This is the second year that the course Education for Liberation has been run and students in both years have explored issues of general and specific relevance to their teaching. It has been interesting to note that the course attracts not just students from within the direct education field of teaching and school administration. There have been students from the environmental/sustainability movement, the military and the creative industries. This has enabled us as a group to explore a wide range of teaching contexts.
When asked what it means to teach Neohumanistically one student responded:
Well this is a little difficult for me right now since neohumanistic education is such a new concept for my intellect to grapple. I know what it isn’t though.. it isn’t a dry process of transferring information; it isn’t about teaching what to think; it isn’t about instructing and putting all the learning responsibility on the student (I’ve done my job… handing over!); it isn’t dominated by left brain methods of teaching. Interestingly it is through my reflections on my military training that I’ve come to these realisations.
As this student acknowledges one’s own life experiences, our biography, is central in shaping how we understand such a question thus another student noted:
I grew up with parents who were deaf and so very early, can’t even remember when, I and my brothers and sister learnt that mum and dad had another world where they lived in comparison to neighbours’ and relatives’, and that world had its own language and ways, and then when growing older one could understand that there were underlying something in all worlds that was common to all of them, alike, unifying. Would one in Neohumanist learning come to see and respect different ‘worlds’? And come to see what runs through those worlds as one ‘thread’?
Picking up on this thread another expanded in the following relating to our being, thinking and responding beyond the linguistic frame:
It is really important to me to be able to use my intuition and inner wisdom. This helps me in being able to gain a sense of deep trust of myself and the higher consciousness which guides me. Being able to draw upon internal knowledge without the constraints of having to fit a particular ‘formula’ gives me the freedom and autonomy to be able to express myself in a way that deepens my understandings. Sometimes I enjoy being involved in non-verbal methods of expression and having these recognized as valid and meaningful ways to illustrate learning.
I feel the course has in fact achieved something when the course materials, its insights, its expanded horizons are able to empower all those in it to build bridges with their context and also to expand their own vision of what pedagogy can bring
to one’s working life. For some this is a direct understanding of how to teach Neohumanistically; for others it is about exploring the learning potential in all our encounters.
This potential is often not so tangible – that is why we often end up in discussions about microvita and education. One student sums this up perfectly:
The microvita of love and devotion transfers over to the received while in a state of being and presence. This attention that an educator gives to a student is the real gift. It is the real empowerment. There is a great quote I heard recently. Something to the effect of, “you don’t remember a great teacher for what they taught, but how they made you feel.”
For me teaching this course is a real privilege as it brings such a wide range of minds into a conversational node for 15 weeks of deep exploration. There is always a balanced mix of theory and practice with work focusing on what Sarkar offers to the educator. We explore a wide range of other readings as well and these usually follow the conversations we are having and contexts students are working in. We always manage to have some shared virtual chats too – these are wonderful as the students can take the lead and find solidarity in what we all fear in on line course work: the vacuum of cyber space.
“Education for Liberation has certainly liberated my own teaching philosophy (and spiritual life), and I find myself now teaching in a new light. Neohumanism is a far richer philosophy than I first realised, with enormous implications for the future of schooling and society. As a practising high school teacher, it’s been thrilling to experience the cutting edge of global education. The theories gleaned in a short period of time have successfully infiltrated my otherwise conservative workplace. The course encourages deep reflection on a staggering variety of readings and ideas, ranging from the paradoxical to the downright revolutionary! Most importantly, the generous, considered feedback from Mano has helped me to shape my own vision for a more dynamic and loving classroom. I recommend this subject to anyone interested in improving their teaching, in learning to learn or for those who want to shake mainstream education out of its malaise and towards a brighter future.” Thomas Spurling, Melbourne, Australia”