On the occasion of Children’s Day, celebrated in India on November 14, Sadhguru looks at how formal education today focuses on only one aspect of human intelligence, and why this needs to change immediately.

Sadhguru: Today, the world is no longer about people, it is about the economic engine we have built. It has become bigger than us and we are afraid to stop it even for a moment, so we have to keep the engine going all the time. Unfortunately, education has mostly become about manufacturing cogs for this machine. We can't let the machine fail, so our children have become the spare parts and fuel needed to keep it running.

There are studies which say that if a child goes through twenty years of formal education and comes out with a Ph.D, seventy percent of his intelligence is irrevocably destroyed. Essentially, we have mistaken information for education. If you deaden the brain with too much information, the possibility of intelligence is definitely lost. What we accumulate and who we are should remain separate. Who I am should not be influenced by what I have accumulated – whether it is material objects, information or impressions.

Purpose of Education

The purpose of education is to expand the horizons of individual human beings. But that is definitely not happening in most places right now. As people get educated, they really can't get along with anyone! Those who are not so educated can live together. But once you become educated, you become isolated because that is the nature of the intellect. And education today is entirely intellect-based. There is no other dimension of intelligence in it. Mistaking intellect for intelligence is a serious error. It is like trying to drive your car on a single wheel instead of all four.


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Don’t Mistake Intellect for Intelligence

Intellect can function only with the backing of your memory. Or in other words, your intellect functions with accumulated information. If your memory is removed, your intellect is quite useless by itself. But there are other dimensions of intelligence within you that do not need the support of memory. If education systems do not focus on activating these dimensions of intelligence, you will create a workforce but no geniuses.

How to Change the Education System?

But more than the systems themselves, we have to upgrade those who deliver the system. If we do this, every system will work well. If we are interested in the future generations, the best people in the world must go into teaching. What a child needs is inspiration, not just information. We need to completely take away the idea of instruction from the teaching process.

You think you need to instruct someone only if you have assumed they are of a lower intelligence than yourself, which is a serious mistake. There is sufficient scientific data to show that a thirty-year-old is not as intelligent as a child before he even enters school. The only reason we look smart is because we have more information than the child, which we try to show off through instruction. Instead of instruction, we need to empower teachers to inspire and transmit what really matters to them. Then, a child would surely sit up and listen, and every school system could become a fruitful process.

Intelligence need not be influenced, it needs to be inflamed. The purpose of education is to decondition intelligence, so that it becomes active, adapting to situations and doing what is appropriate. That is the essence of intelligence. But today, education systems are trying to condition the intelligence one way or the other. If human intelligence applies itself, every little thing will explode into a new cosmos by itself. This is what a human being is here for – to enhance life in a way that no other creature can. But right now, the only thing that is important is what serves our economic engine. What will earn you more money has become the fundamental question. If we do not remove this from our education system, there will only be a manufacturing unit, not education.

Education is not a production line. It is an organic happening. You cannot create an education system independent of the society in which we exist. Are we as a society willing to cultivate an eco-system suitable for a child to grow up in the best possible way? This is a question all of us should ask ourselves. Are we going to do what we like to do, or are we going to be conscious of how every action of ours will impact future generations? It is very important that we look at this because educating a child is not just a teacher’s, parent’s or school’s business – it is the responsibility of the entire society.

Editor’s Note: Download the free ebook Inspire Your Child, Inspire the World for more of Sadhguru’s wisdom on parenting.