Frequently Asked Questions 1
Shaun Kerry, M.D.
Diplomate, American Board
of Psychiatry and Neurology
Donít students need to learn the
information provided in the required textbooks before undergoing an
internship in their desired occupation?
A. It depends on the student and the subject matter.
Textbooks are expensive, and often only about one third of the book is
covered in a course. Books are heavy to carry around. In
some instances it might be more efficient and cheaper to print out
Many people have trouble learning from textbooks. The sights and sounds
approach would work better for them.
America has more people in prisons than any
other nation in the world. I have visited people in
prisons and talked to them extensively.
Most prison inmates are
mentally ill, have below-normal intelligence, or come from
poor backgrounds. I found most of them quite likable. Our schools
have failed them. Almost all of them have trouble learning from
textbooks. There are educational systems within prisons, but they
are as dysfunctional as the ones on the outside. Most prisoners
turn to crime because it seems to them that it is the best way to adapt
to the system.
First and foremost, prisoners
lack mindfulness because it has never been properly addressed to them. They
usually lack a trade and the practical skills of going into business.
This population needs to be identified within the school system and
provided with mindfulness, which includes character development, and the
ability to make a living in the real world.
Q. Doesn't the
school curriculum require a wide variety of subjects
in order to broaden the studentís
A. Today the school
curriculum is set by the state.
Frequently there is a greater emphasis on analyzing the
meaning of a poem, than on making a living. The people making the
decisions on school curricula have shown very poor judgment. Given
that, who should decide? I feel strongly that it should be the
student. Will he make mistakes? Yes, but he will learn from
them. Each person is unique and has an inner sense about what he
needs to grow. We need to nourish the students inner sense rather
than suppress it. That is essential to the student's developing
There is a big difference
between today's concept of a "broad,
liberal education," and mindfulness. Many
people graduate from college with this emphasis and when they face the
world, feel totally lost. Mindfulness and a way to interface
with the world in order to make a good living are primary goals.
How will this networking system work in school and how will it
contribute to the traditional classroom?
A. It will be done over
the internet. It is extremely important to have a ceiling
mounted projection video monitor that projects a ten foot wide image,
along with a good stereo sound system. A desk size
monitor will not be adequate and the students will lose interest.
A ceiling-mounted video camera should be mounted to cover the classroom.
Current versions of windows have the
features necessary to implement videoconferencing, and an IT specialist would
set up the system and instruct the teacher in its use. The other
participating schools would have the same system, as would the outside
professionals. The system is quite easy to use, once the technical
people set it up. It is not expensive.
The program would be coordinated
through a central web site, and the class would select by a vote from a large
menu of topics.
Q. What will happen to the traditional
classroom style after this teleconferencing and the student's freedom to
choose his or her curriculum is added into the school system?
A. That would be up to each individual
class. They would arrive at a
group decision regarding the activities that they would be doing as
a class, and the teacher would act as a moderator.
Q. Doesnít the current
educational system currently try to assist students
in finding their identity? So how is this conforming
A. High schools have counselors that
assist students in choosing
courses. This is not helping the
student to find his identity. This is a major process that starts
much earlier. It begins by putting the student in charge of his
life, and getting the state out of the picture. Finding one's
identity usually requires years of exploration, and is an evolutionary
process. It deserves an extremely high priority.
Q. How can students obtain a state of
ďmindfulnessĒ when they donít
fully understand the real world yet?
A. Mindfulness is a state of whole-brain
integration. It requires that the brain circuits be
properly aligned by not interfering with development by abuse, control,
and neglect. It is not necessary to have a complete grasp of the
real world in order to be mindful.
Q. Donít the teachers incorporate a
sense of control over the
order to teach the child to learn
discipline as well as the subject the teacher is trying to teach to the
A. This presumes a teacher-centered system,
where the teacher is the boss, and must control the class. In this
system, the teacher imposes discipline on the student. When the
teacher shifts her role from boss to manager, the students provide their
own discipline, for the most part. There is an excellent book on
this subject: The Quality School - Managing Students Without
Coercion. Glasser, William, M.D. (1998) In this approach,
motivation is internal, from love, rather than external, out of fear.
the current school systems already have opportunities available to the students to learn beyond
the school walls, such as field trips?
A. Yes. But generally,
field trips are very occasional, consisting of about 2% of the total time.
But they are very successful. I can remember vividly every field
trip that I ever took, as though they happened yesterday, even though
they occurred forty years ago. The experience was permanently
long term memory.
Q. What are some other
examples of the lack in mindfulness?
A. This is a very big
subject. When you are mindful, things that go on around you that were
previously mysterious, make sense. Let's take the subject of
cruelty and a punitive attitude. I believe that the life of Jesus
exemplified mindfulness in the fullest extent possible. He said:
"If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn your head and allow him
to strike you on the left." That was a radical statement in
his day, and in our times also.
Now you can listen to a hundred
sermons and memorize a thousand Bible
verses and it may still not make sense. You can
"explain it away." but then miss the point also. But to a mindful
person, it makes perfect sense. You don't have to explain it,
because the attitude is a natural consequence of being mindful.
Jesus had more influence on society than any other person
yet he was never punitive, and never controlling.
Do you want to be elected judge? Say that you're really
crime. We live in a very
punitive culture. There is a great deal of difference between
punishment and the protection of society.
Q. How are we able to
change the teachers into having a sense of mindfulness and
why will this change our current school system for the better?
A. Mindfulness starts
with an explanation like I am giving, but is developed through a living
experience. I envision weekend or weeklong retreats.
There should be the personal practice of meditation. Mindfulness
is contagious. Teachers need to have access to mindful people, and
get out of the over-busy rat race. Mindful teachers will pass on
this attribute to their students as a natural consequence.
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