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Education is a mess – is there an integrative way to teach?

I have updated an introduction to the SunWALK model of human-centred studies; 

SunWALK: Summary of the main meanings of the components represented in 
the model and its ‘logo-diagram-mandala’ – providing a teacher’s process model 

 

sunwalk-logo

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SunWALK: Summary of the main meanings of the components represented in 

the model and its ‘logo-diagram-mandala’ – providing a teacher’s process model

Give me a brief introduction:

SunWALK grew out of reflection on many years of teaching children and adults and particularly a period of five years teaching in a RC middle school – theorizing my practice via a PhD and practising my theory day-to-day.

SunWALK simply says that the quality of all of our lives will be higher if we undertake all education within the framework of deepening our humanity.  

Deepening our humanity is a matter of developing technical competencies within the chief dimensions of the human spirit; Caring (the Humanities), Creativity (the Arts) and Criticality (the Sciences & Philosophy) – all in local, national and world Communities.  These are the ‘4Cs’ of the model – 3 intra-personal, 1 inter-personal.

We and our one planet will be better of if all of the technical stuff, from learning to read to Masters degrees in engineering, take place in the context of humanization/the 4Cs.  This requires international, national, school & classroom commitment to deepening the best of being human as the context for learning the technical.

We can’t afford to have character and morality and compassion as hoped-for accidental outcomes.  Moral Education, PSME, RE etc. don’t work as bolt-on extras.  They need to be the general context in which competencies are developed.

It is a model based on the energy flow of the human spirit – that is the given. That is physical, mental and spiritual energy that flows through all living human beings.  

That energy, the human spirit, is the true ’stuff of education’.  With the best of the past teachers need to equip children to face tomorrow’s challenges which will always be a mixture of new problems combined with eternally recurrent problems.  Building all education with will be the medium with which the teacher works to nurture and challenge balanced development.

Today we have lost the balance between specialization, and whole-systems thinking and acting – SunWALK model brings into harmony the best of ‘Western’ & ‘Eastern’ world-views. 

OK – so what’s the ‘Sun’ and the ‘WALK in the model’?

The ‘Sun’ = the individual’s spiritual inspiration & values sources – accumulated and ongoing, as operating internally and as expressed in speech and behaviour. 

WALK = Willing & Wise Action through Loving & Knowing – here seen as the general goal for education, and as the interiority, character and behaviour of the student. 

The model/logo combines a range of sub-models including the following:

a) An ‘interior’ model of the human spirit – in relation to ‘the world’.

b) A model for re-positioning education within being & becoming human – in the world with others.

c) A general model of the curriculum – for primary, secondary and higher education.

d) A framework for the analysis and evaluation of teaching episodes or projects.

e) A model of education that makes non-faith-specific spiritual and moral education intrinsic to all learning.

 

THE MODEL AND THE PROCESS IN ONE (long) SENTENCE: – 

The SunWALK model of spiritualizing pedagogy sees human education as the 

storied

development of 

meaning, which is 

constructed, and de-constructed, 

physically, mentally and spiritually, through 

Wise & Willing

Action, via 

Loving and Knowing – developed in 

Community, through the

‘Dialectical Spiritualization [1]’of 

Caring, Creativity & Criticality processes, all undertaken in the light of the 

‘Sun’ of chosen higher-order

values and beliefs, using best available,appropriate 

content.

These underlined concerns are central components and focuses of the practice and theory in the model. 

This is an intense combination of theory and practice.  It automatically requires the teacher to practice their theory and theorise their practice – dynamically as practice-based research.  It automatically enables the classroom to be connected to the school & community as a whole and to e.g. a relevant department in a university.

It attempts to suffuse all teaching with the demands, challenges and joy of being human in the world with others.  But it seeks to bring together the Whole and the parts, the ineffable and the concepts – not just concepts because as Heschel (1971:7) says, “Concepts are delicious snacks with which we try to alleviate our amazement.”

The diagram/logo/

The outer ring of the SunWALK logo combines two dimensions:

1 ‘Community i.e. the social,interpersonal dimension of interaction with other individuals or groups.

2  ‘Cultural sources’ including such dimensions as the traditions, the political & the legal.  

The three major divisions of the arts,sciences and humanities are here thought of as the stored, yet potentially dynamic, accumulation of knowledge and beliefs and procedures – everything from galleries to written laws of physics that the individual can draw upon or be influenced by. This is the ‘stuff out there’ rather than the interiority of consciousness in which there is the perpetual flow and re-shaping, focusing de-focusing etc. of heart-mind.

In SunWALK everything within the inner circle = a representation of ‘interiority’, i.e. human consciousness – the human spirit. 

The human spirit is presented intra-personally as 3 ‘voices’ – 3 modes of being & of engaging with reality & of knowing.

