This conversation is closed.

Question - Should we make increasing our consciousness as important a topic in schools as the 3 Rs.

“Cogito, Ergo Sum”( I think, therefore I am) Rene’ Descartes . Is not self-awareness evidence of consciousness? I am just a layman when it comes to science, so I am not sure my comments are relevant, but the fact that this discussion is being presented seems to back this up. We have advanced technologically, which may in turn be slowing the evolution of consciousness. If we taught self-awareness in schools along with the 3 Rs would we of gained a greater understanding of consciousness. This in turn could have resulted in an increase our study and understanding of consciousness a lot quicker. We appear to be on a race to increase our animal desires for profit, which appears to be resulting in a decrease of consciousness. As I said I am not sure if any of this is relevant or not, but for me, any focus on consciousness helps us head in the right direction.

  • Jul 25 2013: You can't understand consciousness because the mind can't grasp anything that's not intellectual. You can only feel it in yourself. The statement: "I think, therefore i am" can't be true. A baby IS before any thought enters it's mind! Fully complete and perfect as it is. The newborn looks at you with pure awareness without any distracting thoughts until the conditioning begins.... This is good - This is bad.

    Being conscious doesn't mean when you wake up in the morning that you are actually conscious. Usually the mind starts chatting right after waking up. Oh i have to do this or that have to be here or there in an hour. This is being lost in the mind.

    How many of you actually feel their body breathing or their heart beating when waking up. Have you ever really felt your sheets or your pillow? How does your skin FEEL? How does it feel to loose your mind and just feel your being inside yourself? Do you need a thought like: "i'm going to breathe in now" to breathe... No, it's the body's intelligence that's doing it and it doesn't have anything to do with our minds. We would die on the spot if we had to control any of our body functions ourselves.

    Consciousness or awareness is there before anything else. No thought actually exists or is good nor bad. Only the mind makes it either. It's literally just in our heads and we believe every thought that comes up as if our lives depend on it. What we need to teach in schools is not to identify with what we think and that kids don't need to become anything besides what they already are..... which is themselves!

    Don't believe me? No Problem: Find out for yourselves: Eckhart Tolle, Adyashanti, Pema Chödrön, Paramahansa Yogananda, Ramana Maharshi, Alan Watts, Gurdjieff, Osho, etc.

    All the best
    • Jul 25 2013: I greatly appreciate everyone’s response and it is all good. I agree with a lot of what you say; however, I wonder if we enter the world without (if not a consciousness) a pre- consciousness, a knowing, a destiny, or a life of experiences/lessons/fears to overcome. I have had a lot of people, self help groups, and seminars, books, etc, some of those who you mentioned, which have helped me increase my knowing. I believe we are all on a soul journey and having assistance to become more aware has made it easier. I just wonder if this had been a focus in schools, like cultures seem to have, how much of my life experience would have been. I am trying to stay away from absolutes, even though I slip at times. I am also not fully sold that consciousness doesn’t go beyond the five senses, which could mean there is something more than you appear to believe. Can’t say that’s true, but may be?
      • thumb
        Aug 4 2013: I not only believe that consciousness goes beyond the five (or more) senses, to me is is part and parcel of the Universe. The Universe, not just ours, but the totality of all universal life we can see and not see, is all One, living, breathing, feeling, thinking consciousness 'soup.' But that's just me and a few billion others who see evidence of it every day in every way.

        I read recently that a belief is only a thought we keep thinking over and over, and that to change our thinking is to change our lives. Our minds, our thoughts--thinking--have the ability to change, alter, create our current realities to those more in tune with what we would rather experience. I know it; I've seen it; Ive done it. Change your thinking, change your life. That is part of the path the new 'consciousness' is taking, will be taking us right along with it.

        When we finally get to the point where we realize that LIFE is not happening to us, but that WE are happening to life, that we have choices in the lives we lead, the circumstances we are in, the experiences we have, we will have taken a giant step for the future of humanity.
    • thumb
      Aug 2 2013: re" A baby IS before any thought enters it's mind! Fully complete and perfect as it is

      What level of consciousness are you referring to. We might conjecture that they have the capability for consciousness in the same way they have the potential for language.

      Babies do not have a fully developed frontal cortex. Babies do not have a sense of self, and sense of other, and do not develop an Theory of Mind until age 4.
      Other animal demonstrate a limited level of consciousness but it does not rise to the potential level of human consciousness.
      • Aug 3 2013: Thank you for your question and statement.

