3. Three Connections

A Central Philosophy
The 3 Connections is the Central Philosophy to the Blankslate Education Concept.
General education should revolve around fundamental ideas that are taught to every student. The Central Philosophy is core to instilling a philosophy that we believe will make every student become the best version of themselves, to find their happiness and success, and while at the same time, making the world a better place for future generations.
Many schools of today lack a strong central philosophy. Schools are developed to follow some kind of external grading system that determines the success of students. We have tests. We have grades. We have college acceptance rates. But do these external grading systems really help instill the right kind of insights we want in our students?
The Central Philosophy in Blankslate Education is based around the 3 Connections:
  • Connection 1: Connect with Yourself
  • Connection 2: Connect with Others
  • Connection 3: Connect with the greater community, society, and environment.

Connection 1: Connect with Yourself

Connecting with yourself revolves around the idea that one needs to understand and be able to control one’s self. Most of us live our lives never having really connected with ourselves to understand what we actually want. We meander through life without a clear focus and thus find ourselves constantly swept up by external forces rather than being able to control our own paths.
The first part of Connection 1 involves understanding yourself. What are your:
  • strengths and weaknesses
  • likes and dislikes
  • wants and desires
  • needs
  • feelings
  • fears
    Understanding and knowing who you are is important in helping define potential future paths.
In school today, it is rare to find ourselves spending time to discover this. From a young age up till middle school, all our classes are defined for us. There is very little room to explore and much less room to actually have discussions on what students want. The negative side, the weaknesses, the dislikes, and the fears, are even less talked about. These are real and it is something everything experiences, yet, schools have never approached them as a core part of education.
The goal of this in education is to help students develop a vocabulary to be able to express themselves. The stronger the vocabulary, the better they will be at communicating their thoughts.
The second part of Connection 1 is the tool set that will help you figure out the first part. It involves developing skills and attributes that empower your being. Some of these key skills and attributes include:
  • open mindedness
  • self control
  • self respect
  • resilience
  • grit
  • discipline
  • toughness
  • mindfulness
  • gratitude
    These are all skills that will help develop your understanding of yourself and a control over your mind and body to build the best version of yourself.
Again, these are skills that are not taught in school. Instead, the development of understanding one’s self has always been left to the student themselves and the time that we start really exploring this is when we become adults. The most sought after learning materials after adults finish general education is in the above topics. It is what we call self-development.
Most of the vocabulary we get from the above come about when we start spending time looking into self development. Why isn’t self development topics built into education when it’s the most sought after learning material when we are adults? It should be obvious that we have neglected a very important section of knowledge in our general education.
There will be a lot of interesting things to explore when actually developing a general education curriculum for understanding and connecting with yourself. For example, connecting students with the real world and teaching them what it means to fail and how it is not the end. With the current grading system in schools, schools tend to build up an aversion to failure in students, which is detrimental to a student’s development when they encounter the real world where experiencing failure is almost definite.
When spirituality is discussed today, I believe a lot of it is about connecting with yourself. Finding time to understand who you are, your likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, desires, feelings, and fears. And after finding out, how to build a strong support to help you get what you want or to alleviate the pain.
Connecting with yourself is one of the keys to finding happiness. Or better yet, content-ness.

Connection 2: Connect with Others

The second Connection is Connect with Others. This Connection is focused around the ability to be able to communicate and relate so you can better understand and connect with others.
The importance of this Connection applies to us because humans are typically social creatures and any success in today’s world requires collaboration and communication with others. With the way the world is shaping up, the content in Connection 2 will be an integral part of what we need as skills in the future.
Connect with Others is broken down into two parts. The first is simply language. The second is interpersonal skills.
Language is the core of communication. Understanding how to read, write, speak, and listen is critical to being successful in the world today because everything revolves around working together with other people. It is now very rare for anybody to find success when isolated to themselves.
And it’s not only about learning one language. It’s about learning multiple languages. Schools should aspire to give their students two native languages. Multiple languages not only give them more opportunities for success in the future, it also teaches them to have a more flexible mind because there is always more than one answer and not everything is directly translatable 1-to-1. This teaches students that the world is not black and white, but rather many shades of grey.
After the basic requirement in communication, there are interpersonal skills that will allow for stronger communication between people. Interpersonal skills are a series of ideas that will allow people to better Connect with Others by involving empathy and understanding of the other party instead of just caring about yourself.
These ideas involve:
  • the golden rule (treat people how you would like to be treated)
  • being right vs. being wrong
  • everyone’s truth
  • respecting others
  • mutual relationships
  • how to be likable
  • empathy
  • sympathy
  • manners
  • being polite
  • leadership
    These are all simple concepts that we talk about all the time, but they are often not taught in a systematic way where all of this is at least brought up formally in a general education setting.
Another topic that needs to be broached is sex education. Sex is obviously a very important part of how people connect and it should be a core part of education, not only to understand how to connect with others, but to also connect with yourself by becoming comfortable with your body.
Most of us do learn this at some point in our life, but again, the problem is that we learn it through trial and error through the relationships and friendships that we encounter throughout our life. If we know that these are ideas that most people need to know, why not teach it structurally and formally?
Connection 2: Connect with Others is absolutely critical because success today and in the future as a human will often revolve around communicating and collaborating with others. This means that the skills for connecting with others will be crucial to a person’s future success.

