Thus far, we have presented a kaleidoscopic view of the education process and its key components: inspiration and integration. Each turn of the lens has provided us with a new way of understanding the practical implications of that simple, yet elegant, model of growth and change. As we become sensitized to this dynamic–both as it operates within an educational context, as well as on a more global scale–several benefits accrue:
First, as is common in all leaps of consciousness, a dimension of reality which was lost in the muck of haphazard events is suddenly illuminated and elevated into the category of a lawful, predictable pattern of nature. Before, we’ve only had the raw data: we’ve known that some people have learning blocks others don’t; that some students are enthusiastic but still don’t progress; that certain techniques work for some but not for others; that a given teacher is good for one type of group but not for another. The rhyme was not discernible. Instead there was only a jumble of facts and figures, successes and failures. Then someone illuminates the pattern, and everything falls into place. Suddenly there is order, meaning, and interrelationship in what had seemed to be a chaotic mass of unconnected events. There is something deeply satisfying about this. The human mind revels in its expanding understanding of the world. And the truth is, this is no small thing.
If everything exists because God has deliberately placed it here, and if God is the very definition of consciousness, then the universe must reflect the conception of its Creator, and conceal a lawfulness by virtue of its being rooted in the vision of God. As the Book of Psalms proclaims: “In wisdom You created all things.”
If this is so, then the human drive to understand the world–even as expressed in the secular fields of science, philosophy, psychology, etc.–is motivated, whether consciously or unconsciously, by our mandate to emulate God. As we expand the boundaries of our conscious awareness and penetrate more deeply into the untamed and undiscovered lands of reality–those places not yet probed and illumined by the human mind–then our awareness comes closer to emulating God’s awareness, where all is known and nothing is hidden.
Secondly, once a pattern is identified and a model constructed, we can apply it to the work at hand, in this case education. The educator organizes his students into appropriate categories: which are easily inspired but can’t sustain the momentum; which are hard workers but uninspired; which need more or less attention to bring about their growth and change. Once the teacher knows what he’s looking for, he can consciously design a strategy to meet each need instead of relying on a hit or miss approach to the problem.
Finally, this model of education has historical implications as well. For example, one can begin to address the classic question of why it was possible for the Jewish people to experience, first hand, the most profound revelation of Godliness that has ever transpired–the giving of the Torah at Sinai–and forty days later to worship the golden calf.
The revelation at Mount Sinai can be likened to the inspiration of the Jewish people whereby they were initiated into the world of Torah; it was a gift of light and grace from above to below, awakening them to an entirely new dimension of awareness and arousing in them a passionate will toward God. Nevertheless, this was not sufficient unto itself, because integration had not taken place, and inspiration without integration is necessarily fleeting. Even after such a profound revelation as this, there needed to be the slow, effortful struggle to bring it into their very beings and this was only possible through action, challenge, practice, and constant repetition.
Integration is a time consuming process, and there is no getting around that. Until this phase is complete, there is always the possibility of error, even on the order of the golden calf. The entire history of the Jewish people, from that point of their encounter with God at Mount Sinai and onward, is the struggle to do just that. It is the effort, at once painful, at once joyful, of bringing the light of God and Torah into the innermost recesses and shadowy corners of life, then out into individual communities, and–ultimately–into the entire world. That is what it means for Israel to be a “light unto the nations.”