Category Archives: Education

Subjects that do not Make Sense

Reference: Course on Subject Clearing

Self-Learning speeds up as one clears up the subjects that do not make sense to the person. These are the subjects that the person struggled with and then gave up. He still has many confusions and unanswered questions in those subjects. These confusions and questions are buried deep in his mind and they influence him in ways that he is not aware of. They are part of his mental tumor, and the earlier is a subject the more central position it has in the tumor. Tremendous gains come about when these subjects are finally cleared up.

Your first step is to make a list of all the subjects that you struggled with. Usually, these are the subjects that you encountered in school, such as, language, grammar and mathematics, but there are practical subjects also, such as, money, adulthood, and life itself, in which your questions were rebuffed and you were left wondering. In addition, there could be subjects of health, illness, depression, etc., that concerned you when you were growing up.

The list of subjects does not have to be exhaustive. Just make sure the main subjects are there. You can always add more subjects to this list at any time.

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Clearing up the Titles

The purpose of this step is to get you an overview of the subjects you had trouble with. The title of a subject usually gives you a clue to what that subject is about; so, you may clear a subject title by looking up its origin or etymology. You just want to get a broad sense of the subject in order to have an idea of its purpose.

For example, you may clear the subject title MATHEMATICS by searching the origin or etymology of this word on Internet. We get the following results:

From Wikipedia: The word mathematics comes from Ancient Greek máthēma (μάθημα), meaning “that which is learnt,” “what one gets to know,” hence also “study” and “science”. 

From Webster dictionary 1828: MATHEMAT’ICSnoun [Latin mathematica, from Gr. to learn.] 

If you meditate on this etymology a bit, you may find that the purpose of mathematics is to learn systematically.

You clear up all the subject titles on the list. This will familiarize you with what each subject is basically about. Now arrange these subjects in a list from earliest to latest. This will provide you with the order in which to clear these subjects fully until you have no attention fixed on them. 

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Summary

Subject Clearing is done starting with the earliest subject that you had difficulty with in your life and then coming up to the present. But if your attention is fixed on a later subject then that should be taken up first. As you start clearing up a later subject, it will eventually lead you to the earliest subject that you had difficulty with.

As you fully clear up a subject your attention is no longer fixed on it, and you can make better sense out of it. You are now able to evaluate its actual importance in your life.

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Self-Learning and Assimilation

Reference: Course on Subject Clearing

As noted earlier, Self-Learning is the most vital part of one’s continuing education. It helps one clear any past conditioning of the mind and further develop the ability to think critically.

Self-learning involves the assimilation of the incoming perceptions and symbolic data into the mental matrix. A healthy mind naturally breaks the perceptions down into fine “mental pixels”, which are then absorbed into the mental matrix.

The symbolic data reaches one through spoken and written language. For proper assimilation one should be able to visualize the symbolic data in real time so it could be broken down into fine “mental pixels” and assimilated.

Assimilation mean absorbing incoming pixels in the “data matrix” of the mind. This requires arranging new pixels in existing patterns in the matrix, and, as necessary, modifying the patterns and extending them, removing duplicate pixels, and supplying the correct time stamp. Ideally, incoming pixels are continually assimilated.

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THE PROBLEM

Assimilation does not take place when incoming perceptions and symbolic data cannot be broken down into pixels because they are distorted due to pain and confusion. The unassimilated perceptions and symbolic data get bunched up like a tumor in the mental matrix. They have only a few connections with rest of the matrix.

Obviously, a mental tumor is formed when there is physical injury or sickness in life. But a more insidious mental tumor grows out of sight as misunderstood words and symbols accumulate throughout a person’s life. 

It is a common observation in schooling that a child’s eagerness to learn declines as he moves up the grades. Very soon, he is no longer motivated to learn. By the time a child reaches middle school, he is studying only because he is afraid of being punished for low attendance, low marks, or for failing the exam; and not because he wants to learn. The cause of this declining motivation is the accumulation of misunderstood words and symbols entirely.

