Tag Archives: creation

Reflective Learning Journals

Information processing…  A concept that is so, so important but so limited in our busy world…. So what do we do to add to our information processing….our number crunching… our mental data filing.  Well there is something magical about the hands… there is almost no learning that does not involve the hands in some way… there is a message in this…

Writing… drawing… coloring… cutting… pasting… all can be part of an information processing strategy… The best examples of this kind of journal can be found by studying the way some of the most awesome minds in the history of the world learned.  Consider the journals of Leonardo…

Leonardo’s journals included everything… he did studies of zoology,  human anatomy,  drafts of writings,  diagrams of weapons, studies for his great artworks….he literally wrote down every thought he had in the course of his life… They are fascinating to look at for their diversity of thought and creativity…. they are essentially trains of thought as they occurred to him… in great detail….

So how do we use this idea… first get a good journal… I like Moleskin journals because I just can’t seem to tear them up…  Get one for every discipline you are studying..  One of my great friends has a journal in which he has his essential knowledge… quotes… formulas… drawings… and so much else…

As you read, think, study, or reflect, write down every thought you have no matter how seemingly unimportant…. then follow it if it seems to lead somewhere else….

Write down every question you have about the subject…don’t be shy…Leonardo constantly referred to his lack of learning…write down questions that come from reading… those that come from reflections… as well as those that may seem silly…

Write down things you are trying to remember… there is something magic about the hand… in writing is processing… amazing things happen when one writes down questions…. facts… learnings….

Then answer your questions….  you will find that one answer to a question leads to another question… then another and another… until you have learned as much as someone who took several courses in the discipline…

If you are a writer… write down things about your characters that you may need later… never trust your memory… a good idea drifts off into space so quickly you can’t imagine.  

Include articles you find… cut them out and paste them in… then write their significant points in the journal… draw their significant points…. outline them… but whatever you do.. just work the material… so it will be digested….

Don’t worry …. in this process you will find that you wake up each day with more understanding… the more information you collect the greater your mental database will grow….

Cut pictures from magazines, journals, books,,, (your books)  and paste these into your journals with captions that explain to your their meaning… to you not to someone else….to you…

Draw your concepts… forget artistry if you aren’t an artist… try to get as close as possible… just work a concept until you have learned it…. don’t study it… work it… process it… play with it… just run it through your mind without fear that you wont learn…. you…will…learn….

Reflect… take time to write a couple of pages that consolidate what you are learning in one place.  Your wonderful brain will absorb this material… you will also find that this form of reflection will point out what you don’t know…

Set aside a few pages to write lists or goals about things to do to learn more about your subject. 

If your discipline works with photography, travel to take pictures of locations, collect and photography samples… the act of hunting for samples will force you to explore….

Explore and note what you find… travel, research, go to libraries… make notes… carry your notebook with you where you go on your hunt… I cannot imagine that Leonardo traveled without his notebooks. 

Reflect, collect, write, record…. and learn…. journaling is one of your best independent or home school learning tools…..

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The Practice of Learning…the cultivation of the child

Kurt Vonnegut said “The practice of art isn’t to make a living. It’s to make your soul grow.”  

I risk a paraphrase of that magnificent quotation…

The practice of Learning isn’t to make a living.  It’s to make your soul grow. 

Inside every human child there is a secret place… hidden… unknown… instilled with a magnificence we cannot fathom…

A place as deep as any ocean… as individual as each child’s DNA… In fact, I postulate this place holds each child’s personal intellectual genetic compass… a pathway that is only found through following the desires of that child’s intellectual heart… 

It is a place not often found… a place found only by the most blessed of people who were reared in an environment that encouraged that mad pursuit of intellectual independence toward what a “particular”  child was created to do… not educated, but cultivated… placed in sacred soil where the child was allowed to grow toward who he “is”…  for those who never find that special gift become those who live incomplete lives and who come to say in their old age those most tragic words… “If only”…

It is a place all but never found… for the soil in which we place most children today is not sacred… rather it is an artificial soil intended to grow discrete skills, uniformity, conformity, and the intellectual joining with the mass of humanity… humanity defined by the industrial definition of what it is to be human… 

