Educating in Nature

Ch 6 Of love and home

Strangely enough talk of gumption brings me circuitously into discussion of love. This fundamental gumption is a way of Nature that a sound mind should emulate. And fundamentally love is the mission statement of Nature. Maybe this is too poetical a way of describing love, this mission statement of Nature, or maybe mission statement is an inappropriate way to describe love as such statements are fundamentally spin and have little intention to be applied. But if we take a mission statement as it is purported to be, then here we are in fact talking about Nature's roadmap of love.

This sounds completely offbeat especially when we are talking of education, but if we briefly leave educational pragmatism to one side for the moment then we can begin to see the importance of love and maybe eventually see a basis for it in education. In the west how do we receive love? First and foremost our experience of love is with our mothers and in the family, and when we have that experience we receive our learning as Nature intended - previously discussed. But the next time we truly meet love is that horrendous time of late adolescence and after, falling in love and then getting married. Yet this whole scenario is so abstruse and so far from how Nature intended love to be it is not surprising that discussing love in education is not even considered - doing so lost me an erstwhile friend.

What happens in the west in this teenage process that leads up to marriage (mostly)? As soon as puberty hits teenagers develop a desire for love, I think it is fairly easy to connect some notion of love with procreation and a good natural environment for that procreation, so this early desire for love is not so offbeat. But then how does it become expressed? Passion, not love but passion. Some might say they are the same but genuine love has compassion it does not necessarily have to be passionate. As teenagers we wanted this passion, we craved it. Our movies throw passion at us as if it is a virtue, something to strive for. But it is not it is a mixture of misdirected emotions, frustrations in growing-up, sexual awakening and an underlying natural direction for procreation. My use of procreation is intentionally scientific, I want you to be detached from this wonderful experience. I want you to consider that all the passion and emotion at this time is connected with, and underpinned by, Nature's desire for procreation. And this passion and emotion might be considered a by-product of Nature's desire if it weren't so all-consuming.

"Falling in love" consumes us. I remember one time I realised I had fallen in love, and I was wandering the streets - I enjoy walking. I met a friend and just blurted out I was in love, and he smiled and said he felt sorry for me. He was being amusing but basically he was talking of this consuming passion that is so far from the gumption that I introduced this section with. And perhaps therein lies the connection between gumption and love it is love without passion, it is that sound judgement that comes from genuine love and understanding not besmirched, bemuddled and confused by the passions usually associated with it. Am I suggesting we eschew passion? Far from it, it is an experience we need and should want despite its consuming character. But we do need to try to understand what passion is about. And one misdirected aspect is consumption. We want to be consumed by these emotions, we are brought up in this way.

Hollywood describes various forms of adolescent fantasies concerning passion that they call love. What happens with these? There is some form of contact between man and woman that eventually leads to marriage. Amen. There are all kinds of topsy-turvy passions and emotions, trials and tribulations, but eventually they get married - and that's it. The End. But how is that the end? Is it the end of life, love or whatever?

Now different cultures have different mechanisms that handle this "End", but does the West? I contend no. I contend that the Western notion of this love barely goes beyond this consuming passion, and for many once this passion subsides they feel they have "fallen out of love". Divorce. Because we lose this consuming passion we divorce. How adolescent is this? Nature's underpinning drive of procreation is overtaken by this consuming passion, and through our lack of education in a broad sense losing this passion leads to divorce and all the social problems associated with it.

And we are now reaching an essential notion for a stable and comfortable society - the home. A good home is the essential component of a good society. We have already seen that the home provides the nurturing environment for the very young, but it is more than this. The home provides that environment throughout the time of our upbringing, and for children to grow up well they need to come from a good home. This is something that we all know but how does society in general treat this? How does the corporate paradigm of society affect the home? Quite simply the paradigm has a disastrous affect on the home. What is demanded of the corporate executives - those who are actually successful under the educational aspect of the paradigm? These executives are expected to devote themselves 100% to the company. Although they provide money for the home they provide little else becoming estranged from their children. This is unnatural, for human beings both the man and the woman provide the environment that nurtures the children.

