Last week, Dr Jack Miller visited Vancouver for “Educating for Wisdom and Compassion”. In this talk, he put forth three elements of wisdom ­– insight, humility, love.

Insight, for Dr Miller, is a glimpse into how things really are. He says, for example, insight is to see how deeply connected things really are “at all levels of the cosmos.” “Seeing the relationship between our thoughts and our behaviour, and trying to see the very root of our thoughts, means we can watch them and change them to thoughts of compassion.”

By humility – the second element of wisdom – Dr Miller is not referring to a demeaning sense of modesty, but rather recognizing our special place within nature. “Animals know their place in the cosmos. There is no confusion,” he said. “But we are very confused as human beings. We have forgotten how to be in the cosmos in an unconfused way.”

Dr Miller spoke of the importance of spending time in nature as a means of reacquiring this humility.

He called on the words of the Dalai Lama to express his final element of wisdom: love. “The Dalai Lama says that we see that people want happiness and wellbeing and not to suffer and that’s how we can identify with not only human beings, but all beings,” he said. “That creates a natural sense of compassion and love.”

Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela – they all have something in common, according to Dr Miller.

“They resisted making whoever was their opponent into an object. They always kept them as a subject,“ he said. “Mandela, one of the ways that he got through 27 years of prison was to feel some kind of love for the guards.”

To nurture wisdom in education, Dr Miller suggests that we can first focus on insight, or interconnectedness.

“Education should be a series of connections at every kind of level,” he said. “We break knowledge down into subjects, then into units, and then into lessons, then into little bits of information and there’s very little attempt to show all of that is interrelated.”

This type of curriculum leads students to think everything is fragmented. They fail to see the connections.

To illustrate a school that is teaching through interconnectedness, Dr Miller described how the Equinox Holistic Alternative School in Toronto views education.

“Its main goal is to develop the whole child,” he said. “The classes are built on themes and many subjects are integrated (to reflect these themes).”

This school also tries to reconnect the students with nature, with kindergarten classes being almost entirely outdoors, even in undesirable weather.

After sharing his talk, Dr Miller opened the floor to questions. One of the questions that came from the audience was “How can I convince my school board that a holistic curriculum can work?”

We sat down with Dr Miller afterwards and asked him the same question, and others. In short, he said that if nothing else, a teacher can be present for his or her students.

“The most important thing is to be present and to be mindful for your students.”

Listen to his response to this question and others from our special one-on-one interview with Dr Miller after his talk. (source:

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