The three emanate from the singleness of ‘heart-mind’, consciousness.  

They are presented (metaphorically) as the ‘primary colours’ of Creativity (the yellow of inspiration), Criticality (the blue of reason) & Caring (the red warmth of love). 

Creativity is the ‘I’ voice of subjective engagement via an artistic medium – it is concerned with subjective knowing and is particularly related to the core virtue ‘beauty’ and its products are of course ‘the Arts’. 

Criticality is the ‘IT’ voice of objective engagement which enables progress in the Sciences ( & Maths., Philosophy and ‘critical’ studies). It is concerned with objective knowing – and it is related particularly to the core virtue ‘truth’.  The products of course are the sciences and technology  – but also philosophy and critical studies.

Caring is the ‘WE’ voice which enables moral engagement – for progress in the moral domain and in service of others. It is concerned with social knowing – related particularly to the core virtue ‘goodness’ and to ‘the Humanities’. 

All three of course need to be conditioned by the pre-eminent virtue of justice.  All students need to have these ways of engaging with reality developed in a balanced way.  High technical competence combined with moral dwarfism leads to ……

The physical dimension is seen as the instrument for the flow of spirit in all of its forms – e.g. via dance, drama & PE and sports.

Each individual develops her/his I, WE and IT voices, the 3Cs, via socialization, starting in the family, the local community and then later in formal education. A sense of justice is seen as paramount intrapersonally as well as inter-personally i.e. it enables us to engage with that which is beautiful, good or true with balance, clarity & due weight.

The essential process in all 4Cs is multi-level dialogue. In the case of the individual dialogue is seen as meditation, reflection and inner-talk. In the case of groups it is dialectical process via consultation.

The ‘Celtic’ knot that surrounds the central shield indicates that the 3Cs are simply aspects of the one human spirit– the flow of ‘heart-mind’.

The white shield at the centre represents the meditative state in which there is no ‘focused’ engagement via one of the 3Cs – and in which there is relatively little of the interference or chatter that we experience in the unquiet mind. 

This can enable us to ‘go beyond ourselves’, i.e. transcend our normal knowing – any of the 3Cs (I, WE or IT modes), as gateways, can be a pathway to the transcendent and to subsequent improved insight into reality.

The black dot at the centre is the ‘well-spring’ of consciousness. For artists (and great scientists) it is the Muse. For religionists it is the voice of God within (albeit distorted by the dust of self). For non-religionists it is the inner source of spirit as energy & inspiration – the bits of realization and insight that come to us for which we don’t make an effort.

Educating the human spirit is seen as nurturing, and cultivating, the life-force which culminates in the developed human who, through higher-order consciousness, realizes abilities from within Caring, Creative or Critical engagements. 

Teaching is seen as nurturing and cultivating what is normally present, almost from birth, & certainly by the time we go to school – namely the flow of spirit expressed in nascent forms of Caring, Creativity, and Criticality – in Community with others. Holistic Learning takes place when the learner uses Creativity, Criticality and Caring – in Community – inspired by higher-order values – in dynamic combinations such as Creativity providing texts for criticality – which then, via dialogue, produce/attract the spirit for more creativity.

In SunWALK spirituality is not a dimension; it is the model as a whole. In SunWALK moral education is not a dimension – it is intrinsic to all of its praxis. 

The SunWALK logo can also be seen as a mandala, or even as a plan drawing for a fountain or an ‘arts centre of light’!  

SunWALK is a major shift to a process view of the world, of being human and of educating our young people. It rejects a worldview that is limited to the mechanistic, the ‘human-as-computer, the fragmentary and the materialistic; seeking instead modelling that is based on flow/process, holism and the spiritual.   

SunWALK is designed to enable teachers and students to become agents of change to transform a world that is still operated as atomistic, mechanistic and materialistic into one that is holistic, dialogic, and derived from the best processes and products of the human spirit.

The SunWALK logo and model of education Copyright Roger Prentice 1995 & 2009

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SEE ALSO these allied blogs –

 Human-centred courses –

 Dictionary of Concepts

Home is HERE i.e. my ‘meta-blog’ -The ´1000 ways …of Celebrating the human spirit

 

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Sourceconfucius

I came across a piece about Confucius and his placing of tradition as the central element in his view of the way to good governance; 

He found himself surrounded by continuous warfare. The Chou Dynasty was in collapse and rival baronies vied for power. He heard of mass executions of 60,000, 80,000, and even 400,000 people, some being thrown into boiling cauldrons. Soldiers in chariots with ever-increasingly destructive weapons, bored with meaninglessness and the loss of any social cohesion, drank together and raided villages. Tradition and customs were scorned by a population of self-conscious individuals who were replacing social conventions with self-interest. Their parents’ and grandparents’ opinions and past actions were “obsolete.” Passions and factionalism poisoned any possibility of a rational order. 

