Adaptation is nature’s way of allowing living things, animal or vegetable, to become different within a life cycle. To change as rapidly as possible to survive existence on this planet. In an environment that kills if the new lifeform does not adjust quickly.
Changes are often caused by a natural biological evolution. Think caterpillars becoming butterflies or moths. Mixed with an inbred instinct to move and behave in ways designed to perpetuate survival through a specified life cycle. External factors such as climatic conditions or predators can interrupt the metamorphosis.
Like animals, thousands of plants are born and go through a similar pattern of change.
Biologists continue to be intrigued by the fact most animals are born with inbred instincts or protective qualities that keep them as safe as possible during their formative period.
But all living things die sooner or later. Regardless of how successfully they find accommodation with their new environment.
Human beings are not wired like other living things on earth. Unlike the lamb that can walk just hours after birth, people require months. Unlike other animals with instinctual abilities to care for themselves in a few weeks or months, we require years. Even decades.
It is therefore remarkable that we, of all earth’s creatures, have dominated the planet. With very little in the way of instinct to nurture our growth and ability to survive.
Anthropologists say it is our eventual ability to walk upright, grow a large and powerful brain, communicate through spoken language, and use our high intelligence and opposable thumbs to manipulate tools that can modify our environment and way of life.
We are also much more Sensient or self-aware. With the ability to create complex cultures that govern, nurture, entertain, and protect us.
And we have relatively long lives. Which is both a blessing and challenge. The blessing is evident. The challenge is complicated.
Human metamorphosis is, at the very least, multifaceted and multidimensional. It wears many faces and includes many personalities. Our evolution has at its foundation survival strategies, war, conquest, and social mechanisms to control our behavior physically, morally, and religiously.
We use our highly developed brain to override limited and baseline instincts that have the power to destroy us when applied on a macro scale. Instincts that otherwise work in micro terms. Within small communities and tribes.
Sociologists and psychologists analyze our behavior and draw conclusions meant to explain or control any abhorrent tendencies. Biologists and medical experts continually study our bodies and brains to determine how they work, or not, and what to do when things go haywire.
When the biological and physiological systems within us become less compatible with our environment, we create and apply strategies to overcome those disorders, diseases, and pandemics.
Religions examine the human condition and draw conclusions about who we are and can become. If we are open and accepting of spiritual direction emanating from the work of a divine presence.
Constant renewal is sought and received through contemplation and reflection on the purpose of our lives. Individually and collectively. With awareness coming through insights gained from study, introspection, and steady connections with God.
Through writings and teachings of those who previously examined, created, or revealed the means of interacting with our maker.
An easier and more comfortable way of thinking about human metamorphosis starts by using a less scientific term: becoming.
As with metamorphosis, becoming is the kind of change that seeks to make us increasingly better. But in our case, it is not simply a blossoming of lovely wings on a butterfly or the colorful hues of a flower as it shows its face to the sun.
Rather, it is a complex array of emotions, behaviors, and thought processes that vary widely with each individual.
That complex array of human characteristics includes knowledge, skills, beliefs, relationships, and introspection. Characteristics not qualitatively uniform among human beings. Which make some knowledge areas and skills marginal.
Beliefs misguided. Relationships tenuous. Introspection shallow.
The act of human learning through formal or informal means is designed to overcome deficient characteristics. To improve dimensions of our “becoming” that are detrimental to ourselves and others.
Such learning is propagated by teachers of some kind.
Informal types of teaching are usually family or community-based, the prevalent process for centuries. In more recent eras we collectivized the education process through religious organizations and schools.
As our cultures become more advanced, teachers in whatever category must be more than mere information givers. They must be sensitive and intuitive.
Helping their students “become” in truly transformational ways involves thorough engagement. With sought-for outcomes being a sophisticated set of insights that help young people become more in many ways.
American Schools and Colleges are Poor Agents for Becoming
For most of my 84 years, I have been an educator. Trying to help young people manage their own metamorphosis or becoming. Attempting to help them become more than what is offered by ordinary activities.
We live in an era dominated by the notion that formal education is to create a well-prepared workforce. In earlier eras schools were established that centered their curricula on religious studies. With other forms of schooling focused on scientific or technological pursuits. A few were created to prepare clergy and military leaders.
Workforce and domestic preparation often occurred on family farms or in apprenticeships. Community schools were developed later, first for children between seven and eleven. High schools and junior highs emerged. Afterward came the comprehensive high schools offering vocational programs.
School curricula were designed to inculcate students with economic and commercially viable values and skills. With enough social studies to help students understand governmental decision-making. Exceptions to that systems approach were usually within preparatory programs stressing the importance of service and leadership.
Often in military and faith-based schools, somewhat working under the common umbrella of service. To encourage young people to enter a life in which their own prerogatives are less important than those of the people they serve.
Today’s public schools, influenced greatly by state and federal micromanagement, are focused almost exclusively on the idea and practice of factual inculcation. They do not typically help students become more of what their human metamorphic potential is.
- honorable pursuits,
- relationship building,
- pursuing and using knowledge in multiple and diverse settings,
- strengthening their own resolve to serve,
- building feelings of empathy, or
- seeking ways to become part of something greater than themselves to be a force for good.
Instead “becoming” is more akin to robotic and unsatisfying behaviors among our young people. Our so-called millennials and the succeeding group sometimes referred to as Generation Z. Who may not see the core of their lives as being anything more than existing in a metamorphic vacuum.
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