Posted by: theodorecosmosophia | December 11, 2012

Education Series #2: This is what the students think of so-called “School Reform” #CreativelyMaladjusted

I’ve been saying for a while that our schools need to be places where our kids can explore their world and discover who they are; where their emotions and their bodies are honored as much as their minds; where nature and creativity are an integral part of the curriculum. This is the mission of  The Chicago Wisdom Project as described in the forthcoming book Creatively Maladjusted: The Wisdom Education Movement Manifesto.

We recently have started a project with one of our groups in which the students imagined the schools of the future. Invariably, the youth want schools with Wisdom principles rather than the punitive and mechanistic schools they get. Interestingly, some of them imagined schools that were parodies of modern school reform: a school run by robots and teachers that were screens or holograms; a school in which the absurdity of punishment created something more like a prison.

Here is spoken word from a group of kids from Albuquerque called “Love Letter to Albuquerque Public Schools”:

An advance review of Creatively Maladjusted from Matthew Fox:

Richards’ book is a very good read—not dull and not overly mental as so many educational studies tend to be.  With stories and humor, as well as anger and a passion to make things better, Richards makes a strong case for putting learning ahead of testing and emphasizing values more than competitive scores.  He recognizes that young people desire to learn but their alienation is such that “things must change quickly and peacefully or they will certainly change rapidly and violently.”  He warns that “if we want the next generation to reimagine our world, we must educate them differently.”  He sees real educational improvements occurring more through movements than through institutions.  A movement is open to all interested parties from parents to teachers, from counselors to philanthropists. Teachers in public schools are “overworked, under pressure, and generally in a bad mood,” he observes.  And many just quit.  Education is not a real happy place these days.  

Richards wants to shape education by story rather than by information, by resisting consumerism rather than educating for it.  The goal of education, he reminds us, “is not to make better schools, but to make a better world.”  And “the ultimate relevance of a school is what kind of civilization it inspires our children to create.”  Modern industrial culture has pretty much defined education in its terms; we can do much better today and must.  The metaphors, narratives and values of our educational system are outmoded.  A Wisdom Education Movement can bring alive new values that assure a “nurturing, creative, joyous, inspiring place.”  This book is well worth reading; and discussing; and arguing; and enacting.

Creatively Maladjusted is scheduled for publication in March 2013.


  1. Thank you for this truly incredibly inspirational film and for your work Theodore. Time for each and every one of us to wake up. The rebirthing and honouring of creativity rather than conformity is long overdue.

  2. Dear Theodore,

    Very exciting piece — and Fox’s review of Creatively Maladjusted is excellent and well-thought-out.

    You can be justifiably proud! Looking forward to the book.

    I noticed the closeness of the dates of the book release and the beginning of your course on Interfaith Mysticism. Should be an eventful Spring!

    Namaste, Peter

    • It sure will be. Thanks, Peter. Looking forward to seeing more of your work. – Theodore

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