Friday, March 30, 2007

educating for delight and responsibility

BBC Radio 4 has on its website for the next few days a charming and inspiring little (about half an hour) conversation between author Philip Pullman and Enid Jones who was his secondary school teacher in Wales almost 50 years ago. Pullman is the author of many books, including the intricately imaginative trilogy His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass -- called The Northern Lights in some editions -- The Subtle Knife, and the Amber Spyglass). His Dark Materials is often what comes to my mind when I'm asked what is my favorite book (even though it is three books!). My family was lucky to discover the set only after the third one was published, so that we didn' t have to wait for years between books like earlier fans did. Now the books are being made into a film (you can read more about that in Pullman's own words here)

Pullman has stayed in touch with Miss Jones over the years, and in their conversation they touch on what the radio show host describes as "trying to trace the impossible -- the sources of his inspiration" -- education as a practice of "delight and responsibility," Pullman's own early teaching career as "a wonderful apprenticeship in storytelling," writing as "a process of discovery" and that if you have a plan and an outline (as writing instructors in our schools these days tend to insist) "in advance you won't discover anything."

But it looks like the shows only stay available till the next week's show gets posted, so best to go hear it now! (it's on the right, under "Listen Again" for Thursday)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

voices, songs

Sometimes there is too much to say, and all the ideas and words get piled up at the door -- so to free up the flow a bit, here are some as gleaming links, each deserving to be looked at close-up and in detail. (Update: and here is a much better clip of the amazing Discovery Channel program mentioned below -- this one a clip of a awesomely massive great white shark hurling its whole body out of the water to engulf a seal.)

My friend Karen described to me the other day what it felt like in the woods where she used to live, hearing the watery warbling songs of a type of thrush, each calling across the forest to the others, so that you could feel by the songs how deep the place was.

Here are some beautiful voices that are helping me feel how deep this place is:

Recovering Whole Mind:
Jeff Aitken is posting rich excerpts from his doctoral dissertation on indigenous traditional knowledge and Open Space:
"My center of gravity has shifted. I feel that I am in the land, not on the land. These trees outside my window are my relatives, older relatives (chayyah, “sprouting beings”), who came here before my kind, and made it possible for my kind (m'dahber, “the talking beings”) to come forth, nurturing us with life giving breath (ruach), with fruits and nuts (pri ha'etz), with wood and leaves to build structures for warmth and comfort."
The One Voice Movement was invited to the World Economic Forum in Davos this year to deliver their message: "Our destinies will no longer be ruled by extremists. We - Israelis, Palestinians and international supporters - will work ceaselessly to support our elected leaders in their efforts to end the conflict. We will stand up as OneVoice for conflict resolution and non-violent citizen action" via powerful videos of passionate voices in several languages.

Avaaz ("voice" or "song" in
Hindi, Urdu, Farsi, Nepalese, Dari, Turkish, and Bosnian) "is a community of global citizens who take action on the major issues facing the world today. The aim of is to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people shape global decisions. members act for a more just and peaceful world and a globalisation with a human face." Their video, "Stop the Clash of Civilizations" is here.

The New Wilderness Project:
"Through performances, workshops, and educational expeditions, New Wilderness Project is an exploration of wilderness and all of its social, cultural, artistic, and environmental implications. Our programs are designed to break down traditional barriers and create an open space where participants are encouraged to take a journey of discovery into difference, and otherness, toward the vital relationships that define social and ecological well-being."

KarmaTube, which is part of CharityFocus ("an experiment in the joy of giving"),
"is a collection of short, "do something" videos coupled with simple actions that every viewer can take. Our mission is to spread the good. Thank you for your partnership in service."

Last link for today is to the stunning images in the Discovery Channel program "Planet Earth." The official website is fancy but pages seem to take a long time to load. Video clips of some of the most spectacular shots are easier to view on the Nature Conservancy site (and unlike the above video clips, I prefer to watch these ones without the voice-over track switched on!)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

time and perfection

Oh, dear, I got out of the blogging saddle for a little while, and now I think I've forgotten how!

Hmm. So. Well, the past couple of weeks have been plushly full. On Friday I had the privilege and deep pleasure of filling in with what thoughts I was able to gather together, for my friend Bill who was teaching Advanced Naturopathic Therapeutics to the senior naturopathic medical students before he passed away. The students are so generous and receptive, and were willing to thoughtfully and heartfully engage with all of the ideas I scattered before them. I am very appreciative of their powerful collective presence and imagination.

One of the things I spoke with them about was our relationship with time, as human beings and particularly as clinicians (if you visit this link, scroll down to #4, Dr. Bob May's comments). One of the aspects that characterizes holistic care is the amount of time we dedicate to cultivating relationships, to listening and perceiving and exploring.

Bill taught us an expanded understanding of time and perfection and our place in the scheme. He wrote in his chapter on The Healing Power of Nature, for the forthcoming Foundations of Naturopathic Medicine textbook,
…the possibility for higher wellness predates the effort or even the awareness, but exists as an attractive force because the healing power of nature has more wisdom than the sentient present tense of the person.

“In this sense, we are attracted to a higher level of wellness by the future.
” Bill Mitchell, the Vis Medicatrix Naturae, pg. 8.
Another view on time that I've been carrying close in the past couple of weeks comes from No End, No Beginning: The Intimate Heart of Zen, by Jakusho Kwong Roshi:
"...the first teacher you will meet at a Zen center is the schedule. No matter what you may want to do or not do, the schedule provides a kind of natural pressure that pushes you past your hindrances, past your ideas of yourself and your fears or inhibitions...All of this pressure begins to accumulate like frost gathering on snow; it functions like the pressure that transforms coal into diamond."
Being so busy lately has me feeling very acutely the edges of my schedule; Kwong Roshi's view gives me a new appreciation for those edges. Regarding it as my teacher I am even starting to show up on time (most of the time!)