What they don’t teach at school

I’ve always been a good student. Straight A’s a lot of the time. For whatever reason I cannot fathom, school stuff just came easily to me. Some people thought I was a geek. In fact, I hardly studied. I just soaked it up. One reason might have been that reading was a welcome distraction from the worries of my childhood and youth. Books opened up a whole universe of alternatives. They taught me a lot of stuff. But they didn’t teach me the most important thing of all: how to live.

Thinking back I’m more and more amazed about the way today’s curricula are built. Math and biology, geography and languages, chemistry, music and physical education are important. Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot of knowledge to be gained from those subjects that can be applied later, if you’re lucky, in a job of your choosing. But how on earth can an entire school system fail to teach you the most important thing there is to learn in life? How to live!School

How to live a fulfilling life. How to love. How to deal with hurt. How to deal with loss. How to treasure the rare moments of total bliss when you do have them. And how to prepare yourself for when they end. How do you find out what makes you you, how to make yourself blossom? How do you lead an authentic life? And how do you live up to your true potential?

I can’t believe they don’t teach that at school.

I am at loss for words for the absurdity of it.

Here we are, pouring our souls out on blogs, in therapy sessions, with life coaches, with friends, with family. But no one really seems to know.

I guess that’s the explanation. If there is no generally accepted authority and teaching on how to live authentically and soulfully, there cannot be a curriculum. Which might explain why religion and spirituality are at an all-time high (that’s not a scientific observation or validated fact, just a hunch). They offer an explanation, they offer guidance on what is not explained, let alone taught at school (you will have figured out by now that I was not educated in any religious or spiritual tradition).

I’m left helpless in a way, falling back onto spirituality. It’s not an inbuilt instinct of mine, as far as my parents are concerned. It was just not part of how and where I grew up. It might however be inbuilt as far as I’m human. I feel this aching longing within me, the emptiness of an unfulfilled soul so badly lately, that I can’t but turn towards spirituality.

I haven’t quite discovered my niche yet. I’m hovering over mindfulness, zen, vibration, energy and lately: Kintsugi. A lot of Kintsugi.

I stumbled upon this concept after a reader and fellow blogger, a pretty good one for that matter, Juli Hoffman, commented on There is a crack in everything. She has an A-Z blog post series on procrastination, amongst others. And in there, very innocently hidden in the M part of it, was a reference to Kintsugi. Curious and starved for information and illumination as I currently am, I looked it up and instantly fell in love with the concept.

According to Wikipedia, Kintsugi, the repair of broken ceramic pots with gold dust, can relate to the Japanese philosophy of “no mind” (無心 mushin) which encompasses the concepts of non-attachment, acceptance of change and fate as aspects of human life:

‘”Not only is there no attempt to hide the damage, but the repair is literally illuminated… a kind of physical expression of the spirit of mushin. (…) Mushin is often literally translated as ‘no mind’,  but carries connotations of fully existing within the moment, of non-attachment, of equanimity amid changing conditions. (…) The vicissitudes of existence over time, to which all humans are susceptible, could not be clearer than in the breaks, the knocks, and the shattering to which ceramic ware too is subject.”

— Christy Bartlett, Flickwerk: The Aesthetics of Mended Japanese Ceramics


I love the idea of it. Weirdly so, because if you are a returning reader you will know that I am a die-hard perfectionist (on the road to recovery). It’s not that I think everything will ever be perfect. So not. But I’d sure love for it to be. Because then there would be no hurt. No loss. No confusion. Only moments of bliss. Deep knowledge of who we are. No questions on how to make ourselves blossom. On how to lead an authentic life, or how to live up to our true potential.

I love the concept – and at the same time I’m struggling with it. Big time. It’s basically asking me to do the opposite of what I’ve learnt to do. Rather than rejecting the cracks and dents and blemishes, the traces that life leaves on us, I’d have to cherish them, embrace them, own them. Perceive them not as ugly, but as beautiful. More valuable in a sense than the unbroken equivalent. It’s a weird upside-down-turned logic. It puts into question all we’ve learnt at school (and through media and advertisement) about what succeeding in life is all about.

We tend to think it’s about improving, perfecting, being without fault. When in fact, one of the most important things, maybe the one most important thing, to learn in life as that embracing our cracks, our dents, our blemishes is what truly makes us whole. And beautiful. And valuable.

I don’t know if and, if yes, when I will be able to transform this new-found knowledge into a lasting experience and attitude. You know, the application of a theoretical concept into real life, by feeling and living it, going through it rather than tip-toeing around it.

Which reminds me of one of my favorite books, The Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman, in particular the scene where Socrates teaches Dan the lesson on the difference between both:

‘The world out there,’ he said, waving his arm across the horizon, ‘is a school, Dan. Life is the only real teacher. It offers many experiences, and if experience alone brought wisdom and fulfillment, then elderly people would all be happy, enlightened masters. But the lessons of experience are hidden. I can help you learn from experience to see the world clearly.’

Maybe there really only is one teacher able to teach us what we need to learn in life: life itself.

And it’s not an easy lesson to learn.

I find this hard to accept. After all I am a perfectionist. I’d like to know in advance. I’d like to control the outcome. I hate learning along the way. Even more so if I don’t feel safe. It sucks.