They all must read… but they will read…

They all must calculate numbers… but they will calculate…

They all must write… but they all will write…

They all must understand what they need to endure in the world… but they will endure…

and they will learn all those things through the search for that hidden place… the sacred gift that each child is given… what they were made to be… 

These blessed children live in a world not defined by an expert’s definition of what a “graduate looks like”… No, they live in a world dedicated to letting them find the hidden place within their being by following their joy… by following that strong compass bearing holding true in their soul… by following their innate fascination with the creations miraculous paths…

They are the ones who walk the paths reading the compass of their heart… indeed that is the nature of those who found their genius… those who did not find that hidden place look at those who did find it and marvel… and feel the saddest intuition… did I not have something like that in me…

When we look at such a person we are looking at pure joy… we are looking at a being following the light for which they were created… the musician who plays miraculously… the doctor who heals with hands that seem dipped in sacred waters… the teacher who can reach into a child to help them find their hidden gift… the shuttle pilot who rides the thunder into the vastness of space… the carpenter who builds a house to stand the centuries… the cook who creates wonder from the gifts of the Earth… the physicist who listens to the music of the spheres… the machinist who works the elementals into shapes that allow the engines of our world to generate untold power in silence… the pastor who can communicate the eternal or quiet a grieving heart…

All these and millions more gifts are in as many children… But so few ever find that hidden place within their soul… so few… 

So what must we as a civilization do? 

We must remove the bindings of artificiality in what we allow children to learn…

We must renew our faith in art… music… great literature… true science…

We must renew our faith in play…for play is the foundation of creativity…

We must learn to trust that true compass within ourselves that always points to the joy… for as surely as we try to follow another’s compass or definition of learning we crush the joy…

We must give up our belief that there is “One” body of knowledge needed by every child…

We must not confine our thinking about learning to the small and mundane, but rather turn our thoughts to the greatness that could be… in every child… for in every honest and good path there is greatness…

We must trust our civilization to the miracle of the genius that created every child… we must allow ourselves to cultivate every growing child in such a way that they search, honestly search, for their hidden place… their hidden gifts… who they are supposed to be…

We must believe that we were given our minds to develop… 

We must believe above all else that we do feel the tug of the compass within ourselves… 

We must believe that if we follow that tug, that arterial tide within ourselves we will find our genius…

We will know when we have found our hidden place because it will be as if we have a powerful wind at our backs… those who have found their hidden place are the ones we call brilliant… the ones we call genius… the ones who inspire us… 

Should we fail in this we will see no more Galileo’s, no more Bach’s, no more Debakey’s, no more Einstein’s…  and we are failing… 

We are failing because we have believed a lie… we have believed that every child must be measured, cut from the same dull cloth, labeled with any of the hundreds of ways we try to categorize and limit human beings… We have believed that every child must learn the same things and be measured in the same way… and match the image of “what a graduate should look like”.   

We have believed the false premise that a human child can be manufactured through our well-meaning programs and curricula.  We have believed that the fact that we all share DNA makes us like every other… 

We have to learn that our DNA, the very thing that defines us all as human, makes us all as humanly different as stars in different galaxies… for that is what DNA is… it is an individual program… none like another… 

No human child is created like any other…when we found that DNA is a living program we took it to mean uniformity of universal intent when it means exactly the opposite… universal uniqueness…    

 This is why there is a dawning in some hearts lighting the way to another path, an independent brook away from the stream of humanity flowing into a sea of conformity… into the religion of similarity, of artificial counting of bits of knowledge, of sameness…. 

Those are the hearts that beat independently, the do answer to another rhythm, another music of the spheres…..

 The saddest truth is this; we will not see another Galileo, another Bach, another Debakey, another strange walker in time unless we have the courage to rebuild that which we call learning…. in our attempts to create uniformity in learning we will block the next stage in our development as human beings…. as a species specially created by God… each of us with a distinct purpose… each with an inborn joy that is lost to most of us by the time we are teenagers… the result being all the particular problems that do overtake our children because we are trying to actually create a uniform human being… as uniform as the length of each grass blade in a suburban lawn.

