Organic Solidarity

I recently watched Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk called, “Bring on the learning revolution!” It’s interesting and empowering, because you’re made more aware of how the education system just doesn’t work. This talk may not be as big as his first one called, “How schools kill creativity” – although I highly recommend both – but it does touch on a few important points about how the world works and how there is so much more potential within ourselves than we’ve been made to realize.

One of them is that life is not linear; it’s organic. We create and shape our lives as we go along. We can’t see straight ahead, because there is no straight ahead. There are detours, roundabouts, one-way streets, freeways, broken paths, and no exit signs. It’s scary, yes. But it’s also liberating. It makes us think about what we want, where we should go, and who we are. And we learn all of this along the way.

Shouldn’t education reflect that? Shouldn’t our schools teach us that there is no clear, direct path to success? Or, for that matter, that success is different for everyone? Sir Robinson mentioned that schools take on a fast-food approach: everything is standardized, everything is the same, and drifting from those standards is wrong. In his book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, he writes:

One of the essential problems for education is that most countries subject their schools to the fast-food model of quality assurance when they should be adopting a Michelin model instead. The future for education is not in standardizing but in customizing; not in promoting groupthink and “deindividuation” but in cultivating the real depth and dynamism of human abilities of every sort.

I actually love how this reminds me of what I’ve learned in my sociology classes. Thank goodness I’ve remembered something from school! Seriously, though, this just rings true for me. While I may have succeeded in the fast-food framework of the education system, I still felt a bit off. I didn’t feel like me while I was in the school system. In fact, it was only after being out of school for a year that I felt like I was truly getting to know myself again. Imagine how somebody who’s dropped out would feel.

It goes to show that Sir Robinson and Émile Durkheim were right in that advanced (and honestly, better – that’s me and Ken Robinson, not Durkheim necessarily) societies feature people with individual talents and aptitudes, with specialties that serve the community as a whole in order to move it forward. “Organic solidarity,” is what this is called. Now that I’m away from my sociological theories class, I can fully appreciate that term. We’re all different and special, and we need to nurture that. But, we’re all in this together. We need to work together, make use of our differences, and create a better world.

It’s a truth that I’m working towards.

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