CONVENER(S): Sharon Duncan, Waseca Learning Environment
PARTICIPANTS: Kathleen L Browser, Sandy Bowser, Kathryn Cole, marie Scott, Judi Charlap, ilya tuloss, and others
SUMMARY OF DISCUSSION:
It was staed and agreed that we could do much within our classroom environemnts to model repsonsible hebavior towards the planet. This might take the form of teaching not to waste water, jpapertowels, etc. This would be done within the context of understanding why.
It was suggested that teaching about other cultures was important to give the children a braoder context for their personal experience. Cutures that might seem poor to us might be very happy. If our values are material, we might miss the point. Wealth is relative and subject to values.
Someone suggested involvement in the Heifer project as a way to reach out to people from other cultures and make a sustainable difference. This organization organizes the donation of livestock to families/villages in developing countries. Community service is a way of reaching out beyond our selfish needs and desires. Show them that enormous things can be accomplished through unity- lots of individuals working together to make a difference.
We discussed the nature of the paridigm shift that needed to take place. Our culture teaches us that mankind is above nature- the superior species. Some children balk at being included in the animal kingdom as a mammal. Everywhere in every way this message is put out. It is this belief that allows us to carelessly degrade the planet. The book "Ishmael" b Daniel Quinn was cited as a source on the subject. "Eva" by Dickinson is a children's book of a similar vein.
Talk went back to hw we can impact children's beliefs and experience through their classroom experience. We can offer alternative attitudes that might open their minds. We can model peaceful resolutions and show how conflicts can be resolved peacefully. A peace mat and a rose to be held by the one talking is one such way. Teaching manners is important. The following resonse to a demand without please was suggested: " I would like to help you because it will make you feel good. You know, you can make me feel good by saying please." This response models respect and values feelings.
It was also suggested that respect could be taught to very young children. Respect can be described as acting as though someone or something is important.
It is important to demonstrate to children that fore every aftion there is an equal and opposite reaction. Everything balances. This is true in human relationships and in nature. It is important to convey to children our community in spirit. Help them to identify with their spirits more than their bodies and feelings. They are not tired- instead their bodies need rest. They are not angry- they are having angry feelings at the moment.
In discussing the needs of man, the issue of defense came up. Some people had eliminated this need entirely from study because it was always associated with weaponry. It was suggested that defense could be protection as in terms of a fence to keep deer from the garden or sunscreen.
ilya suggested a book called "The Round Table" by Annei Besand published by the Theosophical Society. It contains a poem that espouses the values discussed. Sharon related an experience that she had at a lecture given by the Dali Lhama. He spoke without a translator and it was often difficult to understand his heavy accent but one portion of the talk was heard with crystal clarity. He said that if we wanted to change the world, there was one thing that we could do that would have more impact than we could imagine. He said that we had only to change our negative thoughts to positive thoughts.
This idea can be shared with children by first helping them to distinguish between positive and negative thoughts. Have them give you a positive thought as they are dismissed from the circle. Feel the energy expand upon itself. It is this energy that will create a paradigm shift. Thank you to all who participated.