COMMENTARIES ON LEARNING FROM THE INSIDE-OUT - 2002*
by David Boulton
"It takes . . . a mind debauched by learning to carry the process of making the natural seem strange, so far as to ask for the why of any instinctive human act." - William James
"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." - Albert Einstein
When I was an infant I learned to control my natural flow. Before I had words to understand what was happening, I felt shame when I did something my parents didn’t want me to do. One of my first big lessons in controlling myself happened when I was potty trained. I learned to ‘hold myself in’ to avoid the intensity of the shame I felt if I didn’t. That ‘clamp’ I learned – my way of deeply ‘holding myself in’, in contrast to my instinctual natural flow, has unfolded throughout my being. The story of my health is a commentary on that holding. The way my infant learned to 'hold back my nature' became a fundamental somatic ground reference for my unconscious ‘self control’.
Before I talked with words I began having feeling-conversations with my parents. I felt their feelings. I felt them feel my feelings. From the exchange of feelings I learned to communicate with them. Back then when my primary communication medium was feelings, I learned to feel shame for having certain feelings. My parents, in feeling-words, evoked shame in me for having certain feelings. In their reflection, I felt shame when I got too angry and shame when I was too demanding and shame when I …. To avoid the shame I felt I learned a way of ‘holding my feelings in’. That clamp I learned – my way of deeply holding my feelings from their natural instinctive movements - has unfolded throughout my being. The story of my emotional development is a commentary on that holding.
As I began talking I only used words that felt right to me. My first words were the sounds my feelings made. Then I learned that some of the words I said weren’t the 'right' words. My natural process of instinctively yet creatively articulating words became subject to shame. To avoid the shame I learned to remember associations I didn’t have internal distinctions for. My meanings became confused between the ‘words’ within me and the ‘words’ without. I learned to remember the importance of the words out there by holding back the flow of words in here. The kind of clamping I learned – my way of deeply holding my ‘flow of meanings’ has unfolded throughout my being. The story of my self-awareness is a commentary on that holding. It is the root of my verbal self-reflexivity and the beginnings of learning who ‘I am”.
As I began learning to read it was easy to learn the sounds of the letters. When later I was trying to learn to read words I learned that the sounds I had learned to ‘hear’ when I ‘saw’ a letter weren’t right. I heard what I was taught to hear but I was wrong in hearing them. I had to learn to figure out the letter-sound puzzles so that my word sounds would come out the ‘right way’. The people around me then impressed in me a ‘code’. I didn’t understand it, but I was trained in ways of using it. To use the code I had to clamp the flow of sight-sound-meaning feelings happening within me and pay attention to ‘saying it right’ according to this code. The kind of clamping I learned – my way of holding back the flow of meaning-feelings within me has unfolded throughout my being. The story of the development of my intellect is a commentary on that holding. It is a determining layer of the inner interface between my mind and the world.
Abstraction…. concentration…. learning to learn….
These are the stories of how I learned to participate in my life.
Our health depends on how we participate – the best healers are ‘participating into presence coaches’
Our learning depends on how we participate – the best teachers are ‘participating into presence coaches’
The Spirit of Learning
By ‘spirit’ I don’t mean religious or even spiritual as many might use the word. The ‘presence’ in someone’s ‘presence’ is what I mean by spirit.
The primary purpose of Learning is to ‘nourish’ the ever-greater presence of spirit – that which is present in one’s presence.
Our primary work is about developing, articulating and presenting the value-case for becoming ‘presence-centric’ in our orientation to raising and educating children:
The greater our presence in learning, the greater our capacity for learning about what is present.
The greater our presence in learning, the greater the growth of our capacity for learning.
The greater our presence in learning, the greater the growth of our presence.
Learning to Learn from the inside-out
"We can be knowledgable with other men's knowledge but we cannot be wise with other men's wisdom." - Montaigne
"Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority". - Thomas Huxley
Our challenge is this: Education operates, systemically, as if getting something ‘right’, in relation to its methods of evaluation, is fundamentally more important than whether children are 'present' and 'participating from the inside-out' in their learning. Our education systems in the name of teaching us about ‘things’, are unintentionally but nonetheless pervasively and insidiously, teaching us that our ‘presence’ is not important to learning.
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." - W. B. Yeats
"Learning isn't a means to an end; it is an end in itself." - Robert Heinlein
"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day." - Thomas Jefferson
Our mission is to gather and develop compelling evidence that demonstrates that the most practical and efficient way to learn about anything is to turn that anything into a practice-field for for the learner's presence - for their inside-out participation.
Learning is the essential spiritual practiceThe best way to achieve our real-world curriculum priorities and the best way to nurture the emergence of each child’s most authentic potential and ‘self’ is to turn our educational orientation inside–out and become presence-centric.
of attending to revelations from within...
* 2002 - this document is largely as written in 2002 but has had subsequent edits.
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