World is the curriculum, not the word : Part 2/3

Children learn the word to articulate

The real meaning of the child learns to speak is that the child learns to articulate its understanding of the world. The child’s language cannot be separated from the experience he / she is having of the world.

There is the integrity of its experience of the world with the language or languages he / she uses to express or articulate.

We impose through language whatever is not actually present. All the artificial categories and divisions are imposed on the child through language.

The child – if left alone will learn the way the world actually functions. There is day and night, we sleep in the night and are awake in the day, hunger makes us look for food, we cultivate or hunt etc etc.

Literates learn the word instead of the world

Literacy re configures the biological aspects of making sense of the world into psychological. 

The content of the today’s education are words. We learn the word instead of the world. Children are introduced to words much before they experience the world around them. Instead of letting the children name their experience, adults around give words to their experience. They are also introduced to the written word in this manner. Slowly the hearing and seeing action is forced to bypass the experiencing faculty and directly give input to the mind. This constant process rewires the cognitive process thereby eliminating the physiological functions in the act of making sense of the world. Experience no longer informs the mind; the mind directs what to experience! When experience precedes the words, as we experience the world, it is almost like language fell in place. Respecting and acknowledging the ability in children to make sense of the world was the basis in traditional non literate communities. The integrity of experience and language is worth noting and it is in this manner that we make sense of the world too.

Reading places us into a structure of knowing which is fundamentally mental and non- experiential. This act re entrenches the reader into a mental, ‘rational’ being. The object of knowledge and the process of engagement alter the knower. The invisible nature and characteristic of the written word call forth its user from the processes that are not the same when we are engaging with the real. We have to make up images that are often images of images from previous reading experience – as one text reminds us of another text, reason constantly working in the background to conclude.

Understanding takes place in the realm in which cognition has taken place. Linguistic inputs are ‘understood’ at the realm of language. Experiential inputs are understood at the realm of experience and the processes are very different from other paradigms.

Learning from experience or is it Learning THE experience?

See how language plays with us. Experience is the only way in which the being learns. It learns what it experiences.

Modern’ crisis is a crisis in cognition. Human being is in some totally helpless state as the cognitive conditions to which they are born seal their fate as to what they learn.

How they learn is biology. The human being has no control over it. It is like telling you can choose what to eat (to some extent) but you can’t decide how to digest it.

Schooling creates the illusion that we experience first and then learn from it. This illusion points to the fragmentation of the mind and body in the act of learning. In school we learn the theory first and then apply, but in real life experience itself is what is being imbibed and learned. The way we use language or the very structure of language makes us use it in a manner that creates this confusion. When we say we learned to cycle we assume that learning happened first and as a result of which we cycle.

Teacher teaches the child to teach

So when we ‘TEACH‘ – what children learn – is ‘TO TEACH‘. In fact, as we grow older we acquire the ‘teacher mind set’ due to internalization or imbibing of ‘teaching’ experience. This is the way our biology functions.

One learns to learn in a context where learning is happening. Learning is not a choice. Purpose of learning is already embedded in the structure of the living being.

In order to learn, one’s tools or organs and qualities for learning have to be awakened. Children learn to talk by being in the context where talking is happening. The child must have the ability to hear, to see the act of talking, the movement of the lips, the quality of attention etc get developed in the process. The silence in between, the tonal difference, the ability to differentiate language, gestures, the loving touch and other nuances are part and parcel of learning to talk or learning to communicate.

The mind operates very naturally in children and non literates which means that the mind is in sync with the biological/physiological aspects of senses. So the eyes are involved in seeing and not thinking. Same is the case with other senses too. What schooling does is to deny this aspect of senses – the eye and ear particularly and turn them in to mental activities. So what you hear makes you think instead of listening to the sound.

We, who have been schooled will find it difficult to use the actual cognitive ability of seeing without thinking, because for us thinking is the capacity that is connected with knowledge and mind has been so trained to ‘learn’ without sense inputs.

May be seeing is THE cognitive act. This is to say that seeing has deeper aspects, which we are not used to. In fact we have lost the natural ability of seeing. Children and the non literates (the sense cognites) see both the whole and the particular. I used to say they have unfocussed attention. That is they see everything around them. When we look, we only see what we particularly look for. In normal case we, the so called educated have lost the ability to see itself. We are quite often in our mind. Even though we are physically present, we are mentally absent.  So seeing is an act we have to do deliberately.

The real world demands our total being to be present when engaging / experiencing. The process is – the event / phenomenon ––> observation / experience ––> absorbing or imbibing what is happening ––> self organizing by the being ––> understanding ––> communication. There is neither conscious reasoning nor memorizing. Deeper understanding happens by deeper involvement, attention, awareness and what calls for is clarity in seeing / sensing / feeling.

The intangible – the unconscious – the spontaneous is at work all the time.

Modernity rewires our cognitive tools and places reasoning and memory at the center – one for accessing and other for storing ‘knowledge’. This happens so, because we have been made to deal with well organized knowledge either from texts / experts or now the digital means.

This is how we rewire the mind with reading.

As we read, we agree or disagree with the writer (we call this critical thinking) and what we agree ends up as our knowledge. Reading and reasoning becomes modern man’s cognitive tool / process. His role then becomes that of verifying what he has read and is never in discovery mode, unless some shock happens that throws him out of his ‘knowledge‘.

The so called illiterates have a different process. Their body / senses engage with what is around and observe the natural phenomena which are based on universal laws and participate in them. Knowledge is awakened from inside. The structure and nature of the real world awakens the same in us. After all aren’t we the world itself?






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