, probably because I did not love myself. But it was good to notice that as I took a firm decision, then, I was able to change that condition later on. So I listened to those tapes while driving to school and back. No, I think the secret is that I did not listen to them. I let them play while daydreaming. I did not consciously listen. At the time, this was the result of my laziness, yet it was to my benefit. I did not know that it was exactly this method that makes for maximum results!
I passed the baccalaureate so brilliantly that some of my teachers looked at me angrily and said I had fooled them for years! They could not believe it, yet the results were there. The creative writing I had submitted for the German examination was recited by our German teacher in front of the whole school…
I was glad. I had made it, and without their support, their school, their teachers. Simply by trusting my joyful inner learner.
School vs. Learning
How I hated this school, and what a life of anxiety I lived there for more than two years. I counted the days and the hours to the end of every term, when I should return home from this hateful servitude.
— Winston Churchill
I guess for most of us school was pressure and fear. The only difference between creative and uncreative people is that the latter take ineffective learning for granted. Creative learners either change the system or drop out of it.
Research in the United States showed that a high percentage of the young is illiterate! And this despite a sophisticated and expensive school system. Most college graduates, although studying languages for years, are unable to lead a simple conversation in the languages they major in.
Why? Because our mainstream learning methods are not among the most effective. In the 1960s, we had Superlearning coming from Bulgaria to the States and then the rest of the world. Dr. Lozanov’s Suggestopedia, as he named it originally, seems to be in alignment with natural laws and the way our brain functions.
It shows how to combine conscious and unconscious memory so that we learn and memorize with our whole brain.
Using music, our right-brain capacities are enhanced in Superlearning, and the learning stuff is absorbed by little chunks that are written into our long-term memory. The chunks are patterns, and the whole approach could be called a patterned learning approach.
How can this be done? How can we realize virtually unlimited learning ability? The answer is, by learning patterns, not singular elements. The brain learns patterns by using both brain hemispheres simultaneously engaged.
Most of us are so used to the fact that we only use a fraction of our potential that they do not inquire further. In fact, we use in our culture most of the time only the left side of our brain, our so-called left brain hemisphere. We try to cope with progress and challenge using our conscious mind, our ratio, the intellectual mind, disregarding the incredible potential of both our subconscious and our associative mind, which is located in our right brain hemisphere!
It is not by chance that our brain consists of two hemispheres. The right hemisphere coordinates rather than analyses, and when it assists the left brain hemisphere in the learning process, a holistic understanding of the learning content is brought about. The right hemisphere functions in an inductive and associative manner. It does not, like the left hemisphere, memorize abstract concepts but the images associated with those concepts.
Since a concept does not per se have an image connected to it, it is useful to make up images about all we learn. The more vivid our imagination, the better we memorize! Simply because imagination and visual thinking gets the right brain involved in the learning process.
Every poet knows that images, symbols and metaphors can convey much more information in much less time than strictly verbal transmission. Therefore true poetry is acrobatics; it achieves the impossible, by expressing what cannot be expressed. It puts in words what is rather of an imagery quality and beyond words.
Dr. Lozanov and creative thinkers like him are the true poets of our times. Their poetry brings revolution in evolution! They have changed the world with their strong belief in our unlimited potential. Through his research Dr. Lozanov found that our passive learning capacity is about five times higher than our active learning faculties. Our passive vocabulary in every language is five times as high as our active vocabulary. This means that we understand five times more than we are able to express.
It is funny because the negative thinkers conclude from this fact that our brain suffered from an innate deficiency when learning languages. In reality, this very feature of our memory surface is a true advantage. It namely ensures the fundamental understanding of a foreign language long before we are able to speak it.
In fact, this characteristic of our memory interface enables us to learn passively, that is to say almost without effort. We learned as children our mother tongue without studying grammar, didn’t we? Children pick up foreign languages while adults try to translate them into the structures of their mother tongue. However, this latter procedure, while it is used by the majority of people, is highly ineffective and inappropriate. It prolongs the learning process and is responsible for the accent we bring into the foreign languages we speak. Dr. Lozanov’s method, by contrast, has been seen to produce native speakers. Learners speak foreign languages without any accent, like native speakers, simply because they have absorbed the language by patterns.
Before I go in more detail about highly effective learning, let me first glimpse on the subject of learning from a more global perspective. I am conscious that I am not dealing with reforming existing patterns, but with nothing less but a revolution in education. This revolution has since long been prepared. Great thinkers and teachers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Locke, Maria Montessori or Alexander S. Neill have prepared the shift which is now taking place all over the world. This is not a shift in styles or methods or ways to perform, but a real paradigm shift.
The old paradigm holds that learning is an unpleasant and mechanical activity that is a necessary but unavoidable sacrifice on the way to higher achievement. The new paradigm holds that learning is an essential ingredient of life, a part of the human nature and naturally as pleasurable as breathing, playing, eating or taking a hot shower.
It further holds that unpleasant learning is the result of ignorance and a deep mistrust in the human potential if not a form of violence originating from one or the other pleasure-denying ideology. The old paradigm favored oligarchic systems of power, based upon the ignorance of the masses, while the new paradigm strives for effective and nurturing forms of learning as the very foundations of democracy!
The new paradigm associates learning with creative living and, as such, as a part of human dignity. The paradigm shift in learning stresses human values such as respect for the individual’s natural learning faculties and intuition. It has given rise to a higher value of personal choices and preferences.
The paradigm shift in learning deeply affects modern society, which is currently evolving into a global learning society with a high esteem for the individual’s learning capacities and choices. Hundreds or even thousands of new ways of learning are presently being born all over the world, and the common denominator among them is diversification of the learning process.
The media, and even good old television are going through a deep identity crisis and a transformation that will get them ready to cope with the enormous need for more and better education on a mass-scale level.
In a globally networked and value-based consumer culture, we need to learn constantly, effectively and joyfully. Many of us, and among them the highly gifted ones, practice this already now and probably since their childhood.
The impact learning has on our creativity is not to underestimate. To be creative and not to learn is sheer impossible! Creativity and learning go hand in hand. I would go as far as advising everyone who complains about lack of creativity to simply start learning something new and then begin with practicing this new learning. As a result, creativity will bloom up, and not only in the particular field you have chosen to learn about. It will be a general creativity and can affect areas of your life that you considered dull and stagnant. More generally we can say that every learning experience rejuvenates us from the deepest of our bones.