Connection 3: Connect with Community, Society, and Environment

The last connection, Connection 3, is important in creating a world that is peaceful and considerate.
Connection 3 is the one that is becoming extremely relevant as we move towards a world where people live in closer proximity to each other and the natural resources of the world are becoming more limited. Everybody is now integrated into a community or the society in some way or another and it is very hard to be completely disconnected from it.
For Connection 3, I want to break it down into 3 parts: community, society, and environment. They all play into each other, but when separated, it will make it easier to describe.

Community

Community is about the local community of people. This would include the people that you interact with on a daily basis: your family, your neighbors, your school, the restaurants near you, the office, the stores near you, the people who clean the streets, etc.
A good community is one that provides a sense of safety and comfort for its occupants. To do this, the community should promote openness and respect for each other and the general space.
When connecting or being part of a community, there are things that everybody needs to mutually agree on and understand for it to work. There are basic rules of mutual respect that should be in place for every community and the goal of Connection 3’s Community is to build this into general education so that students have a strong basis for this concept and can influence the world around them to build stronger communities.

Society

Society is about the larger picture and includes all the people that you might not see. This is a more systems approach, where often times, the knowledge required here is based off of things that are not on a human-to-human level anymore, but something that is a product of something bigger. Examples would be economics, law, and anything related to money. Since most of us are part of society in one way or another, it is important to learn how society works and how we as individuals play a role in it. Learning about economics will help people understand markets and the flow of goods and services. Learning about law will help people understand rules and governments and how they play together to deal with issues such as the tragedy of the commons. Learning about money, or finance, will help people understand capital, banking, and investment strategies that will allow them to leverage and control money rather than to be controlled by money. Learning about government and politics will help people understand how decisions are made in a larger system and how individuals can play a role.
Traditional general education does not include society as part of the core curriculum, which is unfortunate as this is the knowledge that everyone should get if they want to become citizens of our society called Earth.

Environment

Environment Last but not least, we have the environment. When humans were still a small part of the ecosystem, we didn’t have to think about this too much, but now that humans control much of the environment and human actions can have a large impact on the overall ecology, the environment has become a critical aspect of the world around us and will play a bigger role as we start to encounter more of the repercussions of what we have done.
Learning about weather patterns, about ecological patterns, and technologies that can create renewable resources will be important to the peace and stability of the world moving forward.
These messages are built into the curriculum starting at a young age to help students develop a sense of responsibility towards their community, society, and the environment.

The Key Roles of Education

One of the key roles and opportunities of general education is to provide a universal language and vocabulary that everybody can use to communicate and connect with each other.
Traditional education has brought the world together by providing the same basic skills for everybody and has helped people connect when the focus of much of the world was still to make sure the lower needs of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, such as physiological and safety, were fulfilled. But as society develops, we are starting to find that there is a significant amount of vocabulary that is missing to help people connect in the higher needs in Maslow’s Hierarchy such as belongingness and love, esteem, and self-actualization.
Traditional education is missing some of the most basic vocabulary necessary to help people communicate and connect on the higher needs in Maslow’s Hierarchy. We should be taught how to express our feelings. We should be taught about consent. We should be taught how to communicate and share our wants and needs without the need to pressure others or feel the need to use violence. We should be taught to love ourselves for who we are. We should be taught what it means to be friends and what it means to have a relationship. Everything that we had to learn by trial and error in the playground and in real life should be systematically taught in a way that everybody has the same language and vocabulary to be able to explore it for themselves.
That is the core of the 3 Connections.