Why Self-Direction Needs to Be Taught In Our Schools

by Nick Andrea

Self-direction, or getting quiet to find guidance within, is a critical life skill that we need to teach in our schools, from Kindergarten through Ph.D. It is missing from the majority of our educational institutions and this hit home in a dream I had last night. In the dream I’m working at a school where all the students are doing a senior project. There are varying levels of success among them, yet, more of them than not are hardly doing anything at all, paralyzed by the process of  having to make their own decisions. 

Upon awakening from it I was reminded of my own childhood in the Talented And Gifted program, or T.A.G., where there was quite a lot of creative freedom. I, however, did not excel because my inner account of originality was all but bankrupt. As so many others like me, I went on to graduate not only from high school but also college with the highest honors – in conformity – and that became clear the day I stepped into the “real” world. Thrust disconcertingly into the sea of uncertainty and the need to make my own decisions, I went, “oh, crap.” I was never taught how to do THAT in school.

Our education system, lower and higher, is almost exclusively focused on the communication of outer knowledge. As a result, we continue to produce droves of half-hearted worker bees, many of whom go to their graves never experiencing the Genius that lives inside of them. It’s No Worker Bee Left Behind.

Yet, self-direction is the process of tapping into that Genius, the same goldmine of scientific insight from which Einstein plucked, the limitless reservoir of compassion from which Mother Teresa drew, and the volcano of inspiration that fueled Beethoven’s 5th symphony. These mortals were not “geniuses” themselves, no, but open channels of That which is behind every quantum leap of civilization. This is something we all have access to, the channel to which is opened by learning to listen quietly within, for that is where Its still, small voice is heard.

This practice should be a required part of every curriculum in every school, no matter how old or young the student body, for the evolution of our society at this critical juncture depends on it. In an age where the “system” is no longer working we cannot afford overwhelming conformity to it. We need novelty, creativity, and originality, and those can only come from the unconditioned, the untaught. When the Genius begins expressing through all the beacons – students – that occupy every corner of our society, then we might turn this shop around.

So, let’s reinvigorate our grade schools and colleges with a path of contemplative self-reflection, non-denominational and non-religious.

(For inspiration on The Genius checkout Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86x-u-tz0MA)


Martin Luther King, Jr. took society by storm because he knew the truth of life in his bones and he was not afraid to die for it. The same is true of other leaders like Gandhi, Aung San Suu Kyi, and the Dalai Lama, to name a few.

Leadership training is big in our schools. We all strive to “train the leaders of tomorrow.” That is great and I think it should continue, but how can anybody lead others if they can’t even lead themselves? To be a leader has nothing to do with others and everything to do with self-knowledge. So, perhaps, we should turn the lights of our students’ minds in a different direction. Perhaps we should turn them around and start transforming our society from the inside out.


About NickAndrea19

My goal has always been and continues to be the liberation of minds, my own and what influence I may have on others, to perceive the extraordinary beauty all around us. To this end, I write, play music, and design websites. Don't hesitate to contact me for more information about any of these activities. :)
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2 Responses to Why Self-Direction Needs to Be Taught In Our Schools

  1. Bill Walz says:

    As one who taught meditation and mindfulness in a University to the vast gratitude of the students who actually “got” what it was about, and experienced the accompanying revelation that they had needed this training of the mind into quiet and insight since grade school, who described a little one credit “adjunct” class as the most important they had ever taken, I look about me at the education system and see it deeply mired in egoism. It is functioning only as a training ground for placement in a society and economy that is a Titanic headed for an ice-berg, and I am filled with sadness. Our students are being trained to chase the illusion of security through position and importance for themselves in the accumulation of what is outside themselves True security will never be found this way. Never are our students trained to understand that security exists only in the discovery of their own deepest compassionate presence within a community of Life in complete compassionate and generous harmony. They are not taught this because those who teach do not understand and know it.
    Congratulations to Nick for “getting it.”
    Humanity, on the individual and collective level, is drifting toward disaster. No one dares look into the long future for they know in their bones that without an awakened consciousness that sees the truth of our boundless interconnectedness and interdependence there is no long future that has any quality. True leaders are so desperately needed. And by this, i mean those with the vision and courage to function as “prophets,” rather than an officer corps for the Titanic as our current educational system is churning out.
    Awaken! Awaken! Awaken! is the only message. See how lost and drifting we are. And see that it does not have to be this way. Become truly present, aware, and courageous in your life, in society, on the planet, in the Universe. Learn to quiet the incessant overwhelming noise of a mind that has been trained only to think, and only to think of ways to make more self and more ways to make more self. Become increasingly comfortable with the vast stillness of your own deep presence where the wisdom encoded into your very cellular structure can speak to you. Attend the School of the Universe and be the future. Now!
    Nick – I appoint you a scholar and professor in this school. I challenge you to be a prophet. Plant the seeds, water and feed the shoots. Weed egoism from the Garden and watch Eden return. It can happen. It will happen when we stop pursuing a false illusion of security through materialism and taking more than we give, hiding from the truth of the true Nature of our Nature as within and guided by the principles of Nature; when we discover ourselves as a unique, complex, abstracting life-form capable of amazing technology brought into the service of compassionate sacred existence.
    Walk the World in Peace, Wonder and Presence.

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