        The level of consciousness i am referring to, doesn’t seem to be any kind of level at all! It appears to be the origin of consciousness. Which is inaccurate in itself because, as far as i understand it, consciousness can’t be explained, described, categorized or analyzed. It IS itself. It can only be felt or pointed to because it is the one thing which makes perceiving, feeling and thinking possible. (Dao, Dharma, Buddha-Nature, Now, Great Spirit). It can’t be understood intellectually, only experientially!

        You say it yourself: Babies do not have a sense of self or another until the THEORY OF MIND slowly enters it’s brain.

        That in itself suggests we are all one to begin with (Beings coming from and returning to the same source) but through conditioning we forgot the natural state of “being-ness”, “timeless-ness”, or “I am-ness” many spiritual teachers have pointed to throughout the ages and are still pointing to in modern times.

        If you look into the eyes of a newborn animal, without being completely consumed by your mind, you will see a natural, unconditioned and curious attention that’s looking back at you, ready to be formed by life, to learn and experience whatever there is to come. This, in my opinion, is the same attention that is looking out of the eyes of a newborn human baby and is what i am referring to.

        All the best
        • thumb
          Aug 3 2013: Let underline two portions of your statement: "as far as i understand it," and "This, in my opinion,"

          Spiritualism is a BELIEF system. To point to "spiritual teachers... thoughout the ages" is to ignore what science has discover in the last twenty years about the brain.

          The age old concept that consciousness is a soul or spirit has little scientific basis. The concept that it is an emergent property of the brain allows for measurement and observation

          You have also distorted my statement when you say "Babies do not have a sense of self or another until the THEORY OF MIND slowly enters it’s brain." They develop senses about self and others within the first year of like and understand that an other has separate likes and dislikes at about 15-18 months.

          Consciousness is brain dependent.
        • thumb
          Aug 3 2013: "Although a newborn lacks self-awareness, the baby processes complex visual stimuli and attends to sounds and sights in its world, preferentially looking at faces. The infant’s visual acuity permits it to see only blobs, but the basic thalamo-cortical circuitry necessary to support simple visual and other conscious percepts is in place. And linguistic capacities in babies are shaped by the environment they grow up in. Exposure to maternal speech sounds in the muffled confines of the womb enables the fetus to pick up statistical regularities so that the newborn can distinguish its mother’s voice and even her language from others. A more complex behavior is imitation: if Dad sticks out his tongue and waggles it, the infant mimics his gesture by combining visual information with proprioceptive feedback from its own movements. It is therefore likely that the baby has some basic level of unreflective, present-oriented consciousness."

        • thumb
          Aug 3 2013: Infants have a conscious experience of the world at as early as 5 months of age, new research finds.

          New parents may raise an eyebrow at the idea that their baby might not be a conscious being, but scientists have, until now, not been able to clearly show that infants react with awareness rather than reflexively. Even in adults, much of the brain's processing of the world occurs without conscious awareness, said Sid Kouider, a neuroscientist at the Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique in Paris and the Technical University of Denmark.

          A glimpse of consciousness emerging in the brains of babies has been recorded for the first time. Insights gleaned from the work may aid the monitoring of babies under anaesthesia, and give a better understanding of awareness in people in vegetative states – and possibly even in animals.

          The human brain develops dramatically in a baby's first year, transforming the baby from being unaware to being fully engaged with its surroundings. To capture this change, Sid Kouider at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France, and colleagues used electroencephalography (EEG) to record electrical activity in the brains of 80 infants while they were briefly shown pictures of faces.

      • Aug 3 2013: In general, it’s true that spiritualism is a belief system. It requires a belief or concept to be kept alive. Unless someone experientially learns something to be the truth of what they belief, a belief system, if adapted without question, can't be confirmed nor denied. But if it is experienced, it doesn’t stay only a belief any longer. It becomes a knowing!

        The consciousness i am referring to, is something that can’t be described with words but that i encountered myself through vision quests and, as arrogant as this might sound, know to be a fundamental part of our world. That’s why i use statements like: “in my opinion” and “as far as i understand it!”

        I have encountered a state of “Being” i was never told about by my friends or family, schools or churches while growing up because only very few people used to know about it. After that, i looked for people who are talking about what i’ve experienced and experience ever since it “started” in my everyday life. The people i found are Eckhart Tolle and others i mentioned before.

        Eckhart tolle:

        What would you do if you come to realize a truth that is so contrary to the world you grew up in and that goes against everything you’ve ever learned to believe? How would you deal with that? Eventually you’d have to acknowledge and live it, matter what anybody else says!?

