Andreea G. Petruse
LEARNING TO THRIVE: A CRUCIAL EDUCATIONAL FRONTIER
Updated: Jun 12, 2020
Every system supporting our daily existence functions best when it is regularly evaluated, and then adapted to meet the ever-evolving needs of our lives. Of all systems, the education system bears the most responsibility. Besides bringing us knowledge about our material world – how it works, its history, and its technological advancements, we must also wonder, does what we learn serve the development of human potential? Does it reflect universal values to facilitate a healthy relationship to our self, others, and the planetary ecosystem? And most importantly, does it teach us how to thrive, not just survive?
Unfortunately, in most modern school systems, we encounter a shy, resounding “no”. In some places we are only just beginning the journey, and in others we have had the maps but have kept them hidden or separate from each other only to end up cheating ourselves as a whole. Thus, “Are we learning to thrive?” remains the untouched educational horizon of our day.
If we were to explore this question, we would discover its power for transforming social and cultural norms and improving the quality of life. At first glance its answers appear vast, perhaps a bit idealistic, overwhelming in purpose and fact. This can be true, but we will never fully answer it through scientific and technological developments, peaceful politics, religious or racial harmony. That’s because its greatest contribution will come from inside each person. Each one of us, like the cells of an organism must learn to thrive together to sustain a healthy and vibrant state of life. Currently, we are part of a world driven solely by survival - it is the plight of an organism whose coping mechanisms, immune system, and main energy output are spent every waking second in trying to regain equilibrium through adverse conditions of illness and stress. Our social structures much like our bodies, mimic the cycle of physical and psychological suffering associated with deep underlying trauma. How long have we been here? As far back as our written histories tell us- and continuously conditioned to believe this is how we must live!
What if we could begin preparing our children for all aspects of life: gave them the tools to integrate negative experiences along with the ways to apply mathematical equations; modeled healthy relationship to self and others, while teaching them the skills to also make a living? We could say that the mindfulness movement, the socio-emotional learning revolution, natural classrooms, etc., are already accomplishing this. But what if in addition, our preventative strategies also included a K- 12 curriculum that could interrupt the cycle of violence, teaching us how to resolve inner violence before it manifests externally or becomes disease? At IOLEE Ecosystem (www.iolee.life), we are currently designing this curriculum and beginning the long road through research and application. We are hopeful that by effectively processing negative emotions - often experienced as bio-behavioral responses through accumulated stress or trauma - we can begin to evolve the quality of life past mere surviving into thriving.