LANGUAGING

December 19, 2006

If you believes what I wrote below (WHAT IF I AM MISTAKEN?), it must affect how one teaches. One is caught between the role of school in a process of socialization; of transmitting social values and the role of educator in helping people to become themselves. I repeat the observation of Oliver Sacks about medicine:

“One must drop all presuppositions and dogmas and rules- for these only lead to stalemates or disaster; one must cease to regard all patients as replicas, and honour each one with individual attention, attention to how he is doing, to his individual reactions and propensities; and in this way with the patient as one’s equal, one’s co-explorer, not one’s puppet, one may find therapeutic ways which are better than other ways, tactics which can be modified as the occasion requires. Given a ‘policy-space’ no longer simple or convergent, an intuitive ‘feel’ is the only sage guide; and in this the patient may well surpass his physician.”

My problem has been, I believe, to view the question in the wrong way: in terms of teacher teaching – student learning, rather than as an environment of exchange and learning. As with language, rules established our capacity to structure and to communicate – they do not limit what we say or how we say it. Furthermore, the rules evolve and change as our understanding and relationship to the world changes.
Make the work accessible, make it interesting and be involved in learning it and doing it yourself – pose real questions and try to understand how the world and insist on clear expression of ideas and involvement.
I am in class – I am writing and my students are working and are quiet: some read, some draw and some research on the Internet. Two were watching films in order to understand their structure. The task? To create a storyboard of the scene of the death of Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet. The aim? To understand the language and structure of film and how to create a storyboard. Okay, I admit the subject in itself is attractive to this age group and it relates directly to what they want to do afterwards. It took more imagination to teach classical Art History to car designers who were not the slightest bit interested (“Why have I got to do Art History? – I’m going to be a car designer!”), but it was possible to involve them.
But I can only see the world from where I am standing – I don’t know how my theory would apply in front of an inner city, unmotivated class that won’t listen and who insult me – while a structure behind becomes more and more result orientated. I hope someone in that situation will read this and reply…

I may be mistaken.

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WHAT IF I AM MISTAKEN?

December 19, 2006

The world is dynamic process of which we are one small infinitesimal part. It cannot be fixed and all description is subjective in time and in its point of view.
“The Buddha taught that beyond this world created by our own senses and limitations, the phenomenal world dissolves into a dynamic process. The true nature of reality lies beyond the realm of language and linear analysis.”
Helena Norberg–Hodge, Ancient Futures

The world is unknowable in its wholeness.
“You can put Chinese garden in the world, but you cannot put the world in a Chinese garden.”
Chinese proverb

If we accept and live this reality, we know longer try to impose our world on the world, but put our perceptions in perspective, try to understand our own prejudices and understand the point of view of others.
“Before you judge a man, walk in his moccasins for three moons”
American Indian saying

To pose the questions “What if I am mistaken?” How would I perceive this event if I were the other person?” If we acted upon these simple precepts, much human unhappiness could be avoided; whether it be simple aggression in your car, when every other driver becomes an idiot, or aggression of one group or nation on another. Tolerance and humility must be the consequence.
“The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.”

T.S.Eliot: Four Quartets

This takes creativity and imagination. People still tend to say, “yes, that’s very well; but some people are just plain wrong!” We find it hard to accept that our values are culturally formed and not absolute: the other does not understand; he must be controlled for his own good. You must see the world from my point of view. We will not allow the possibility of multiple realities.
Always remaining open, questioning, doubting and reassessing takes energy, openness and constant attention to the present. It means living with uncertainty. Understanding is a long slow, subtle process that takes the whole being, not just the mind. It is easier to label, fix and forget.
From fear: fear of a lack of certainty: fear of inadequacy, of not being in control, we try to fix, to control, and to impose. The more uncertain we become – the more we see that we are not in control, the more systems we put into place.
Systems that are not living breathing and evolving die – and kill. We see the consequence in the intransigence of controlling, inhuman systems.

Love is the human access to the possibility of other worlds; to open ourselves; to become the beloved and lose ourselves in union, outside time and partiality.
“Love springs from awareness. It is only inasmuch as you see someone as he or she really is here and now and not as they are in you memory or your desire or in your imagination or projection that you can truly love them, otherwise it is not the person that you love but the idea that have formed of this person or this person as the object of your desire not as he or she is in themselves.”
Anthony de Mello “The Way to Love”

“Love one another.”