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Mindfulness
How Mind
Mindlessness
Program
Bottleneck
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FAQ 1
FAQ 2
FAQ 3
FAQ 4
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School Reform
Frequently Asked Questions 2
   
Shaun Kerry, M.D.
Diplomate, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

   
Q.  How are we able to change the amount of control over the student without giving them too much control over their education?
    
A.  The question is, what is too much control?  There will always be a
  few people who will mess up their lives, no matter what we do.  There are probably some biological determinants of sociopathy.  I propose giving the student complete control of his education.  That does not mean that we neglect the student.  On the contrary, I feel that we should listen more.  The student as a unique individual has an intrinsic sense of what he needs, and when we as adults respond to that, the child cannot help but be positively motivated. 

I realize that giving up control is frightening to many people.  A lot of men thought that our country would be harmed when we gave women the right to vote in 1919.  Consider that at Oxford University in England, the only requirement is that the student see his mentor (called a don) once a week, eat in the student union, and attend chapel on Sunday.  There are no required courses and no assignments.  The student designs his own program. 

Q.  Isnít mindfulness already present in the school system?

A.  A little, in bits and pieces.  We pay far too high a price for it in  money, time, and energy, though.  Our society demonstrates a marked deficiency of it.

Q.  What if what the student would like to learn is socially unacceptable or immoral?  How would the teacher respond to the studentís desire to learn this particular controversial subject?

A.  How could any learning be immoral?  Of course, antisocial behavior would not be tolerated in the classroom.  I would define antisocial as harming another person.

Q.  Doesnít a lot of homework allow the student to practice what he has learned in class and show the teacher that he comprehends the material?

A.  The student is in school for the student's benefit, and not the state's.  The student will be his own judge and the teacher's role is to be available when needed.

Q.  Doesnít the control over the student help them develop time management skills by giving them a lot of homework and study materials?     

   
A.  Our era has been called: "The Age Of
Anxiety."  Stress is a major problem in our culture.  Time management skills are not a priority, as I see it.  Creativity and mindfulness should be our first objective.  If you look around you, you see people being busy for the sake of being busy.

Q.  How would the student know what
subjects they want to learn if they havenít been exposed to all of the necessary subjects yet?

A.  It will be easy to expose students to a huge range of subjects.  Forced memorization is quite another matter.

Q.  Doesnít the present school system already conform to the needs of the student

by offering him or her a universal education in order to explore their interests of their future occupations?

A.  No.  It burdens him with a bewildering array of busywork
and projects to the point that he loses a sense of who he is, and his mind is damaged in the process.

Q.  Wouldnít teaching from a television be less personal then listening to a teacher lecture in a classroom?

A.  A ceiling mounted projection monitor with a ten foot wide screen is very impactful.  The teacher's time would be better spent leading discussion groups and listening to the student's concerns.

Q.  If you donít need the trivial education that you obtain in high school, college and graduate school, then why is it necessary to take the required courses?

A.  Because the people planning the curricula don't appreciate the concept of mindfulness, how it is developed, and how it is harmed.

Q.  How are we able to remove the everyday distractions in the classroom?

A.  Mindfulness promotes awareness.  When people are aware of a problem, they will deal with it.

Q.  Why wouldnít some students also disrupt the classroom during an audiovisual presentation as well?

A.  Because the ten foot screen and stereo sound system is so captivating, that almost everyone will be focused on it.  It would be like someone talking in a theater.  The group would rapidly put a stop to it.

Q.  Arenít a lot of textbooks important to some classes such as math?

A.  That would be a judgment call.  The class would decide between a book and computer-generated handouts.  The class could vote on it.

Q.  Donít the required courses offer the student a universal education?

A.  It depends on your reference point.  In the model that we are proposing, the student is allowed to develop his full potential as a human being.  He is not required to satisfy an outsider's mindless, ivory-tower view of a "universal education."  Whole-brain functioning is paramount, and necessary for real happiness, rich, fulfilling relationships, and creative social contributions.

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