To compensate for this horrendous demand on the successful within the paradigm the paradigm justifies itself and creates the illusion that being successful in social terms is legitimate. So throughout education people are guided away from the home and into an understanding that career is most important, this the executives can fit into comfortably. So throughout education this career imperative militates against the home, and our children grow up without any sense of understanding of the importance of the home, the natural environment for nurturing our children - for procreation. The natural procreation imperative becomes replaced by a physical spawning process - the sexual act of procreation itself, and secondly by material provision - the finance for home, education, toys and then fashion, but Nature is nowhere near as shallow as this. Nature provides the environment of the home so children can learn well as evidenced by the quality learning that occurs in the early years, but with the lack of emphasis on the home later education suffers.

I have mentioned that the paradigm creates a social priority that effectively destroys the home as a place of nurture for the executives - those successful in the paradigm. I touched on the created career motivation, other professional people work in demanding jobs that take them away from the home. Carers - teachers doctors social workers nurses etc. - follow the same demands as are made on career executives, and they are expected to invest huge amounts of time and energy outside the home. Labour work hard so by the time they return home they are too tired to contribute to a good educational environment, or even worse they sometimes become so alienated from what they do, and with the lack of social motivation to foster the nurturing home environment, they turn to alcohol or other forms of social escapism - away from the home.

People are however encouraged by the corporations in one aspect of the home - materialism paradigmatic motivation does encourage the home as a unit in one sense - the consumer unit. Bombarded by advertising for pointless household items and child-oriented frivolities, the family as consumer unit works at jobs to earn the financial wherewithal to spend vast amounts of money on these unnecessary items. But does this type of emphasis improve the home? Far from it. Parents are forced to work two jobs in order to pay for these consumer items taking away from the nurturing environment the home needs to be.

This natural principle of returning to the home as the focus of nurture in our society is radical, and with all things radical requires a huge social restructuring. It has tremendous implications if followed through - I need to focus on these for a while. This home paradigm, requiring the home to be a place of nurture for our children, changes our social emphasis away from the corporation, away from career structure, and away from the notion that ambition for social success is legitimate of its own. The home becomes a permanent proviso. I want to be a successful teacher provided I devote enough time and energy to the home, or alternatively the teacher's contribution might be 100% devotion to education. One might describe all caring professions in such a way. They follow the proviso or devote themselves to caring 100%. Those working in government need to underpin governance by this proviso, what is good for society first of all has to be good for the home.

Working life needs to be reconsidered in terms of proper nurture. This might require an alteration in working hours, both parents being in the home with the children when they are not in school. With parents spending more time at home the community will be fostered, emphasis on community will increase as more time will be spent there by more people. None of the ghost town feel of commuting communities, these lifeless shells of materialism where the homes are beautiful facades but with little love inside because parents are forced out into the world of work because of society's imperatives - corporate imperatives. In some societies the workplace and the home are intermingled. In some small shops parents sell their wares whilst children are around them enjoying themselves, sometimes the children even become part of the work, the selling. This small family business is not high pressured selling but the children learn the necessity of earning a living within the process of nurture. Without the need for high pressure selling the children can also be an object of attention during such "selling" - appropriate nurture. This is not child labour but child nurture without exploitation, learning to work is natural.

What about home breakdown? How do we currently treat that? Tokenism. There is no emphasis on healing the home, mainly because our social directives move us away from the home. Social workers might remove children from home, and place them in children's homes where there is a reported lack of nurture despite the good intentions of people working there - the carers. The system is not working. If there were more emphasis on home then the social worker would be more interested on healing the home. Society would provide the time for them to deal with their caseload. Society would provide home carers for people with disabilities thus maintaining the focus on the home as nurture. With greater time spent in the home the community can be more supportive of the home. Instead of homes being separate enclaves the greater focus on the home will increase the focus on the community, and schools as part of the community would benefit.

This also has implications for industry in other ways. At present our corporations and industry exist primarily for profit, it is easy to see that profits are put before people. With the home proviso this would change. Working practices would alter to fit in with home nurture thus reducing exploitation of labour. And it would also alter the practices of corporations who are legitimately labelled Big Food, Big Pharma etc. How could we accept the sale of unhealthy foods simply because they make a profit? How could we add poisons to our foods simply because those foods make greater profits because they are preserved longer? Fast foods would not be the necessity they now are as working people do not have the time to cook healthily. The home paradigm radically alters much of the way we are forced to live our lives.