The mental tumor of accumulated “misunderstoods” is the most destructive of all, as it is spread throughout the mental matrix without being assimilated. It robs the incredible potential of a person, and makes his life full of confused struggle.

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THE SOLUTION

An interesting phenomenon occurs when you start handling the mental tumor of accumulated misunderstood words and symbols. All other mental tumors also start to come up by themselves exactly when they are ready to be resolved. This is because the common denominator of handling is,

(1) Finding that which doesn’t make sense.
(2) Studying up on data relating to that subject.
(3) Not going by any word or symbol that you do not understand the meaning of.
(4) Finding the meaning of the word or symbol and contemplating on it within the context it is used.
(5) Clearing up all thoughts, emotions and effort related to that concept in meditation.
(6) Following up on what is not clear. This may require repetition of these steps.
(7) Keep at it until the doubt, confusion, perplexity and difficulty is fully cleared up. 

This may sound like a lot of work but as you follow these steps, you soon start to have little wins. These wins soon start to add up to make the journey worthwhile. Finally, the major win occurs in terms of the difficulty fully handled. And that is always a life changer.

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SUMMARY

The above steps lead to increasing assimilation of past and present perceptions and education. The progress may appear to require effort at first but soon it becomes rewarding. It leads not only to self-learning but also to self-healing to some degree. Each of these steps are taken up in greater detail in subsequent issues.

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Education and the Mind

Reference: Course on Subject Clearing

From my personal experience, and from my long term experience as a tutor, I find that education itself can be a forgotten trauma in every person’s life. It is rarely that school and college education has been uniformly a pleasant experience. Normally, many other things are going on in adult life to think about one’s education. But past education has been the source of most of a person’s conditioning. It may, therefore, be necessary to run out the trauma of education at some point in one’s life.

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Levels of Education

The most basic level of education is through direct perception. We perceive through the physical senses of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting. These perceptions then get absorbed or assimilated in our mind and become a part of our being.

The second level of education is learning of a common language through which one can express and communicate to another what one is observing and feeling. It is the means through which one may flow out one’s beingness.

The third level of education is inflowing through that same language the beingness and experience of another. That experience then gets absorbed or assimilated in our mind to become part of our beingness. At this level beingness and experience are almost synonymous. Beingness builds up through layers of experience from the environment and others.

Higher levels of education are simply an expansion of these three basic levels in other dimensions. Education expands from the  dimension of speech to the dimensions of reading and writing. Most education starts to become indirect through the medium of language and its symbols. This indirect education, however, requires translation into “direct perceptions” through the faculty of visualization for proper absorption and assimilation in the mind.

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The Deeper Level of Abstraction

Another interesting dimension that starts to enter into picture at this stage is ABSTRACTION. It sort of develops as an intuitive sense because it is mostly “under the radar”. Abstraction requires physical perceptions to be broken down into finer “pixels” for  deeper assimilation in the mind.

Abstraction is a dimension most peculiar to the human mind. It puts the human mind in a class of its own, way above the minds found in other species. The human mind starts to appear like an incredible matrix of “mental pixels” that are interconnected with each other in an extremely large number of intricate ways. The total number of “mental pixels” may be quite large and the relations among them may easily be infinite.

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Self-Learning

A person has control over his mind to the degree it is assimilated to the deepest level. To the degree the mind is not assimilated, the effect appears in the form of conditioning. It is the conditioned part of mind that is out of one’s control.

We shall be introducing the concept of Self-learning in the next issue. Self-learning is the process of assimilating perceptions and symbolic data in one’s mind. It helps one overcome past conditioning by fully assimilating the past experience one has been exposed to. Self-learning is the most vital part of one’s continuing education.

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Mindful Subject Clearing

Reference: Course on Subject Clearing

Mindful Subject Clearing is the most powerful tool currently available to bring clarity to the mind on any subject. It not only brings about a much better understanding of a subject but also helps detect the basic postulates, assumptions and erroneous ideas present in that subject.