Expenses are currently reducing on a large scale and the one who still invests a fortune in getting a master’s degree or diploma will tomorrow be considered a fool! Learning will be tightly interwoven with daily life, and it will be for the most part electronic. It will on a lesser scale be left to professional teachers to teach, as the culture will provide virtually everybody the opportunity to share information and thus become a public teacher.
From such information distribution, income will be created and this in a more diversified manner. Since the individual will not have much to pay to get information, the per-client profit of information providers will be relatively small, yet the great mass of potential clients networked within the global learning structure will do for great profits!
The areas where new learning is required are as large as our whole scale of interests. We will have to master about a dozen languages fluently if we want to cope with the global marketplace, and this can be achieved once learning is felt as pleasure and as an essential enrichment of life.
By playing with knowledge, we overcome learning barriers that result from negative past experiences. Learning by playing helps thus to overcome past learning frustrations because learning will be such a tremendously new and energizing experience that we do no longer associate it with the old frustrating patterns that damaged our self-esteem. Naturally learning really is pleasurable since it reflects to us our unlimited potential, and because it empowers us and boosts our self-esteem.
The learning barriers many of us have are not in our nature and certainly not, as some misanthropes say, in the human nature. They are but conditioned responses to inhuman learning experiences! Love for learning actually is similar to love for life.
Children learn by play. They learn language by absorbing language and by playing around with words and phrases that they have already captured.
The way children learn languages can be compared with a scanner. A scanner transforms pictures or writing in electronic signals that the computer can identify and retransform into pictures.
Children indeed scan the language they are exposed to on a daily basis, with all its complex grammatical structure, intonation, syntax, and vocabulary, and they memorize these whole patterns, not just single elements such as words. They never learn isolated words and phrases, nor any grammar, as most of us traditionally did. Rather do they absorb language within a context, a frame of reference, which is a patterned structure. This is the secret.
This context, this patterned frame of reference in which we learn, is responsible for a much higher learning input. The more our brain can associate new knowledge with existing or contextual knowledge, the more easily it can store it away in long-term memory. This has to do with the neurological fact of preferred pathways in our brain. That is why mental pictures help tremendously in memorizing language or any other kind of learning material.
Another factor is that children never are in a learning environment specifically designed for them. This is a major advantage! It means that they are every day bombarded with new words, and that they are, technically speaking, exposed to a much higher input compared to the actual output they are able to produce.
Traditional learning completely disregards our passive learning capacities; it starts from the wrong assumption that learning must always be an active process! And that it must be hard and painful to get learning results. This assumption is disproved by holistic learning that engages our full potential and that thus activates our full memorization capacities.
Superlearning techniques are natural since they are based on the way our brain functions when it functions as a whole brain. They recognize that we can learn passively, just as we did as children, by absorbing the whole of the learning stuff, using our unconscious as a major reception antenna.
These modern learning techniques are not only much more effective and pleasurable, they are also healthier since stress is reduced on a major scale and frustrations are reduced to a minimum.
We speak of playful children. Nobody has yet spoken of playful learning. Playful learning is however something that really makes sense. Who ever met a genius knows what I am talking about. Geniuses are playful learners! They have never left childhood. Not that they remain immature, but they voluntarily keep their playful attitude in learning because they have preserved the most precious we have, the inner child. Geniuses like to play, with thoughts, with images, with strategies, with concepts, with patterns, with theories, and some also with people or countries, or with life as a whole. In a way life is a game and can be considered as a context where nature plays a game with herself, where creatures play games with each other, in order to survive, but also in order to have fun! What we need is positive stimulation in order to learn effectively.
Learning brings more results once it is done in a way that is fun, that feels good, that is lively, that motivates us without frustration.
Traditional learning is basically centered upon sweat and potatoes. It is based on life-denying beliefs such as life is a hard job or life on earth is a sacrifice for later heaven, and similar nonsense. Therefore traditional learning has bred pressure and fear and got many people to become non-learners who were enthusiastic learners as long as they were innocent. It has built hero philosophies, which pretend that only some people are winners and that all the rest will become losers. And this rest are we.
The hero cult has deeply affected our self-esteem in the most negative way. Many people were crippled by traditional education to a point to be unable to pursue life in a naturally pleasurable manner, and they turned foul and bitter. However, life has not born us to torture ourselves. Our brain is not a stubborn old donkey that has to be beaten in order to run in high gear. It has only to be motivated to learn and it will learn — and frantically!
Learning is an essential part of a human life. Life recognizes the enormous potential we got as human beings and tries to activate this potential through effective and joyful learning. In fact, most of us never learnt to learn, and in school, then, unlearnt the little what life, or the street taught them about this important subject. All the virtues that are connected to understanding the learning process are bluntly disregarded in the traditional educational culture. The first and foremost of those original virtues is flexibility. Instead of teaching us flexibility, school taught us rigidity.
Flexibility is the highest virtue because life itself is unendingly flexible and yielding. Survival is right that, the ability to flexibly adapt to any new situation or environment. The dinosaurs disappeared because they could not adapt to climatic changes. And many people today are jobless because they are at pains with anticipating structural changes in the world economy or unable to cleanse their mind of outdated knowledge. Relying on what you have learnt in school is not only silly but dangerous for your professional career. Among all what makes a modern society, the primary school system is the end where we are still with one leg in the dark ages.
More and more structural transformations change the world presently and we all know that in only ten years from now the world will be more different than a hundred years ago compared to now. The acceleration of development on both an individual and a collective level is a fact of life that even non-intellectuals today are beginning to face.
We cannot rely on school systems that teach stuff instead of teaching learning skills. And we cannot rely on governments since the broad majority among them follow outdated paradigms and even fascist ideologies instead of democratic growth-fostering paradigms. Often, because badly needed reforms are postponed, huge unemployment and misery are the result. And in addition, because of insufficient knowledge about how to learn, masses of people are generally maladjusted in a world that is developing far beyond the concepts traditional education was based upon.
Needless to say that all this is a bad mix and potential root of upheaval and social unrest. There is an urgent need for groups of enlightened individuals to take responsible control of the media so as to spread information about the following topics:
- The unlimited and divine nature of the human soul;
- The unlimited range and power of our human potential;
- The most effective forms of learning and self-study;
- The art of learning-how-to-learn;
- The art of peaceful and joyful living;
- The art of holistic problem solving;
- The philosophy of the information age;
- and related subjects.
Learning-how-to-learn is philosophy in the original sense of the word. Philos originates from the Greek philein, to love, and sophia, wisdom. Philosophy thus is the love of wisdom, and truly the original source of motivation to study intriguing phenomena such as learning.