        Because you experience it, you simply know it to be true and would like to share it! But everyone you try to tell about it, is so consumed by their minds (like you were before) that they can’t hear you. Their thoughts make to much noise! The more you talk about it, the more they don’t want to hear what you would like to tell them. The only thing you can do is accept it as it is and continue to live your life with the knowing of what you’ve experienced, regardless of what the majority of the world tries to tell and teach you.

      • Aug 3 2013: Scientists like Gopnik are great in explaining the processes they observe of how things work on a physical level, that means, if they don’t get lost in meaningless labels and descriptions. Science in general does an amazing job explaining a lot of the facts and wonders our world has to offer and i’m sure it will continue to do so. That’s one reason why i love TED.

        I honestly don’t claim to know a lot about science either, but to me, It sometimes just lacks the sacredness we’ve almost completely banned out of our world and which i have found to be an essential part of myself. In science, many things are often made to look like dead matter, machinelike and completely random. Which, in my opinion, they are not!

        Evan Grant:

        Your statement: “Consciousness is brain dependent” doesn’t explain Near Death Experiences millions of people have almost every day. Why is it for example, that when the brain stops functioning, that the deceased are able to perceive themselves and others from the outside?

        Deepak Chopra and Stuart Hameroff:
        Sogyal Rinpoche:
        • thumb
          Aug 4 2013: Nice reply and I respect the position you take.
          One point however; Near Death experiences, NDE, do not even explain themselves. they are rare and I'd expect them to be more common if there was something to them.

          My criticism of PSI is that there is no overall framework that incorporates what can be reasonably explained and eliminate the parts that do not fit. Without this there is a shadow over the entire subject.
  • Jul 24 2013: Consciousness, in my belief, is something that cannot be taught. Consciousness is discovered by the self. I was never taught how to be a consciously aware being, it just came about as life naturally progressed. We have this innate ability to ask questions, and we do so everyday. Asking yourself questions spawns intellectual thinking, and it just so happens that we all don't ask the same questions. Some are more horizontal with their questions: how can we make this product a better product; others are more vertical questions: is my decision to do something come from my free will or am I hard wired this way. Asking questions can lead you down multiple paths of discovery.

    I believe a more appropriate agenda would be to teach young ones how to ask questions. Then, naturally guide these students in the right direction so they can ask the RIGHT questions, and conscious awareness will naturally come about.
  • thumb
    Jul 23 2013: I don't know whether this will address your question, but I think teachers as part of their training, at least in the last twenty years, are educated in child development at the levels they teach. One reason for this focus in teacher training is precisely so that they can engage students in age-appropriate reflection about their learning, both process and content. The focus is to complement and enhance students' metacognitive development- self-understanding of what they know and how well they understand, processes of thought and work that seem to work best for them, and so forth.

    Is this the sort of thing you are referirng to? I think this is a more serious item on the agenda of teachers of grade school and middle school, because middle school catches kids at the time when metacognitive development is most pronounced for almost all kids. It is prime time for students to learn how to consider and monitor their own learning.

    This sort of work can and does take place across subjects.
    • Jul 24 2013: Thanks for your response. I was thinking about it being part of the curriculum (age appropriate). I have met a lot of adults seeking a greater awareness due to lacking it and finding life wanting. It seems to me that if we focused on things like, why do we exist and our purpose. Not that any particular answer is right, or that there is even an answer. My perception is that we have drifted away from our connection to all things and lost the awe, magnificence and wonder of existence. We teach technology and science, but what about our innate awareness and depth. Getting students to ponder for instance, what if westernization had never come along where would we be consciously? Just to encourage a more conscious awareness and maybe see the development of something beyond imagining. I know the education doesn’t deal well with abstract concepts, but maybe if this was a topic in school, I wouldn’t have dropped out at 15, due to the lack of simulation. I believe that music and the arts stimulate our consciousness, which has appeared to of been so since that Stone Age (cave drawings and the drumming etc of age old civilizations). Yet we devalue them compared to topics of the intellect.
      • Aug 4 2013: age and ability appropriate - I know this has been a "Bad" word in education for many years but maybe we should be looking at tracking in some form with the ability to opt in or out. There is one caveat : teachers need to fail those who opt in and do not or can not do the work. This also requires the the admin to support the teachers.
    • Jul 24 2013: Great theory but have not seen it done in practice.
  • Aug 22 2013: While I dont disagree with what you say, i think that first the 3R's are far from being taught, and taught well.

    Writing - some cant even write 'joined up', apparently they (some teachers) don't see the point of have a pen flow across the page like your thoughts do in your mind. No doubt reflective on the level of comments often found on the internet today.

    Reading - 80% of graduates never read non-fiction after completing their studies. 60% Don't ever read, unless it work related.

