“Education For Whom and For What”

“The goal of education, to shift over to Bertrand Russell, ‘is to give a sense of value to things other than domination,’ which means we regard ‘a child as a gardener regards a young tree, as something with a certain intrinsic nature, which will develop into an admirable form, given the proper soil, air, and light.’”

-Noam Chomsky, Chomsky on Mis-Education

Noam Chomsky gives a fascinating and important talk entitled “Education For Whom and For What” about two major possibilities for education.  For a funny and illuminating personal anecdote, go to minute 29-31.

Changing perspective with the imaginative use of constraints

Changing perspectives through an imaginative use of constraints is what leads to learning and breakthroughs–whether in the world of dance, martial arts, sports, mathematics, philosophy, cabinet making, or indeed any field you can imagine.  Architect and professor, Hajime Narukawa has created the world’s most remarkable map–one which allows you to change perspective and thereby alter your concept of up, down, right, left, center, East, West, North, and South.  This is exactly the map–or perhaps more accurately stated, these are precisely the mapping possibilities, that I have been searching for for almost 20 years.

Parroting vs. Learning

“This boy said to me, ‘See that bird standing on the stump there? What’s the name of it?’ I said, ‘I haven’t got the slightest idea.’ He said, ‘It’s a brown-throated thrush. Your father doesn’t teach you much about science.’” -Richard Feynman

Richard Feynman elucidates the difference between learning and mindless parroting in this short and concise article.

Learning to learn begins with a beginner’s attitude

Learning Taijiquan means to educate oneself. It is like slowly advancing from primary school to university. As time passes, more and more knowledge is gained. Without the foundations of primary school and secondary school, one will not be able to follow the seminars at university. Studying Taijiquan requires starting from the very bottom, working one’s way systematically and step by step towards the more advanced levels. Someone who does not accept this, thinking that he may take a short cut, will not be successful 

-Master Chen Xiao Wang

Click here for a humorous personal account of what it means to learn with a master (in this case, Master Chen Xiao Wang).

What are constraints? (And why are they essential for learning?)

“So many witnesses observed the utter freedom of his flights of thought, yet when Feynman talked about his own methods he emphasized not freedom but constraints.”

              -James Gleick (in reference to Richard Feynman’s use of constraints in physics)

Watch this video to see a highly imaginative use of constraints applied to the game of basketball (Apparently the Belgians are not only innovators in the world of soccer!)

Humanism, Soccer & Feldenkrais

“Perhaps what really differentiates Bruyninckx from other coaches is that he is not only interested in creating better football players, but also wants to create better human beings…”  (from the article)

Click here for a fascinating look into the highly imaginative and humanistic approach of Belgian football coach, Michel Bruyninckx. Bruyninckx’s innovative use of constraints along with measures for cognitively overloading players provide an excellent model for learning and integrating a myriad of complex patterns while removing the unnecessary self-judgment. I call it the Feldenkrais-Erickson-Inner Game (Moshe Feldenkrais, Milton Erickson, W. Timothy Gallwey) approach.

A few words on Feldenkrais

“We have forgotten that the first maxim covered life as well as sport judo and few of us seem to have ever learned the meaning of the second (which means simply love).” 

                                                                                                 -Robert W. Smith

The Feldenkrais Method was born out of a childlike curiosity that all of us possess–even if it lies dormant beneath layers of assimilation to our fast-paced culture. Its founder, Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, exemplified the same fiercely independent way of thinking that we see in all great scientists, musicians, artists, writers, dancers and athletes—indeed, anyone who values exploration, uncertainty and playfulness. It is also the same sort of mindset that we see in infants, toddlers and young children and that we ourselves embody in our more spontaneous, less defensive and perhaps more vulnerable moments.

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The Feldenkrais® Method of learning how to learn (long version)

[In the] humanistic conception, with its roots in the Enlightenment… education is not to be viewed as something like filling a vessel with water, but rather, assisting a flower to grow in its own way…  in other words, providing circumstances in which the normal creative patterns will flourish.”

-Noam Chomsky, Chomsky on Mis-Education

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The Feldenkrais® Method of learning how to learn (short version)

[Darwin] valued questions over answers, curiosity over conviction, and perseverance over test of ideas that were so implausible that other people never thought to take them seriously.”

                                                                            -Frank Sulloway, Born to Rebel

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