Listening Session Paintings

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Restoring Harmony to Young People

I love how curiosity can lead anywhere... I was reading the book Holy Personal by Laura Chester, which is about private places of worship that individuals create for themselves. Within the book, the author tells the story of an artist, Michael Dowling, who has put a small chapel in a root cellar in his home. It was really amazingly done, but what struck me the hardest was the following part of his story.

Michael had a talent for art at an early age, even drawing things from his subconscious that were symbols that were ages old... however when (and I quote)... he was eight, his art teacher was teaching the class: The Six Steps to a Perfect Tree.

"So there I was, looking out the window, he recalls. It was a beautiful fall day. I had my crayons and I was coloring and coloring - but then she held up my drawing and said to the entire class, 'This is the worst tree I've ever seen a child draw.'

Unbelievable. But the thing was, I believed it. Suddenly everything was split in two - everything had a right and left, light and dark, wet and dry, visible and invisible. It was a time of confusion. My intuitive knowledge got put aside
, it's so hard to retrieve that earlier sense of things. I remember showing the bad tree drawing to a little girl across the street, Jane Nicholson. She loved it, so I gave it to her".

Suddenly everything was split in two - everything had a right and left, light and dark, wet and dry, visible and invisible. It was a time of confusion. My intuitive knowledge got put aside...

I believe all young people are born with innocence and a beautiful sense of harmony with the world. They understand from the beginning that everything is one, that we are all connected. Possibility is king and their creativity is alive with their curiosity pushing them to learn at incredible speeds. We may hold the common belief that we grow out of this natural state, but I wonder if it is not the fact that events such as this one that Michael experienced and so eloquently stated, or hundreds of smaller ones, take us to a very different place - that of separation. Separation from parts of ourselves and from those we respect and admire around us.

In the work we must do with our children, healing is required if we are going to help them grow back toward that natural understanding of creative energy, curiosity and oneness with all things.
If we can develop learning journeys that protect their innocence, enable them to find their true gifts and the inner strength to hold on to them as they grow, it will be a joyous future for all of us.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What others are thinking

Kia ora to the IL community.
I've just been reading this Action Spark weblog & really like many of the things the writer says about institutional education. It's very relevant to those of you in the US but, of course, these issues of youth disengagement from education are happening here in NZ, too.

Presently, we are battling massive budget cuts to Adult and Community Education, Early Childhood Education and Education for Sustainability. Our conservative government (National) seems to be tracking NZ away from a course set toward sustainability and life long learning. Educationalists such as myself fear the direction we are taking bodes ill for our future. The government has, however sunk money into private education to the tune of NZ$35 million much to the horror of a number of us - this NZ Herald article captures that.

I do hope that you in the US continue to do some wonderful work with young people searching for a new learning pathway. I may be wrong, but my impression is that there is renewed hope for education right across the US after years of neglect. We're looking forward to hearing from Syd Golston, President of your National Council for the Social Studies, when she speaks at our Social Science teachers conference in Sept. Will keep you posted.