Why do some people remember almost everything they ever heard or saw, while others, perhaps the majority, have rather bad memory capacity? I am convinced that the answer to this very old question is simple.
The first group of people have learnt how to learn, the second are too much centered upon what to learn instead of realizing the primary importance of the learning process. If the process of learning was not felt as a pleasure and an adventure for growth, the result of learning will always be poor. I had a colleague at law school who was gifted with a phenomenal memory. He told the professors right away when they made a mistake, citing by memory from voluminous commentaries, indicating page number and exact location of the quote on the page. When I asked him where he got his extraordinary talent from, he replied, smiling:
— Oh, that’s very easy. I just visualize everything I want to learn. I look at the page one moment with high concentration, very intensely, and thus photograph the page into my memory. It’s just like scanning the page — and that’s it. Like that I scan whole books, law texts, commentaries, everything I want.
Needless to add that this lad was the best of our law class, if not of the whole university. In addition, he was blessed being from one of the finest families in town. He drove to the law school in an old classic Mercedes 500 Roadster, but despite his extraordinary gifts and his royal-class family life, he was one of the most modest and friendly people I’ve met in my young life.
This example may raise your awareness to the importance of memory. Usually we are not conscious of how important it is to have good memory. You may say that good memory serves to keep track with phone numbers, birthdays and faces. But it’s much more than that and it’s much more basic, too.
Good memory is not all in life but it facilitates life tremendously. We should not underestimate it in the daily running of our business or in whatever we do. People who cannot remember faces live through many awkward situations and their relational life is deeply affected by their incapacity to keep in mind the features of another person.
Whatever the deeper psychological reasons for this strange inability may be, there is no doubt that people who easily remember others give the impression to be more open, more friendly, more accessible and competent, if not more social and communicative. However, as important as memory is, it is only one element in the learning process, which is concerned with the know-how of storing pertinent information. The most important word in this sentence is pertinent. Why do we forget certain things and not certain other things? Do we forget at all? In fact, the truth is that we don’t forget anything. Research has shown that our unconscious knows exactly how many steps we go to get to their office, and back home.
Why not consciously? The reason is obvious, we would be submerged with information. The information is all the time present in the memory surface, but it’s hidden away from conscious awareness. You can imagine this as some sort of backup tape where you have more data stored than on your hard disc, data that you archived because it could be important one day, or that you need to keep for other reasons, but data that you do not need to have on your active hard drive.
Now, there are people who, by nature, have got such an extraordinary conscious memory surface that they virtually can’t forget anything. The famous pianist Svjatoslav Richter was one of them.
Even in old age, he knew sixty-three complete concert recitals by heart, which means about two hundred hours of uninterrupted music, note by note, including the fingerings, the tempi, the dynamics and other details important for brilliant piano play. In some interviews shortly before he died, he said he could remember events and people from his childhood, and their long Russian names, as clearly as he had seen them the day before. He admitted actually in this interview that he was suffering all his life from his unnatural incapacity to forget.
What is it that makes good memory? Is it perhaps motivation? Is it involvement? Or is it even something like a playful attitude toward learning in general? Or is it direct perception, or else a combination of various factors in play? Excellent learning certainly is based upon strong learning motivation, high degree of involvement and, as research has shown, a playful attitude toward learning in general, as well as high curiosity. Direct perception is the faculty to achieve results without involving analysis or theory.
It is the use of intuition and spontaneity to perceiving reality in a non-mental as well as a non-judgmental way. The secret about the amazing speed of early childhood learning is immediate perception. Small children learn directly, holistically, by absorbing the whole of the experience and importantly so, without judging and without the past getting involved in the learning process.
The past gets in the way through thought. Thought which is the derivative of past experience and its projection into the present moment, blocks learning instead of enhancing it. Thought generally is concerned with the use or the usefulness of some endeavor or activity. Those worries keep us from being completely absorbed by the learning experience.
It is irrelevant if the specific content of what we are learning is useful. What we learn with learning is learning itself! Even if we forget the content of what we have learned, if we have learnt the right way, that is, through direct perception, the fruit of the learning process will be there: we will have enriched our learning-how-to-learn experience. And this, by itself, is worth any kind of learning. Motivation is the door and it is the guide to highly effective learning. We can reach such insight only through understanding learning as a holistic experience.
The traditional approach to learning is reductionist in that it deprives learning of a whole lot of its implicit and contextual content. There is a broadening of our intelligence in every single learning experience. Even if the learning content is irrelevant or becomes futile later on, if we have passed through the experience with enthusiasm and have been immersed in it, there is something like a subtle essence that positively touched our human potential. This is valid not only for single learning experiences but, more in general, for learning systems or methods.
On the other hand, it is typical in our days to overestimate the effectiveness of electronic media for learning. Today’s enthusiasm for electronic learning is probably a natural outcome of our moving into the information age and our almost child-like joy to indulge in those exciting new media features.
I am not different in that and was from the start a fervent prophet of the New Age of Information. However, we should not forget in our i-fever that the computer does not change our thinking habits; it’s our brain that created the computer, and not the computer that created our brain. It is through studying our brain and our natural ways to handle information, and not through imitating the very incomplete way how computers deal with information that we progress in understanding fast and effective learning for ourselves and our children.
The Grammar School Nonsense
It is nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wreak and ruin. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.
— Albert Einstein
Traditionally, teaching languages was teaching a grammar. Until now in English the term Grammar School is used for a basic, elementary school. Just recall what you learned about grammar in school and then evaluate how well you could speak a foreign language with this grammar knowledge only. I guess, zero percent! We do simply not learn languages by gathering knowledge about grammar. This is a fact that has specific psychological and neurological reasons, which are in the meantime also scientifically corroborated.
Our brain does not need grammar to learn a foreign language, but something totally different! But despite this knowledge we go on to teach children the grammar nonsense and let them lose their time with mechanical and highly boring activities!
And then we wonder why they feel bored and want to break out! They should break out because this proves that their creative impulse is strong enough to survive the prison of routines in which we want to incarcerate them.
I already mentioned Dr. Lozanov who found that we learn better when our brain functions in the so-called alpha state. The alpha state is the state in between wake and sleep. In this state of consciousness, our left and right brain hemispheres function in synch, thus ensuring the full potential of creative possibilities we dispose of. In our waking state, by contrast, our brain functions on beta waves, and most of the time invoking the left-brain hemisphere, enabling us to straightforward, logical and so-called rational thought, to the detriment of our intuitive, receptive and truly creative possibilities.