But with the changing emphasis on home and nurture how young people fall in love will gradually alter. Rather than being a union of consuming passion with a home as by-product, how the home will provide the nurture environment for children would be a changed emphasis? Social practice would expect a more mature approach to having children, and suitability of partners would matter far more than consuming passion. But what then would happen to the passion? Such young relationships would be guided more, so whilst there is likely to be passion associated with the relationship this guidance coming from family, community and the received wisdom of the value of home will prevail.

But these previous observations have not really looked at passion. There has been a description of consuming passion, and in describing the importance of the home if we were able to move away from the corporate paradigm emphasis in relationships is likely to change from this all-consuming passion. But why does this passion become all-consuming? Because of little education or understanding on these matters many factors come together at the same time leading to it being all-consuming. In teenage relationships sexual awareness is growing naturally. In education these matters are not dealt with primarily because of the non-receptiveness of the students. Students are not willing to listen to their teachers, maybe some will listen to their parents, but more are likely to listen to airheads like the image Paris Hilton portrays. There are often recalled descriptions of inept diagrams dealt with clinically with an inappropriate teaching style. But is this what teachers want to do? Far from it. Whether they are equipped or not many teachers would like to address these issues of adolescence, marriage, sexual awareness, and appropriate understanding to deal with relationships. But by the time teenagers are supposed to be learning about these matters they are too alienated from the adult world and society; the loving environment of the early years at home now has so little impact that students appear only to be listening to each other and whatever fashion or personality is popular. Adults give up on teenagers and just hope that by the end of adolescence they come out with some sort of sense. Rather than addressing this issue of alienation, this lack of loving environment, adults perceive the problem as developmental - it is their age. But is it?

In terms of the corporate paradigm of course it is their age. Based on this paradigm there is only a need for a few successes so the majority must be failures. Not wishing to address the issue that the paradigm is the cause, it is convenient to blame it on the age of the students. And then their poor behaviour becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We have failed to maintain the loving environment where teenagers want to behave properly. Parents blame the teachers, teachers say parents don't have enough control. Here I am complaining that students leave the home with proper motivation so it would appear that as an ex-teacher I am also blaming parents. But in truth I am not I am blaming the paradigm.

Attaching a name to this paradigm I might be accused of blaming the corporations, and whilst I am my blame does not limit to them. For one person to go against the corporations there can be no success. But it is all our families whose homes are suffering, it is all our children who are being taught in this appalling success/failure model, so it is up to all of us to recognise the problems these corporations cause.

Politically corporations have been attacked by the left all my life, specifically now the power of these corporations is attacked within the anti-globalisation movement. But education has become sufficiently manipulated that by the time formal education has finished few see the harm in these manipulating giants, and of those most take a self-defeating attitude that little can be done. The rather nebulous trickle-down concept is usually accepted with limited supporting evidence, and many people fight for the rights of corporations as providing jobs when by their very nature corporations prefer machines and employ workforces minimally. Fundamentally education about corporations and their impact on society is minimal, and attempts to do so are considered politics and students have been sufficiently indoctrinated to marginalise such education. How this has arisen is not totally clear but within the framework of the paradigm such a result can only be lauded.

Back to passion we can say that the alienation of teenagers, due to the paradigm, makes it currently impossible for teachers to begin to advise on the adolescent nightmare of sexual development. Because of the disproportionate influence of peers in adolescence teenagers are unwilling to admit ignorance during adolescence, and the walls go up - both with teachers and parents. In the home paradigm this would not be the case. Educating about this all-consuming passion is now impractical, but consideration of the issue here is not because it is important to see what directions we need to take in our education. Unaware sexual development contributes to the natural attraction emotions, and these begin to contribute to what adolescents see as this passion. Peers enhanced by their alienation contribute, as in the West there is a strong need to be involved in relationships with sexual experimentation as well.

