“One of the most joyous things we can do is to find our place, the land where we belong. Having found our place, we snuggle into it, learn about it, adapt to it, and accept it fully. We love and honor it. We rejoice in it. We cherish it. We become native to the land of our living.”
Carol Deppe

The Resilient Gardener

Letting it Happen

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I’ve had this video open in a browser window for a few weeks – this morning I finally watched it. In it is a description of a wonderful experiment where a computer was made available in a remote area to children who were computer-illiterate – and who, on their own, managed to learn how to use it.

The presenter, Sugata Mitra, sums up his presentation with four points:

  1. Remoteness effects the quality of education (less quality in remote areas).
  2. Educationl Technology should be introduced into remote areas first.
  3. Values are acquired (doctrine and dogma are imposed).
  4. Learning is a self-organizing system.

My Take on Education

A couple of months ago I happened to be in one of the cities in our vicinity and I happened to walk by a school where I over-heard a teacher lecturing to a class of children. This is in a fairly well-to-do country in a modern and developed city. She had a nasal voice and spiritless/dead presence – a shudder passed through me when I heard her (and it’s been many years since I’ve been in school). I promised myself then that my children would not spend time in such a school or in the presence of such people.

The best educational alternative I know of and working to create is:

  1. Living in a remote area (away from urban centers) where a “self-sustaining” life means that what you do is closely related to how you live. You create the physical circumstances in which you live.
  2. Allowing the natural challenges that arise in a self-sustaining environment to naturally motivate learning.
  3. Making tools and knowledge available to facilitate home-schooling.
  4. Hopefully living in a community in which there are diverse needs and diverse learning options (beyond a single house-hold) so that individual children can pursue and specialize in what interests them most.

Sugata Mitra’s presentation is a wonderful reminder of the inherent qualities we all carry around with us. These qualities are often trampled by education systems that were designed to create unimaginative workers. Sugata Mitra’s experiment in introducing technology comes with an interesting side-effect – it takes the “trampling system and it’s agents” out of the equation – which explains the resurfacing of natural human qualities. There still needs to be a View for learning – and that is not something that technology can supply. I believe that remote areas can be a natural resource for inspired learning – they are imbued with a natural life View.

Posted in AltEco, Enjoy, Expanding, inside, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Neighbors

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This morning seems to be connected

Too often I feel that media (what little of it does reach me) is sensationally-abusive of human suffering (which is one reason why I don’t let too much reach me). This morning, my RSS reader had a short post with a link to Don’t Forget Haiti where I found a personal and inspiring perspective:

“…if we live in a world in which my computer can come from China and my clothes can come from India and my apple can come from New Zealand…if my everyday life is impacted by all corners of the globe, then shouldn’t it follow that “neighbor” is an ever expanding definition? If we are global consumers, then can’t we also be global producers, investors, givers…”

Posted in Enjoy, Expanding, inside | You are welcome to add your comment

Demo: We Are All Connected

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Thank you Raymond for bringing this to me.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-08-01

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World of War

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Raymond Pirouz often brings to my attention content about how gaming and virtual worlds create new opportunities for … well … lot’s of things … including education – and he is not alone. When education came up it stuck with me, I met it with resistance … though I couldn’t quite say why … until a few days ago I was browsing through the Bhagavad Gita for another post – and my thoughts on this assimilated.

View

My Yoga teacher recently introduced me to the term “View”. A Yoga practice should have a view – a purpose, context and direction. For example, I live in what I experience to be an insecure and threatening “reality” – the current view of my practice is to prevent growth of fear, sadness and depression by nurturing a soft heart (attitude), a clear mind (perception),  and a healthy body (in that order). This view guides my training – it indicates what tools and practices I should (and shouldn’t) use.

Without a view a practice can be worthless and even damaging. Yoga isn’t good or bad – it is what you bring to it and make of it. This is why Yoga is best served by a teacher – if all you put into it is yourself, all that will come of it is more of yourself. If you add a teacher and teachings into the mix – you may end up with a better “yourself”. It is possible to practice “Yoga” for 20 years without any noticeable effects and it is possible to practice “Yoga” for 6 months with noticeable adverse effects.

An excellent example of how powerful a view can be is given in this excellent talk by Alvin Toffler on Education. American public education started with a clear view: “a system that will create industrial discipline … which meant that you show up on time and do the same work again and again … “. That View still dominates modern education systems despite all the indications that it is failing & dysfunctional and despite all the knowledge that there are better alternatives. That’s how powerful a View can be.

My Doubts

Gaming does not have an educational View. Gaming does not have a social View. If Gaming has any view – it is to be a satisfying and addictive experience that can be translated into profit.

Any qualities that manifest in Gaming settings are natural human traits – Gamers had them before they became Gamers. It may be useful to explore why these traits do not manifest in day-to-day social settings. It is wrong to attribute them to Gaming.

Gaming is an escape in which natural human qualities can appear. Gaming is thriving because there aren’t enough opportunities for these qualities to manifest off-line. Gaming is neither changing gamers nor the world we live in. Gaming is actually inhibiting any offline individual or social improvement – because it is diverting creative energy away from it into an ineffective online space. People can get drunk in a bar and experience relaxation – but that relaxation isn’t carried outside the bar into the tensions of day-to-day life – it only makes it possible to sustain them longer.

Reincarnation

So what does the Bhagavad Gita have to do with all this? If you are not familiar with the Bhagavad Gita – you may want to read this introduction to it. It documents a conversation between Arjuna – the greatest warrior alive and Krishna – an incarnation of God. Arjuna is about to fight a just war against an enemy made up of friends, family and guru’s – and he gets depressed about it. The 18 chapters of the text cover different topics from Vedic philosophy which Krishna presents to Arjuna to help him restore clarity.

The second chapter contains an explanation what “self” is – it describes a View on life – Krishna explains to Arjuna that:

  • 2.13: There is a “body-bearer” which (as surely as a body does die) transfers from one body to another.
  • 2.19: The “body-bearer” cannot be killed and does not kill.
  • 2.20: The “body-bearer” is never born, never dies and therefore never ceases to be. It is eternal.
  • 2.22: The “body-bearer” is an “owner of the body” and changes bodies as a man changes clothing.
  • 2.26: Death is inevitable and so is rebirth

This is essentially reincarnation – one of the first teachings in the text. Having explained this Krishna says to Arjuna:

  • 2.31: Now that you understand that – do your duty “for there is nothing better for a warrior than a righteous battle”.

As I was reading this I realized that reincarnation is one of the key elements of Gaming. You can die and come back again and again. This grants you a freedom of action that otherwise you wouldn’t dare. Now here’s the thing – nothing of this translates into off-line life (or if it does, it leads to recklessness). Gamers live by reincarnation when playing but live life as if “you only live once”.

You don’t have to believe in reincarnation – that just happens to be a dominant example in Gaming. The problem is that too-often real life does not have a view. What do you believe? What is your life about? Has that led to expression of your natural talents and qualities or has it blocked them? Gaming is not a solution for an absence of teachers and teachings – it is only a coverup. You can get drunk every night and forget about your worries, but they will still be there to greet you in the morning.

Posted in AltEco, outside, Yoga, Yoga & I, Yoga & Life, Yoga Philosophy | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours