Be the Carriers of Change

If thought
perches bird-like
listen to song!
Be happy and sing!

I heard a voice that echoes around the world—Jean Houston’s clarion call. She asks for all of us to come alive, to hear, to feel the shift in consciousness, to know that we all, great and small, can be the carriers of change.

How must we change? The list is very simple of things we need to do to find our hearts: the first is: listen!

* Hear the voice of sunrise spread as color!
* Feel the trees of life in each green plant!
* Leviathan is cello, bass-viol of deep seas, horn of anguish: hear!
* When rain has fallen, quiet in the night, the fragrance of earth calls our

Each of the voices is waiting to be heard in our souls: as birdsong, as beesong, as didgeridoo to the heart. What we hear then translates into smile of heard song: unique offers to each other of help, understanding and action…

* Who can read to their child? Tell them a story?
* Who can welcome a stranger in trust?
* Who can deliver small trowels to the homeless and teach the willing how
* Who can lift our cement fear of the nameless so more of us can smile, see again the stars?

The Power of Pegasus

Leap high
beyond
forests, ocean and clouds!
winged horse
of mind-lit flames.
fly!

Why did I pick Pegasus for my new book: Pegasus: A Life Force with Wings in Education?

One –  because I love horses. Two – because he is a symbol to me of flying passion, of excitement, lightening, enlightenment – of everything we need in education today.

In ancient Greek myths Pegasus was a special pet for the nine muses who were themselves special mentors for artists. (As I am an artist – a painter and poet – Pegasus seems an appropriate symbol and friend for me too!). I am sure the Muses would pat his neck and smooth down his soft muzzle. When they were feeling depressed his great wings could lift them up, when they were over-excited he could calm them down, heal their sorrows as well.

You could read a wonderful book about how horses can heal people as well as “horse-whisperers” can heal them.  It is called The Tao of Equus by Linda Kohanov, herself a healer of both distressed horses and anxious riders.

When Pegasus struck his hoof on a rock a new spring of healing water would pour out, but when a muse rode high between his wings, she felt afire with love.

 

My Mission

How wake our hearts
        to feel Earth alive?
                             soar
                  in high clouds
                  with eagles?

In 2008 when I wrote my book “Our Sacred Garden: the Living Earth” I found very few children or adults knew anything about gardening or about our Earth where almost all our food, shelter, clothing and medicines come from. I wondered, “What are they teaching in our schools?”

So my new book is about what I found out! It is called “Pegasus, A Life Force with Wings in Education”. My mission is to wake people up to the beauty of our Earth, to fill them with curiosity to learn about the diverse and fascinating habits and customs of all living creatures and their habitats. It is about how to love and to know how much we all need each other.

The beauty is everywhere around us if we open our imaginations to feel and see it in people’s smiles, in the movements of dancers, of birds flying, of a horse running, of clouds in the wind or of waves on water. It is in the colors and fragrances of flowers and mown grass, in the dazzle and glow of jewels, in the shapes of mountains or canyons, in homes: differing houses or dens, caves, nests, sands or seabeds.

Beauty can be a garden in our hearts and minds as well as in the earth: the beauty of dreams which grow, blossom and produce seeds.Learning includes arts, creating beauty with our hands and bodies, building and making things, inventing and innovation. Education should help us organize our learning to become hard-working, responsible and caring individuals by serving each other and nurturing our Earth.

How to Make Education Fly

For the past two years I’ve been writing a book – along with about two hundred others – on what is now a favorite topic for really concerned people – EDUCATION! My title is Pegasus: A Life Force with Wings in Education, Pegasus is my muse – my lightning encouragement to wake up and fly, and it is a call to action.  The question I am exploring is:  – how do WE – yes WE THE HALF ASLEEP PEOPLE –change things for the better? What do we need to do to become responsible citizens and create opportunities for the pursuit of real purpose for living?

 

Perhaps we can start by asking questions like: What are the most important things to learn in life? At school? What do we need to know to survive? For happiness? To get a job we like? To help each other etc.? In fact two or three colleagues and I have been asking these questions, and many more, to teachers, parents, administrators, students and lay persons of every profession, and now to you, to anyone who is interested.  In the process we have heard such wisdom, such courage in the voices and actions of people who are really trying to impart values and solicit the curiosity and creative energies of our children. I want to acknowledge and encourage them, and you, in my book.

I have come to realize that there or three pressing areas we need to consider in contemplating the future of education:

 

1. Priorities
What would Thomas Jefferson have thought about a Federal government’s role in enforcing so much “drill and kill” testing in our children that both teachers and pupils become tempted to cheat – teachers to ensure their own jobs by giving students high enough grades so they can pass the test whether they understand the material or not and students to gain enough good grades to graduate from high school?

