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No Parroting Allowed!

Learning Emergence by Asking Questions

Emergence Group Babies

"Could Cultivating Meditative Experiences
Change The Quality Of Education"

Questions for the Week of November 27, 2006

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When asked, "how do you best learn?" most people usually respond with either a technique, like, "in a classroom," or by naming their favorite sense, like, "I learn best visually." Unfortunately, this implies most people define "learning" as the ability to parrot the correct answer.

What is wrong with this? We believe that "parroting the correct answer" creates parrots, not students; dullards, not Einsteins. So how can we create more Einsteins? We believe, by asking questions which are intended to provoke the student's own questions. More important, we see this as the best way with which to reawaken in students the love of learning.

This week's topic is, "Could Cultivating Meditative Experiences Change The Quality Of Education?" Would you like to actually awaken your love of learning about this topic? You can, simply by reading the teacher's questions and then, by asking yourself, "what questions did these words just provoke in me?"

"Could Cultivating Meditative Experiences Change The Quality Of Education?"

The Teacher's Questions (asked by Colleen)

  • How can adults learn try be more like "pre-oral language babies," in the sense of reclaiming their openness to taking-in information through the five senses, without naming, categorizing, and making judgments, but rather experiencing life?
  • If we could do this would it enhance our ability to enjoy life? For example, imagine you are going try a restaurant. If you are anything like me, you might start naming and judging things immediately upon entering the place. Do I like the decor, the table arrangements?The lighting? The attire of the servers? The noise level? etc. The food comes ... I think, "How's the presentation?" Good? Bad ? Is that cilantro I taste? How does it mix with the side dish? And on and on, all while having a conversation with my husband talking about our day and making plans for the future.

Now imagine you're a baby experiencing the same scene, with no understanding of language. Imagine that even for a few minutes, you can receive all the stimuli and simply notice it, without thinking, naming, or judging.

  • How do the two experiences differ? Could the second one be considered more of a meditation?
  • In the long run, is there more to be learned from one experience or the other?
  • If our minds didn't whirl around in a frenzy, and if we could experience our common life events as a meditation, even for an hour per day, how might that change how we live life, and our interactions with others, and our personal satisfaction?
  • Do people living in our fast paced society feel more stressed because they don't allow themselves "meditative experiences" throughout the day?
  • What would it be like if teachers actually taught students how to be more like "pre-verbal children" in school and asked them, specifically to be here now, without worrying about what will or won't be on the test, or what Suzie in the next row over is doing/thinking/wearing etc.?
  • How might that kind of school environment change the way children think and learn?
  • How might it change teachers?

Sample Student Response Questions (asked by Gary)

  • Can teachers teach effectively without being attached to the results of their efforts?
  • Can students think and not think at the same time? That is, can they "think" as in problem solving (e.g. math), experimenting (e.g. science), or comprehension (e.g. reading), and "not think" as in practicing non-judgment, detachment, or meditation.
  • An experience, any experience, can provoke one of 3 possible reactions. [1] It can draw you in or open you up if it is interesting or joyful in some way, [2] It can push you away or close you down if it is frightening or painful in some way, and [3] It can have no effect. How can teachers (in a classroom setting) stay centered while responding to differing needs of their students when one experience (for example, reading aloud, dissecting a frog, or studying quantum physics) provokes very different reactions in their students?

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