Posts Tagged ‘Education’
“Fear comes from uncertainty. When we are absolutely certain, whether of our worth or worthlessness, we are almost impervious to fear.” William Congreve, English playwright and poet.
It’s Sunday (i.e. yesterday). I woke around 6am to a cold morning (28 deg F/-2.2 deg C), the result of a clear, moonlit night.
Then as the night sky lightened with the coming dawn, the green, forest-cloaked valleys, visible to the East through the bedroom windows filled with a white, morning mist. In a metaphorical sense that descending mist matched a mood of gloom that was trying to descend on me.
As I lay back against the headboard of the bed, Jean still sleeping close to me, dogs Cleo, Hazel and Sweeny snoozing on and around me, I pondered on my mood. It came to me that I might be picking up the growing sense of anxiety, of uncertainty, that seems to be ‘in the air’. Me reading too many blog articles about global warming, climate change, et al. Being three-quarters through Professor Guy McPherson’s book Walking Away from Empire: A Personal Journey wasn’t helping either!
Then I recalled a recent conversation with dear friend and colleague from our Payson, AZ. days, John Hurlburt, who said that fear is the absence of faith. That if we trust what will be will be, then we can counter the fear of the unknown and embrace the present day, one day at a time. Living in the now as, you’ve guessed it, that dogs do so supremely well. Something else to learn from dogs!
I made a decision to take a stroll in the forest, emotionally speaking, for this week, so far as Learning from Dogs is concerned. Enjoy the beauty of the world around me and offer a few essays on the meaning of life. No blog posts at all about anything that engenders fear from any quarter!
And if that doesn’t slash the readership figures, I don’t know what will! So there! You have been warned.
So let me start by offering this essay from John. John is one of those rare people who has been through more than his fair share of ‘challenges’ over the years, yet has grown from those experiences.
Here’s John – I’m turning over and going back to sleep!
Education, Formation and Transformation
Most Americans remain comfortably complacent despite world economic brinksmanship, the escalating deterioration of our planetary environment and raging world discontent. Although we may be caring and compassionate in our personal lives, we are often reluctant to take any risk of reducing our personal comfort.
Education is a process. A process of learning how to think life through in order to become aware of whom we are, what we are, where we are, and why we exist. Education has always been the human gateway to a better future.
Knowledge does not guarantee wisdom. Education, formation and transformation are an integrated process which includes studying to gain knowledge, making natural connections based on the best information available, and experiencing the higher levels of conscious awareness we recognize as wisdom. The educational process works best when it is open minded, factual and sustained. We learn best when we learn together.
The human wisdom tradition is rich in myth, mysticism, symbols, imagination and creativity. It tells a common story of emergence through centuries of sacred writings stretching back through time to the earliest human cave scratchings roughly 17,000 years ago, and the beauty of the prayers of the Rig-Veda 12,000 years ago which all begin with an homage to the natural energy of the Sun.
We’re conscious components of a living planet. We’re surface dwellers with exposure to universal and planetary energies. Our species is only 200,000 years old. The universe is roughly 13 billion years old. Our planet is deteriorating and we’ve lost our collective moral compass. What can we do to make a local difference?
We only recently learned to hunt woolly mammoths in packs using bows, arrows and spears as tools. A perception of God in relation to our responsibility to each other and creation exists as the foundation of a human wisdom tradition which, relatively speaking, has just began.
In many ways, nothing seems to have changed as we have passed through successive cyclic waves of emergence and contraction. It becomes simultaneously increasingly more complex and exquisitely simple to understand. That is as we begin to realize how our metanexus emerges, contracts and turns inside out without breaking … like a pulse.
The next ten years are more important than the next several thousand years in respect to the choices we make about our biosphere.
There seems to be little doubt that our world problems are steadily increasing. What’s the next right thing to do? It’s time to grow our conscious connection in God. It’s time to share the spring of human wisdom from the ground up. It’s time to develop a world economy which is gentle to the earth.
The Clearing Rests in Song and Shade
The clearing rests in song and shade.
It is a creature made
By old light held in soul and leaf.