In fact, do our children’s schools give them time or encouragement to muse, to go to different sources to explore their interests – to books, or people, or institutions? Does it give them time to discuss it with classmates, or mentors, or teachers?

When is there free time  – to dream, to muse, to do nothing, to listen to bird songs, or to lie face down in a meadow to smell the earth or sweet scent of mown hay?  To read about earthworms or windmills, dinosaurs or astronauts or pearl-divers, or to climb a mountain, plant a garden, run in a marathon, gallop in horseback, even skateboard in the park? To perform in a SLAM poetry contest?

Our students education is being limited by what legislators and administrators have prioritized in our school system and we are missing great opportunities to educate young people for the 21st century.

2. Technology
Most of us recognize that our children are being educated for a different kind of world.  What kind of new world? What kind of tools are they using? The most ubiquitous new tools for progress in American education, which are in most children’s hands, are computers and cell phones.  These allow us to see, to absorb a great deal of facts about what is happening around the world.  It is changing our perception of what we need to learn as well as what we are learning.  How? We can Google almost any answer to any immediate question we ask.  While having such information at our finger-tips is amazing, it is only part of the solution. Google can’t muse about the problem, think about the pros and cons, understand why you need to look at it from many directions, and then decide what needs to be done.

Another concern about computers is – how much time do our children spend at school with the computer on skills, how much time later on at home on FACEBOOK or Twitter? When do they ever get to run, or hike, or high jump? On their way to the bus? To the car? To the airplane? How much time is there to paint, or dance, or perform, to learn about car mechanics, or farming, nursing, or business – as apprentices?

We need to be conscious of how we use technology to make it a valuable tool for educating our children without letting it define our children’s education.

3. Money
Some people wonder why we are shifting money and allegiance to charter and private schools and to vouchers instead of working hard to help our public schools?  The question is why isn’t there enough money for schools to afford arts, or sports, or vocational courses – or in fact, civics or ethics or natural history? The fact that most arts have been dropped from curriculum, most sports and field trips too, and often recess is worrisome. There is no more money to afford a band, or materials used for arts, or soccer balls, or hockey sticks, or bussed adventure field trips. Again WHY?

That question is for us, yes, again for us, as We The People, to ask our legislators, our state or federal representatives, the congress, and school education committees: why is there money for new school buildings (often disguised as fortresses) but not for maintenance of those buildings? Why is there money allowed for new computers, but none for computer upkeep or for training of parents to use the computers to help their children with homework? Why is there millions spent for “bubble” tests which are supposed to measure accountability in teaching and students and none for the time and freedom for children to actually learn what they need in an atmosphere of trust, with properly trained teachers?

How we spend our money and where we spend our money is important, and needs our attention if we are to create an education system that will prepare our children for a bright future.

 

In my book I am trying to explore these problems and possible solutions through the hearts and voices of those we have interviewed in our immediate community.  We would like to extend this courtesy to you, to introduce your voice with your name or anonymously if you have an encouraging story or potential answer to a given question.  I hope we can communicate.

Specific questions I would love to hear your answers to are:

What do you think are the biggest issues in schools today?

What would you like to have children experience in school?

What do you think is the one change that would make the biggest difference for students?

Let me know your answers in the comments below!

Vote Yes on Sedona Budget Override!

YES! VOTE YES by November 5, 2013 for Sedona BUDGET OVERRIDE! http://investineducation.info/about.html

It means:

  • No children going hungry and unable to concentrate for lack of breakfast!
  • Real hands-on arts: music with singing, playing, listening, dancing and visual arts: painting, sculpting, collage making designing.
  • No more pre-diabetes vulnerabilities because of sitting every day, all day at computers, but time for live exercise: moving, running, sports at recess and in the afternoons.
  • It means pride in our local schools and the knowledge that good schools attract caring people and better economic advantages.
  • Real opportunities for college with advanced courses in literature, sciences, and math.

These are our children.  It will cost each of us $5.00 a month or $61.00 per year to give our vote of confidence in them, and our school system which is courageously trying to improve their lives. We the voters (yes “we the people”) need to be worth of that YES!

Taking Action

Last night two of my grandsons came to dinner with my son and me. We’ve always been able to talk to each other—even when they were teenagers—(mostly, because they were always playing some instrument, drums or sax or guitar with another teenage boyfriend of my granddaughter, so we didn’t have to talk or confront each other!).

kopila valley childrenDownloadedFile

Maggie Doyne, founder of the Kopila Valley Children’s Home

Anyway, we had a great discussion that came from asking their help for my book. They both have jobs that they really like; the elder, Cazo, as a river guide for river boat voyagers on the Colorado and Green rivers, the youngest, Michael, as a waiter and sommelier wine steward at a fancy restaurant.

