How can we educate so that we promote a desire to protect?
Chris Sparks: Phew! Well, I did it. I'm feeling a bit nervous, gotta admit, standing here, all these people around, you feel quite vulnerable, you wonder what people are going to think. Question if you are doing the right thing? Take a deep breath.
Calm it down. You're here now. Let's just see what happens. I do feel it's light to be doing this. Oh, gee, it's scary, though. It's an intimidating place. Well, sometimes you just gotta trust those feelings, right? Maybe always. Intuition is the eyesight of the heart. So I read somewhere. Our inner sense that we've come to not trust as much, but we do our other senses. But maybe it's the most important sense of all. I wonder how people will react? Does it matter?
How to stand? Casual? No don't slump, gotta stay up right. Strong, but not arrogant. Hands in pockets? No, that's too casual. But better off behind me, I think. Yeah? Okay. Okay. Yeah, it feels good.
Gee I do seem to be very concerned with what people think. I don't want this to be about me, though is it inevitably going to be? At least in the eyes of other people who walk past and see, well, me. Why am I doing this really? Not to get attention for myself, right? For the cause.! Yes! Though somewhere inside, I suppose I do know that it could look good for me. Then again, most people would never consider doing this, so it can't be that good can it?
Hey! Yes I am, yes and you? Aw, good for you! I've only been vegan a few years so you're way ahead of me, well done.. Team herbivore, woo!
Hey, that was nice. Another reason I'm doing it right to ask questions and provoke conversations. mostly they're ignoring me, mind you, I suppose that's what education is, though. Why? Asking questions, provoking thinking, holding up a sign saying "Go Vegan!" That can be pretty provocative. People do get defensive about their rights Where does right and wrong come in here? How can we know what's right? Our minds overpower our hearts. Whose opinion is right? What about the animals? What are their rights? We carry on like we're doing, we'll run out of land.
Yeah at UWC, we get complaints when we try to push more plant based food days into our menus. How can education help? A force to unite people for a peaceful and sustainable future. Well, I'm sure about one thing at least. That if we're going to encourage, nurture certain character, certain values, attributes, behaviours, then we have to model them, be the change.
Yeah. yeah sure. Good for you. Anyone you like. Yeah. No you don't have to stay here, you can walk off and take it with your friends. Superb, thanks.
Oh, yeah. I guess that's a result. But is that how I should be thinking about it? Can I measure success here? What is success? I guess success would be anything like that student coming and taking their own sign and then I suppose an infinite number of other things in the future that I'll never see and never know about. That must be the way with all education, really, the impact of what we do may not be seen or felt a long time after school's over but we can still plant that seed. Nothing will happen if we do nothing. OK, here comes another one. Hey, I'm on a roll.
Yeah. Yes. So five to twelve.
A healthy step back for the ego.
Well, a lot of people seem to be staying well clear. Am I being paranoid? Or are people really not wanting to notice me? Or is this egotistical to think they should or are they just not noticing? Busy in their own worlds, thinking about what they're doing next. What's after lunch? Don't be paranoid. They see me and think, What the hell is he doing? And for whatever reason, don't want to acknowledge what it is I'm doing, head down, get past that fool. Is what I'm doing stupid and annoying and attention seeking? Oh gee, my mind is going a million miles an hour, isn't it?
You know, I never learned anything at school about how to deal with my own head. I feel that a peaceful world needs peaceful individuals, right? If my mind's typical, then we need some help. How can education offer us some support with our dealings with the chatter in our heads? Could schools help us to see that we're not unusual? Help us to feel more connected by the knowledge that we all have doubts - paranoid, intrusive thoughts, moments of spontaneous happiness, shame, anger, fear., bliss.....
oh hey, yeah sure thanks, it’s Friday’s for Future, a global day of action, do you want to look at the website? Of course, you’re welcome to join me. Ok thanks!
Yeah, yeah. What knowledge is really important? I read somewhere that the most necessary knowledge is how to live well, that being how to produce the least possible evil, greatest goodness in one's life. Well, seems reasonable to me, especially in the context of current events. Do our schools nurture such knowledge? Do we mention it, but only if we get time in between loading up the facts, ready for exams? Shouldn't it be the other way around?
Yeah. And so yeah. You're welcome.
Okay, someone new is interested, they're reading the posters. I'm not entirely sure what to do here. it's the sort of shop assistant dilemma, isn't it? If I approach, will I scare them away? Should I let them browse and make up their own mind? Yeaah I think so. I Think I have to avoid being pushy, which is crazy, right? Considering the actual climate situation. But I think people get turned off. If you push them, if I get preachy. I feel the need to convey a neutral position to other people's reactions, even though inside I'm thinking, why am I the only one who seems to think this matters?!? How do you unite people for a sustainable future?