By humans joy and grief,
By human work,
Fidelity of sight and stroke,
By rain, by water on
The parent stone.
We join our work to Heaven’s gift,
Our hope to what is left,
That field and woods at last agree
In an economy
Of widest worth.
High Heaven’s Kingdom come on earth,
O dust, arise!
Wendell Berry; 1909
“The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn.“ Alvin Toffler
This was first published on the 31st October, 2009.
Dogs? Yes, we can certainly learn a lot from them.
We could start by learning to clean up our own mess better …..
The concluding part of what we might care to leave for the next generation
Mankind over the next few years is facing the start of an interval of economic chaos and social stress between the end of the fossil fuel age and whatever follows. That interval could well last a lifetime or more. Some might argue that the economic challenges that have been the mark of 2011 are, indeed, the first signs of this economic chaos.
How well we cope, adapt and survive is not going to be down to those of my age (born 1944) but to the bright youngsters who have been born in the 21st century.
That was the motivation behind publishing, on December 1st, the speech given by Steve Jobs, the 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech, and on December 6th, the famous and fabulous speech given by Sir Ken Robinson at the 2005 TED Talks conference.
The third and concluding message is a subsequent speech given by Sir Ken, this time in May 2010. It isn’t as stirring as his speech in 2005 but still a wonderful focus on what is our, as in homo sapiens, only chance of surviving – the innovation and creativity of the next generations.
In this poignant, funny follow-up to his fabled 2006 talk, Sir Ken Robinson makes the case for a radical shift from standardized schools to personalized learning — creating conditions where kids’ natural talents can flourish.
I happened to be listening to the radio the other day and this Pink Floyd song was played again, as it regularly is. It haunts the mind with its dark, brooding and atmospheric rhythm, which is quite ironic for something supposedly against “thought control”.
It never struck me so clearly before, but I realized this time how very stupid it is and how much I really dislike the message it has given to generations of kids. Let’s have a closer look.
We don’t need no education: Oh yes you do, matey! It is in fact the ONLY THING that will SAVE you from “thought control”. The irony of this is breathtaking. What are you going to do WITHOUT education then? Without it you certainly WILL become just “another brick in the wall”, no ability to exercise any kind of judgement, no decent job = no money = no power of decision ….
As a teacher myself, I am frequently faced with spoilt, fairly mindless, ill brought-up, uninterested children who can’t concentrate for more than two minutes because their minds have been rotted by too much television and video-and computer games, plus of course the prevailing ethos in society of: “The world owes us a living.” and “We have a right to cars, houses, holidays and all the rest without having to work our socks off for them as our parents did.”
And of course, one needs to define “WE”. I suppose in fact you mean “YOU” , since who gave you the right to speak for everyone else? In my experience 95% of kids want to learn (i.e. develop their brains to avoid this dreaded ‘thought control’), whereas the remaining 5% of utter morons utterly muck up the class. Given the nature of your ranting I would place “you” in fact among the 5% of selfish morons.
So, the first line is idiotic. Does it get any better?
We don’t need no thought control: No, you don’t, but you don’t get it from teachers; they are overwhelmingly there to FREE your mind. If they tell you to “Shut up” then it is usually in the best interests of A) you yourself B) everyone else in the classroom. If you are looking for the best purveyors of “thought control”, why not have a go at politicians, advertisers and the like? Or indeed sections of the the media? (or even your own song – another great irony)
You are not FREE in a classroom to “do your own thing” (another prevailing ethos), since that is not possible in a largish group trying to concentrate on something. Your idiotic chatter and behaviour is extremely anti-social and of course humungously selfish.
No dark sarcasm in the classroom: Teachers are frequently driven to distraction trying to help eager kids learn while a minority of mindless, anti-social morons creates havoc. Teachers may indeed resort to occasional sarcasm in the face of this onslaught of idiocy, but they are overwhelmingly reacting to the tsunami of negativism that sweeps over the class from the utter morons.
Teacher, leave them kids alone: Actually Sonny Jim, it is not the teacher’s JOB to “leave them kids alone”. His duty is to HELP THEM, to DEVELOP THEIR MINDS. “Leaving them alone” is the LAST thing he should do.