We must adopt a practice of learning that is only intent on finding that hidden place, a practice of learning that is independent, that results in the cultivation of the seed that is within every individually created child. 

 

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Wishes for my kids….my Star Children…

What do you wish for your children?  So many things…love, health, joy, to pursue something that lights a flame in their hearts…..those things, yes, …. but I want to wish for them an obsessed curiosity, a desire to discover, that comes only from reality…not from artifice, the whitewash on the sepulchre we call curriculum….

For now, I’m going to lay down organization learning for a while….I want to wish for their organic, minds of light for a time…

I wish first for them …. wonder.   Wonder is amazement at the way in which nature works, at the way your little dog looks up at you with obvious love…what is she thinking…when I watch her closely I see I think a mind…maybe not like mine, but one that knows, a heart that loves… and I am caught up in wonder at the miracle of this little animal…I study her movements, her expressions, her eyes, her obvious play, her own curiosity at the little bug she chases, but does not harm, and I form questions…remember the “Golden Thread”?  I wish for my children the wonder of the Milky Way….to have that first deep gut-thrill as they see it reaching across the sky like a great shimmering celestial ribbon…ethereal, eternal….I want them to wonder… at the energy that drives our bodies and realize it is the same energy that drives the stars….formed differently but the same….I want them to wonder at their human bodies…. that they can understand the miracle of the kidney…how it recognizes blood chemical levels so they can be adjusted so …we…can…live. I want them to wonder at sodium potassium channels so they understand the miracle of life…. I’ve never seen anyone wonder at a worksheet, or at a powerpoint….but I have shown kids from the dismal city the brilliance that is the Milky Way…I’ve watched the wonder that is so very close to fear as they see the night sky as it really is for the first time…I’ve watched their faces as they hear the voice of wildness itself in the howl of a wolf…. I’ve never seen the wonder of a worksheet… I’ve never seen the wonder of yet more notes on a PowerPoint presentation…wonder gutted…. wonder mortally wounded…. why would you wonder when you havent see the miracle..

I wish for them curiosity…. the curiosity I felt as a boy running through the Piney Woods of East Texas….the absolute outrageous curiosity I felt when I saw the green light in the darkness….first so dim it can’t be there… but it was….Foxfire….then in the light just fungi…How, with a capital W…rotting wood….for a time I learned everything there was to learn about bioluminescence….How?  How does it work…. Why when I lay on my back as a boy looking up at the Milky Way did I not fall out into the fearsome cold of space…out There, with a capital “T”.   Why do we not fall into the depths of space for when we are out “There” nothing is between us and the edge of the universe…but nothing…What saves us from a nightmarish fate…falling into space… a force not truly understood…  Gravity….gravity-does anyone really know what it is?….  What, with a capital W, dragged me underwater 50 yards or more when I was eighteen and immortal…with a fishing stringer attached to a metal chain around my waist….I received my baptism of mortality that day…when my feet could not touch bottom and “What” was out “There”….after terror came curiosity…today I am obsessed by sharks…creatures of terrible wonder…deserving of curiosity…the knowledge of ….”what”….of “out there unseen” came and changed to obsession that has taken me to places I would never have gone.

Obsession…..I wish for my children obsession….the obsession to answer my fear so I swam out beyond the third bar where I lay back supported by the green waters of the Gulf of Mexico….the same waters that offered life to “my” personal shark….perhaps offering my fear to the ocean….within a week I knew the shark species of the entire Gulf of Mexico…but more…were there Great White Sharks….can a shark actually be named “Bull”….when I saw the first one that I caught….the first Bull Shark….I left that beautiful animal in its home….it was a living, breathing miracle….when I saw it, I wanted to know, but also to give the opportunity to live back to it….so I could “know” without guilt….Black tips, Nurse, Hammerhead, Great Hammerhead, Sand….Obsession to this day….now I have been blessed to touch the skin of a Great White….to feel the roughness, but also the life…obsession…brought me to the Pacific to find them…

