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The original meaning of the word educate, is to draw out from within. This makes an interesting distinction with the way we use the word today. To educate, now implies the passing of knowledge, to teach information and the methodology to complete a process of reasoning.

In one sense, through modern education, we are imposing our ideas on another person. We do this to each other and we do it to ourselves. We are naturally inclined to want to teach others and impose our views onto others. To learn more ourselves we read, go on courses and seek help and sometimes impose other people’s ideas on ourselves.

If to educate is to draw out from within, what would happen if we also had the intention to express our impulses from within? Our current education system seems to be focussed on learnt knowledge and the ability to perform various mental processes, whether resolving formula or writing an essay. Whilst all this is excellent exercise for the mind I wonder whether we are missing another dimension.

Rather than imposing our ideas onto another, could we simply encourage and support them in making their own discoveries? Could we accept that we may all have different perceptions, interpretations and insights into life? I wonder how rich our societies would be if we encouraged ourselves to think for ourselves.

Perhaps we want to hold each other to a limited range of thoughts. Perhaps we feel threatened when someone voices ideas that are outside our current beliefs. We may feel safer to be around like minded people. However, if we want to evolve our own thinking, it may be the people who share the greatest differences in opinions that best challenge us to be open minded.

If each of us is here to live out experiences that combine to feel complete and happy when our life comes to an end, is it helpful to live out of someone else’s opinions?

To engage in our own thinking takes an incredible degree of trust. When we trust in ourselves and life in general so much more is possible. Strip out the fear and we begin to taste freedom that can lead to greater trust in our own discoveries, insights and revelations.

I have found that periods of letting go of everything I have learnt from others, opens up a huge space in which I can explore my own insights. This does not mean I cannot come back to some of my learnt thoughts but it does give me the choice of how I want to be, and the experience that I can be creative and imaginative out of nothing.

My experience leads me to question how much I want to impose my own thoughts on others and to how I can best encourage people to think for themselves.

Copyright Simon Brown, London, 2011