Astonishingly enough (and it may not have occurred to you – but then you are of course a moron, so what do you expect) the teacher even tries to HELP the morons who make his life hell. That is his DUTY. That is why he BECAME A TEACHER instead of flogging houses or mortgages and making lots more money.
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall: The bricks in the wall are the mindless, uneducated plebs who live unfulfilled lives, and their lives are NOT unfulfilled because they are not Wayne Rooney or don’t have loads of money but because they have no education, like you presumably.
If you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding: Too bloody right. Growing children need protein; you don’t in general get that from pudding, but from meat. But then you don’t know that, do you, because you are an uneducated moron.
Don’t you think the teacher has better things to do than constantly moan at kids to eat a balanced diet? But instead of slumping in an easy chair in the staffroom at lunchtime he gives up his time and more importantly nervous energy (since he gets a lot of negative crap from you) to HELP you A) get more protein B) avoid getting fat and C) learn something about nutrition so that when (God help us, or more pertinently ‘them’) you yourself have kids you might have some chance of bringing them up in a healthy way.
You may not be aware that an insanely-ludicrous percentage of British kids are clinically OBESE. Yes, VERY FAT (though these days it is probably not at all PC to use the word “fat”.) This means their lives will be much more uncomfortable, they will be very unattractive, will be subject to more illness than the healthy and will no doubt die younger.
So, the teacher who sacrifices his own nerves to try to get kids to eat properly is a HERO.
Sorry, your song is utter rubbish from start to end. Worse than that, it is pernicious and also insulting to teachers, whose overwhelming intention and indeed effect is to improve the present and future lives of their pupils.
The song may indeed refer to a personal experience of bad teachers (no section of society is without its black sheep) but the trouble is that it comes over as a blanket generalisation of negativism against teachers, and it is time someone stood up for them.
By Chris Snuggs
Visualisation of data
But this image is an update of an earlier one here that is really powerful. Because it attempts to put the scale of the oil spill into context with global oil consumption.
If the Purdue University estimate of the oil spill is correct at 48,500 barrels a day (a barrel is approximately the equivalent of two car tankfuls of gas/petrol) and the spill is contained in 90 days then the total oil spilled will be:
90 x 48,500 = 4,365,000 barrels
That is an enormous quantity.
But have a guess as to how much that would represent in terms of hourly global oil consumption?
Well global oil consumption is 3,500,000 barrels an hour.
So 90 days at 48,500 barrels a day represents just 1 hour 15 minutes worth of global consumption!
If there was ever an argument for the world to wean itself off oil then this would appear to be it.
What has happened so far is tragic – tragic beyond measure. But if it turns out to be a ‘tipping point’ for nations to reconsider how we find and use energy then, perhaps, it will have been a horrible lesson that we all had to take.
And if the USA puts all it’s collective back into leading the world out of our addiction to oil then the damage and hardship will not have been in vain.
By Paul Handover
That pre-frontal cortex is at it again.
Here’s how John Brockman describes Dan Gilbert.
Dan Gilbert doesn’t have an instruction manual that tells you how to be happy in four easy steps and one hard one. Nor is he the kind of thinker who needs Freud, Marx, and Modernism to explain the human condition.
Gilbert, the Director of Harvard’s Hedonic Psychology Laboratory, is a scientist who explores what philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral economics have to teach us about how, and how well the human brain can imagine its own future, and about how, and how well it can predict which of those futures it will most enjoy.
There can’t be a human that hasn’t pondered on what makes them happy. Gilbert sets out some fascinating and possibly counter-intuitive ideas. Here’s the video
By Paul Handover
In the laboratory of the hermits, no one noticed that the monkeys could talk.
When a book ends with the above line, you know it’s going to be interesting.
When the inside front page carries a short review from Prof Alan Dershowitz of Havard Law School that reads, “One simply can’t finish this book and see the world in the same way”, you know the book is important.
Yes to both.
On Page 2, Ellen writes,
Unlike the exotic “altered states of conciousness” that we read so much about, mindfulness and mindlessness are so common that few of us appreciate their importance or make use of their power to change our lives.
