Unceasingly “Learn why the world wags and what wags it.”

In “The Once and Future King”, T. H. White’s 1958 book on the tale of King Arthur, we listen to the wizard Merlyn observe: “The best thing for being sad is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins….you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it.”

Such “learning”, Ken Robinson tells us (“The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything”) is “an opening ourselves up to new opportunities” by making “conscious efforts to look differently at our ordinary situations. Doing so allows a person to see the world as one rife with possibility” and “to take advantage of some of those possibilities….”

Teachers have a lot to do with helping human beings cultivate the skill of unceasing learning, which is really keeping alive a strong, hopeful heart that always sees “the world as one rife with possibility” — even in circumstances when “evil lunatics” rise.

Cecil Morris, the teacher and poet, writes of such a Teacher in “Teaching Dreams”:

“Some nights

students return to me

like salmon to their spawning bed

They shake my hand

and sit across from me

and tell me what they have do

and what they will soon be doing.

I remember all their names

and just where each one sat

in my classroom.

Still, when they tell me

what they learned,

it’s not what I remember teaching.”

Peace 🙂

*Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Tread softly, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet

Photo by Yannis Hon Unsplash

In the Greek myth, Icarus was well warned by his father that his wings would melt if he flew too high (close to the sun). But, Seth Godin points out in “The Icarus Deception”, he was also warned to not fly too low as the sea water would cause problems with the lift his wings needed. Seth observes that the path for us is to figure out ways “to fly far higher than we’ve been taught is possible” without being “reckless”, and mindlessly ‘compliant” to what we have been told is possible.

Ken Robinson believed that our ways of Education need to re-form, and truly help young people figure out ways to fly higher without getting burnt, while ensuring that the result is not mass-creating minds that fly too low.

He thought Teachers had a great role to play in this.

In a 2008 Talk at the Full Sail University, Ken Robinson makes the point that teachers are like gardeners and farmers.

….every farmer and gardener knows you cannot make a plant grow. You cannot do that – you don’t stick the roots on, paint the petals, attach the leaves….The plant grows itself. What you do is provide the conditions for growth. Great farmers know what the conditions are and bad ones don’t. Great teachers know what the conditions of growth are, and bad ones don’t. With bad teaching all this potential of students shrivels….With great teaching all this stuff starts to flourish and flower. And that, to me, is the great gift of teaching: to recognise that growth is possible, at any time.

And why is re-forming Education important? Is it because it yields more productivity or better GDP? Is it because the WEF at Davos lists creativity as a 21st century skill? No — it is a bit deeper than that….

Ken explains as he ends a 2010 TED Talk quoting a poem by Yeats:

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,

Enwrought with golden and silver light,

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Ken then goes on, movingly, to say: every day, everywhere, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet. And we should tread softly.”

It has been a month since Ken passed on.

Peace 🙂