Critique of UPF educational philosophyDocument Transcript
A critical analysis of the guiding principles of the UPF Committee on Human DevelopmentThe UPF Standing Committee Human Development Program Prospectus is supposed to bean exposition of the guiding principles, aims and projects of the educational branch of theUniversal Peace Foundation. In that document and in the published books Discovering theReal Me these principles are articulated as follows: The Department of Human Development Character Education Initiative is designed to provide opportunities for participants to achieve three life goals: 1) to grow and become a person of mature character 2) to build healthy relationships and a loving family 3) to make a positive contribution to societyLater on in the document these are expanded:Life GoalsOuter circle: grades K-6 Second Circle: grades 7& 8 Inner Circle: grades 9-12 Life Goal #1 Life Goal #2 Life Goal #3“Person of Character” “Healthy Families” “Contribute to Society”K-6: Becoming a good Loving my parents, siblings Loving my school son/daughter friends; learning basic Transcending responsibility at home excessive egoism7-8: Respecting others Being a good friend Loving my community Developing conscience Understanding sexuality Becoming a good citizen and honesty Conflict resolution Becoming more responsible9-12: Learning self-control Relationship skill building Loving my nation Maintaining sexual Healthy friendships Developing leadership purity Becoming global citizens
These 3 life goals are presumably supposed to correspond to the Three Blessings, one of thecore ideas of the Divine Principle and Unification Thought. But they don’t. And in not doingso, they provide a false basis for theories of human development and education. Let meexplain.In Unification Thought, Dr Lee outlined the three main attributes of the divine character:1. Heart2. Logos3. CreativityGod desired to experience complete joy which could only happen through relationships oflove with other beings which were like himself. So God created human beings in his imageand likeness. In order to become ‘like God’, God gave Adam and Eve Three Blessings whichcorrespond to the 3 aspects of the divine character. By fulfilling the blessings people wouldbecome like God, inheriting the divine character. 1. Be Fruitful – the ability to perfect our character. This involves achieving mind-body unity so that God can be present in this unity. The most important aspect of this is to develop a sensitivity to the heart of God. By fulfilling the 1st blessing a person would become the incarnation of God, feeling how God feels, thinking as God thinks and acting as God would act etc. Here we have the basis of human rights as each person is a child of God, conscience, personal ethics etc. 2. Multiply – the ability to establish a perfect family. This is about establishing the 4 great realms of heart, 3 great kingships etc. and thus a lineage. These are relationships based on love as delineated by the ethical norms appropriate for that relationship. The expansion of Logos/Tao/Law/Li – is the realm of ethics and norms of behaviour and of course justice. To inherit God’s logos one becomes a good child, spouse, parent, g- parent, uncle, cousin, neighbour, pupil, teacher, employee, employer, politician, King, etc. etc. and thus can relate appropriately to anyone. The family is expanded through the levels of community, society, nation and world. In this people look for some position or niche in which they can make some contribution to their world whether it is as scout leader or foreign secretary. So here we find justice, morality, familial, social, political and economic ethics etc. [This category is rather big and could be divided in 2 or reschematised along Rev Ahn’s system] 3. Dominion – the right to have dominion. Through this we have the opportunity to inherit God’s creativity through owning, caring for, manipulating and eventually becoming one with physical things and thus become Lords of Creation and mediators between the spiritual world and physical world. This is expressed not only in art but also in gardening, farming, manufacturing, driving a car, riding a horse, decorating one’s house, playing the piano, writing etc. etc. Through such activities people struggle to have dominion over the physical reality by mastering particular skills. Furthermore they strive to express or reveal themselves through such an activity and create something which gives them joy to behold. This joy comes from the relationship with the physical thing irrespective of whether it is done for someone else or someone else will appreciate it. Through this a person comes to inherit God’s creativity. Along with this comes the ethics of ownership, stewardship, environmental ethics etc.
