The Great Imbalance

Featuring Ben Walden

Former lead actor at The Globe Theatre, international speaker, leadership coach, from the stage to the corporate boardroom to the classroom, Ben Walden shares with us his unique perspective on how the current education system is educating the head but not the heart.

(Music by lesfm from Pixabay)

Episode notes:

  • My work is in the aspects that have to do with inner education.
  • Self-understanding and self-regulation, understanding of our felling states, their vital importance in leadership, communication and wellbeing.
  • When it comes to Shakespeare the focus of examinations is much more on literary criticism, and that is not necessarily inspiring for young people, it becomes an academic exercise, and Shakespeare is not primarily an academic exercise.
  • The plays were written to be heard and seen, and they are ultimately an emotional exercise, feelings and extraordinary storytelling, with some of the most profoundly rooted in depth psychology characters ever written.
  • The plays were written hundreds of years ago, in a language that is beautiful but is archaic, and many children will find it difficult to understand them.

There is a problem around examining, with many examining boards: if it isn’t rational and cannot be measured it’s not relevant. When something like a Shakespeare play, which is an extraordinary reflection of the human condition, it’s not going to be rational and cannot be easily measured.

  • Theater and psychology are very closely related, in fact they are manifestations of the same thing, the exploration of the human condition. Shakespeare himself said that the purpose of playing and acting was to hold a mirror up to nature, that is, to look at ourselves.
  • We are way behind in terms of how governments perspectives and curriculums and how they set exams. There is also a dilemma that many don’t want to address as to how do you create exams that address inner education.
  • There is a historical precedent here, there was a time when we were educating young people for a specific job that they would possibly do their entire lives, often in industry in what were dependable long-term careers, in what was known as the industrialized model of education.

We are great at educating the head, we are far less good at educating the heart.

  • We are looking for balance, but the system is massively out of balance, especially for teenagers, for adolescent education.
  • The focus on examinations, and the pressure on examinations, very often on academic subjects that are not going to be relevant to their future lives, versus the very small time dedicated to their turbulent emotional development and awakening in teenage years is way out of balance.
  • Many extraordinary young people are dealing with emotional questions that are not only not being answered, they are not even being addressed.
  • We have to look at inner motivation.
  • You only have to look at many of the abuses of the political and corporate world to see that we cannot afford to have men and women in senior leadership roles who are largely unaware or indifferent to their emotional motivation as to why they do it.

The changes involved are so radical that it has taken far too many people and far too long to accept them and wake up to them.

  • To turn education to be more focused on well-being and self-awareness and psychological development, understanding the patterns within my society, my family, my wider culture, and the effect it is having on how I see the world, requires a type of change that it is filled to the people are not trained for or prepared to deliver.
  • There is a sense of that it is too big a change, too big a debate, let’s stick to what we are doing now.
  • The inner work is absolutely vital and it is a radical re-examining of the system.
  • There are always people who are going to be on the fringe of the debate about any topic that are going to put people off.
  • You live with some of the academic subjects during part of your life but you live with your feeling states every day and night all through your lives.

When going through times or trauma, as we all will, we need that inner education.

  • When I do this work in schools I find that there is a hunger for it, students say why don’t we do this work more often and more deeply.
  • Who am I within this wider society that I am in, how am I changing how do I respond to inner feelings of anger, sadness or grief or even joy, how do I become unintelligent communicator, those things are going to be really important in any career that I choose.
  • It has been shown in books, human and high-tech professions, that when people don’t have good emotional intelligence and communication skills it can be a hindrance to their careers.
  • We are of a culture that has been largely emotionally phobic.
  • The realization of our own power and our own leadership journey is a great way to look at emotional intelligence skills. It is in the leadership of our own lives that we can make a huge difference.
  • It is about inner integrity first and foremost, and that will dictate a lot about the rest of our actions.
  • We have to work on our inner turbulence relentlessly, as we work on that something remarkable may begin to happen that changes our view on leadership because it begins within and it begins with ourselves. It is about our intention and what we really mean to serve beyond our own ambition.
  • At schools we need to reawaken to a deeper sense of interconnection amongst us all. The mutual support educational communities could develop a thriving education model. We have to start with our treatment of each other but that, of course, begins with our inner lives and our own inner motivation.

Wish: Kindness. That we are kinder to each other, and more respectful of each other’s lives and feelings. And you can do that and still develop a highly rigorous and academic curriculum as well.


Contender Charlie

Ben at Oliver Mythodrama

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