But as the early 20s approach there is a natural separation that occurs between parents and children. In a good environment this is characterised by the double bind where parent and children are pulled in both direction - love of the parents and love for the partner and the new home. But in less loving situations the teenager may harbour extreme revulsion of their home and be seeking the greener grass of a new home. This desire to leave home together with the peer pressure emotional attractions and sexual issues converts what is already a difficult passion into an all-consuming affair that is difficult to cope with. And so society gets many mistakes as a consequence. But if education were able to make students deeply aware of the different issues involved - internalise these issues, teenagers perhaps would be able to cope better.

But in truth education is moving in the opposite direction. Rather than being places where such issues can be raised comfortably between adults and teenagers, the teachers are continually being put at risk by the paranoia surrounding paedophiles. Whilst paedophilia is heinous appropriate professional counselling needs to occur in a free and frank educational environment without fear on the part of the teachers. This is far from the case. Whilst in no way do I wish to create an environment where paedophiles can flourish, an environment does need to be enabled where students can trust their teachers, be advised professionally, and address issues whose discussion at present would risk their careers. In society there is an undeserved lack of trust of teachers, and this distrust spreads to the students, when combined with their own alienation no environment for education on these matters can be created.

Once we begin to remove the confusing factors from the all-consuming passion, we can begin to see passion for what it is. It is desire but it is not the desire for candy it is a deeper desire - a desire for love. But what about the passion of the creative - the writer or the artist? This is also desire for love - they love their creativity - their work. This is what the very young have - a passion for learning. It is this passion (motivation) which is lacking in education today. In fact it has gone so far the other way that students who are passionate for their learning are derided and ridiculed by their peers. In some schools, exam factories for the rich, a desire for qualifications has replaced this natural passion but is there ever a passion for learning?

Within our institutions, no; but in life, yes. Having aged I am not sure how this manifests in our young today, but I think it is the same. Some people are passionate about travel, they seek understanding in distant lands. This may initially be the desire for experience of different cultures but once beyond that superficial novelty these travellers dive deeper and deeper into that culture seeking knowledge and understanding of something more - real learning? Quite often this passion for learning could be glibly rephrased as seeking the meaning of life, but whether this passion is derided in this way it does not eschew the notion that there are people who reject their conditioning and still seek the learning that nature intended. For many this becomes a process of unlearning, emptying the contents of consciousness - the pointless cramming of facts into mind's memory, and eventually the mind frees itself to truly learn.

For those who have taken this journey they recognise what I say about unlearning, and that is grave sadness. We have to unlearn what is taught in schools and universities to truly learn. Whilst this fact has been recognised by many for a long time, little has been done in our institutions to encompass this understanding. At best there is a forlorn "what can we do?"

The answer is that these people need to show their passion for learning, bring that passion into the learning environment however frustrating that must be - and that is one thing I have learnt on my journey - how frustrating it is to try to bring learning into our institutions. But if it was easy it would unlikely be the true way. There needs to be an ongoing gradual development and recognition that there needs to be a change towards a passion for learning - and I am suggesting the first easy step is the removal of the corporate paradigm. OK OK!! It is far from easy, but despite the obvious logical arguments that clearly demonstrate how flawed the paradigm is this intellectual rationale cannot remove the paradigm - it is far too economically entrenched. And western culture, especially, is so deeply invested in this moneyed way of life that it far too easy to give up.

But trying to make this change brings with it a great strength - the passion for learning, and this passion can fire us up to overcome these obstacles. We need the teaching that brings back that vocational fire, and we need those teachers to take on the establishment in the name of passionate education. Even though this will bring stress and ultimately illness this passion belongs in the classroom, our species demands it.

Sadly this passion is needed more and more, as western educational models are imitated more and more as students are attracted to the different metropoles searching for money and power - attracted to the transnational corporations.

So we have seen that a need to promote gumption brings with it a need to fire up passionate learning within our students, and to begin this society needs to create the conditions where the home can be a priority far over and above the existing guidance in the direction of corporations. But this is a pipedream undoubtedly, however there is little hope for change in education until we do accept an ideal and begin to recognise the steps on the way to this ideal. At present we have no ideals in education, there is only a paradigm in effect - the educationally successful contribute to this corporate paradigm. But from a good home environment we can retain the passion for learning we are born with, this is clearly a better ideal than this stagnation and corruption that the corporations foster.