On the Organic Philosophy of Education

Martin Rezny
Words of Tomorrow
Published in
4 min readNov 25, 2016

And how not to encourage intellectual snobs


I have actually heard about this point of view on education in one of the Youtube lectures of Wes Cecil. This is the exact opposite of indoctrination — instead of having a preconceived end goal or target of education towards which you’re pushing the pupils, you focus on creating the ideal conditions for their self-directed personal growth.

There can be some guidance, and definitely some feedback along the way, but no mandatory end points like standardized certifications. Standards tied to particular professional requirements are not really compatible with this approach, and in terms of the kinds of values that this approach tends to instill, this is exactly the reason why it at least removes the perverse incentive.

Since the education of this kind is not aimed at getting anyone specific jobs, the pupils are not externally motivated to prioritize learning of skills more useful for the self-centered “dark side” purposes. They might still be internally motivated towards various kinds of moral evils, but there’s no universal systemic pressure making everyone become more selfish and competitive.

On the other hand, a non-centralized and non-standardized approach such as this may actually allow for a greater ethical and definitely spiritual divergence among the pupils. But I guess that’s always the price to pay for any greater measure of freedom of thought, which one can decide to accept as a universal good that trumps goods like obedience, unity, or any conceivable utility.

Personally, let’s say I do hope that I help create the conditions that may allow more people to get the opportunity to untap more of their potential, to grow into their best self. That’s why I prefer teaching over many other pursuits that don’t even have a chance at being meaningful to the same degree, but my experience has not made me very optimistic about how high the chances of me actually helping are.

Some of the most painful things to witness are for example teaching someone and virtually knowing that they either personally just don’t have it in them to achieve the mastery they seek, or that they’re likely to abuse the knowledge they’re getting for their selfish ends. Sometimes, it really gets very difficult to muster any kind of enthusiasm for the job.

Nothing is ever absolutely certain, of course, which is why one can’t really start running around metaphorically killing baby Hitlers, or why the chance that comes with trying, however flimsy, is simply superior to the negative certainty of giving up.

But as I have said multiple times before, in almost every important respect, I’m self-taught. I’m also quite educated, but if I had to rely on any part of my conventional education, I wouldn’t know almost anything that matters in life. Even worse, had I taken it seriously, I would certainly be a much worse person right now.

The reason I know that is that when I was very young, I started as an arrogant asshole, who was supported in his intolerable elitism by the teachers. I was very proud of my flawless grades, and I never even had to try to get them. Understanding has always come easy to me, and I have a very good memory, and multiple natural talents, especially for languages and math.

For that reason, I initially just coasted on my talent, not challenging myself to do anything more than the almost nothing that was enough for the best grades. And I was really mean to my classmates, who collectively hated me.

But because I’m not actually a sociopath (I think), I did eventually have an epiphany, realizing that everyone hates me, and that they have a good reason, and most importantly, that one shouldn’t derive the sense of his self-worth from educational successes, grades, awards, titles, none of that.

The truth is, none of that matters at all. The problem is that most parents and officials have drunk the Kool-Aid and do either sincerely believe, or at least publicly profess, that people with better grades and other educational outcomes are better people. That they’re smarter, work harder, are of greater value to the rest of the society. Had I not figured out the truth on my own, I would have ever only been encouraged to be more of an asshole.

Not that I’m perfect now by any means, but at least I’m not making fun of anyone for getting an A-. I’m sad to say I did actually make one of my classmates cry in an English class once by snarkily pointing out in a deadpan way how dumb one of her mistakes was, much to the amusement of the rest of the class, and I didn’t even intend to be mean to anyone by that point. I’m relentlessly critical of the mistakes of others, at minimum, on the best of days.

Anyway, that’s why I’m of the opinion that education people currently need a healthy dose of realism more than they need to be patted on the back. As the example of Finland shows, many things can be greatly improved even if they haven’t exactly been working great up until this point.

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