    Arithmetic - Ask anyone to do really simple math, is now seen as a reason to have/own a calculator/phone/cash register - or an excuse.

    Remember Descartes said that at a time where knowledge, even of own self, was a prized possession. The value of that and the discoveries of the ancient Greeks still resonates deep within many cultures - but remains all but unknown.

    Today with reality shows, media, titillation, 10 second sound bites etc, it no longer is, "I think, therefore I am"... we live too much in the age of "I don't think, therefore i ain't".
  • Aug 7 2013: Thanks again for the great discussion. I think it is all good food for thought. It seems there are various perspectives based on life experiences and/or frame of reference. One of them seems to come from the point of view that matter is where it all stems from, in this case the brain, this brings about one belief system and another appears to be a belief we are more than a physical being. Again, I personally have found an open mind is important. I apologize ahead of time, as I sometimes fail to remember where I saw/heard something, in this instance I think it was “What the #*#@! Do I know?” Anyway, part of it talked about some Native Americans standing on the beach when the first ships arrived, apparently they could not see the ships on the horizon because they did not have any idea they existed. That was, until the witch doctor pointed them out to them. It seems it was his open mindedness that allowed him to experience and see more than the average person. Also, if far viewing is a true ability, then how or what enables it? Sometimes we just have to be open to something before we can even consider its validity. The world was believed to be flat and those who could not travel had to choose to come to believe otherwise even though they had not experience anything different. Do we have a spirit maybe or maybe not, but it is sometimes the willingness to be open that paves the way to new horizons. I am not sure if science couldn’t be more open minded. A theory that considered we have a spirit, as yet not provable, but could be; this spirit could be the consciousness that exists before birth and after death. Right now as with many theories we may not have the understanding and means to prove it, I don’t know, but maybe?
    • thumb
      Aug 7 2013: It is people who are, or are not, open-minded- not disciplines.

      There are also situations in which open-minded is the wrong word. For example, one person may know the answer to a question and another person may not yet. To the first person, an answer is known and other possible answers are therefore known to be incorrect. The second person knows less and therefore more seems highly likely..

      For example, you may know how to drive a car- what the brake does and what the accelerator does. A person who has not yet learned to drive a car may be open to the possibility that the brake makes the car go faster and the accelerator stops the car if pressed quickly.

      I have never noticed those who study science to be less open-minded than those who don't. I have noticed that those who are suspicious about science are often quite decided about the nature of scientists and scientific thought, thinking or being convinced that science is much more narrow than they are.
  • thumb
    Aug 4 2013: Absolutely. It is AS important, if not more so, than math and history. Humanity is becoming more aware, not just of the world, but of our place in it and our ability--and responsibility--to keep its citizens from destroying their only home. Spirituality is not religion... Spirituality, and its offspring such as bio-feedback, meditation, visualization, intention, etc., are states of consciousness that have proven to reduce stress, create happiness, increase health AND wealth, even heal us from terminal illnesses.

    So, yes... the time is ripe for consciousness to be made a mandatory curriculum in schools. People (children are people too) tend to meet our expectations of them. We must expect more of them, greater of them--not less.

    I might add that, courses like math and history might be diminished to make room for classes in self-esteem, anger management, social skills, and communication, to name a few.
  • thumb
    Jul 24 2013: Actually, I do not think this would be such a great idea. What is your definition of consciousness? The implication is that it is not merely on or off, but that there is, some and more.

    Here is some things to ponder. Consciousness requires a "self."
    Professor Bruce Hood shows that the concept of the 'self' is a figment of the brain, generated as a character to weave our internal processes and experiences together into a coherent narrative.

    Robert Kegan's theory of adult meaning-making has influenced theory and practice internationally across multiple disciplines. In a special RSA event, he considers: is it really possible to grow beyond the psychological independence of the "self-authoring mind," so often seen as the zenith of adult development?
    • Jul 24 2013: This is a totally uneducated personal perception of what my mind tells me based on my life experiences. The fact that this discussion is taking place may indicate a belief of something greater, whether it is meaning or an entity. My current thoughts regarding consciousness are the yearning for the intangible and a knowing of something far greater than me, a collective consciousness and belief in purpose. I have trouble separating things out of the equation like, the possibility of a sixth sense, spirits and out of body experiences. Even though I have only a little personal experience with some of these and none with the latter, I am open minded enough to consider all possibilities. Plus, the idea of unconditional love is an ethereal concept, which some peruse, why? what drives us to this end. I can imagine an understanding that has been within us since time began, a conscious contact with something divine, so consciousness is this awareness that precedes intellect. I hope this makes sense and I will try to view your suggestions.