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Creating Conscious Classrooms

the Emergence Explorer

Questions for the Week of October 30, 2006

Emergence Character Type Babies 9-AI-2

This Week's Questions

[posed by Colleen A.]
  • Do teachers and students need to be connected for learning to occur?
  • Can students learn from teachers who remain in Layer two most of the time?
  • What would a blame free classroom look like?
  • >

Do you know?

[Question 1] Some students are so afraid of being shamed or ridiculed that they can't, or won't, be open to the learning process (i.e., participate in discussions, make presentations, ask questions, etc.). How can a classroom become, and remain, a safe place to learn?
Obviously, Colleen, this is an important question for any teacher to answer. It is also a difficult question for me to answer, for many reasons. Mainly, it is simply so broad in scope. Even so, here are my initial thoughts.

No one is born afraid to learn. Not a single baby is born uninterested in life. Thus, any student afraid to learn has been injured in and around learning.

At the same time, teachers are not, by design, therapists. Thus, most schools would say that attempts to heal these injuries in students would fall outside the province of a teacher. So what can a teacher do?

  • First and foremost, always make "connecting to students" more important than passing information, by making the Inner Layers the classroom milieu.
  • Second, make "emergent learning" the route to healing student injuries, by making learning by emergence the main objective for all student activities. Thus, while learning by momentum and learning by extension are both very important, learning by emergence is the key to igniting, in students, a personal desire to learn. No coincidence, the desire to learn ignites strongest when it has been sparked into existence in and around a former injury.
  • Third, teach students to accept "dead stops" as a normal part of the learning process, by making "learning by unknowns" the beginning of all new learning.
  • Fourth, make sure teachers heal their own injuries in and around learning, so they do not over compensate for student injuries. For instance, if a Social Studies teacher has an injury in and around speaking in public, she may under-utilize oral reports in her classroom. Likewise, if an English teacher hates math, this will negatively affect his ability to teach anything involving numbers, including teaching students to outline and prioritizing composition points.

[Question 2] How can knowledge of personality types help to promote learning in the classroom? Will knowing each others' personality type help class members connect more? How can knowledge of social priorities help teachers and students learn more in the classroom?
[Answer] In my dreams for a better world, all schools will someday use Social Priorities in combination with Character Types to match teachers and students. Know, however, that "how best to do this" is still a vague possibility, even to me.

What I mean is, even if we currently had well designed "student" Social Priority tests, we would still need to understand how best to use the results. For instance, is it best to match students and teachers by character type; two's with two's, for instance? Or is matching by Social Priorities more important?

And there are other, equally important questions. For instance, must teachers have Understanding as their highest Social Priority in order to be good teachers? Or does the nature of this highest priority vary based on the subject being taught? For instance, would a Comfort first teacher be best for those teaching physical skills, such as track & field, wrestling, basketball, etc.? And would a Freedom first teacher be best for those who teach social studies, philosophy, and government?

My point is, knowing every teacher and student's Social Priorities would be a great beginning. But we would then need to know how to best to use this information to match teachers and students.

To answer your question though, I am sure, even at this point, that this single addition to how education is done (meaning, knowing teacher and student Social Priorities) could easily change the entire face of how kids learn. Especially when it comes to how much they enjoy learning.

[Question 3] Does test-taking put children into shock?
Does a bear go in the woods? Colleen, of course test taking puts kids into shock, similarly to how being judged in any manner puts us all into shock.

The dilemma, of course, is that we need to hold kids, and teachers, accountable. Thus, tests of some sort are a necessary part of all aspects of education.

So what can we do to improve this situation?

I think we need to focus some efforts on finding new and better ways in which to get kids to love being tested. Emergence is perfect for this.

In addition, I think we need to face the fact that most teachers have wounds in and around being tested as well. Thus, we need to focus our primary efforts on having teachers face and heal their own injuries in and around being tested. As well as their injuries in and around consciously disciplining kids when they do not do their work.

