Dark Education

Dark Education

We stick to the earth because it is a big lump of matter and matter has a gravitational pull. No news there then.

The gravitational pull that all stars and planets have on one another stop galaxies from breaking apart.  But here is the thing; scientists have calculated that there is far more gravity than there should be. There would need to be 20 times more planets and stars than there actually are to account for all the gravity. Big problem!

Scientists know that the matter is out there but they just can’t see it.

So scientists have offered a solution to this problem by proposing a new type of matter. This is the matter which, we are unable to see, touch, feel, smell or sense in any way. This is why they have named it ‘dark matter’. The only reason we know it exists is the gravitational impact it has on visible matter.

As humans we do lots of cool things with visible matter. We make cars and ships, we cook and clean, we design phones and buildings, in fact everything we do, we do with visible matter but there is 20 times more dark matter than visible matter and what do we do with that? Nothing.

How could we when we can’t see it, we can’t touch it and we can’t explain it? It has no definition other than it exists and it is dark.

Education has its equivalent to dark matter; it’s called character development.

How important is a person’s character on their success in life? Very, I would say that it is 20 times more important than academic studies. We can only witness a person’s character through their behaviour and the impact it has on those around them but we can’t take a piece of character, hold it in our hands or measure it.

This is why it is often referred to as soft skills and academic studies are hard skills.

Or it may be referred to by what it isn’t, informal education or non-formal education.

Whilst everyone recognises the importance of character, character development lacks investment because it is not as tangible as other forms of education. If it happens at all, it tends to be seen as a bi-product of activities such as sport, volunteering and other ‘positive activities’.

The education budget in the UK last year was £90Billion, The Secretary of State for Education stated that she was making character development a priority and she invested £3Million into character awards. That is 0.003% of overall budget.

In order for character education to be given more of a priority we must bring it out of the dark and into the light. We must define it by what it is and does instead of the o. We must stop it being seen as a bi-product and start it being seen as a distinctive educational approach.

In a the white paper ‘A Way Forward for Character Development’ I defined character development as – ‘Aligning your considered values with your actions’. If people agree to this definition we will have taken a huge step forward. We don’t need permission; we don’t need agreement from the United Nations. We just need to start using it and to recognise that if you are helping people to consider their values and align their actions you are doing character development and if you are not, then you are not.