The basic postulates help one understand the grounds on which a subject stands. Ideas based on these postulates must be demonstrable. There must not be inconsistencies among these postulates, ideas and reality.

If assumptions and erroneous ideas are not detected and isolated, it can cause serious problems with the application of the subject. Such erroneous ideas can be very pervasive, and may even enter the definitions of words provided in dictionaries. It is, therefore, very important not to miss them in your study. 

The true purpose of study is to resolve inconsistencies (things that do not make sense) as you come across them in a subject or in life. This develops clarity of mind and the ability to think fast on your feet.

Since additional information on a subject may easily be accessed through Internet these days, the purpose of study is to not memorize but to improve critical thinking.

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The Steps

Here are the steps to Mindful Subject Clearing:

1.    Make a list of key words in the subject.

Every subject has its own vocabulary. It may even use certain common words in a special meaning. Start making a list of key words used in that subject. If you are familiar with the subject you may already know some of those words. Otherwise, skim through the chapter that you are going to study, and obtain some key words from it. Put that list on an Excel worksheet. This list may grow as your studies get deeper into the subject.

2.    Enter the broad concept on the worksheet next to the word.

Look up the word in good dictionary. Read the ‘history’, ‘origin’, and/or ‘derivation’ for that word. Simply work out the broad concept underlying that word and write it down on the worksheet next to the word. Do so for each word on the list. Here are some broad concepts associated with some words.

STUDY = “eagerness, intense application”.
MATHEMATICS = “something learned”.
ARITHMETIC = ARITHMOS number + TECHNE skill = “number skill”.

3.    Read the subject material one paragraph at a time.

Procure the study materials in the form of an editable file on the computer. Study the materials of the subject one paragraph at a time. If the paragraph is too big, break it down into chunks of reasonable size.  If the paragraph is too small, and the thought continues to the next paragraph then read the two paragraphs together. Go over the paragraph as many times as necessary to understand the main thought.

4.    If the paragraph is fully understood, write down your understanding of its main thought along with your comments.

Make sure you fully understand the paragraph. If not then go to step 5. Once you have fully understood the paragraph, then summarize its main thought in your mind and look at your reactions to it. Write down below that paragraph your understanding of its main thought along with any comments. Treat this action as having a conversation with the author. Then go to step 7 below.

5.    If the paragraph is difficult to understand then look for the first word not fully understood.

If you find your mind going blank as you read the paragraph, something in that paragraph is not fully understood. Trace that sense of misunderstanding to the earliest sentence in that paragraph,  and to the earliest word in that sentence. Here you have to be very careful because the misunderstanding can come from having assumed the wrong definition for a simple word like “on”, “of”, “in”, et cetera. Usually there is an obvious word, whose meaning you may have guessed in the past, but never actually looked up in a standard dictionary. At least there is some uncertainty in your mind about how that word is being used in the given context. We shall call it MU (misunderstood) for short. Write that MU word down on a sheet of paper. 

NOTE: If it is a key word in that subject, then see if its is defined in that paragraph or in the glossary of that book. Then write its definition down on the Excel worksheet of Step 1 above.

Do not look for anything else in that paragraph until you have cleared up this MU. You must be very honest with yourself in keeping this discipline.

6.    Clear up the MUs in that paragraph until that paragraph is fully understood.

(6a) Look up the MU word in a standard reference — This reference could be a standard dictionary or an Internet resource, such as, Wikipedia and Google Images.

(6b) Understand the concept underlying the word — Per step 2 above.

(6c) Look up the definitions of the word — Look up the definitions of the word. Visualize the definition in the context in which that word is used. If it doesn’t fit go to the next definition. You may visualize a definition better if you make a few of your own sentences, or examples from your experience, with that word. Some words may require the use of “Google Image.” Always keep the basic concept in your mind that underlies the word . It is best to check out all definitions this way until you find the definition that clarifies the MU. 