Hi! Yeah sure, help yourself. Yeah no problem at all. Take whatever you want. What's your name? Oh I'm Chris, nice to meet you. Yeah great. Take whatever you want, sit down with your friends, just bring it back at the end of lunch, that would be great, thank you. Bye!
So education needs to help us to deal with our heads. And in doing so, helps us feel connected. Chances to be vulnerable would help here, maybe. Some philosophy and psychology a lot, maybe. Therefore producing adults who are better equipped to deal with life. A system that's less about conformity or nurturing the urge to be successful. One that breeds an intelligent understanding of life. Education that helps develop self-knowledge, back to that intuition, that sense that comes from our heart. Is this what we need to nurture in school so that a sense of shared human understanding of what is right is learned? Where thoughts and feelings are understood together, an awakening of integrated intelligence as Krishnamurti puts it.
Krishnamurti: What is holistic education and what is partial education? Limited education? The limited education is what is being done now memorising, memorising, memorising not learning there's a difference between learning and memorising. Memorising is fairly, comparatively easy. Go to school, learn all about history, geography, physics, science and so on. And you memorise book after book what the educator says. So it's stored up in the brain as knowledge, acquired through books and so on. That's what modern education is. And all through life that is in operation. We are asking why do we neglect the whole area of psychological field which is immensely important? Right?
Is our education merely concerned with earning a job, livelihood and so on, or is it concerned helping a human being to live a way of life in which there is no division as the world and the psychological field? You understand? Is this possible? Is there any school or any university in the world that they are doing this? That is, to cultivate the brain as a whole, not a part of it.
Chris Sparks: Learning to shape the future or learning, to shape the future? Does it matter? Are they the same thing? Is this all blah, blah, blah. Our climate is changing. It is. We are demanding to be treated fairly, not to be prejudiced against, we're learning here about our biases and asking what we think about our privileges. We're demanding to have our choices respected we're asking for equality, justice, new choices of words, changes to our throw away remarks and humour that hurts but when we talk about these in assemblies and lunchtimes and 20 minutes here and there, systems are still the same. We, schools, we are not changing, we still put more time into knowledge for passing tests. Our system is rooted in competition. We can't help but compare ourselves to others. The system isn't fair and yet we're demanding fairness. Will we struggle less with comparing ourselves with others as adults, if it wasn't built into the fabric of what we do to our children in our schools?
I'm reading a book by Ivan Illich, it's called Deschooling Society. He questioned and this was back in the 1970s, the relationship between teaching and learning. He says it is school itself that teaches us that instruction produces learning that schools produce the demand for schooling, but he believes learning is the human activity which least needs manipulation by others. He says learning is the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful setting. People learn by being ‘with it’. Not through the elaborate planning and manipulation of curricular instruction that smothers the horizon of a child’s imagination” , damning words. “We have transferred the responsibility for learning from self to institution, and this guarantees social regression.”, yet here we are, needing just the opposite, we need society to take a great leap forward. Illich adds, “The person addicted to being taught seeks their security in compulsive teaching. The one who experiences their knowledge as the result of a process wants to reproduce it in others.”
So what to do? I stand here on a Friday, for what? Do I need to do more? Is it pointless? Do we keep going as we are and hope it all works out? That technology save us? That renewables become efficient and accessible? That the poorer people who have not contributed to the situation somehow do not end up paying with their lives? Is this doom and gloom all unnecessary? How do we know? How do we not know more like! Why do we keep on keeping on? Am I crazy? Am I attention seeking? Am I the only one who sees or the only one who's going over the top? Scientists said we have 12 years. That was four years ago, so who's crazy then? What do I expect anyway? What should we all be doing?
Yeah, sure. thanks. I’ll be here every Friday!
What should we be doing, what can we do as UWCSEA. Can we write to companies in Singapore, appeal to our parents to check their companies for fossil fuel investment? Make sure we're sourcing from ethical companies, reduce our waste. Take a serious look at the carbon footprint of all the flights connected to our school. Stop serving meat on campus. Hold open, frank debates in the plaza, take time away from traditional learning to learn together to unite as a community for peaceful and sustainable future. It's not easy. We all want security. We don't want to sacrifice unless we're sure we need to. We're not yet convinced so what is your heart telling you?
Happy Earth Day, everybody!