It can be said that the whole of modern Western culture is based on a predominance of our left brain hemisphere! Logically then, within this reductionist system, it was upheld that language learning meant the study of grammar.
But times have changed. Today, not only with Superlearning have we got a method that is revolutionizing learning since it is devoid of any conscious effort to learn. There are nowadays other methods around that are perhaps less sophisticated, but also much less expensive, among them, for example, the Assimil method. This method, like Superlearning, is based upon the fact that our brain picks up whole patterns, and this including the grammar structure of the language. That is why Assimil does not teach any grammar and yet is one of the most effective modern language teachings worldwide. And in addition it’s highly affordable!
But Dr. Lozanov did not only revolutionize language teaching. After he was already a famous psychiatrist and parapsychologist in his home country Bulgaria, Lozanov went to India in order to study the astonishing psychic capacities of Yogis. At the same time, the Russian scientist Alexander Luria spent decades to study Venjamin, a man who remembers all, and found his memory capacities unlimited. Venjamin never forgot anything and could even remember the setup of the dishes and the flowers on a table of an afternoon tea forty years back in time. Dr. Lozanov knew Luria’s writings and found similar phenomena among the Yogis in Bulgaria and India. Some of them had an almost total photographic memory.
What Lozanov did, then, was to combine his research on language teaching with what we know about the functioning of the human memory. And here we have a method that is, despite all similarities with Assimil, very different and unique. While Assimil and most of the newer programs for language learning are made for self-teaching, Superlearning cannot be applied that way, and some people who have tried to transform it into a self-study method failed.
The original Superlearning technique needs a specially trained instructor. This teacher must have qualities of an actor or conférencier. Students are in armchairs and enveloped by soft string sounds, by preference Baroque airs. The teacher, standing in front of the audience, recites long texts in the foreign language. The tone of his voice alternates. One moment he shouts, then he whispers, then he talks normally. The rhythm of his speech is exactly in synch with the rhythm of the music, which in turn is in synch with the breathing rhythm of the learners.
The results are nothing short of astounding! People learn difficult languages such as Russian or Chinese in two or three months; children learn to read and write in no more than six months — and this with an almost total perfection. The foreign languages are pronounced without accent and written in exact orthography and this despite the fact that no grammar is ever taught.
Dr. Lozanov holds that our brain, our subconscious mind, knows all grammars of all languages, and therefore picks them out of the spoken phrases, which are listened to in the alpha state. His theory must be right since the results show that all tested students of his programs knew the grammar of the foreign language — without ever having studied it.
The reason why the speaker alternates the volume of his voice has to do with the reception capacity of our brain. First of all, our subconscious mind picks up what is underlying in a mixture of different sounds, and not what is dominant.
At the beginning of the sessions, Dr. Lozanov puts specially chosen music to help his audience to relax. The airs and andante are adjusted in tempo so that they fit exactly our natural heartbeat which is around 62 beats per minute, thus relaxing those who are nervous (heartbeat too quick) and stimulating those others who are apathetic and unmotivated (heartbeat too slow). Later Dr. Lozanov found another important function of the music: its transmitter function. The music was seen to serve as a transmitter for the spoken texts. As the phrases were spoken in exact accordance with the tempo of the music, the music in a way became a transmitter for the foreign language reach the subconscious mind of the listeners.
From Bulgaria, Dr. Lozanov’s spread very quickly, first of all to the United States, and from there back to Europe and all high-tech nations. The essential new discovery, however, penetrated only into very few societies. It has, to my knowledge, not yet reached the level of public education where the pupils still sit on hard benches, with a crushed stomach, and are pumped up with grammar knowledge, leaving their classes with a feeling of having done ‘hard work’.
Hard work indeed, but work without significant results.
Dr. Lozanov’s findings are just a beginning for us, today. The great psychiatrist was for us a pioneer and we have to continue the research that he so brilliantly begun. In our era of mass culture, the struggle for every single youngster to succeed in the rat-race is harder than ever before. On the other hand, the challenge to reach more satisfying lifestyles and careers, more satisfying in creative realization, is today present in all societies that have reached a certain level of technological progress and a basic level of democratic freedom!
There is not one process of creativity, there are many. They are interwoven in a complex network of brain functions, on one hand, and behavioral attitudes, on the other.
The study of education therefore is very large. It is the study of man as a whole, and of his culture. Our research must have a theoretical basis as well as a practical dimension. Without theory, our experiments will not explain us why things develop in a certain way and not in a certain other way and without practice our hypotheses remain unproven.
Theoretical work means the review of the abundant and rapidly growing literature on the subject of creativity research in order to find out the state of the art in this field, to see what is admitted in the meantime and what has still to be proven. It equally encompasses the working out of new hypotheses, even if they in turn revolutionize our findings from yesterday. Progress has become rapid all over the globe and the human development takes big steps in new directions. Faster, more effective and more relaxed learning is only one of them, but a very important one!
Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone.
— John F. Kennedy
All learning is a process. When we focus upon the process of learning we learn about learning. What we did traditionally was to focus upon the learning content. Thus, we can say that in the past learning was considered as something rather static and mechanical while today we see learning as a dynamic process and something ongoing, organic and that is somehow part of life.
This process of learning, if we are to understand it intelligently, must be seen in alignment with our totality of perception. Learning is the way we deal with what we perceive, and it is all about how we process the information that has been collected by our brain, but not only our brain, through a rather complicated process that we call perception. Thus, when we want to find out about the process of learning, we need to look what perception is and how it works.
Perception, it seems, is a subject not very broadly discussed in modern science. This obvious neglect of scientific in-depth study of the holistic process of perception has various reasons, one of them being the general focus of modern science upon information processing.
There was a historic shift around the end of Antiquity that led to a trend away from direct perception and toward information processing, archiving or mere information reproduction. And yet, direct perception is our natural and most spontaneously intelligent mode of perception. It is the way our brain receives and stores information. New research has fully corroborated the teachings of the old sages who affirmed that learning has to be holistic and whole-brain in order to be truly effective. We can only wonder when we hear scientists state that generally we use only between about five to eight percent of our brain.
Why are we so terribly uncreative, so utterly ineffective in our learning performance? Despite this whole process called civilization, despite school, despite the printing press, Gutenberg and all the rest of it, we have remained in a truly primitive state of evolution regarding learning.
