How do we measure educational success? This is a question that we must ponder again and again, to make sure that the goals are not simply to satisfy the needs of grown-ups or determined with only certain children in mind. We must consider goals that are truly necessary for children and the future. We must keep in mind the holistic nature of all goals, so that each child is equipped according to his or her capacity and is able to lead a life of value and contentment.

In the past, our human thirst for knowledge has pushed us to study and understand so many things both concrete and abstract, to the point of creating a belief among many people that education means an accumulation of knowledge. This belief has led us to value knowledge teaching, evaluating knowledge and counting success by knowledge. However, deep down, we know that we want people to be good and kind, to live together in peace and mutual support, and to lead lives of value and contentment.

I believe most of us know what the challenges are and what we should do to improve education. But we are not putting in our best efforts. To surrender to the problem is easier, because it is a way of adapting and enabling us to achieve balance once again. A lower balance is degenerative adaptation. Most people choose this option because it is easier and justifiable in so many reasonable ways. Deep down, however, human nature has progressed so far because we have adapted in a different way – charging through obstacles. All throughout the history of human evolution, we have constantly pushed ourselves to overcome our limitations.

We are surrounded by rapid and violent changes. How should today’s education respond to these transformations? We must look beyond the shallow goals of knowledge, university entrance examinations, employment, etc. Education is a constant with so many hidden variables. It is gruelingly difficult to control the end result. Education as is may help us to remember that we must brush our teeth daily, that we must beware of falling from high places, that we can extract benefits from various things. But, as is, education has not achieved clear results in helping us realize how short life is.

All of us are involved in education, directly and indirectly. We must therefore do our best, like the gardener who tends to every tree and every aspect in the orchard, be it watering, fertilizing, pruning or getting rid of pests. The gardener’s hope is that these efforts will enhance and complete the natural capacity of the trees to bear fruit. Once everything has been done, the gardener can only watch and wait.

Lamplaimat Pattana School, an Outside the Box School, views our goal as developing learners in a holistic manner, enabling people to live together in peace, mutual support, with value and happiness. This kind of learning will enable learners to reach wisdom. There is outer wisdom, which is an understanding of the world and its phenomena, a set of knowledge and skills applicable to employment or maintenance of a quality livelihood. There is also inner wisdom, which is an understanding of oneself, an ability to perceive the emotions of oneself and others, to the point that one is able to manage those emotions. It is also recognizing the value in oneself and other people and things, to live with meaning, with awareness of the connectedness between oneself and the things around us,  with humility toward all beings which mutually support one another, with the ability to coexist with fraternity and acceptance of differences, with respect toward others, with moderation and the ability to be satisfied, with constant awareness of oneself and one’s emotions, with the ability to distinguish when to stop and when to go on, with focus and persistence to complete tasks, and with a heart full of love and kindness.

Cultivating wisdom is more intricate than cultivating knowledge. The mature teacher will toil endlessly to help students reach this goal. The teacher’s maturity will help uphold such a grand goal and overcome any obstacles.