(6d) Look up MUs in the definition — If a definition contains an MU then look it up per this procedure. Write that MU down below the earlier MU. This may sometime get you in a long chain of MU words. Keep an account of these words on the list as you add them or cross them out after clearing them. It is okay to look up the same word again several times. Each time you look up the same word you get a deeper understanding of its meaning.

(6e) Review the original sentence — Review the sentence in which the original MU was found. Make sure that it now makes sense. If not then there may be another MU word in the sentence. Repeat the above procedure until that sentence is understood.

(6f) Review the paragraph — Once the sentence is cleared up, go back to step 4.

7.    Check the paragraph for key words/definitions.

Check the paragraph for key words and/or key word definitions that do not already appear on the Excel worksheet. If a key word definition is expanded upon then add it to the Excel worksheet.

8.    Continue with subsequent paragraphs per steps 4 to 7 until the end of chapter.

Continue as above with rest of the chapter building up the key word list on the Excel worksheet.

9.    Gradually build up the key word list for that subject.

Build up the key word list, with broad concepts and meanings of the key words, as you study the subject chapter after chapter, and book after book. Note down any additional concepts and meanings next to the appropriate word on the Excel worksheet. Also note down the questions that may arise in your mind about the words.

The broadest case would be the subject of religion. You may first make a key word lists for Judaism by studying the scriptures and commentaries. Then you may make key word lists for Christianity and Islam respectively. Then you may combine these lists to generate a key word lists for Western religions. Similarly, you may combine the key word lists for the Vedas, Hinduism, and Buddhism, etc., to generate a key word list for Eastern religions. Finally, you may combine all these word lists to generate the key word list for religion.

Here you may find many different definitions for the same key word, such as, God, all written down in one place. You may also find different words used in different religions for the same fundamental concept.

As you work on this step for a subject you will have many realizations along the way. This is a continuing step. So, you continue with the subsequent steps as well.

10.    Arrange the key words in sequences appropriate for understanding.

The concepts in a subject always evolve in some sequence. This sequence may be linear at first but then it branches out in different directions like a network or a matrix of concepts. This can easily be seen in Mathematics and Science.

In Excel, you may separate the key words on two different worksheets categorized as “fundamental concepts” and “derived concepts”. Then arrange the concepts in each worksheet in the order they evolved.

Since the sequence of the evolution of these concepts is multi-dimensional, you may set up the Excel worksheet to sort out these key words in different sequences. To do this you may create different “priority columns” in the worksheet. In each “priority column” assign a unique number to the key word so it sorts out in the order you want. The whole idea is to arrange these words in different ways to examine the connections among them.

11.    Note any inconsistencies among the concepts and clarify them.

As the study of the subject progresses, you’ll be collecting more data to describe each key word. Resolve any inconsistencies among that collection of concepts and meanings for each word through careful examination and contemplation. Once resolved, express the broad concept for each word in your own words. There may be one broad concept but several distinct meanings for a word. If so, then express the multiple meanings by numbering them. You are creating your own glossary.

Next, examine the evolution of the key words by arranging and rearranging them in different sequences. You are looking for inconsistencies that do not make sense. Here it is very important that you do not inject justifications in your examination. Be wary of arbitrary notions, assumptions and beliefs that may be covering actual holes among these concepts that need to be filled. Trace existing ideas in that area of inconsistency one by one for arbitrariness. 

Deeper research may be required to clearly identify holes among the concepts and fill them. First review your study materials to clarify such inconsistencies. If it does not clarify easily then note it down on the worksheet and research through other materials in the library, or on Internet, until the inconsistency is resolved.