I am not really concerned with finding out about the causes or reasons for this terrible waste of human potential, but with the possibilities to take action here and now to change this state of affairs. Changing the world comes about through individual changes. Once a sufficient number of individuals quantum leaped to a higher evolutionary scale, there will be a major paradigm shift in the whole system. This is how civilization develops about; it all begins in the cell and then expands to still bigger patterns.
Nature is programmed in a system of patterns that are holistically related to each other and where the information of the whole is contained in every single cell of the pattern. The pattern structure is typical for the information the brain receives and stores information. New information is added on to existing information. Without such connections which in neurology are called preferred pathways, memory is not possible. The better the brain can manage to associate new input with already stored patterns, the better the information storage will be, and the higher will be the memorization result.
Our brain does this whole process of perception and information storage automatically, passively, without a need for us to set a decision about it. This fact is important for the understanding of the functioning of the brain. There is namely a positive side and a negative side about it. Positively, the passively organizing perception structure of the brain insures that we continuously receive and store information, at any moment of the day and the night. Also during sleep and even in deep coma all the information from the five senses is stored in the unconscious memory surface. So the apparently passive functioning of the brain is actually an extremely active process. The important point about it is that the organizer of the information is inside and not outside of the system.
To give an example, let us have a look at two groups of children. The first group is raised freely so that they can pick up any information from their environment and grow, from the information they get, into what they are destined for. The second group, however, is strictly regulated, protected and guarded off from unprocessed information.
Which group, would you think, will be more intelligent and more creative, the first or the second one? Of course the first one. Simply because in their case the freely organizing and unhindered system of their perception and the free flow of information, combined with high input, made that their brains were working in high gear whereas in the second group creative learning processes were for the most part impeded and blocked. In the first group the organizer of the information was inside, within the children, while in the second group it was the tutelary adults around the children, their parents and teachers for the most part, that were putting up valves for the free flow of incoming information filtering out the larger part of it.
We can also put it that way: in the first group it was nature’s intelligence that cared for those children’s evolution, in the second case it was limited and rather shortsighted human willfulness.
This simple example shows the high impact the early environment has on the development of our intelligence and our later use of the potential we’ve got. In my opinion we all got high potential but only very few of us were exposed to the necessary amount of environmental support and have, in addition, developed the creative will for freeing themselves from the dangers of conditioning; we need both these factors working in a positive direction if we are to fully develop our talents and creative powers. I am sure that people like Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein or Pablo Picasso, were they scored for the use of their creative resources, would have found to use more than eighty percent of their creative intelligence potential whereas for the common individual four to eight percent might be realistic.
Behold, one of the greatest errors consists in assuming that this state of affairs could not be changed or was inherent in our human nature! Darwinism has contributed to spread this error as one of the most destructive and absurd lies about the human nature and the hero cult has built it into the belief system of millions that forms part and parcel of postmodern international consumer culture. The truth is that every single human being has got this incredible power that enables us achieve whatever we wish, if only we set our minds to it and develop tremendous focus on realizing our creative will.
In his book Serious Creativity (1996), Edward de Bono states that education does very little indeed about teaching creative thinking.
For more than two decades, de Bono stressed that there was an astounding lack of creativity not only in schools and universities, but also in business, even in the highest ranks of management, and the even higher ranks of government.
Edward de Bono’s creativity teaching focuses on enhancing business creativity as a deliberate approach, something that can be learnt and that he called lateral thinking. Lateral thinking is not a special wondrous skill of the right brain, but simply a particularly coordinated way of both brain hemispheres working in sync.
The discovery of lateral thinking came about through the observation of the human brain’s unique capability to collect and store information through pattern recognition and pattern assembly. The brain does not store isolated pieces of information but always organizes information in patterns. De Bono states:
What computers find so hard to do (pattern recognition) the brain does instantly and automatically.
When de Bono released his theory of passively organizing systems in one of his first books, The Mechanism of Mind, scientists at first disregarded these astonishing findings. However, later Nobel Prize winners confirmed them; in addition, the amazing new discoveries in neurology corroborate them brilliantly.
The preferred-pathways system of the brain, nowadays presented as common knowledge even in popular science books, is but another way of formulating de Bono’s early theory. And de Bono equally saw the negative side of this mechanism whereas neurologists continue to acknowledge but the positive effects of it. The essential negative point in passively organizing systems is that the recognition itself is conditioned upon the already existing patterns. Bono said that when we analyze data we can only pick out the idea we already have. And even more clearly:
Most executives, many scientists, and almost all business school graduates believe that if you analyze data, this will give you new ideas. Unfortunately, this belief is totally wrong. The mind can only see what it is prepared to see.
That de Bono’s insight is more than neurology is shown by the fact that no lesser than Krishnamurti stated exactly the same, saying that only passive awareness and not active thought can help us understand the world intelligently.
Thought or what we call our ratio is not able to recognize patterns, it can only process patterns that are already available. In addition, the conditioning of perception by thought and past experience was a major argument Krishnamurti used to overcome the limitations of the conscious mind, showing that there is unlimited intelligence and awareness not in thought but in the realm beyond thought.
Creativity, then, is strictly speaking not a product of thinking, but of creative thinking which is more than thinking. De Bono is very outspoken about the destructive process of creative thinking. What he calls the creative challenge basically consists in destroying existing patterns or just disregarding them in order to be able to free one’s perception from their conditioning influence. In this sense, creativity comes close to love, or else love could be seen as a form of creativity.
Krishnamurti stated that love is destructive in the sense that it destroys existing perception patterns and thus powerfully refreshes our regard on life, and on ourselves. It also happens, as de Bono repeatedly pointed out, in humor. This is the reason why humor heals and exerts such a positive influence not only on our mind but also on our organism. Humor detoxifies the body from accumulated old patterns that have restricted our evolution.
To understand this reasoning we should keep in mind that evolution can only take place where our regard shifts. Evolution proceeds in a spiraled manner, repeating the basic processes of one level of evolution on the next level, thus climbing one step higher in the evolutionary scale. The form of the DNA, symbol of all life, reminds it plastically.
Our regard can only shift in moments where conditioning ends. This can happen during meditation or during what de Bono calls the creative pause. Meditation in its original meaning is exactly that, a powerful inducement of inward silence that goes along with a slow-down of our rational thought processes, so as to give way to a heightened and acute, yet passive awareness; it is passive in the sense that it is able to practice detachment but not passive in the sense of sluggishness or half-heartedness. There is to be lots of energy if acute awareness is to take place.
