Listening Session Paintings

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Journey Within

As I have become a huge fan of Laurens van der Post, I must share another paragraph that I read this week in the sequel to A Story Like the Wind, entitled A Far Off Place.  Once again the story of the young 13-year old Francois has continued (see post from December 8, 2010), this time with Francois taking a harrowing journey across the great desert of Africa for over a year. His journey comes to an incredible, but safe end and in the waning pages of the book, Francois' Uncle Mopani is reflecting over man's existence, and as he does so, van der Post writes the following:

"...the whole intellectual trend of the day put up a plausible pretense that our troubles were due to imperfect political systems, badly drawn frontiers, and other environmental and economic causes. The whole history of man as he, Mopani, knew it, had tried all of those approaches over and over again and at last, as far as he was concerned, they were proved utterly bankrupt. 

The real, the only crises out of which all troubles came, was a crisis of meaning. It was the terrible invasion of meaninglessness and a feeling of not belonging invading the awareness of man, that was the unique sickness of our day.  And this sickness, he was convinced, was the result of the so-called civilized man, parting company with the natural and instinctive man within himself. Never had the power of the civilized over the natural been so great... 

For that reason alone, the journey within could not be resumed soon enough..."

There is so much being said here and on many levels, but I would like to put it into context of what we see as the next step in creating a learning journey with and for young people.  What van der Post says to me in this passage is that at some point in the distant past, a decision was made by our forefathers to follow the belief that the way to a better world was through rationalization, mechanization, and standardization, and in so doing set us on a course that moved us away from the natural patterns of life.  In doing this, we began a long journey into the desert - a journey that has left our societies starving, thirsting, and so heat-stricken that we are struggling, even failing, to find a solution to getting out of this desert.  The efforts that we have made over and over again have not worked and despite all of the modern day way of doing things, we have brought ourselves into an even more precarious position.

As I sat with this paragraph, I began to think of young people faced with this way of being in the world. How difficult it must be for them today to move from their childhood of intuition, flow, creativity, play into the rationalization, mechanization, and standardization. In seeing this through their eyes and hearts, the impact on them is enormous.  As it was designed by those same forefathers, our current education is designed to honor this old path, to teach our young that the secret to success lies on the outside, lies in re-creating what we already have in place.  But as they well know, this is not the answer and I believe it has led many of our young people to a sense of aloneness, powerlessness, and despair.

As he says in the last line, the answer lies by taking a journey within - back to the natural self that exists in all of us, a self that is filled with magic, intuition, wonder, and curiosity - all seeking to create a sense of meaning and belonging - the place where real nourishment occurs.

What would happen if we sat down together and answered together, the question Imagine Learning is asking, "How do we educate young people to thrive in a world of possibility?"  The optimal word here in this instance, is "thrive."  Isn't it time that the learning journey moved from a system based on testing knowledge into one that teaches each and every student the skills, the insights, the ways to journey within themselves for the answers they need and for the nourishment they seek?

We can sit and point fingers at all sorts of reasons why we are here and who caused us to get here, but wouldn't it be better if we just sat down and did what our inner voices were telling us needed to happen?

Won't it be the most amazing day when we sit together and embrace the inner light of our young people as being sacred and that fueling the growth of that inner light is the most important thing that we can accomplish? I am so excited that we have reached this point in our history, that we can now look back and see that the time has come to choose a different path - not one that leads deeper into the desert, but one that leads to fertile lands beyond that will feed every one of our parched hearts, particularly those we call young people.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Imagine Learning to Hold Public Conversation on Orcas Island

On March 11 from 7 - 9 PM, we will offer a public conversation on the future of young people in education at the Senior Center on Orcas Island.  This is a wonderful opportunity to meet and discuss our vision with the community and to hear their feedback and ideas about where we are headed.

We are circulating an invitation to everyone on the island that says that we:

invite everyone, of all ages to a thought-provoking presentation and conversation:

"How do we educate young people to thrive
 in a world of possibility?"

“The times implore us, our young people implore us to create a fresh seed for education. What does the DNA of this seed need to contain?  What do we need to conserve? What do we need to let go of? What do we need to discover?  What will it take?”

This question has been our guide since the very beginning and now the time has come to begin to explore with others the ideas we have been nurturing and learning through the listening sessions, readings and meetings with others who are passionate about education, and our own meditations on the possibilities for the future.

Thanks again to Samara Shaw for making this happen.  She is a beautiful, positive force for change and we deeply appreciate her support.

We invite you to join us!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

We pray for the People of Christchurch

It is hard to describe the feelings we have this morning after seeing the reports, photos and videos of the incredible destruction in Christchurch, New Zealand yesterday after a massive earthquake occurred. In 2008, we made many new friends in this city when we were there to lead a listening session and we have stayed in touch with them over the past two years.  Our hearts are heavy with worry and sadness, not only for them, but for all of the people who live there.  

According to the reports, the earthquake struck at lunch time, one of the busiest times of the day and more than 75 people are dead and up to 300 are missing.  The downtown is in a shambles. We can do no more right now than offer our energetic prayers and send healing energy to them.

In September of last year, an even larger earthquake struck there and while it was not as terrible as this one in terms of its toll on human life, its impact combined with the thousands of aftershocks took a very heavy emotional toll on everyone there. Now this is their darkest time.

Please join us in sending them your healing thoughts and prayers, especially Cobi, Holly, Julia, Max, Morgan, Pip, Glynese, Lee, Jocelyn, Vickie, and Gaike.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Osho on Courage

"In a better world, every family will learn from children. You are in such a hurry to teach them. Nobody seems to learn from them and they have so much to teach you."


This inspiring quote from the book Courage, by Osho, really spoke into my heart.  It does seem that we have gotten so caught up in being the providers of knowledge that we have forgotten to listen. Listening to the inner wisdom of young people is a gift that carries immeasurable possibilities.  It is also a gift of giving them an inner sense that they are worth being listened to and that holds immeasurable possibilities as well.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Orcas Island - Here We Come!

On March 9, we will be on Orcas Island in Washington state to facilitate a Listening Session and we can't wait to get there!  One morning, like any other morning, I was reading my email and there was one for Imagine Learning from Samara Shaw inviting us to come to Orcas to do a Listening Session.  We called and spoke with her and set the dates and now we are making preparations to meet the young people of Orcas.

Samara has a deep belief that a new learning journey for young people needs to be created and she spoke about the desire of the island to recreate its systems to really support young people in their growth and learning.

In her email to me, she wrote: "We envision our island of a population of 5,000,  becoming a model sustainable community, providing programs for young people to learn about sustainable education, living, community building, etc."  What a beautiful intention they are holding and we really are looking forward to meeting everyone and seeing all they they are doing and planning.  

Here's a little map I found on the web.  As you can see it has a very unique horseshoe shape and is filled with natural beauty.

It is located in the San Juan Archipelago of Islands in the Northwest portion of Washington State. There are somewhere around 743 islands, islets and reefs at low tide. Of that many only 172 are named and out of these only thirty are inhabited. Orcas is the largest of all of the San Juan islands. I have visited the San Juans several times before (but never Orcas) and they are remarkably beautiful.

Many thanks to Samara for her gracious invitation.  See you soon, Orcas!