I wish for my children understanding then desire…..to find that the paint which covers our walls can be measured with the wonderful work of lines, angles, and formulas…to understand what math is for….to understand what they do…mathmaticians and why they do it… I became a boy who understood that the flight of a baseball can be described, even predicted….to understand that rowboats respond to the math of balance…fulcrums, weight, balance beams, centerlines …..that a boat is a gymnast wrestling with the physics of equivalent gravitational attraction that must be Balanced, with a capital “B”…

I wish for them freedom from the artifice of learning that is curriculum….I wish for them expression of the way their DNA made them…..according to the Plan….according to the information that is their personal DNA….that I believe is a plan….that the same energy that holds together the universe holds together their bodies…that before there was the universe there was nothing….darkness and void…all the energy in the universe was in one point…existing…but not existing….then the universe Was….with a capital “W” …in billionths of a second, no trillionths of a second…the universe “Was”…to know that the universe still “Is”…beyond the Hubble Deep Field…the universe “Is”,   still in its outer reaches, unimaginable reaches of time and space ….where the universe “Is” still being Created….that galaxies, stars and worlds are still being Created…yes with a capital “C”….I am too filled with the wonder that is statistics to think randomness….chance…odds….too great to be possible….

I wish for my children Connection…to realize after the wonder…then the curiosity….then the understanding….the connections….that the reality of fire….oxidation….keeps our bodies warm….without our thought…that we are organized…..so we are connected to the fires of volcanos, the reactors that are stars, the warmth in the body of the kitten held and stroked….that the same energy that drives the Earth through its orbit is the same energy that, in changed form, motivates the skeleton that holds the precious bodies of our children together….

I wish for my children to be amazed….that we are created of light, the elements…..so we really are created of the dust of the Earth, the dust of the Earth that is the periodic table made tangible…real….amazed….that photons of light energize reactions in the leaves of plants….that the living tissue of every plant incorporates light….plants are light made real in form…so then are we light made real in form but in this form….intelligence, thought, soul….”souls of light” we are….and as the plants,  those miraculous creations of light, creations of star shine, works of Krebs and his cycle, birthed of nuclear  fusion give their transformed energy to our bodies….so that we take the nutrients of the soil from them and raw energy from the light ….. so we become creations of the light and of the dust of the Earth….

intelligence and thought made of dust and light…

Finally, I wish them to return to wonder…..that in the ferocity of the instant of creation we were formed billions of years ago, we were already there….planned….as we could not be here without…..the moment….the chaos having been made into order…. that we have labeled the Big Bang…that I label “Let There Be Light”…. 

No, I’ve never seen wonder at a worksheet, or divine revelation of the “Connection” through the questions at the back of the chapter…

I’ve only seen wonder when enough chaos, enough reading, enough absorption of thought communicated down the centuries by dye on paper…and the experience of touch, the experience of taste, of smell, of the fear of falling off the Earth as you look up into the night…the realization….eventually become knowledge…that sticks.

When you are next outside at night, look up, realize that nothing is between us and the most fearsome fall….up….into space….that nothing is between you and eternity…..so gravity is here to hold us to our speck of dust…that we are created from….the Earth….we have faith in what holds us…..but we still wonder….

Oh, I do wish, I do wish that every child had freedom to explore the strange avenues given to their minds when the time is right, not when the bell says it’s time to go to the next class…..wonder, curiosity, obsession, amazement, realization, then real knowledge…..so delicate, so easily crushed, …..  

thirst…I wish for them thirst….thirst for “It”, for knowledge, for what lies ahead over the next hill, around the next bend, and for some I believe, sooner than we imagine, across the reaches of space to the next star…..

I wish for my children made of light and dust….my star children, beings of light….that they journey through the universe with a divine obsession to know…obsession to discover…. and finally obsession to know the source….

I wish again freedom for my star children….freedom from worksheets, from bells and boxes of cinderblocks, from artificially created and carefully designed elements, units and tests…

So they can become true star children, the children of Gods’ moment of creation, ….my children of Gods periodic table, of His dust, of His plan…rather than our organized and artificial plan…

Star children…free to “become”….

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