This is a book for so many different aspects of life. From fields like aviation where mindlessness can, literally, kill to mindful new perspectives for people looking to explore new horizons for the soul.
Langer demonstrates a rare capacity both to see what is extraordinary about human events and to envision even more enlivening human possibilities. – Lee Ross, Stanford University.
By Paul Handover
So where does this all end up?
Well, I am finally back from an eventful break from writing at Learning From Dogs that has entailed my graduation from Wake Forest University, some final preparations for the University of Georgia School of Law and my move to Athens, and the unfortunate passing of my grandfather, Paul Norman Engstrom.
Therefore, it has been quite some time since I wrote my original post — which at that point was posted by Professor Jarrell with me as a guest author — in which I laid out my goals pertaining to a discussion of the United States’ education system. Since then I have discussed the positives of our system, the negatives of our system, and pointed out the view of Sir Ken Robinson, who believes that creativity should be given the same status as literacy in education systems.
We are often surprised after researching a topic to find our conclusions to be in opposition with our previous line of thought. However, sometimes it can be equally as surprising to do a great deal of research and then wind up back where you started, simply with a larger factual foundation behind. This has been the case for me throughout this entire discussion of the United States’ education system. Despite the attempt I have made to challenge my own viewpoint and think critically about my own biases, I continue to see the costs of the United States’ education system as far greater than its benefits.
As I have stated before, there is a great difference between formal education and learning. Or, to be more precise, perhaps I should say that formal education is merely one part, and perhaps not even that large a part, of what “learning” entails. I would suggest that the problem is not so much that the United States’ education system is damaging merely because of its existence, but rather that the greatest damage comes from society expecting far too much from this system. School is no replacement for the learning that entails integration into a complex and competitive global society that necessitates human interaction, critical thinking skills, and creativity. Sure, one can force youths into cinder block rooms and force them to learn multiplication tables and historical dates. And, to an extent, I think this is necessary in a mass society as we have today. However, this formula of forcing youths to learn facts and then having these facts regurgitated has been entrusted with far too much of what we today consider “learning,” and if we are ever to have a positive shift in our society from one of idea-accepters to idea-creators, this must change.
Perhaps high school could integrate into their programs a larger degree of extracurricular internships that count for course credit — I am sure that this is an experiment that could be undertaken by a few school districts quite easily, and then expanded if it proves successful. Perhaps also school curriculum could be altered to include more classes on philosophy and economics, which I see as foundational for a solid understanding of our world. However, this alteration of core curriculum would be a much more difficult task to accomplish, and would require some serious time and thought.
by Elliot Engstrom
I’d love to engage in a discussion with you — and interested others — about the appropriate role of government in education.
The Federalist Papers made it clear, to me at least, that our founding fathers believed that the government, our federal government in particular, should have nothing to do with educating the populace.
I realize it sounds a bit radical now, but I believe that any discussion of what is right and wrong about public education today must begin with a healthy debate about whether the federal government should be involved in public education at all.
Your thoughts? Thanks!
by Sherry Jarrell
Sir Ken Robinson’s view
I plan to have my final post on education finished very soon. However, with my last week of finals and papers at the undergraduate level (which is finally over!) constantly hoarding my time, I have not yet quite been able to truly decide on which side I plan to end up.
My instinct tells me that the costs of the US schooling system far outweigh its benefits, but I feel I must be sure that this is truly a case that can be supported with logic and not simply my own biases coming through.
However, while I continue to ponder, I thought that readers might find this video interesting. It’s a different take on the nature of institutionalized schooling than is often seen. It’s on the longer side — approximately 20 minutes long — but I definitely think it is worth a watch for anyone pursuing a clear and well thought-out perspective on education, and it’s actually quite humorous and entertaining.
The video is of a presentation by Sir Ken Robinson, an internationally recognized leader in the development of innovation and human resources. His thesis statement is as follows:
My contention is that creativity is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.
I hope the Learning From Dogs community enjoys this video. Upon my return from celebrating my college graduation in Charleston, I plan to present my final finding on whether the costs or the benefits of schooling in the United States outweighs the other.
By Elliot Engstrom