But as hard as I find that to admit, it might just be the only way.

Healing our wounds with (spiritual) gold.

In order to blossom.



Photo © Pixabay/kropekk_pl

41 thoughts on “What they don’t teach at school

    1. I so would have loved to learn that. Would have saved me a lot of pain. Thank you for your warm words, Val. Maybe the ‘not learning’ was good for something after all. Would I be writing all of this stuff if it wasn’t for the ‘not-learning’…? Oh well, can’t have it all. 💛

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Reblogged this on and commented:
    I am often being told this when I encounter old high school acquaintances – why didn’t we learn _______ in school? This is just another example and perspective as to why we as teachers not only need to teach the curriculum – but show our students what’s beyond the brick walls…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s true… Knowing the concept is helpful but doesn’t save the pain. It does offer a more gentle approach on how to overcome it, though. That’s what I love about. Glad you found it wonderful, too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I, too, have wondered why emotional literacy has never been taught to us. As you suggest, we are left to muddle our way through … told not to make mistakes and yet … if we honored our mis-steps as essential lessons and embraced them without shame … our tattered hearts would be mended with gold.

    Thoroughly enjoyed this … thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m also one of those people who really wants everything to be perfect, so I can really relate to this. The idea of accepting our faults and wounds, and the imperfection of the world around us as being a normal part of life is something I’m working on. But I like the concept of healing our wounds with spiritual gold!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kintsugi (I didn’t know the word for it…thanks!) for a long time struck me as a bit nihilistic or, at best, fatalistic, but I’ve begun to see it from a different angle of late. There are some aspects of life that just _are_, and to deny them is to deny some basic truths about our universe. I find it more comforting to embrace the vagaries of life, though it is challenging at times.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s certainly very challenging, yes. I also found the concept counter-intuitive when I first came across it. But something about it struck me as true. Maybe it was the simple fact that it is the opposite of perfectionism, and maybe sometimes the poison is, in fact, the cure. Maybe, once we can embrace our cracks then we have simply no more desire to make them go away. It’s the end of perfectionism and the suffering that comes with it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Very thought provoking! It’s hard in this day and age when almost all social media promotes the idea of perfection that we fail to realize our imperfections are what make us unique and in most casess can make us stronger. Your analysis of what they did not teach in school is so astute and I heartily agree. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, it really makes me sad what social media does to young people. It’s amplifying what is not a healthy approach to life anyhow. I think they, and we, will feel the consequence for a long time to come. Hope we can turn this around at some point.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Incredible post!! I can empathize a lot with feeling that the most important things in life weren’t taught at school. I hope that mindfulness starts becoming part of the curriculum, and more awareness of emotions and being loving…and the idea of Kintsugi is such a beautiful metaphor. Like alchemy for the parts of us that are broken. Making the broken things beautiful. Thanks for a great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Really enjoyed reading this. I see the truth in what you share, and yet I too find it very challenging to fully live and embody, because it goes against everything I’ve been brought up to hold dear…competence and confidence are king, vulnerability and cracks are weakness. Thanks for a thought provoking post. Harula xx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I suppose maybe schools figure we’ll get out in the world and learn the “soft-skills” [note the phrase] on our own. It appears that you have taken up the cup and are slowly but surely drinking a sip here and a sip there. I haven’t been to a bricks and mortar school for a long time, but I’m blessed with being a life-long learner. There’s still so much to digest. One thing I’ve learned is that I have no model of perfection here on this earth. I know the word is in the dictionary, and that people speak about it. That is all. At 60+, I can only be my highest and my best. I can grab hold of the spiritual life, and let it bring peace and stillness to my heart. What I love most is how stress-free it is, sharable it is. And I say thank you, thank you, thank you each morning. When I look out my window from my cozy kitchen counter perch, I see the green cut lawn, the budding bushes I planted most recently, the sun shining down, the birds and squirrels frolicking on occasion, and I think…”In this moment, this could be paradise,.” And if I really stretch my perspective view, “this is what perfection might look like.” Highest and Best!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Our places don’t come ready made. We have to be a major contributor. That’s what I’m doing, making my way. Life doesn’t happen to me. I’m happening to it. It doesn’t happen over night. The saying: “Experience is the best teacher” is accurate. Stay the course. You are on the path!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I liked going through your blog, the posts gave me solace, I have found/ been finding myself in similar situations. I guess that is the commonality of human experience and it is assuring that someone out there feels the same way as you do and most importantly, that the feeling can be successfully dealt with! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you for your warm comment. To be able to give solace by simply sharing my experiences is more than I can and would have expected. Then again, I feel the same when I read other people’s posts that are dealing with similar struggles. It’s very encouraging to know we’re not alone it this indeed.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sandra, thanks a lot for your warm comment. I’m really glad to know it resonates with teachers and counsellors working at school. I’m well aware it’s often nit the people but the structures preventing the kids from learning what they really need to learn. It’s very reassuring programs are popping up now that are more in tune with the needs of children. I’m generally always open to teaming up on blog posts. I do have to admit I have a lot on my mind lately and haven’t written anything in a while. So don’t expect too much activity from me at the moment. If you have an idea about what we could do together down the line, please let me know. In any case good luck with your blog and your blogging journey. Your blog’s topic surely is very relevant!


I'd love to hear your thoughts

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.