Monday, August 13, 2012

Dreaming This, Part II

I've spent the last three weeks immersed in the vibrant and abundant green of Jamaica.  The aliveness of everything is both intoxicating and soothing.  It is all at once peaceful and riotous with life and living things: the gentle white noise of thousands and thousands of leaves brushing each other in their lofty treetop dwellings, the intermittent high-pitched hum of cicadas, the squawking of black birds and the melodious chirping of others; and at night lizards that croak make a symphony with the orchestra of cricket.

The Dreaming began to reshape itself with and through this beauty.

What about a little ecologically focused boarding school somewhere in the rolling hills of Jamaica?  I thought.  In a small settlement, with land for farming and space for being?  What about that?

I became energized and excited as the idea began to take shape - to come into focus a bit more.  I started saying out loud to my husband and the words were like bees.  The buzzed and hummed, the went out and came back.  Yes, I thought, what about that?!

It would be a day school for local residents and a boarding school for those in other locales.  It would be like the mountain top, democratic version of The Island School.  In situ Green living and learning.  I mean, just imagine a school where this is your backyard!

The hillside backyard of a friend's home in St. Catherine
And there would be plenty of other stuff happening at the same time.  We can grow all kinds of food.

Banana and plantain growing around my father's home on White River.
We can work together with the artisans and tradespeople of the surrounding area to create small, sustainable cottage industries.  

It would be so perfect!  It makes me think about The Green School in Bali.  We can do that!  

The Dreaming is big and expansive.  The Dreaming is all around me and in me at the same time.  The Dreaming is everyone who wants to be a part of this story.  

Please, tell me your thoughts.  

Welcome to The Dreaming, Part YOU.

This Dreaming, Part I

It would appear that I can not stop dreaming.  

It's not that I'm trying to stop dreaming, it's that I keep being surprised at how many shapes this one core dream keeps taking.  

I sometimes wonder - Do I really want to start a school or is it an idea that I've become attached to, am defining parts of myself by and therefore won't let go?  I suppose it's those moments of doubt that cause the central is-ness of this desire to be refocused.  In the way that blurriness causes to one to adjust the dials on the binoculars.  There.  That's better.

I know this because I have actually tried to put it down.  There was a time when everything became so blurry, my eyes in so much pain that I had no choice and I put it down and stepped away.  I didn't look for a long time.  

But that dream persisted.  It would gently stir - a light breeze skittering some leaves on the ground.  It would wake me from actual dreaming to pull at my mind and heart.  It would speak to me in the voices of others.  This Dreaming belongs here: in me.  It is a constant companion.

Still, it's not so defined.  It changes shape; is malleable.  Just the way it needs to be.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Post Apocolyptic

Last night I watched a History Channel "what if?" piece about life during and after a massive, population-eradicating pandemic.  It was an interesting piece in which the story follows one family and their attempts to survive the widespread disease and death as it plays out in their home city of LA.

Towards the end - 25 years after the 'panpocolypse' (my word), life requires a new oldish way of doing things.  The people are living in smaller communities and growing their own food.  There are small towns with small town doctors and local law enforcement (as in a kind of Sheriff.)  Some may call it a sustainable lifestyle.  As it's wrapping up, there is a mouthful of words about education.  The narrator says something about how the children are now being taught useful skills/information and then a somewhat glib comment follows that 'the [text] books didn't get sick' [and can therefore continue to be used].

Of course, I got snagged on the phrase "useful skills/information".  Useful.  The children are now (in this new, old world) being taught useful information, useful skills.

While I am completely aware that things may not go this particular way, I am also aware that the time for people to learn Useful Information and Useful Skills is right now.  Why wait till our thin veneer of civilization has crumbled?

The point I am trying to make to both you and myself, is that I snagged on the whole 'useful' terminology because what it means is that much of what children are being taught now is useless.  The way I see it, the fundamental goal of education is to help the learners to begin to grasp two things:  1) How the world around them works (including what we understand about the Universe) - which is easy because all children are curious about this, and 2) How they work (which is to say, knowing themselves) and what that means in the larger context.

This qualifies as "useful information building blocks".  A starter kit, if you will.  And a tremendous gift.