I am using this blog as a forum to explore education; to put forward ideas that may not be fully formed in their expression; to create a conversation; and to form the basis for further, more complete writing. My intention is for these blogs to form a continuous process of inquiry.  Each blog will be short and end with questions to be considered in the next time of writing.

I am sitting under a thatched roof supported by bamboo poles roped together.  In front of me there are about two hundred children and adults of all ages.  The sides of the building are open and the sun shines through the green leaves on to the red sand below.  Large black crows loudly call their harsh guttural sounds.

The children and adults are singing an ancient Vedic chant and the sound fills the space spilling out into surroundings.  Some of the children do not sing; others sing with great energy softly beating time, hand on knee; some smile, sharing something with their neighbour.  The song is about peace, about universal peace: ‘let all things be peaceful’.

At the end there is silence.  All sit in an unforced stillness.  Until a boy in a white kurta gets up, a signal for the day to commence.
I am writing about learning, about approaches to learning and how these attitudes influence education.  My own thinking is mainly informed from the East, primarily India: through reading the works of several prominent educators from the last century and through travelling extensively in India; there having had many challenging conversations and observing a wide variety of approaches to education being put into practice.  In addition to these experiences, I have worked for over twenty-five years in three of the major independent ‘informal, progressive’ schools in England; I am also a husband, father and grandfather.

What underpins all learning?  Perhaps we should begin with exploring the indivisibility of all life, looking at the depth of the actuality of interdependence.  You and I are the same, breathing, made of skin and bone, experiencing joy and suffering, being born and dying: this is no theoretic construct.  I watch and listen to you – I learn.  Not just about you, but equally about me.

There is a stream of understanding that flows through much of Oriental thought that recognises humanity as an integral element of life on Earth.  Some indigenous communities do not even have the use of the separate ‘I’ in their language’, instead they define themselves by ‘we’.  There is also an acknowledgement that we are related to all existence and that this relationship is based on a communion not on separation.  There is recognition of a universal consciousness and, consequently, a holistic view of living and dying.

If an individual really feels this connection rather than acknowledging interdependence as an idea, then what significance does this sense of being have for learning and, consequently, education?  What, then, is the relationship between the teacher and the student?  And what damage is being done by the notion of separation?