A New Understanding of Education:
Bringing Intuitive & Empirical Learning into Balance
By Isa Gucciardi and Laura Chandler
Isa Gucciardi, PhD, and Laura Chandler, CHT, are instructors with Sacred Stream.
As we approach the time of year where we traditionally return to formal education, it is important to consider the role that education plays in our lives. Education is defined in many different ways, and might generally be understood as a process where information regarding the nature of reality is transmitted from one person to another in a group setting. The skill set that we develop in order to participate in this process of education requires that each individual must, to some degree, attune to the demands of the group, the desires of the instructor, and work towards the development of a rational intellect that can reproduce what is taught in a socially acceptable way. These are important skills, and necessary for members of any society.
However, there is another important aspect of learning that is almost completely overlooked in traditional educational environments. This is the intuitive aspect of the psyche that each person possesses. It is not easy to measure, or test empirically, but exists within each of us, guiding our understanding and ability to process information. Often, as we focus our attention on the empirical and rationally driven types of learning, we lose touch with this naturally occurring intuitive side of our experience. This is quite simply the ability to listen on a deeper level. This type of learning is experiential in nature. It is felt, rather than understood exclusively through cognitive processes. Everyone uses these two types of learning to receive and process information, yet for many of us, one form tends to become over developed and used more often than the other.
In our rationally fixated society, it is the empirically derived, external transmission of information found in traditional school settings that tends to be more developed. While it is important to be able to rationalize, focus, follow direction, and learn through external teaching methods, it is also important to develop a trust of one's own intuitive abilities. Through the balancing of the external and internal learning methods, our capacity for gaining and retaining knowledge increases.
Shamans and practitioners of some forms of meditation have understood the importance of experiential learning, and have been taught to combine the internal transmission of information with more traditional types of learning to attain a mastery of understanding that escapes those who rely on only one form. A meditation practice is an excellent way to work towards this balance between the internal and external methods of perceiving. As the practitioner learns to focus her attention, and quiet her mind, she will be better able to perceive what is coming from her own deep sense of knowing, as well as apply her intellect in a clear and effective way.
Today, the intuitive aspect of learning is even more important for the average person to develop, because both our internal and external environments have become so complex. We cannot depend exclusively on information arising from the outside world if we are to truly understand our deeper nature. Education must include the ability to receive and trust information experientially if we are to move into an authentic way of being informed, that is not simply dictated to us by our teachers, priests, politicians, bosses, parents and so forth. By bringing the experiential and rational forms of learning into balance, students are much better prepared to meet the demands of the modern environment.
FEEDBACK: CLICK HERE to email comments and feedback. Please note the title of the article or the author's name. Include your own name or type "name withheld" by request. Thoughtful responses will be published in our next edition.