Sunday, July 11, 2010

Horizon: Mireless

I've been asking the question lately, What is the point of (traditional) school?  What is it for?  What purpose is it serving?

But then I had to ask, What is the point of this "Alternative Education" that I am espousing?  What is it for?  What purpose will it serve?

Answer: Humanity.

You see, even though I am very much about creating a school that respects it's learners and creates and atmosphere of equality for all, the larger vision is really restoration of Humanity.  

Under or behind all the labels - words we use to keep our distance from each other - are real live actual human beings; daughters, sons, cousins, sisters, mothers, fathers, best friends, lovers - People.  At the risk of sounding like I've gone overboard I'd say the labels we use for other living things, like trees, rats, caterpillars, whales, spiders, oranges, flowers - the create a distance as well.  

Anthony DeMello said in his book Awareness, (and I'm paraphrasing here) that once you name something such as a palm tree, you never see another palm tree again.  You just see the word and the one you first named.  

I am reading a book called Above All, Be Kind by Zoe Weil and her language has helped me give identity to the previously unformed, floating idea that I had about the ultimate goal of this kind of education.  She talks a lot about fostering Reverence, Respect and Responsibility in children.  I find that Reverence is what tends to be missing - if I could oversimplify it for a bit - from the way we are raising our children today.  In parenting and education alike we have literally stopped talking time to smell the actual roses.  

We are so busy spitting out empty praise ("Great walking, son!") and trying to keep up with the bills that we barely have time to truly Be Present and give Reverence to the moment, to ourselves, to our friends, to our spouses and most of all, to our children.  

(Digression warning!)  In my own genuine awe for living beings, I often find that I (feel like I) seem childish around the people who do not experience the world that way.  This is not a statement of arrogance or judgement - I literally become self conscious sometimes when I see a bird and gasp in awe and people seem a bit perplexed ("It's just a bird", their quickly averted eyes tell me).  

All this to say that what Zoe Weil said is what I meant to say: It is about our humanity.  The real world, she says, is dirt and trees and fall and fish and deer and rivers and sunshine and butterflies (again, paraphrasing); not stocks and bonds or corporate ladders or bank accounts etc.  Well put, Zoe!  

What is the point of peaceful, learner centred, respectful mindful education built on a framework of social justice and environenmental sustainability?  

Humanity.  Being People.  People Being.

What I see on the Horizon truly is a state of liberation.  The kind of freedom from bondage that people like Jesus and Bob Marley talked about; where we will nurture our souls and be emancipated from mental slavery.  


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