These three blessings are of course related to the fundamental philosophical categories: 1. A person’s relationship with the divine 2. A person’s relationship with other human beings 3. A person’s relationship with the natural/physical worldEducation then should enable people to fulfill these three blessings or goals as explained inthe Unification Thought Theory of Education.So, the third UPF category is wrong. Contribution to society is a natural extension of thesecond blessing and has always been presented as such in DP texts. The UPF theory ofeducation is different to the UT theory of education.By ignoring the third blessing UPF completely ignores an important dimension of what it isto be human and ignores the aspirations and goals of ordinary people.I am not giving much space here to show what goals would flow from the 3 blessingsframework. They would look something like this as a bare bones simplification: 1. to experience joy through growing and becoming a mature person of integrity 2. to find happiness in love through having a family, friends and finding a place in society where they can ‘make a difference’ 3. to be a creative owner and have a harmonious relationship with the physical worldThese fit with the goals of children who I see everyday in my classroom. I have notdeveloped them in detail here as that is not the purpose of this writing.So education should contain the following elements: 1. a spiritual and moral element 2. a social element 3. a practical and vocational elementThese universal truths are the basis of all balanced pedagogy. If UPF bases its educationalwork on a distorted pedagogy it either won’t be successful or will be doing the world a dis-service.I have recently discovered that this same deviant version of the Principle is to be found in thepowerpoint presentations for Ambassadors for Peace. It is also to be found in the IEFpowerpoint presentations developed in NY and now used around the world. It is also to befound in the IEF book Educating for Character – a book widely praised by educators whichmeans that we have now injected false ideas into the world of character education.William Haines
Some comments on the UPF textbooks Discovering the RealMeThe books are published by the International and Inter-religious Foundation forWorld Peace. Yet they are neither international nor religious let alone inter-religiousin content.Book 1Book 1 is based solely on Aesops fables. These are all from Greece - nointernational content there. Furthermore Greece is the home of Hellenism so as onemight expect the spiritual and moral content of Aesops fables is of a very superficialnature. A balanced education should include Hebraic and Hellenistic content. Thisbook is completely unbalanced and dare I say it not fit for purpose.I would have used stories but would have drawn on traditional stories from manycountries and religions. Religious traditions particularly have a wealth of stories thatfoster a childs spiritual and moral development in a non-dogmatic, non-theologicalway. Each country and religion has its strengths and weaknesses. So one wouldchoose the best from each so as to produce a well rounded textbook. The best wayto promote respect for another religion or culture or nation is to provide theopportunity for someone to encounter something good or beauty from that placewhich will awaken feelings of awe, wonder and respect for that place. At the sametime it would foster the virtues that that place is best known for thus providing a‘universal’ education.Book 2Book 2 is based on Grimms fairy tales. Grimms stories are excellent but again justusing them is unbalanced. They come from Germany and are an expression ofGerman culture (with its strengths and weaknesses) and one of the chiefs waysthrough which it is transmitted. Coming from one country and filtered through theGrimm brothers minds they are naturally parochial. If one looks at English, Russianor Korean fairy tales one finds different motifs and values reflecting different nationalcultures. Again each has its strengths and weaknesses and a balanced book wouldinclude a selection of the best.I did a study of such stories while I was in Russia in preparation to produce that kindof textbook. I would have used a selection of age appropriate stories from a varietyof countries and religions for the reasons given above.Book 3Book 3 is based on a selection of stories written by the authors. These stories havelittle depth and are of poor literary quality. They are very didactic and preachyleaving little space for the spiritual and moral imagination to develop. They all comefrom the same source. A single source can never be sufficient for a personseducation.I would have chosen stories from good literature again from a variety of countriesand religions which are of proven value. At this age stories alone are insufficient andother material should be included as well.None of the books that textbooks I have seen that UPF publishes have a spiritualdimension. None of them mention God or awaken ones sense of awe or wonder.Why our textbooks should be conforming to a desiccated secular model is beyondmy comprehension. They are certainly not an expression of Unification philosophy.