With my new conviction that it is our children—with new technology, but also with physical activity and resilience, and uncurbed imagination—it is they who are going to save our world. Hopefully, in the process they will educate us (old fogies like me, age 87) so we can help with an occasional glimpse of wisdom from some of our experiences! So I asked them please to think about ideas they knew about (like the Global Brain) or were actually doing (like teaching urban kids, who had never even seen a wilderness area; how to survive on a river boat trip and even grow to love the adventure) and to share them with me. Michael said, “But Granny, no one ever listens to us,” and I said, “No, that’s not true. People are beginning to listen, especially when you do something positive- like Maggie Doyne, that courageous girl who went to Nepal on a ‘gap’ year trip between high school and college. What she didn’t expect to see was a whole lot of orphaned children from the 1996-2006 civil war. Children without homes, or food, or love. She was outraged but also filled with compassion. She stayed. She bought some land, she found people to help her build a home, where she brought the children, fed and healed them (many were literally dying from starvation and diseases), and she started a school called Kopila Valley Children’s Home. And she is still there. And, her 3rd Graders are actually reading Charlotte’s Web. Are ours?”

 

“So please,” I continued, “think about what you’d like to see us teaching our kids; how you’d do it? What kind of space would you need? Would you just use computers or would you still teach cursive writing? Would you memorize anything for pleasure—not just for an AIMS test? In fact, what kind of education do you think we need? All kinds of questions like these…”

And, I’d like to throw these questions out to any of my virtual friends on Facebook who’d be interested in posting their responses or new questions—for discussion or sharing in my book (with their permission).

 Resources

 Maggie Doyne’s website: www.blinknow.org

Articles: http://www.forbes.com/pictures/elli45fgge/maggie-doyne-founder-kopila-valley-childrens-home-and-school-in-nepal/

Facebook page for Maggie Doyne

Educate the Children International

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maggie-Doyne/161542457201289

Shared Spontaneity

Picture 3earthstar media 

First of all, I want to thank all of you who’ve been befriending me or posting your thoughts on my Facebook page. I have two trusted friends, Laurie and Lane, who are usually my ‘virtual’ voices, because honestly I’m still living in a prehistoric age, and also I’m struggling to finish my book and prefer reading to Facebook! I just do not have or make the time to appreciate and use the Internet fully, but I’m grateful when someone prints out for me TED talks or blogs from some of my favorite educators like Diane Ravitch or Salman Khan*.

Despite the fact that I don’t text or use computers, I-Pads or smart phones, and only rarely a cell phone, I have had to absorb a lot of new vocabulary and even some new ideas—mostly, via my grandchildren. What I’m beginning to realize is that our children brought up on this information technology are active laterally (horizontally) rather than hierarchically (or vertically). They share their information, their lives, their ideas with friends all over the world via the Internet, with arms stretched out sidewise rather than down, while having information pushed on them from above (sometimes by decree) from parents, teachers, school administrators, the government, etc. The Internet has revolutionized all our lives—even mine!

 

It’s the sharing part that I like most: sharing of energies to mentor someone who needs help; working together on a project, and creating or building something. It’s the OCCUPY consciousness: a shared attitude that if we move together now, while the need is apparent, we can come to the rescue of people in trouble, as the OCCUPY volunteers did after Super storm Sandy. Or, there might be a need for a shelter, a building or a special project such as this one: the night after Martin Luther King was murdered, an activist professor at MIT, Karl Linn, gathered together a small army of MIT and Harvard students. They constructed a geodesic dome, found and enlarged photos of King and scenes from his life, hung them in the newly formed gallery in the dome, and invited people to come to a memorial service for the beloved Martin Luther King—all of this done overnight!

 

I am old enough to think we still need long-range ideas, ideas and plans for projects that require a depth of critical thinking. And, I believe in apprenticeship practice and training, and that we should visualize the consequences of such undertakings. But I love the idea of being able to respond spontaneously to a call for help or action, of being able to reach fellow helpers quickly- and MOVE!

 

To finish this thought: there is a wonderful new book by Jeremy Rifkin called The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power Is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.) He has been a prime mover in the ‘greening’ movement towards sustainability in both Europe and the Far East, and he describes in detail how we can move into 21st Century’s ‘green economy.’