12.    Clarify the fundamentals of the subject as a priority.

The consistency of the fundamentals determines the consistency of the whole subject. Any inconsistency at the fundamental level must be handled as a priority. For example, a unified theory is desperately being looked for in the subject of Physics, which could bring the fundamentals of Newtonian Physics, the Theory of Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics in line. This means that inconsistencies exist in our understanding of the fundamental level of physics

There are likely to be many contributors to a subject who may use different words for the same concept. This is the case with religious knowledge from different cultures. Group such words together to discover inconsistencies among concepts.

Study of inconsistencies may lead to discovery of arbitrary beliefs that were advanced in the absence of knowledge, or you may find erroneous observation, or simply some notions that are taken for granted. This may reveal gaps in the subject itself. Develop your own understanding by seeking consistency among the fundamental concepts in a subject.

13.    Make the subject as complete as possible.

There are many examples in the subject of religion where gaps in knowledge are hidden under fixed beliefs and dubious explanations. This may be the case with any subject where inconsistencies abound. Follow up on inconsistencies, which may then reveal gaps in the subject. Real progress then becomes possible.

Fill gaps in the subject with wider research. Make the subject as complete as possible through direct experience and experimentation.

14.    Keep your viewpoint as objective as possible when you research a subject.

This step is done after one has acquired a good bit of experience with subject clearing. This is an advanced step that consists of doing the following exercise: Know to Mystery Process

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Summary

These are the steps of SUBJECT CLEARING. You do them again and again for the same or different subjects. This includes step 14. These steps lead you to wonderful realizations that keep coming. As you assimilate those realizations your viewpoint moves up toward KNOWING on the Know-to-Mystery scale.

You may find examples of NOTES & COMMENTS resulting from Subject Clearing below.

Comments on Books

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‘College-For-Everybody’ Agenda

The following is a Forbes article by Tom Lindsay:

How the ‘College-For-Everybody’ Agenda Harms both Students and the Economy

Many in higher education worry continuously over the fact that only roughly half of students who enroll in college ever graduate, and that those who do graduate often take more than four years to do so. But few seek to go to the roots to attempt to discover the ultimate causes explaining these depressing statistics. One of the few who makes such an attempt is Charles Murray, whose contrarian explanation is, “Too many people are going to college.”

Regardless of whether one agrees with its conclusions, Murray’s Real Education, published in 2008, has received far less attention than the gravity of its arguments merits. Real Education defends what he deems are four simple truths about education, but truths that cannot be said publicly without engendering the wrath of a culture fallen prey to what he labels “educational romanticism.” They are “(1) ability varies; (2) half of the children are below average; (3) too many people are going to college; and (4) America’s future depends on how we educate the academically gifted.”

The American education system, says Murray, “is living a lie. The lie is that every child can be anything he or she wants to be.” The lie is bipartisan, he argues; it spans both Republican and Democratic Party platforms, its unrealistic assumptions driving and distorting both K-12 and higher-education policy.

In higher education, the vision “that everyone should go to college”—like all well-intentioned projects suffering only tenuous connections to reality—asks “too much from those at the bottom, . . . the wrong things from those in the middle, . . . and too little from those at the top.”

How many students, then, should go to college? In answering, Murray makes a key distinction—between “college-level instruction in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences” versus “the courses (and their level of difficulty) that are actually offered throughout much of the current American college system.” The difference between the two is large and widening. If getting a diploma proves the ability to “’cope with college-level material,’” then “almost anyone” can succeed who merely “shops for easy courses in an easy major at an easy college.” However, once we shift our focus to “college-level material traditionally defined, the requirements become stringent,” and toward satisfying this stricter demand, “no more than 20 percent of all students” qualify.

But if this is true, what of democracy’s rightful wish to see as many as possible benefit from a liberal education that fulfills John Stuart Mill’s vision of engendering “capable and cultivated human beings”? Murray agrees that more students should receive the “basics of a liberal education.” Nevertheless, the place for most students to do this is, he argues, in elementary and middle school, not college. K-8 education should seek to inculcate the core knowledge described in E.D. Hirsch’s Cultural Literacy—knowledge that “makes us Americans together rather than hyphenated Americans.”

