On a visit to Leningrad in August 1968 during the week of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia E.F. Schumacher, economist, noted thinker and author of the book ‘Small is Beautiful,’ had an experience that was to shape his perception of the spiritual blindness of the modern world and its approach to education.
He reported, “I was consulting the map to find out where I was, but could not make it out. I could see several enormous churches, but there was no trace of them on my map. Finally an interpreter came to help me, and he said, ‘We don’t show churches on our maps.’ Contradicting him, I pointed to one that was very clearly marked. ‘That is a museum’ he said, ‘not what we call a ‘living church.’ It is only the ‘living churches’ we don’t show.”
He continued: “It then occurred to me that this was not the first time I had been given a map that failed to show many of the things I could see right in front of my eyes. All through school and university I had been given maps of life and knowledge of which there was hardly a trace of many of the things I most cared about and seemed to me to be of the greatest possible importance for the conduct of my life. I remembered that for many years my perplexity was complete; and I found there was no interpreter to come along to help me. This perplexing condition remained right up until I ceased to suspect the sanity of my perceptions and began, instead, to suspect the soundness of the maps.”
The premise of this book is predicated on the idea that not only have we not been given current and useful life road maps, but a whole generation is in trouble and suffering a loss of meaning as a result.
I’m reminded of the words of Alvin Toffler who said, “Just as education conveys a vision of the future so too if the vision of the future being conveyed doesn’t adequately prepare them for the future, those same educators will betray a generation.” Maybe this is why one of Australia’s leading adolescent therapist’s said, “Today’s adolescents are spiritually anorexic.”