Blog 02/20 – Ina Schmidt

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About our Blog 2020

After receiving very positive feedback on our blog contributions in the last years, we would like to continue this still young tradition of the Liechtenstein Academy Blog also this year.

Also in 2020, it is important for us to consider very different perspectives in order to offer you the most stimulating possible offer. This year, we have been able to attract six well-known guest authors, who, with no editorial filters, write about their personal thoughts. Look forward to new and surprising insights from Michael Bursik, complex issues, simply explained by Ulrich Schnabel, philosophical insights from Dr. Ina Schmidt, astute thoughts by our language and legal expert Carlos A. Gebauer, exciting topics around the many topics of working in the digital era by Sibylle Mäder as well as constructive considerations of our health expert Christoph von Oldershausen.

We wish you a stimulating read.

Your Liechtenstein Academy team

 

Is it all a question of education? Why education can change our world.

 

Education is a basic building block for a successful life. In all the debates about necessary knowledge and the future of both institutionalized and ideally lifelong learning, this conviction is never questioned. But what constitutes good education? And why is education so important? How exactly does it make our lives successful or even make us better people? These questions can no longer be answered so clearly, especially when we realize that the concept of education as we use it today is only 200 years old and has a lot to do with Romanticism, its language and world view – none of which is expressed in other languages. In German, we associate education with a mixture of a «picture», i.e. the reproduction of an «image» and that which begins to form within us. We are called upon to form and shape ourselves through what we can learn, experience and know. In the English «education» or the idea of «bringing up», this mental demand is hardly present. Here, thoughts that «guide» us (lat. ducere) can be heard, or the imprint of what has made us grow – both internally and externally.

So what does that which has shaped and moulded me, that which I want to know and experience as well as the possibilities open to me have to do with what makes me an «educated» person? The assiduous accumulation of knowledge that an academic person can boast of has little to do with what we describe as the formation of the heart when we are dealing with a person who has learned from life and found a form of wisdom from it. And in it, moreover, there is no reference to the practice that we need in order to be able to relate to our world as an educated human being. So what do we mean when we say that education necessarily leads to a successful life? Let's try to put it in a nutshell: «An unmistakable characteristic of education», the contemporary philosopher Peter Bieri writes, is that «knowledge is not seen as a mere accumulation of information, as a pleasurable pastime or social decoration, but as something that can mean inner change becomes effective».

“The whole purpose of education is
to turn mirrors into windows.”
Sydney J. Harris

Inner change that becomes action-effective – education here is therefore nothing less than a constant process of transformation that is kept alive and nourished by what happens to us in life, what we read and what we think. A mixture of image, education and upbringing in the best sense. Even Wilhelm von Humboldt, one of the founding fathers of our idea of a «humanistic education», was certain that the focus of the educational idea must be on the human being who wants to strengthen and increase the forces of his nature and give his being value and duration. This was not meant in the sense of mastering and subjugating a world that is constantly being optimized, but rather in harmony with it, in order to be able to really develop his own potential in relation to his world and his environment.

So when we educate ourselves, we do not simply strive to be able to do something, but also to be something through this ability, a «somebody» with a voice of our own with something to say and know why we want to say this and not something else. Peter Bieri considers curiosity the beginning of every education – the desire to understand, to ask, perhaps to improve something. This not only gives rise to skills and competencies with which we can change or influence the course of events, but we ourselves emerge as who we want to be in this world. Educating ourselves – and we can only do this ourselves – is different from what we do when we are educated, when we explain something or learn it by heart. Education is «like waking up,» says Bieri in his book entitled «How do we want to live?» and the special thing about this form of educational understanding is that we can at least occasionally wake ourselves up. We don't have to wait for a system, a society or an institution to do it for us. And as long as we remain truly curious, what we see when we open our eyes will provide an opportunity to continue and develop, to further develop our own questions and to initiate change.

Written by: Dr. Ina Schmidt