The way de Bono develops creativity is based upon actively implying right-brain capacities in our regular thought processes for bringing about a more holistic process of thinking. It is quite different from the Eastern approach which was traditionally obsessed with the idea to deliberately stop thought in order to connect to the higher realm of wisdom and creative thinking. For de Bono, it is not to stop thinking but to think differently. Another difference would be one of dynamics.
Both approaches, the ancient Eastern approach to complete perception, and de Bono’s, have in common that they stress the ultimate importance of the perception process as what it is, a movement. In terms of the dynamics involved in the process of perception, the Western and the Eastern approaches differ. The latter starts from the premise that only by slowing down thought, by one’s detaching from the thought content and by becoming passively aware, we prepare for the unknown and thus become creative. For de Bono it is in the contrary a very active and deliberate process of thinking to be learned and carried out that will trigger the creativity response. This difference in approaching the question typically represents the fashion in which East and West are structurally distinct.
It also makes clear what the essential difference is between creativity and creativeness. De Bono’s lateral thinking method is intentionally limited to bringing about creative results on demand. It is not meant to be an artist’s way for constant creation — it is not meant to teach creativeness.
On the other hand, Krishnamurti’s educational approach, as the basis of the Krishnamurti Schools definitely is a way to educate children within a continuum of gradual unfoldment through creative and holistic living. Krishnamurti’s starting point was that institutionalized education destroys intuition.
The third important factor in learning, next to direct perception and intuition is self-regulation. Observation of nature, psychoanalysis and permissive, non-authoritarian educational projects such as Summerhill as well as modern systems theory demonstrate the existence of an inherent mechanism of self-regulation in all natural growth processes.
Permissive Education assumes that as a matter of fact, children grow by themselves and that we do not need to artificially stimulate children’s emotions, children’s sensitivity and children’s creativity. What we have to look for is only that these values, which are naturally present in every child, are not destroyed, and thus preserved. Children are by nature emotional, sensitive and creative. It is society that destroys this integrity in schools that are more like prisons than anything else, and that subdue children and undermine their natural self-esteem.
What we only have to care about is that children receive adequate support so as to grow in an environment that is nurturant for fostering their uniqueness, their creative potential and their intrinsic talents.
Before the existence of schools, children were raised by their parents and other adults present in the extended family. They learned primarily by observation or by direct perception, picking up what they needed for their later career, from their early environment. They do this still today, but there is less freedom in our society for children to grow up wild and develop their own emotional and cognitive insights. Conditioning is very strong in today’s industrialized societies and the culture tries to impregnate children from early age with its agenda and values.
De Bono, much in the same way as Lozanov, found that only in early childhood learning, and especially in the way young children learn their first language, we see nature’s full intelligence at work. It is a well-known fact that geniuses such as Einstein or Picasso and most of our cherished cultural heroes never entered or finished school, dropped out or flew it. These people know that they know better and follow their inner instinct rather than an artificial learning system that represents a considerable waste of time and resources and that essentially violates human dignity in the most flagrant way. Life, seen through the eyes of a school system, is but a mechanistic, dead system that, pretty much in the style of the vivisectionists, has to be killed in order to be ready for study.
In my personal view, trainers and coaches who pretend to provide creativity training but who are not themselves artists and creators just fake something. I have consulted organizations who have previously done training with well-known coaches, and I saw the quite ridiculous result: posters on the walls with colorful mind maps, brochures abounding with well-sounding policies such as we are a network company or we practice supreme customer understanding and other beautiful things of the kind. But when we did one brainstorming session and the people were asked to find one, only one alternative solution to an existing problem, they were silent like graves or just repeated their nice-sounding statements like tape recorders.
It is certainly not through disciplining employees and molding them into new frameworks but by letting them participate in the process of creating those frameworks that we achieve a more effective business culture in the long run. This kind of training does neither require big names nor big budgets but a true and uncompromising commitment to the human individual and soul being.
Until today, international organizations such as the United Nations or UNICEF still adhere to concepts such as alphabetization of the masses, and this despite the fact that more and more research is accumulated that shows that alphabetization alone has no value at all without being imbedded in a school system that respects the child as a unique individual and creative and spiritually minded person in her own right. Mass civilization, mass learning, mass standardization and mass indoctrination have led to a dehumanization of culture, and this on the global level. These reductionist and Cartesian principles have led to worldwide destruction and violence. This cycle is currently undergoing a deep revision through a total reformation of the educational and pedagogical systems on a worldwide scale.
Learning through direct perception is the key. This form of direct learning is not new, but actually very old. Many of those who were and are considered as stupid, recalcitrant, refractory or even criminal in the traditional educational system are actually the intelligent ones, the highly gifted ones and the ones with a unique and original mindset. They regularly know that true and original learning is not what they can find in schools or colleges, religious or worldly, but what they directly and spontaneously comprehend, by observation, by the experience of immediate perception that passes not through the reasoning mind but through the still mind of the passive observer.
Let me explain more in detail what direct perception is about using a famous example, Krishnamurti. While in the meantime K is recognized to have been one of humanity’s greatest spiritual teachers, he was beaten in school by a stupid and ignorant teacher. He was left utterly alone and would probably have ended as the village idiot in Madanapalle, India, if not the theosophists had saved him and taken him to England where he was educated under their patronage. Announced by seers as the New Messiahs, this boy was found, at fourteen, at a beach side, neglected, almost toothless, malnourished and in a precarious health condition. His whole early environment treated him without any respect, without any dignity and, needless to add, without any intelligence.
Krishnamurti, as a little boy, rejected all knowledge he was supposed to assimilate. He rejected the whole of it, the whole of conditioning, societal, religious, moral or whatever; and because of this refusal he was treated with utter disrespect and violence, as so many children who, like him, prefer to remain in their original state of mind that is pure and unspoiled, the mind of a totally conscious direct observer Once freed from the uncivil early environment, Krishnamurti learnt everything, languages, behavior patterns of many different cultures, religious customs and traditions, philosophical doctrines, literature, poetry, and even worldly matters such as driving. He, the little neglected boy became one of the greatest teachers and philosophers of our times and of all times. Krishnamurti learned through direct perception and therefore his learning was immediate, spontaneous and almost instantaneous, the learning of a genius.
From his experience and deep insight into the spiritual nature of man, he founded the Krishnamurti Schools in India, Britain and the United States which are truly alternative in terms of teaching because they teach the wholeness of life and not fragmented and isolated subjects.
Direct perception is the key to using our hidden potential in hitherto unforeseen ways so as to achieve miraculous results that we know only from people who are called geniuses. Truly, we all possess the spark of divine intelligence, able to pass beyond the limitations of our conditioned mind once we are able to use our whole brain.
