Are We Educating Humans or Machines?

Aug 6, 2014

Has the fleeting delight of problem solving ever troubled you? Yet contemporary society seems to be built on and framed by problem solving. There is trouble at home or at work and you need to solve it. Your child is going down a wayward path and you need to fix him or her. There are bugs in the operating system; it is slowing you down, so you must find the solution. After the problem is solved, there may be joy for a moment, but it does not add lasting joy to your human experience. Perhaps our lives (and thus our education) should be centered on creating rather than fixing problems.

In a society driven by data points, everything seems to reflect some sort of mechanical operating system. If the system runs well then the people should be happy. Conventional education has latched onto this idea and centers instruction on the scientific method and solving problems. Subjects are framed in view of an observable problem, to which a hypothesis is formed, more observations are made, an experiment is conducted, and hopefully a solution is found. Even literature, a very creative act, is turned very mechanical. This is how you create a story, poem, argument; it is a problem to be solved. Yet solving problems only gets you back to a place of stability or neutral.

God created us to enjoy life, to delight in the fragrance of a rose, to relish the company of a good friend, or to soak in the grander of the Grand Canyon. Problems often interrupt our capacity for enjoyment, but their solution does not produce the enjoyment God intends. God intends for humans to create and enjoy the creative experience, whether it is something from God’s creation or something man creates. Suppose you are on your way either to experience the beauty of a forest or a Shakespearian play. On the way you get a flat tire and your trip is interrupted. When you fix the flat tire, a problem has been solved, but your joy comes from the expectation of experiencing the forest or the play.

There is something in how God made us that has wired us to derive lasting joy and even transformation out of creative experiences. Actually there is a reflection of His image in us that is revealed and related to when we create or experience a creation. When we connect with His image in us, then we connect with joy and the enjoyment He created us for.

When we look back on our lives we remember the creative experience, the baby born, the moving book, the camping trip in the rain, etc. The problems that we have solved, do not rank high in our psyche because we are created for creation not simply problem solving. Thus as we educate children, our education should center on cultivating this creative aspect of the image of God within, not merely the solving of problems that belittle our nature.

Danny Breed

Danny Breed

Danny Breed is Headmaster at Oak City Academy in Raleigh, NC. 

The opinions and arguments of our contributing writers do not necessarily reflect those of the Institute or its leadership.

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