There are three options in such a situation.

1) One is Hobbesian; life is nasty, brutish, and short, so there must be laws with teeth. The state must take over with a strong militia behind it, with innumerable laws and tight control over people’s lives.

2) Another option is sentimental utopianism. Mo Tzu, a proponent of what is known as Mohism, proposed chien ai, universal love. “Major calamities in the world… arise out of want of mutual love… what is the way of mutual love? It is to regard the state of others as one’s own, the houses of others as one’s own, the person’s of others as one’s self… it is all due to mutual love that calamities, strifes, complaints, and hatred are prevented from arising.”

In other words, in modern terms, the choices are some form of right- or left-wing totalitarianism. Either one will have too many “laws with teeth.” A cynical military state is crude, repressive, and paranoid. Utopia is silly; love never fails, but not everyone will do it. It must come from within, and therefore it can’t be forced. But they will try to force you through laws with teeth. Confucius knew better. 

3) Confucius rejected both options and turned to tradition. China’s golden age, the Age of the Grand Harmony, was his model. If mores could cultivated again, the traditions of civility which ruptured into factional wars would be reestablished. He would keep tradition at the center and reformulate where applicable. He lectured to his pupils on the ancient classics. He taught the great value of the power of example. Rulers, he said, can be great only if they themselves lead exemplary lives, and were they willing to be guided by moral principles, their states would inevitably become prosperous and happy. 

The principles of Confucianism are contained in the works handed down by Confucius and his followers…..

To read the full article and writings by Confucius go HERE

I found this piece as part of a large collection of poets, philosophers and theologians at the ‘Island of Freedom‘ site

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There is a wonderful essay by Dr Hossein Elahi Ghomshei on the role of poetry to be found – where else –  on the Buddhist SGI website.

The essay starts like this;

The Rose and the Nightingale: The role of poetry in Persian culture

by Dr. Hossein Elahi Ghomshei

Persia has been admired as a land where people walk on silk carpets and talk the language of poetry.

Poetry in Persian culture is not simply an art: rather it’s the very image of life, terrestrial and celestial; the perennial philosophy, the holy scripture, the minstrel, the music and the song, the feast and revelry, the garden, the Rose and the Nightingale, and a detailed agenda for daily life.

In the lyric poetry of Rumi, Sadi and Hafiz you can hardly find a sonnet that does not contain the wine, the bard and the beloved. In didactic and mystical poetry, commonly in rhyming couplets, the same theme of Love runs throughout like running brooks of milk and wine and honey of Paradise as described in the Koran.

The word saqi in Persian literature is the counterpart of the muse in Western culture and fulfills exactly the same service as the muse to inspire the poet, to illuminate what is dark, to raise what is low, that the poet may assert the eternal providence and justify the ways of God to man.

In Persian poetry, as in all good poetry of the world, Love is the greatest circle of attraction and affection, with no one left out of the circle. The story of David, the prophet of Love, who had 99 wives and still yearned after another one, according to religious traditions, is interpreted by Rumi as a reference to the 100-percent nature of Love: If there is a single person in the whole world whom you hate, you are not a lover.

Sadi, in one of his famous sonnets (ghazal), says:

I’m in Love with the whole world, for the whole world belongs to my beloved.

Love is at peace with all religions, all ethnic groups, and all colors, languages, races and tribes, as expressed in hundreds of sublime poems in Persian poetry:

O my Christian beloved,
O my Armenian friend,
Either you come and be a Muslim
Or I will take the girdle and become a Christian.

In the realm of Love, there is no difference between a mosque and a monastery.

You can behold the light of the eternal beloved wherever you turn your face.

–Hafiz
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To read the full essay go HERE
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The Buddhist SGI site is – HERE
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A slide version of the SunWALK holistic education model – on what it is to be fully and positively human

A slide version of the SunWALK holistic education model – on  what it is to be fully and positively human:

 

HERE

 

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pregnant_man

 

You can still see the touching story about Beatie on Channel4 HERE

Beatie’s original story is HERE

All major newspapers have views on the story.

If you search more widely the stunning experience, as with other stories, is the depth of the vile responses – it is a wonder to behold.

The video speaks of family, love and compassion.

A more compassionate response, linked to sexuality studies is HERE

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If like me you are lucky enough to spend Christmas with someone you love spare a thought for those who are in some form of slavery;

More on YouTube or HERE

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Back to the Eckhart Tolle discussion – intellectuality & the mind are as spiritual as prayer & meditation

sun-and-plant

In the context of discussion with contributor ‘Patrick’ I offer a contribution to the issues I raised concerning the brilliant Eckhart Tolle. I do this via a beautiful poem that describes, with exquisite simplicity, the mystical experience of non-duality, or oneness. The poem is by the renowned Chinese poet Li Po;

The birds have vanished into the sky,

and now the last cloud drains away.

We sit together, the mountains and me,

until only the mountains remain.

Li Po (701-762)

IMHO

1 Clearly for Li Po there was, to start with, on that occasion, duality.

2 I’m assuming that Li Po returned from non-duality, back in to duality – unless he sat there until his bones turned to dust.  I assume he returned in order to do the laundry, chop wood, carry water.  Of course he would now do them on the bed-rock of enhanced consciousness derived from his mystical/aesthetic experience of non-duality.  Both wings of being human would be beating – as he scrubbed and carried and chopped. Enlightenment is now – if we let it.

In this world – the contingent world, the world of duality, the ‘Kingdom of Names’ – the complementarity of duality and non-duality is the key. Duality is not a curse, or a failing. When in dynamic inter-relation with non-dual experience it is heaven and perfection. Without non-dual experience it is hell, including the hell of relativity. The purpose of life is not just transcendence and timelessness – it is also immanence and being in time, moment by moment. Complementarity is the key.

3 The non-duality or mystic state is the same as the state of creativity (or the truly aesthetic experience).  We are ‘taken out of ourselves’ as we say in modern parlance.  Art  and ‘religion’ are not similar, they are the same – as Coomaraswami says.  It is the forgetting of self, a loss of ego boundaries, a letting go and letting God etc.  But the artist as well as the mystic comes out of the non-dual state back into the dual state. – and s/he becomes someone who lives with what s/he has created. What s/he has produced might even be a bit of a shock – a bit like the dumb panda who jumps when she sees that something is moving on the floor beneath her i.e the cub to which she has just given birth.  The artist becomes nurturer/appreciator/critic – more or less. They in duality are the left-brain evaluator (criticality mode) to complement their non-dual right-brain creativity mode. Complementarity is the key. One mode, and only one mode is in the foreground at any one time. Duration is from milliseconds to hours in the case of non-duality.

4 The question is are both states normal, desirable and, if the term is acceptable, God-given, i.e. both part of the life’s teaching-machine from which we are supposed to learn.  Or is one state bad, immature, to be got rid of, so that we can be non-dual 24/7?

5 Intellectuality is not the same as intellectualism, just as individuality is not the same as individualism.  In both cases the first is normal, healthy, proper, desirable.  In both cases the second is excessive, unbalanced, undesirable and pathological.  The same difference incidentally exists between sexuality and sexual-obsession. Tolle IMHO makes the mistake of not distinguishing between ego and the egotistic. He also can give the impression that he is trying to invalidate mind per se instead of distinguishing between true mind and the neurotic egotistical mind, trapped as it is by attachment.

Awareness, raised consciousness, is true mind. True mind is ‘xin’ heart-mind, interiority bathed in the light of the intellect and the warmth of true love, without attachment to forms – derived from the complementarity of the modes of duality and non-duality. ‘Without attachment to forms’ doesn’t mean without love of forms. Forms are the means (the only means) by which we can come to understand the essentiality of formlessness.

True love as Tolle says is realization of oneness – complementary to which is the glory of diversity.

God loves our celebrating diversity with Him as much as wanting us to realize oneness.

The one who is awakened is a one as well as a not-one – the Buddha was not non-Buddha – at least as a gateway, a pointer.

Spirituality or transcendence or consciousness is not increased by a diminution of intelligence, or more correctly a diminution of intellectuality. The intellect as enlightened heart-mind is the human spirit. Enlightenment comes from realization of the true Self, as opposed to self, that is the eternal. Unlimited Whole, the Silent One, God the Father, God without Name, the Nameless One etc.

Complementarity is the key. Yin is lovely only in the balanced presence of yang – and vice-versa.

6 ‘Before all else, God created the mind.’ (Koranic tradition)  The intellect is the supreme gift of God to man, the pinnacle of the way in which we are made in His image – providing we realize that all rivers flow back to the one Ocean, from which those parts also have their origin. Complementarity is the key.

7 The fear and misunderstanding of the term ego. The ego is simply the part of the self – the dimension or mode – that deals with immediate reality. As such it is neutral – like the heart or lungs or kidney. Whether it is healthy or diseased – now that is a different matter. The ego is as much part of the enlightened one as with the crass self-obsessive.

God celebrates His Creativity in the uniqueness of me, as well as in His Creation of our species.

We believe what we believe – some we choose to believe, some is ingrained.

The happiest of worlds is one where we can believe different things without feeling an obligation to kill each other! Complementarity is the key.

The ultimate sickness is to know who you are through knowing who you hate.

Enough

Namaste!

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