Direct perception is a whole-brain experience. Since the left brain is not primarily involved in it, the language center is not, either. When we perceive truth in an immediate way, it cannot be put in words, because it does not come to us through words. People who report direct perception experiences almost always have difficulties to put their holistic view into the limited corset of language. For example, when children report to have seen Virgin Mary, as it happened at repeated occasions in Zeitoun, Egypt, in Fatima, Portugal or in Lourdes, France, they are speechless at first. Even adults, when witnessing a miracle, tend to lose control over their choice of words or just repeat the same words over and over again.
Similarly, in situations of shock or trauma, we lose speech for a while. Why is that so? I suppose that in such situations, our brain uses temporarily an archaic survival pattern that energizes first of all the brain stem and the right brain, activating basic mechanisms of flight and fight. Survival works without the involvement of the neocortex and thus without the involvement of the language center which is located there.
It is in this mode of functioning that direct perception takes place. When there is danger, the brain switches into this mode and triggers the survival response. It does so because this mode of reaction is much faster than reasoning, thought and language. Of course, what the brain does in danger, it can also do in peace. We only have to understand how the brain triggers the immediate response so that we can let it work for learning purposes.
What then is evolution actually about? Looking back in history and becoming aware of the high level of wisdom that humanity possessed in ancient times, we cannot seriously claim that there was evolution at all. In the contrary, humanity has devolved during the process of what we use to call civilization, at least since the last part of this process, which are grossly the last five thousand years, the time of patriarchy. It is for this reason that today we must head into developing the parts of the brain that have been left out by evolution, the right brain hemisphere and the brain stem.
It will begin with relearning how to learn, with unlocking our potential for true receptiveness, for whole-brain learning, for using our brain for what it is destined for: learning by absorbing whole patterns instead of isolated pieces of knowledge. It will begin with consciousness-based and holistic education, and it will be electronic learning. And eventually it will pass into the school and schooling systems worldwide.
As long as we continue to bring up and being brought up in systems where our true intelligence agonizes and dies, we will breed but confusion and violence. And there is no question that, then, we will not be able to master the challenges of the new era we are heading into: the Information Age, the New Age, the Aquarius Age. Only through holistic solutions that involve our wholeness and the integration of all parts of our being will we be able to survive in the mess that we ourselves, or past generations, have left over to us.
Learning through direct perception is the way out, and it is actually a way back. Back to true intelligence and to the teachings of the ancient mystery schools where perennial wisdom was once taught to an elite.
Learning and Career
Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.
Creative career design is one of the most important yet also one the most challenging tasks of civil administration. It actually requires a joint cooperation of government and industry so that workable solutions can be implemented.
This is even more so as career design or generally professional formation is a long-term endeavor. Educational structures are rooted in social and cultural conventions and are therefore not easy to change. It takes a considerable effort from the side of the decision-makers involved to come up with creative new solutions.
Our times bring profound change in all areas of life. Jobs get lost through structural changes on a worldwide scale. Rebuilding the world economy brings much suffering if educational needs are not met in time.
One of the most urgent educational needs is a closer connection between education and the industry. That is where career design comes in. Creative career design remodels education in a way to be more flexibly adapted to the demands and expectations of the industry. This can for example be done through implementing think-tank classes like The Art of Learning in the school system. In those classes no specific skills are taught, but the how to of learning. Social scientists and psychologists agree that in the future job changes will occur much more often in our lives and careers as before.
This brings about the need to take up learning almost constantly during one’s lifetime. Formerly, it was generally sufficient to have learned one specific job or skill in order to survive as a craftsman or employee. Today and tomorrow this is going to change drastically. Individual development and social change are required today and tomorrow at such a speed that there is certainty about one thing only: that there will be change!
Laurence G. Boldt, a well-known career consultant, stresses that most of his clients come to get a ready-made solution for their career problems. Boldt says that most people lack initiative to see a wider perspective of professional possibilities and do not understand that it was their limited thinking much more than a lack of specific skills that led to their unemployment. On the other hand, Boldt found that people can hardly be blamed for their apathy since they come out of a highly rigid educational system that is impregnated with the belief that once you went successfully through the required stuff, you will make it later on.
What we learn is at the end of the day far less important than how we learn what we learn, and what we generally think about learning. Specialists agree that those who rapidly acquire a wide perspective about opportunities, and who develop motivation and excitement for new learning easily overcome recession periods and find new ways of successful employment or even entrepreneurship. For example, they may choose freelancing as a new and creative possibility of earning their life.
Freelancing has gained widespread reputation because it is much better adapted to the quick changes modern life brings along. Freelancing also ensures a basically free and relatively creative professional life without too many restraints and thus contributes to an independent lifestyle.
On the other hand, the financial situation of the freelancer typically is unstable and rather fluctuant. But for many people, especially in creative professions such as creative writing, design, art, music production, consulting and nowadays telecommunications and networking, freelancing is preferred because it ensures space for creativity and inventiveness. Another quality freelancers must possess is aggressiveness or toughness to market their product through a morass of competing alternatives.
However, freelancing is not based on knowledge we acquire in school. Much to the contrary, none of the typical characteristics a successful freelancer needs are taught in school. There is almost no emphasis, in traditional upbringing, upon independence, nor on creativity or positive forms of aggressiveness or at least carefreeness.
Yet, compared to both employment and entrepreneurship, freelancing is one of the fastest growing fields of professional realization. Freelancing is also well suited to survive structural change and diversification. Compared to employment, it offers a lot more freedom and space for creative impact on one’s life while it does not generally require the huge financial investments that are typical for free entrepreneurship.
It is after all irresponsible from the side of governments to stay with the outmoded and depleted educational system. This system namely is fundamentally inadequate to keep up with the present, and even more so, the future requirements for successful and satisfying professional endeavor. We are since long beyond the times where governments educated people to become either blissful soldiers or thankful breeding machines for new offspring to be readily killed in the next war or civil war.
Despite the urgent need for reform, governments tend to cut costs at the frontline of education rather than in military budgets or through bureaucracy reduction. This is why chances are that only through a well-thought strategy of intervention from the side of the industry itself, changes may occur on the government side.
Bureaucracies are not likely to initiate change from inside out. Evolutionary processes therefore have to take place from outside in, through consultancy or through joint-ventures between government and industry.
