Monday, 21 June 2010

Mark asks a great question about the small decisions in our lives

Part of being human means dividing our lives into neat little boxes, boxes that are easy to look at and understand from the outside.  It comes as a matter of course that in order to simplify what would normally be complex decision-making, we must reduce the complex world around us into categories.  This can sometimes be extremely helpful, but in many ways, it is horribly painful for everyone.  The most obvious negatives are the tragic ones: like racism, political extremism, ultra-nationalism resulting in wars and conflicts.

The goal of those who wish to control us, our minds, our thoughts, our money, make it their business to reduce complex decision-making to very simple emotions.  Nowhere is this more evident than the super market aisle.

A Fred Meyer's Supermarket in Portland.

What is it about the small, repeated decisions in life –why do they lend themselves to being made with little to no thought at all?

My answer is to have consciously a sense of the Whole - and small decisions are easier.

I had a go here -

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Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Found a great starter quote on what it is to be human - thanks to Richard Kahn

Homo sapiens has been variously described as a symbol-making animal, a tool-making animal, a social animal, a political animal, a rational animal, and a spiritual animal.  Each of these characteristics has been identified as the basic element which distinguishes Homo from the rest of animal nature and gives him (her) his distinctively human characteristics.  It may now be that Homo should not only be described biologically as Homo sapiens but socially and culturally as Homo educans.  It may well be that the most apt way to describe the process of man's becoming human is to say that he became a teaching and learning animal.      R Freeman Butts

The truth of humans as Homo educans is undeniable - we learn faster & deeper than other animals and we pass on a far richer culture - we're also far more creative in our brutishness.

However for me as an educator it is a case of our having evolved as Homo meaning-maker (whatever the correct Latin for that is).

Meaning is not primarily a commodity; it is the glue that binds all relationships. It is what enables patterns, community, belonging, our stories and a sense of the whole. 

Enrichment in meaning-making possibilities heals, and can also transform the alienated into greater positivity.

It is the educator's nurturing of meaning-making possibilities for the learner - in the 4 prime characteristics of being human, our Caring, Our Creativity, Our Criticality and our acting in Community - that provides a human-centred leaning matrix in which technical stuff from learning to read to Ph.D.s in engineering.

My work is HERE

There is a very condensed version of the model which eventually leads to the Ph.D.Thesis

Butts R F The Education of the West: A formative Chapter in the History of Civilization  (New York: McGraw-Hill 1973) 

SEE ALSO Richard Kahn's paper here

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Thursday, 3 June 2010

Interesting article re: On Distraction by Alain de Botton, City Journal Spring 2010

One of the more embarrassing and self-indulgent challenges of our time is the task of relearning how to concentrate. The past decade has seen an unparalleled assault on our capacity to fix our minds steadily on anything. To sit still and think, without succumbing to an anxious reach for a machine, has become almost impossible.

The obsession with current events is relentless. We are made to feel that at any point, somewhere on the globe, something may occur to sweep away old certainties—something that, if we failed to learn about it instantaneously, could leave us wholly unable to comprehend ourselves or our fellows. We are continuously challenged to discover new works of culture—and, in the process, we don’t allow any one of them to assume a weight in our minds. We leave a movie theater vowing to reconsider our lives in the light of a film’s values. Yet by the following evening, our experience is well on the way to dissolution, like so much of what once impressed us: the ruins of Ephesus, the view from Mount Sinai, the feelings after finishing Tolstoy’s Death of Ivan Ilyich.

A student pursuing a degree in the humanities can expect to run through 1,000 books before graduation day. A wealthy family in England in 1250 might have owned three books


Click on link to read article

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My focus is inter-spiritual living