The Cultural Crisis of Disconnection

We need to confront a cultural crisis in the world today, which has its root in our educational system.  It is a crisis of disconnectedness.  We live in a disconnected world where we don’t see the relation between our actions and their meaning.  We don’t examine the origins of why we act the way we act, nor do we often think through the implications of our actions on ourselves, others and the world. 

Just look at our world today.  We live as if everything is disposable, from the things we fill our lives with to the people in our lives.  We produce trash at unprecedented rates that pollutes our land and waterways (an implication) and we often don’t take into account of the big picture of how disposables come into our homes - where they come from (do they pollute at the source through the overuse of dangerous pesticides or through industrial run-off) and who produces them and how (are they earning a fair wage, are they working in safe and healthy conditions).  We all too often treat people as disposable, and not only those who are distant and nameless to us, but those who are nearest - divorcing, estranging or unfriending.  Even with ourselves, we can feel disposable and deeply unhappy, not examining why, just medicating or numbing ourselves, hurting ourselves or even taking our own lives.  These are all very serious issues related to the cultural crisis of disconnection.  

This crisis starts at school where children are told to check their realities at the door and learn curricular content without any connection to the lives they lead.  Children learn about the water cycle (evaporation, condensation, precipitation), but the relationship between the water cycle and issues of water security, water treatment, water pollution or how climatic events in one place connects to other places (such as drought in one region and floods in another).  They do not learn about the implications of their own water use or investigate where the water they use comes from and where it goes after they use it.  Children are not taught to think systematically and holistically, to deeply understand the interconnections that exist in the world and that we are integrally part of.  Without this type of education, the disconnect between what we learn at school - fragmented knowledge as an end in itself (to be tested) will lead us to live disconnected lives full of discontent and imbalance.  When education is based on connection, relating the decisions we make in our everyday lives with the concepts we study at school so that they become resources or tools for us to use in our everyday lives, we can begin to mend our world, our relationships and ourselves by making choices that are more fully informed, consciously aware and intentional, resulting in a more meaningful existence for individuals and societies. 

Image Source: Love sculpture by Alexander Milov

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To transform education in order to move humanity forward to face the challenges of the 21st century, increasingly globalized world in a collaborative, creative, critical, connected and caring way.

The founder and primary contributor to Education for Contemporary Times is Sarah O. Weiler, long-time educator with a M.A. in Global Education from the University of Illinois and a M.A. in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Education at the prestigious Institute of Education at the University of London in the UK.
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