Murray’s critique is not “the same as saying that the average student does not need to know about history, science, and great works of art, music, and literature.” Instead, he urges that we “not wait for college” to teach these subjects. In college, the study of these subjects should go much deeper; it should require close, careful reading of the foundational texts that constitute what Matthew Arnold called “the best that has been said and thought in the world.” For example, reading “the Odyssey in ninth grade is nothing like reading the Odyssey in a good college course.”

However, “most students at today’s colleges choose not to take the courses that go into a liberal education because the capabilities they want to develop lie elsewhere”—a fact that “colleges do their best to avoid admitting.” Instead, under universities’ “distribution requirements” (the sham version of a core curriculum), students can fulfill their humanities and literature requirements through taking courses such as Indiana University’s “History of Comic Book Art”; Dartmouth’s “Rock Music from 1970 to the Present,” and Duke’s “Campus Culture and Drinking,” to mention a few. Worse, the elite Brown and Vassar require no core courses, casting 18-year-olds into an endless abyss of “choice,” with neither compass nor yardstick.

Because universities are “no longer in the business of imparting a liberal education,” it follows that those students lacking the capacity for and/or interest in a genuine core curriculum should have “better options than going from high school to college.”

But what of the need for even these students to attend college to enhance their capacity to make a living? Murray responds that four-year brick-and-mortar residential colleges are “hardly ever” the best places to “learn how to make a living.” To begin, for most vocations, excluding fields such as medicine and law, four years of class work is not only “too long” but “ridiculous.” For many of such students, two-year community college degrees and online education provide “more flexible options for tailoring course work to the real needs of the job.”

Moreover, the brick-and-mortar campus is becoming “increasingly obsolete.” The “Internet is revolutionizing everything”— university libraries have lost their indispensable character, and both faculty research and faculty-student interaction no longer require the “physical proximity” that brick-and-mortar campuses make possible.

But what of the “wage premium” reaped by college graduates? For Murray, high-school graduates who pursue the B.A. primarily to boost their earning power are “only narrowly correct.” Doubtless, B.A.-holders earn more on average than those without degrees, but this due in part to a “brutal fact.” Given the increase in the number of college graduates over the past half-century (more than a third of 23-year-olds now hold B.A.s), “employers do not even interview applicants” without degrees. “Even more brutal,” the B.A.’s comparative advantage “often has nothing to do with the content of the education” received. The average employment gains of college graduates must be weighed against the fact that “wages within occupations form a distribution.” Therefore, a student with average academic skills but exceptional “small-motor skills and special abilities” is more likely both to earn more and to be happier as, say, an electrician than as a mediocre middle-manager.

In addition to being happier as an electrician, this student would benefit from the fact that “there has never been a time in history when people with skills not taught in college have been in so much demand at such high pay as today.” In fact, as in the case of the proficient electrician, the wages of top performers in a plethora of occupations not requiring a B.A. are “higher than the average income for many occupations that require a B.A.”

Murray presents a higher-education system in which too many students are forced to spend too much time chasing their tails. His thesis that too many are going to college today goes no small distance toward explaining why roughly half of those who enroll in college fail to graduate. It goes a long way toward explaining why, of those who do graduate, 36 percent show little-to-no increase in the critical-thinking and writing skills that a degree is supposed to signify. It goes a long way toward explaining why, in the ‘60s, college students studied on average 24 hours a week, whereas today they spend only 14. Finally, it goes a long way toward explaining the rampant grade inflation perpetrated by universities eager to “accommodate” the masses of new students in college who can’t cope there. In the ‘60s, 15 percent of college grades nationwide were A’s. Today, that percentage has nearly tripled: 43 percent of all grades today are A’s. In fact an A is now the most common grade given in college.

Higher-education reformers read the statistics above and pronounce higher education broken. If they hope to fix it, one indispensable step is to face Murray’s thesis without blinking.

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