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