• Charles Farrugia

11. Aim Two: A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body.

A wise old man said that: “Common Sense is so common because so few people use it.”

Some of us fail to use our intelligence and instead rely on others to interpret events, make declarations and take important decisions on our behalf. Some fail to use even a fraction of their intellectual power and have to be taught how to cultivate and expand this remarkable human gift.

Furthermore, many are so careless with the lack of attention due to our physical wellbeing that they need to learn how to look after their health. Both aspects of our development rely on our ability to make the right choices. Education aims for us to make the best and full use of our intellectual and physical powers.

Making Choices

We make choices all the rime: from the mundane, such as which shoes to wear, to decisions with lifelong implications, such as buying a house. Some wrong choices are of no consequence, others can be disastrous.

Abundant curricular activities help students to reach this aim. They learn to seek and gather information, analyse, store it and use it at the appropriate time. School activities encourage students to examine their actions, to evaluate their thoughts and expressions. Students learn to consider carefully messages coming from others.

In this respect, Mathematics and Science are the obvious school subjects, but we should keep in mind that they are not meant just to render students numerate or be acquainted with natural phenomena. Both school subject also aim to help people become acute observers, critical thinkers and problem solvers. Practice in these subjects enable us to test information and ideas for reliability, to spot contradictions and ambiguities and identify omissions.

These processes may sound complex to follow. In actual fact, we use them all the time, perhaps not as often as we should and not as rigorously.

The Scientific Method

One teaching/learning approach to achieve these aims is the Scientific Method that involves six stages. Let us explore them with an example outside the education context:

1. Identify the real and crucial issues of the problem, [Do we really need a larger house, or do we want to keep up with the Joneses?]

2. Set out a proposal or hypothesis. [What sort of house do we want or need: two-, three-bedroomed, one with a garden, one in a reputable area, or a spacious apartment will better suit our needs?]

3. Find out all the important information, ignoring the irrelevant data. [What is available on the market, prices, hidden costs, repairs, what sort of neighbours, ground rent, parking space, potential future developments etc.?]

4. Analyse or examine carefully the collected data, even the seemingly contradictory in order to establish relationships. [Have we seen enough available houses or flats, are any of them close to what we desire and need, can we afford those we like, will the financial outlay ruin our lifestyle?]

5. Seek solutions, even those that appear unusual, radical, or contrary to one’s own convictions. [Take a loan; hire workers under your direction instead of appointing decorators; hire out rather than sell our current house; forget the next three summers’ holidays, postpone renovations for the time being?]

6. Test the solutions to see whether they cover the stated problem from all angles. If the solutions fail the test, try again and again until success is achieved. [Purchase of property completed successfully; if not go back to 1 above.]

The application of the Scientific Method as a source of knowledge and concept formation is not limited to Mathematics and Science. These can be derived also from learning experiences in aesthetics and creativity, human and social studies. Languages and literature, geography and history also contribute toward this aim. As do ethics and religion, business studies as well as encounters with the physical and technological world.

When dealing with such subjects, students acquire knowledge, skills, and values. They learn to think clearly, to infer, to deal with real live-problems. In each and every subject, students can learn to become critical and independent thinkers, to distinguish truth from falsehood, reality from propaganda. They learn to question the status quo [remember Socrates?], to evaluate types of knowledge and fake data, to be creative and think outside the box.

Applying the same principles and techniques, students learn physical and health education, home economics, hygiene and nutrition. These subjects ensure the development of “the whole woman/man” and achieve the objective of the old Roman adage of having a healthy mind in a healthy body depicted here in an ancient marble slate.

In the next blog, we shall look at how education

prepares students for The World of Work.

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