We propose in Meta Intelligence an education that is completely global and cosmopolitan from Day 1.
The problem with education as a confusing area of activity is revealed to us in an episode of the great Japanese novel, The Makioka Sisters.
The Makioka Sisters (細雪 [Sasameyuki], “Light Snow”) is a novel by Japanese writer Jun’ichirō Tanizaki (died in 1965) that was serialized from 1943 to 1948. It follows the lives of the wealthy Makioka family of Osaka from the autumn of 1936 to April 1941, focusing on the family’s attempts to find a husband for the third sister, Yukiko.
In the novel, there’s a description of a “failed educational odyssey:”
“Mimaki was an old court family. The present viscount, the son, was well along in years. Mimaki Minoru, son by a concubine, was a graduate of the Peers School and had studied physics at the Imperial University, which he left to go to France. In Paris he studied painting for a time, and French cooking for a time, and numerous other things, none for very long.
“Going on to America, he studied aeronautics in a not-too-famous state university, and he did finally take a degree, it seemed.
“After graduation, he continued to wander about the United States, and on to Mexico and South America. With his allowance from home cut off in the course of these wanderings, he made a living as a cook and even as a bellboy. He also returned to painting and even tried his hand at architecture.
“Following his whims and relying on his undeniable cleverness, he tried everything. He abandoned aeronautics when he left school.”
(The Makioka Sisters, Vintage Books, 1985, Seidensticker translation, page 473-474)
This person winds up dabbling in architecture after his return to Japan.
This episode in Tanizaki’s great novel gives us a “flashlight” or “searchlight” into the whole problem of educational confusion. Is this simply a case of one person’s “fecklessness?” Is this just a case of what’s called “failure to launch” (see the movie by this name)?
Or is it partly perhaps that education as a “lockstep system” of schools, exams, courses, semesters, quizzes and grades is very “inhospitable” to “searchers?”
If we call everyone who “stumbles around” a dilettante and a feckless failure, we might be unnecessarily “binary,” exclusionary and unaware of the problem of “cold educational ecosystems” which punish exploring for those who are not “born specialists.” Winners and losers are too polarized as an educational judgment, perhaps.
The classic German novel about youthful confusions is Fontane’s classic Irrungen, Wirrungen (Trials and Tribulations, 1888) and perhaps an argument could be made that the coldly “binary view” of “successes” versus “the feckless” causes the loss of many young people who had various kinds of emotional resistance to education as an “Olympics” of sorts, with “winners and losers.” This might be seen as a kind of overly narrow kind of “edu-brutality” which is intolerant of more difficult adjustment stories for young people, which are not uncommon.