Education is More Than 'Learning New Things'

People confuse teaching or training with education. The difference accounts for the deficiencies of public (and private) education and for the potential of somatic education.

Teaching and training involve learning new things about the world or new things to do.

Education is more fundamental than that kind of learning.  The root of the word, education, "e ducare", reveals something.  Those two words mean "to draw out".  What is being drawn out?

Etymology of the Latin word e ducare

the Latin word educare (bring up; train; educate)
derived from the Latin word educere (lead out; draw up; bring up)
derived from the Latin word ducere (to lead; to lead or draw; to lead, dim; to lead, carry; lead, command; think)
derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *deuk- (to lead)
using the Late Latin prefix e-

What is being drawn out are ones faculties.  Education is the awakening of our faculties.  By faculties, I mean basic functions.  Examples:
  • attention management
  • dedication and regulation of effort (intention) -- to act or to refrain from acting (rest)
  • the ability to listen
  • the ability to learn deliberately
  • the ability to deliver communications
  • the ability to teach
  • the ability to internalize ideas (primitively expressed as the ability to follow instructions)
  • the ability to turn ideas into functional, tangible actualities
  • discernment
Notice that these faculties exist independently of subject matter.  They are generalizable.

Education (as the awakening of ones basic faculties, not as "learning new things") makes people teachable, able to teach themselves, and able to function at any level of excellence they wish.  Without education, people are hard to teach/train, and those who receive training either (one or more):
  • don't learn well
  • can't follow instructions
  • are incapable of developing beyond their training
  • are incapable of adapting what they've learned to new situations
  • can't pass on what they've learned to others
  • can't instruct others well
  • can't tell whether an action adequately embodies an idea
  • are knowledgeable incompetents (can talk the talk, but not walk the talk)
Sound familiar?

In public education, common curricula include
  • history (faculty:  memorization)
  • math (faculty:  abstract reasoning)
  • science (faculty:  correlating ideas (theory) with actualities (observable evidence); cause-effect reasoning)
  • the arts (faculty:  the ability to turn internal perceptions into tangible actualities; aesthetic sense)
  • languages:  (faculty:  the ability to use language well; the ability to get to the heart of things and to convey intentions clearly and economically in words)
  • literature (faculty:  the ability to assume viewpoints other than ones own; listening/comprehending and speaking/writing)
  • physical education (faculty:  the ability actually to do what you intend to do or to recognize when you have not done so -- accountability -- and a better-awakened mind-body connection)
  • education in general (faculty:  developing freedom through developing responsibility for ones own faculties)
However, education, in general, has become confused with teaching/training, which is heavily memorization-intensive -- memorizing being only one faculty -- and the faculties awakened by non-memorization subjects are missed in favor of the subject matter, itself, which is only the vehicle for awaking those faculties.  It's somehow hoped that the faculty relevant to the subject matter will awaken via efforts of study, but few teachers make a direct effort to awaken the relevant faculty.

Unless educators recognize that the subjects they teach are merely vehicles for awakening a person's faculties (actually, for a person to awaken his or her own faculties, which is the only way it can be done), such people are not educators, but merely teachers.  And the inadequacy of public education can be traced to the confusion between education and teaching/training.

A person in whom the faculties named above are well-developed can more easily be taught (or self-teach) and functions better than one in whom those faculties are only rudimentarily developed.

Most basically, education involves physiological changes in the individual, as much as psychological -- inevitably so because it is via the body that (s)he carries out his or her ideas, and the skill with which (s)he does so depends upon the ability to make fine distinctions and carry out refined actions.

Most basically, the physiological changes that occur, occur at the (sensory-motor) level -- sensation and movement.  We can easily see that fact in the earliest years of school, when students are expected to develop their movement skills (P.E. and writing); just as moving ones lips when one reads indicates ("sub-vocalization") that the mental act of reading activates muscular activity, just as rapid eye movements during sleep correspond to dreaming activity, just so, all thinking involves a play of subtle modifications of muscular tensions, and the ability to think depends upon the adequate awakening and integration of those movements.

To make this point, let me illustrate in a way that you can test for yourself.  I say that you can't count to ten in your mind any faster than you can count to ten out loud.  That means thinking each number as clearly as you would say it.

Test yourself, now.   Do it.


Much is made of the mind, these days, while the body is treated as if it were nothing but meat to strengthened and stretched, or enjoyed and suffered.

Big mistake.

The body is fundamental, even to abstract thought.

Most people develop only relatively crude movement skills and crude perceptual skills and are of average intelligence.  Artists develop fine movement skills and fine perceptual skills and, lo and behold, artists are generally of higher intelligence.

I'm not saying that higher intelligence leads to finer movement skills.  I'm saying the reverse:  developing finer movement skills and finer perceptual skills raises intelligence.  Well-coordinated movement supports well-organized thinking; poorly coordinated movement suggests poorly organized thinking.  And the kicker:  improving coordination (refining movement) improves thinking.

That's something for you to test.  Here's how.

The field of somatic education (here, the word, education, is used properly) develops finer movement skills and finer perceptual skills, faculties that involve changes of brain organization.  The process of somatic education develops the faculties of paying attention, listening and internalizing information, acting with intention, cause-effect reasoning, discernment, aesthetics, and memorization. 

Read the following article, "An Expanded Understanding of The Three Reflexes of Stress" (or listen to the audio), and then test my words.  Send for the somatic exercise sampler (free) and notice the changes the exercises put you through.  Since a developmental process is involved, the changes are cumulative.  Still, by doing the exercises some mornings and seeing how you function during the day, and then by not doing the exercises some mornings and seeing how you function during the day, you'll discern the effect of somatic exercises on your overall functioning.

That will be a hint about something bigger.