Hello. It’s been a while. It’s interesting that I feel guilty and a need to apologize for not keeping to a schedule I never really set. I’m thinking that a significant part of life might be a series of agreements that we don’t recall making.
As I found myself struggling to maintain “my schedule”, I decided to take stock of why I’m writing. I find that I write for two reasons.
Often my writing is driven by a need to pass along some insights that have been shared with me. I use “that have been shared with me” deliberately because they come to me from a variety of sources most of which I can’t remember. I can recall only that they are rarely original and frequently reflect a clarity of insight that I continue to find elusive. It would be wrong to claim ownership. I have learned, however, that the clarity of such insights comes to best in stillness. In such times I sense both clarity and an obligation to share it. This has not been a “still” time.
My second reason for writing is more selfish. I write to bring order to the thoughts that I encounter. Most times it works. But in the past several weeks I’ve begun 4 pieces. They didn’t actually begin as separate pieces; however, in each case new thoughts intruded, demanded attention, and added not clarity, but further complication. They apparently paid no heed to my pursuit of clarity. They reminded me that I don’t find clarity. Clarity finds me.
All this us by way of saying that I’m going to take a week or two to do some reading and find stillness. Retirement afford me that luxury. During that time, I’ll be revisiting some authors I’ve previously read and adding some that I’ve recently encountered and want to experience more deeply.
Here’s a short annotated list in case you’d like to join me in the explorations.
I’ve referred elsewhere to the writing and thinking of Charles Eisenstein. Eisenstein had me with the following, taken from the “About” page on his website.
”There is a tide of separation (separation from one another, from our planet, from our institutions) that is generating a convergence of crises – ecological, medical, educational, political, etc. …Why does money seem to be a force for injustice and destruction? …It’s just a system of agreements, a story. … What would a new story, a new system of agreements look like that were aligned with a healing planet?”
Can Eisenstein offer insight into our education crisis? What would a new series of agreements, a new story, look like if we were to remove the story of separation from our thinking?
Russell Ackoff – I’ve referred to Ackoff frequently, referencing his distinction between doing things right and doing the right thing.
He describes better than I could why I want spend more time with his thinking in an essay he wrote in 1999 for The System Thinker, published by Pegasus Communications entitled “A Lifetime of Systems Thinking”.
Most large social systems are pursuing objectives other than the ones they proclaim, and the ones they proclaim are wrong.
Example: The educational system is not dedicated to produce learning by students, but teaching by teachers – and teaching is a major obstruction to learning. Whoa!
In discussing Ackoff’s work and thinking, Will Richardson suggested that I read one of Ackoff’s books… Turning Learning RightSide Up : Putting Education Back on Track. It’s on my list.
Peter Gray, PhD, “The Joy and Sorrow of Rereading Holt’s “How Children Learn”. In Psychology Today, December 26, 2017.
Gray’s article stems from his rereading of Holt’s book on the publication of the 50th anniversary edition of that work. He addresses what he terms the sad reality that so little of Holt’s insights have made their way into contemporary education practice in our schools. He offers what he considers to be Holt’s major insights and contributions and begins with what most consider to be Holt’s most significant observation.
Schools try to teach children skills and knowledge that may benefit them at some unknown time in the future. But children are interested in now, not the future. They want to do real things now. By doing what they want to do they also prepare themselves wonderfully for the future, but that is a side effect.
In taking license with a recent post recent post by Will Richardson in which he describes the commitment and capacity to turn this “now” oriented learning approach into a desire to learn more as “the artistry of teaching”, I combine this with Aldrich’s 3 purposes. For me it seems that the artistry of teaching is the commitment and capacity to turn the student’s “now” orientation into the desire to learn how to know, to learn how to do, and, of ever increasing importance in our current “story”, to learn how to be.
If you have the time and inclination to join me in this exploration of stillness and clarity, I hope you will add your own thoughts and experiences in the comment section. In the meantime…
“Be well. Do good work. Keep in touch” – Garrison Keillor