Finally, I believe we should create a mandatory addition to the current curriculum wherein students get taught about learning itself, an ongoing, interactive, integrative class in which kids get to explore for themselves how conscious versions of learning and teaching happen. Perhaps even to the point wherein kids must learn to teach each other, including that they, themselves, get graded for how well they teach. What an interesting curriculum that would make for. And what a wonderful bond this could create between students and teachers.

[Question 4] When a class ends, does a conscious teacher experience a massive disconnect and subsequent aloneness?
Yes, Colleen. In fact, I know this to be true from my own, personal experience. Equally important to remember though, is that when these disconnects happen, they happen equally to both teachers and students.

The question then becomes, so what should a conscious teacher do to ameliorate this discomfort?

The answer? Teach kids (and teachers) to notice and respond to these disconnects. How? By simply bringing to their attention these very experiences right from the beginning of a school year. For instance, say a teacher notices this in the very first class. You might simply ask the kids if any of them noticed that this happened. And have the teacher model these very admissions.

In addition, we might find ways to include in the kids' lesson plans learning to notice these disconnects. How? By teaching kids to consciously recognize and acknowledge these connects and disconnections, as an ongoing part of all of their lessons.

For example, say you teach English. You might ask your students, as a part of something they must read, to notice when characters in stories connect and disconnect. You might also ask these kids to note the literary devices the author has used to portray these connect and disconnect experiences. Or ask them to write stories in which these very things are a focus of the assignment.

A second example would be, say you teach history. You might ask your students to hypothesize as to what actually disconnected neighboring countries to the point where they went to war with each other. Or what reconnected neighboring countries and led to peace. Or if they were diplomats, what devices they might use in order to build bridges of similarity and by doing so, open the channels to peace.

My point is, Emergence without pragmatism is like money from a defunct country. Useless. At the same time, pragmatism without Emergence is like having iron clad legal contracts but no lawyer to make it happen. In truth, both are needed. Real connections, first. Real information, second. Both the art and science of knowing how to use emergence and the practical skill of knowing when and where to use it.

[Question 5] How can knowledge of the Layers of Aloneness help classroom experiences be more positive and productive? Do teachers and students need to be connected for learning to occur? Can students learn from teachers who remain in Layer two most of the time? What would a blame free classroom look like?
[Answer] These are really good questions, Colleen. Let me try to take them, one at a time.

How can knowledge of the Layers of Aloneness help classroom experiences be more positive and productive? By having teachers remember to make creating connections more important than passing information. And by teaching their students to do the same.

Do teachers and students need to be connected in order for learning to occur? Yes. However, a better question might be, do students need to cycle between layers in order to learn. The answer? Yes. Which layers? In truth, all the layers, albeit this is somewhat beyond the scope of most normal classrooms. At a minimum then, in order to learn, students would need to cycle between the Inner Layers and Layer 2. Especially between the intellectual needs of Layer 2 and the personal needs of Layer 7.

Can students learn from teachers who remain in Layer two most of the time? The simple answer is, "no," they cannot not, although being in Layer 2 does put students in a good position to learn, given that what they experience there creates enough momentum.

Sadly, this is probably what happens in most classrooms at best. At worst, kids spend most of their time in only Layers 1 and 2. Which explains why only the brightest kids in most classrooms learn. How? They use this Layer 2 momentum and their own innate curiosity to stimulate new learning in themselves. The other kids, those who lack the innate curiosity, simply endure the pain of a profound aloneness.

Finally, what would a blame free classroom look like? I'm not sure. In fact, I'm not even sure this would be such a good idea. Blame free as far as the kids and dead stops? Absolutely. But blame free as far as the subject matter? I'd guess it would be better for teachers to model by example how to overcome blame rather than how to avoid it. This, in fact, might be one of the best lessons a teacher could ever teach their students. Aside from the love of learning, that is.

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