XXX
An Educational Idea

A Lot of ?’s.

An Answer

Pay Attention

[Serious Digressions Bracketed for Short Attention Spans]

It seems that Education—educating the children in particular—is always a good, reliable political football. How to improve on it? Cut out the waste? Keep costs in line? Affordability? Evaluate results? Teacher evaluation? We’re gonna do better now that our people (insert your party of choice) are in office.

Currently, I am seeing the idea being floated to tie teacher compensation to student performance. Imagine being a teacher having your family’s bread and butter and very financial security strapped to the cooperation of some unmotivated juvee, who shows up in your class probably ill prepared from his last semester of underachievement. It’s not a bad idea on the surface. Provided the proper commitments and requisites are in place. Key things; probably ones that no one has been thinking about much; if, at all. You decide.

The magic word: “Commitment.” I would be very wary of a plan that presumes commitment on the part of the teacher, but extracts none from the student; or the student’s family, who presumably are the responsible parties for that little dear thing. And, when do our children become responsible human beings, anyway? In the Catholic Church where I was raised the age of reason is considered around seven years of age. That’s when you should know right from wrong. Or do we think our children become responsible adults, slam bang at the age of legal consent, only on their 18th birthday? Would that we could manufacture a pill that gets students to be as committed to their studies as they are to their Facebook. After all, we already have a drug to keep them quiet if they are prone to hyperactivity. [My stylist, the Great Richard of Scottsdale, predicted the universal drug of the future: Copacetic™ “It’s for… whenever”.]

But just what is a good education anyway? I am sure that is under discussion, but what is the consensus? Back to that in a second. And, with a really good idea to add to the mix. I thunk it up, after all. It’s got to be good!

[Just like in the so called Health Care debate, the focus is mainly on costs and delivery. Not, what is health in the first place? Or, what constitutes proper health care? And, the best question ever, how is what we are doing actually delivering, measured on the same kind of metrics that any even half-witted business person would employ? (Donald Trump comes to mind.) The statistics have been well known for some time. The USA spends more on health care with poorer results than most of the rest of the world. Did anybody say… the fix is in? Chris Rock said it good, he said that there ain’t no money in the cure, the money’s in the medicine. Word! With all those smart folks running things, it would seem that someone would apply the same critical evaluation to the American health care system as they would any old business venture. There is talk already that the cost of health care in America is taking us down the tubes. As the vogue puts it, “not sustainable.”]

[I just read a rather lengthy piece in Time Magazine on the subject of Singularity. That’s when (projected to occur in the year 2045 by one very smart technologist Raymond “Ray” Kurzweil ) electronic technology will make humans superfluous, insofar as having to be smart about what to do and probably not have to do very much either to get it done. There’s more to it than that, but the unstated and possibly unnoticed assumption as far as I can see is that all the troubles of the world are just because we haven’t been smart enough. Yet. And, that technology and science will see us through. What do you expect a technocrat to say? Pray? Go to a neurosurgeon with a headache, and you get your skull cracked. I wonder just how aware that guy is about what he doesn’t know? Of course he isn’t. Who could be? It is only upon awaking that we are aware of having been asleep. Or, as the great R.D. Laing* has said, it is only after having emerged from our delusion that we realize that we were crazy. I paraphrase. Better, does he even wonder that there may be underlying assumptions in his worldview that are the Ozymandian** sands upon which he has built his life work? (** Excellent poem.) Take Jack Kervorkian (please!), a fellow Detroiter; Dr. Jack… “My dear fellow, there’s nothing in my medical-scientific knowledge that can save you, so let me kill you. And... you’re welcome.”

Smart rules the day is a pillar of the prevailing myth of progress. (I see recently that The Donald Trump is sniffing at a possible 2012 President bid. Now there's a smart one for you.) And don’t get me started on how all those wise guys who are projecting all this techno-utopia—dystopia?—remain unaware of how they are conjuring all this heady stuff in the bubble of Cartesian dualism. You know René Descartes… “I think, therefore I am.” You think? Just who, or what is doing all that thinking? Where and when? Oh, in the purely conceptual (illusory) framework of space and time where all this universe in unfolding? Think about that! It may not be generally well known, but the Cartesian bubble, in fact, did burst. At some undisclosed place and time in recent history. [[If you happen to know those details, please enter into Wikipedia, search: "We're Not in Kansas Any More."]] History is dead too, if you haven’t been paying attention. As if we still live in a world where the only thing is this and that, right and left, right and wrong, yes and no, 0’s and 1’s. Well, we do. There’s more though. Or, less, depending on the kind of Vedantist you may be. Or the notion from scientism that thought is merely an epiphenomenon of the aggregate of material of the human body. We separate body and mind for conversation sake. Just try doing that for real. That we can think our way out of this mess. Maybe there will be intelligent computers someday, even more intelligent than humans. Intelligent enough to render every thing fully explained, interconnected, completely buttoned up; past, present, and future. Every possibility covered. Hurry the day! But, so who plugs it in in the morning?]