 

 

Excerpted from Wikipedia

*Diane Silvers Ravitch (born July 1, 1938) is a historian of education, an educational policy analyst, and a research professor at New York University‘s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Previously, she was a U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education.

*Salman Amin “Sal” Khan (born October 11, 1976) is a Bengali American educator, entrepreneur, and former hedge fund analyst. He is the founder of the Khan Academy, a free online education platform and nonprofit organization. From a small office in his home, Khan has produced more than 4,000 video lessons teaching a wide spectrum of academic subjects, mainly focusing on mathematics and the sciences. As of May 2013, the Khan Academy channel on YouTube attracted 1,000,000 subscribers and the Khan Academy videos have been viewed over 268 million times In 2012, Time named Salman Khan in its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Forbes magazine put Salman Khan on its cover with the story “$1 Trillion Opportunity”.

Towards New Mind Gardens in Education Nationwide

During the past 25 years of witnessing and participating in the nationwide struggle to plant gardens in urban dump lots, in schoolyards and deserts, in barren courtyards and on reservations, I wrote a book called Our Sacred Garden: The Living Earth. It was finally published two years ago.

 

While I was questioning people and doing research for the book, I was appalled at the lack of knowledge- or interest -in gardening or in anything else in nature, which I found in both adults and children. Not only where does food come from in their minds: (eggs from cartons, milk from cardboard containers) but also what does global warming or polluted soils and waters or fossil fuels or factory farming mean to them? What is sustainability?

 

What are “they” teaching our children in school?

 

In the past 5 years (due to the recession or angelic intercession?), there is an American revival of interest in not only gardens but sustainability in all forms: land and aquifer preservation, clean energies, green building, etc. Thank Heavens!

 

But education too is in desperate need of transformation. So, I’ve been learning about what “they” are teaching today in our schools, and what “we” as parents or citizens are not teaching or learning. And, along with about a thousand others, I am writing a book about what is, and what is not, being taught today. Basically, a revolution is in progress, ground rules are collapsing, new reforms seem to encourage more failures, and almost everyone is being seduced by both the opportunities and priorities of the Internet, television, smart phones, etc! Where are the balances: the arts, the ancient wisdoms, the physical opportunities; the new paradigms in this current overturning in schooling? Where is learning?

 

For me, there is need of not just lightning bolts, but of clear skies, of spiritual enlightenment, of a muse. My muse is the title of the new book that I am writing: Pegasus, A Life-Force with Wings in Education.

 

And the struggle for me in the writing is: how to fly with Pegasus?

 

In Our Schools Today

To fight for learning

        takes

revolutionary zeal-

heart-fire’s sword!

 How do we awaken the interest, the resolve and stamina in all of us to galvanize the changes that we need in our schools: to open up the restrictions on time and leisure, and testing which are currently being imposed on our students?

We must find ways to allow our children’s natural curiosity and sensory perceptions, to invite and inspire them to want to learn.

We need to:

First:  Kindle the sun’s fire in our hearts.

Second: Hold each other’s hands in trust– pupils, parents, teachers, staff, and working members, administrators; all in the belief that we can and must help each other.

Third: Look squarely at what we are teaching,

Fourth: How it is being taught?

Right now, our national obsession with testing for accountability in Math and Reading Skills, at the exclusion of all other subjects, is not only paranoid but dangerous, as it leads to cheating and teaching to the ‘test’ so that scores will be higher. We need to rethink our necessities for history and government, ethics,  writing and literature, humanities and sciences- in depth, and for critical thinking in each. We also need to recognize that ‘hands-on’ learning of arts and vocational studies, and the need for physical exercise and sports, as necessary balances to our technical aptitudes.

Most importantly, all these changes need to be made willingly, out of love.

Yes, we do have a revolution to challenge us, and the evolution of new paradigms is beginning to happen -everywhere.

Education: The Inner Light of Learning: Where is it today?

By Adele Seronde

Doree at Four by Adele Seronde, Sedona, ArizonaEducation?   –
What is it?
Where is it?
It’s a very hot topic in America today.

Finding that inner light in education, that is what more people need to discover. It’s like playing football without a ball. Everybody’s there on the field; two player teams lined up, the cheerleaders, referees and umpire, the fans—but no ball flying through the air, nothing to catch, nothing to hold on to.

Is it the same in schools? Great new buildings, buses arriving, administrators, janitors, secretaries, pupils sitting in long rows in every classroom, even a few underpaid teachers—but where’s the learning? Where is that incandescent flash that leaps through the mind when someone says, “Aha! I get it!” – that something which is a sense of exhilaration, of power and joy, which makes children so excited that they are moving, smiling, chatting, discussing and sharing what they’ve just learned? Continue reading