The first step in this process of structural change would be to raise awareness about how and to what extent a networked world and an international marketplace molds the human potential, and what we can learn from that. This is an assessment that is relatively easy to be done. It will bring about the insight that there is an amazing similarity of the human qualities needed in modern market competition all over the world, which are not dependent on culture, race or social conditioning. Some of those qualities are:
- Flexibility, adaptability
- Intellectual mobility
- Ability to play with concepts
- Creativity and response-ability
- Integrity and commitment
- Readiness for change and personal growth
- Readiness for team work
- Readiness for sharing
- Interdependent thinking
- Understanding about networking and team leadership
- Readiness for stewardship
- Care and quality management
- Awareness of social, cultural and environmental factors
Individuals who possess these qualities can learn any of the skills needed for the specific tasks they are dealing with in their career. Skills are always at the periphery of the personality whereas qualities are part of our inside nature. Skills are built on qualities, and not vice versa. Where there are no inner qualities, skills may be trained but they will vanish because the fertile ground for their growth is missing.
Typically, inner qualities are assembled in an attitude. Hence, the importance of attitude training and its superiority over mere skill-based training. Human resources and endowments are often wasted because this fundamental distinction is widely misunderstood or even ignored in the business world. In my experience, in management training all over the world, the general emphasis is on skills. However, the truth is that a person who is really dedicated and possesses the right attitude will easily acquire the skills she needs for realizing her inner qualities on an outside level.
Skills incarnate qualities and make them visible reality. Before they can be learnt, a seed must be planted inside. Qualities are these inner seeds. And there must have been a growth process to let this seed unfold.
Seen from this perspective, the obsession with inculcating skills seems almost grotesque, as if people were discussing a lot about the color and furnish of a new car they want to buy while they do not even know if this car can be built and construed and made available for purchase in their market economy.
Only a deep concern and commitment from the top of both government and industry can bring about a fundamental reform of the existing vocational training. This must result in providing the funds, in bringing the right people together, and in a consistent implementation of the new career policies. It cannot be done through quick fixes such as putting computers in schools or stating in curricula that creative input from pupils should be encouraged and valued.
Only a holistic solution that is brought about in joint cooperation by all decision-makers involved will finally assure the victory over the deep crisis of education we presently face. These are some of the changes that could and should be implemented:
- Joint operations between government and industry for the adaptation of education to modern standards;
- A task-force that is jointly composed of government representatives, industry leaders and consultants to work out operational solutions that provide a high-quality and at the same time flexible educational standard that allows graduates to adapt creatively to every possible professional challenge;
- Educational curricula to be worked out jointly with industry experts, such as H.R. managers, training consultants and teachers in order to ensure their effectiveness;
- Curricula to be revised on a more consistent and more frequent basis than ever before;
- Learning results measured more in terms of integrative and holistic thinking capacities and solution-centeredness than measured in terms of specific knowledge or skills;
- Learning strategies implemented that focus on the development of creativity and integrated or parallel thinking capacities as an add-on to existing analytic and merely logical forms of thinking training;
- Industry funding for educational innovations from the rationale that the industry has a vivid interest to sponsor more practice-oriented educational solutions; the higher the practical usefulness of graduates for the industry, the less training budget corporations have to spend on them;
- Job search offices or resource centers at every school and university that provide service for graduates to find a job, that organize regular meetings with representatives of the industry, that provide free writing facilities such as computers, phone and fax connections, and C.V. writing services for users.
Points to Ponder
- In this article, we have seen that ‘school’ and ‘learning’ do not necessarily mean the same, and that upon a closer look they actually reveal to be quite different experiences.
- As most mainstream schools around the world have not yet implemented effective learning methods that are based upon the brain’s functioning as a patterned and neuronally structured system, the ‘learning’ part of school for most intelligent people consists in more or less elaborating their own learning effectiveness. In other words, these people achieve brilliantly not because of school, but despite of school.
- For most high achievers, decision-making about school and emotional survival is clear-cut in the sense that it regularly turns out to be that either the person develops their own learning system and persistently follows it, or the person drops out. Examples for the latter type of learners are notorious, to cite only Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso. An example for the first type of learners is myself.
- We also learnt in this chapter that when we follow the brain’s inbuilt patterned structure, when we setup learning in the way that children learn their first language, that is by pattern recognition instead of ingesting fragmented learning input, we learn much faster and our learning effectiveness will be much higher.
- On this same line of reasoning, learning motivation evaporates when competition thinking creeps in or when learning is coercive in the sense that failure is met with punishment. That is why under the old paradigm school was often traumatic for sensitive and intelligent children in that it all happened in a climate of terror and fear. In addition, people might then be blocked for lifetime against new learning of any kind.
- For learning foreign languages, no study of grammar is needed, as all grammar of all languages is known by our memory interface in the sense that when we pick up whole patterns of the new language, we automatically pick up the grammar. So learning grammar is actually a gigantic waste of time and energy. Among other modern learning techniques, suggestopedia or Superlearning, created by the Bulgarian psychiatrist and pedagogue Dr. Georgi Lozanov, proves that foreign languages can be learnt perfectly and comfortably, and almost effortlessly, without learning any grammar, without even looking in a book, and in a minimum of time. Regularly, with this method, a difficult language such as Arabic, Chinese or Turkish can be learnt in three months, at conversation level, and speakers will pronounce words like native speakers, without any accent.
- When we look at the notion of holistic learning, we see that it is closely related to perception, and that perception as a holistic process has never got much scientific attention in our society because our science is so much focused upon information processing. Hence, we should take a pragmatic approach and ask how we can improve learning results despite of our culture’s aloofness for changing the learning paradigm?
- The first factor to consider in our endeavor to improve learning effectiveness are preferred pathways, and the fact that we can create, even in advanced age, new preferred pathways, thereby deliberately changing our neuronet. While early neurology was telling us that after the first six years of life, the neuronet got its definite form and could basically not be changed, cutting-edge research in psychoneuroimmunology showed that we can impact upon our neuronet at any time in our life, and that we can both dissolve and build new neuronal connections through appropriate techniques, the use of deliberate intention and what is nowadays called ‘creating our own reality’.
- Dr. Joe Dispenza, the brain researcher who was extensively interviewed in the movie What the Bleep Do We Know!? clearly affirmed that we can deliberately change our neuronet, thereby changing even deeply seated behavior models.
- The second factor to consider is to realize what direct perception means and how we can improve our ability for perceiving reality directly, and not through the filter of our belief system.
- The third and last factor to consider is how learning and career hang together and what could be done to improve career design in the sense of increasing our individual career chances and long-term professional satisfaction.