But just what is a good education in the first place? Hear a voice of wisdom…

Where the mind is without fear
and the head is held high,
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken
up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving
stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason
has not lost its way into the
dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward
by thee into ever-widening thought and action–
into that heaven of freedom, my Father,
Let my country awake.
Rabindranath Tagore

We have come to this world to accept it, not merely to know it. We may become powerful by knowledge, but we attain fullness by sympathy. The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence. But we find that this education of sympathy is not only systematically ignored in schools, but it is severely repressed. From our very childhood habits are formed and knowledge is imparted in such a manner that our life is weaned away from nature and our mind and the world are set in opposition from the beginning of our days. Thus the greatest of educations for which we came prepared is neglected, and we are made to lose our world to find a bagful of information instead. We rob the child of his earth to teach him geography, of language to teach him grammar. His hunger is for the Epic, but he is supplied with chronicles of facts and dates...Child-nature protests against such calamity with all its power of suffering, subdued at last into silence by punishment. (Rabindranath Tagore, Personality, 1917: 116-17)

NB: That was from way back in 1917! Still fresh.

I am in a field of education—Rolf Structural Integration—that often is fit into the so called CAM health care domain; Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Health care modalities in that category include many more holistic approaches than in conventional medical health care and bring in a range of other, often more natural based/sourced methods, tools, and prescriptions outside the mainstream reliance in conventional medicine on pharmaceuticals, invasive surgeries, and high tech machines and appliances. (Not that there is anything wrong with that. Some of my friends are doctors.) The Rolf Method is used very successfully in medical conditions where the balance of the body architecturally in causative or implicated to some extent. Sort of like, “Hey, my tomatoes aren’t so good… Did you think about staking them properly?” Or, “I have these terrible headaches… Of course you do, hunched over that computer all day the way you are. Sit up straight!”

Beyond therapeutics, Rolf Structural Integration fosters the kind of whole body balance that is essential for top physical performance and full creative self-expression. It is truly speaking an essential life lesson—how to live a balanced life, based on an imminent ingrained knowing from down deep to the bone.

Being a long time committed practitioner of this educative craft, I've  been following the current conversation on education in general.

You can lead a horse to water, but… well, you know. So too, with the kids. Or, anybody else for that matter. You present them with the best, easiest to grasp, clearest, most complete body of knowledge and what do you need to have for them to take it in. There are many factors. I just want to suggest one to focus on for now. Let’s see that they are paying attention. And one way to at least guarantee that there is even a possibility that that can happen is proper posture. Sit up straight, like momma say. Simple, but I wonder how many teachers just slog along in class not noticing their charges slouching at their seats.


I am not proposing a solution to a problem that I just happen to have a solution for. I do. My first question before President Obama makes me the Czar of Proper Posture is simply, just where did the kids learn to sit in the first place? What, you say? Learn to sit? Everybody knows how to sit. Well, just because you sit, doesn’t mean that you know how. As they say, just because you have the equipment, doesn’t mean you know how to handle the funk. Regarding those seemingly automatic things like standing, walking, sitting, even breathing, we are mostly self-taught. Trial and error, mostly.

So I am suggesting that we add into the required curriculum some basic education on proper sitting. Maybe after a positive track record with that we can expand to standing, walking, breathing, and the other basics on how to properly use the body. After we get those little devils to sit up straight, we then add in the rule that the class doesn’t proceed without 100% attention. Here!, teacher… body and soul.

[I once wrote then President Clinton with basically the same idea. I got back a nice form letter with boilerplate on how as a small business person I would certainly be interested to know that he is working diligently to make sure that there was affordable health care. Or, something roughly like that. The point is, just like for little Ralphie in A Christmas Story. After waiting on pins and needles for his Little Orphan Annie decoder ring, it arrives at long last, and he’s listening to the radio broadcast one evening to get the secret message to decode. And the message… “Drink more Ovaltine.” Rip off. Hey, Bill, give me a call sometime. We’ll go for a beer. Since we’re on such close terms.]

---------------------------------------------------------------

*R. D. Laing…

It is of fundamental importance not to make the positivist mistake of assuming that because a group’s members are in formation this means that they’re necessarily on course.

Children do not give up their innate imagination, curiosity, dreaminess easily. You have to love them to get them to do that.

The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.












No comments: