Thoughts on Education
Numerology isn’t ‘Bad’ — A Case for Balanced Education: Training Both Sides of Our Brain
Just because it’s intuitive, it’s not anti-rational. It’s time for us to outgrow the simplistic ‘good/bad’ labeling.
I already talked about how hard it has become for us to discern between accurate and deceiving information, in the age of easily accessible Internet, when almost anybody can publish almost anything with little accountability.
This time, I focus my attention on those situations when we have a rather neutral information, presented as fair and balanced, but polarized towards ridiculing or condemning the matter exposed.
It all started with a news published a few weeks ago.
Recently, in some school district in my country, teachers received an offer from an independent provider — via school administration authority — for a free online class on… numerology.
If you’re not familiar to numerology, it’s viewed by modern scholars as a pseudoscience or merely a belief in mystical relationships between numbers and synchronistic events.
Some sources attribute its introduction into western philosophy through Pythagoras, but, as with anything that happened 2,500 years ago, there are debates among historians on the actual achievements and contributions of this famous philosopher.
In fact, numerology has roots in many cultures of the world, including Chaldean (Babylonian), Arabic and Chinese. Stemming from different regions in the world thousands of years ago, this intuitive art is becoming more popular and known today, as Internet made all information almost effortless to share.
And how is numerology perceived? Well, in our physical-evidence, science-based western society, mainstream attitudes towards beliefs in anything mystical range from toleration (for major religions) to dismissal or ridicule — and here we may include astrology and numerology.
After this news went into the media, the local news exposed a condemning outcry from parents and education experts.
It seemed to them the right attitude.
Like, hello! It’s 2021, we should train teachers AND students alike robotics, advances in physics, epigenetics or climate change impact of modern society living or something serious, right? Or better yet, let students advance their compulsory study in history of literature, that will surely serve them in the 21st century workforce.
‘Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance’ William Paley (paraphrase)
I can understand that view. As someone who took courses (and passed exams) in advanced calculus, organic chemistry or statistics — I have respect for science, rational thinking and proving your ideas through facts.
But it didn’t stop to emphasize benefits of science-based studies. It went as far as claiming that because numerology sounds paranormal, that must be anti-mask and anti-vaccine, and we don’t need more of that disinformation as a society.
The result of our science-based education is that we reject anything we cannot measure YET
Remember Galileo Galilei? In the 16th century, the ruling force in society in his part of the world, was the Catholic Church. Galileo’s ideas like ‘Earth is not flat’, ‘the Earth and other planets revolve around the Sun’ were deemed heresy and he was sentenced to death, unless he publicly retracted his statements.
Back then, just because it couldn’t be known and measured by the average man, it meant it’s wasn’t valid.
I had the chance — and time in my pre-parent life — to hear about numerology. I stumbled upon a book and read it one Sunday. My approach was playful and the only aim was to have a relaxing afternoon.
I was open to new points of view in life, but was ready to take it lightly — as with astrology. It’s fun and can be insightful to read your year in advance horoscope, but I don’t check compulsively about when Mercury goes retrograde or whether there’s an auspicious conjunction the day I have an important client meeting.
So that day, to my surprise, I found that numerology presents many tools to understand the unfolding of human life. There’s the concept of major cycles in life, and also the concept of archetypes. Checking back the numbers for what I have lived so far, to my surprise, they were accurate. And the accuracy didn’t come from the fact that it covered general information, usually applicable to everyone.
I thought about checking my new discovery so I recommended it to some close friends (former colleagues from college, who are even more analytical and evidence-based than I am) and they enjoyed it too.
But here’s the fundamental idea: we didn’t take verbatim all we read in numerology and then thrown all our rational judgement to the trash bin! This kind of intuitive information adds a little nuance to the critical thinking — at least, this is how I advise reporting to it.
Using right-brained (intuitive) tools does not make your other half of the brain shut down.
Just because you read a numerology or astrology report, doesn’t kill your neurons in the other half of the brain — it just creates additional synapses.
I could see how people commenting on the infamous news jumped to imagine anyone reading numerology suddenly turns (maybe with a poof?) into someone facing a crystal ball and many woo-woo ideas. No, that doesn’t happen — unless you deliberately pursue that path, and it takes way more than an introductory live class in anything.
Just because we didn’t hear about it as children, doesn’t mean it’s ‘bad’
I get it: we have been taught since infancy to fear what our tribe hasn’t experienced since immemorial times. When we become adults, we have the same unconscious attitude towards anything new and potentially dangerous.
We can see this at play in our society, when we see how anything that isn’t what the majority does — becomes suspicious for being ‘bad’ for the majority.
I believe in time — but not in hundreds of years, rather in a few decades — we are being urged to become more open to learning about what we haven’t heard so far. Yes, educating ourselves using our critical thinking, being up to date with scientific evidence and learning to explore the right brain hemisphere, that nature created for good reason: to use it!
My aim with this article isn’t to polarize the discussion. As in so many other instances, it’s not a good/bad or black/white situation. It’s more complex than that, and we need to outgrow the simplistic good/bad labeling.
That said, numerology gave an opportunity for some reflection on my life journey and in no way it ever encouraged an irresponsible attitude towards living. And absolutely nothing remotely close to glorifying ginger and garlic over medical care.
As much reverence as I have for science and evidence-based arguments, I have respect for human intuition as well. This is the ‘product’ of our right brain hemisphere. If it wasn’t tested in a lab so far, should we consider it less valuable or trustworthy?
No. Rather, I’d say we are insufficiently training our right hemisphere and we practice very little the conscious balancing of analytical thinking with intuitive thinking.
Numerology, as astrology and any other intuitive art, is a guiding tool. You can resonate with it or not. You may find it helpful or not. And most of all, it is upon you to decide for your life — whether you prefer to guide yourself using numerology or WHO statistics or next-door neighbor’s example. The decision and responsibility is still yours (and so is the impact of your choices).
I’d go further as to say that after finishing my formal education with the Master’s degree, I’ve learned much more about life, human interaction, society, economy — by studying psychology and various intuitive arts. Few certificates from that part, but significantly more understanding! And way better choices for my life.
What do we replace the ‘good/bad’ judgement with?
In short, education. A varied education.
So let them find about numerology, in an optional, free 2 hour class.
Then, search for someone to introduce them to robotic process automation (RPA), too. After all, kids today will go into the workforce when software robots will perform what mom and dad’s job used to be, they’d better know (and prepare) for what’s coming.
Then search for someone to introduce them to playing ukulele or any music instrument.
Then, find someone to explain to children basic concepts of personal finance, such as the benefits of delayed gratification for spending, saving money early in life or the impact of long-term loans.
One more thing for reading fans: I have nothing against the history of literature. Ever since I learned how to read, I’ve been in love with books and during high school I read four to six books a month.
Still, as a parent (active in the workforce), I understand that studying literature has a limited contribution to building valuable skills in the coming decades.
I know that taking one side makes articles get more clicks — and that means money and comments, shares and some additional five minutes of fame.
Intuitive arts have their place in our education, along with everything that teaches us that learning about science advancement, psychology and intuition is a lifelong journey and also enables us to become more compassionate human beings.