28 Nov Education, Arts, Peace and Freedom
Before I talk about education, arts, peace and freedom. I thought I will talk about a few things I learned whilst here. I learned it from the couch surfers I´ve been with and also a guy I met at the hairdressers. The truth of it I am unsure, it is anecdotal but of interest.
Chile is all privatised and this includes the forests. It is stated that is for the protection of trees but the moment you privatise you exclude access to civil society. Are those who own these resources conservationists or loggers or something else would be my question. I am told Chile is segregated by income. There are areas that are exorbitantly wealthy and other middle class areas which reflect upper-middle class incomes and then there are shanty towns. I am told these places are run by drugs and they are dangerous, that is why I wanted to clown there. People are human even when poor. Perhaps the violence reflects anger and cycles of violence due to perceived exclusion from material wealth. I was told by another person that the taxes are very high, in fact today there is a protest by the public sector for an increase in wages, as taxes are raised. I was told that the taxes are not allocated into public services such as infrastructure, education or health. So people feel they are paying but not receiving benefits from tax. The health system I am told is very poor, this is public health I am talking about. If what I was told is true they are going to have social problems here. Central and South American are well known for people protesting their governments, I remember the water protests. A quick search of Google shows me there were Bolivian protests in the year 2000 over a $200 million dollar contract to privatise water, selling it to foreign investors. I do remember hearing this in Australia and was really surprised that a public good such as water should be privatised. If we catch it from the sky do we have to pay? So what has been given for free by nature we capture, bottle and put a price on it. It affects the poor who can´t afford it and this threatens life support. That is why people protest I am guessing.
I was curious about the unemployment rate and he states it is 13%, although a quick look at the CIA world factbook states that the 9.6% in 2010. That reflects a lower rate. Which is not too bad economically. The welfare system is basically the government helping poor people, there is a stipend but it is not enough to live on I am told. This can create an underclass and desperation to get out of poverty. It makes people open to organised crime and quick ways to make money. It is very important that societies provide enough for people to eat and basic security. I remember the Inca´s at Machupiccu who made sure not one person was in poverty. I liked this as it creates stability and not desperation. Poverty is very painful and frightening to parents with children or children who can´t get work. They feel socially excluded and isolated, resentment builds and a hatred for the upper classes develops, as they don´t feel free to choose. So it is complex.
So to my main topic today education and arts. I was invited by a couch surfing host to come and visit her and her husband. They had just had a baby two weeks ago and were really interested in meeting me, as they saw my profile. They waited for me downstairs in the basement of their apartment block. They took me upstairs to a modest apartment. Alexandra was the lady and she an educationalist with an artists background. Her husband is a sculpture. I am always interested in artists as they see the world differently. They were curious about my clowning, so I told them what I do and why I do it. The husband talked about his theory of the hippie and the Nazi. He said these were the two polarties in society. He said sometimes the Nazi has a bit of the hippy (softens) or the hippie has some of the Nazi (hardens). I interpreted this as the dichotomy of love and fear. I said we oscillate between these two extremes. To me the Nazi is the fearful person who has to control to feel in control. The hippy in his-her true state, is relaxed and lets go of control and promotes peace and love. I would fall into that category. I was a hippy once when I was 16. I was the only person who wore a head band and happy jacket with puffy pants. I have to laugh when I look back, I was always into peace. People thought I was on drugs, because isn´t that what hippies do. I wasn´t, I was just unique, I did my own thing and reflected my own image. I used to ride a skateboard, mum said I was a tom boy but I told her know i was just riding on a peace of wood with 4 wheels because it felt good. I had no limits, it didn´t matter if boys did it, i wanted to do so I did. Anyway, back to the hippies and Nazis. I told him I felt the hippy consciousness is rising, we are moving away from structures of control. It may appear the opposite but beneath the surface people are questioning more and with increases in education people can learn more worldwide. The internet has freed up consciousness to expand more freely without being controlled by government institutions.
Alexandra was a very interesting lady. She told me that she had watched ´what the bleep´. I actually interviewed the Director of this movie for radio. Essentially what the bleep was to look into quantum physics. The idea is that there are a myriad of possibilities in each moment that one can choose. It is not a linear life that leads your life, you are actually choosing what you believe and experiencing the result of that. It discussed the law of attraction which is to focus on a possibility as if truth and you manifest it in your reality. Alexandra decided to test this, she imagined the perfect man for her in every detail. She said she would find this man. She did this in meditation. She said she had plans to do her Masters degree in Germany but something within her stopped her. She decided to go travelling and headed to Patagonia. She met her husband and knew in the first instant he was the one she visualised. I asked him did he feel the same he said he did but he took it easy as he was hosting her on couch surfing and didn´t want to approach her to find she didn´t like it and gave him a negative reference. So he was patient. She went away and then came again and that is when their relationship started. She said in her visualisation that she wanted a man that would want a baby. Well 6 months later he asked her to marry him and now they have a two week old baby. She said she is more than happy, the word i found for her is bliss. She lost a baby some years ago and it took her on the journey to positive thinking and changing her life. It was very traumatic for her. So to have this gorgeous fragile baby in her arms, you can see the joy emanating from her face. It was beautiful to watch her breast feed, how natural is breast feeding. To think in some countries they tried to ban it, as indecent, i just looked up where that was, it was the United States. I have to laugh, how can anyone get embarrassed by the most natural behaviour. Also the baby needs to be fed breast milk. It has important proteins, amino acids and nutrients for growth. The human body is beautiful but unfortunately because we suppress it, we make it more lurid and the negativity is our own sexual repression projected onto others, that is my view. Anyway, I think it is so lovely, i was watching intently the baby suckling and how it knows to do that. She swapped breasts and I saw the happiness in her eyes. Her loving husband was making us some food and waited patiently until she was finished. She said the way they are bringing up their baby is in love, they love each other so much the baby feels the love all around. They are choosing to teach her two languages, one is Spanish from mum, and the other is English from dad. I reflected on how the brain works processing two languages from early childhood. It will be interesting to see how she grows up. Fascinating.
Anyway Alexandra said she is into arts education and believes that children need to learn art in school. In many countries they do but I think the emphasis here is having arts as the foundation of school. I am a teacher of peace education as a clown. I teach through games, activities, drawing, music, philosophy, critical thinking, and meditation. The frame is to expand understanding in an environment that is fun and exciting. As a clown I spontaneously clown if they are getting bored. I found it very effective in drawing attention, expanding lateral thinking and integrating knowledge through doing rather than rote learning. So the arts is 3 dimensional and is very effective. So we were on the same page with that one. I said I would send some reports I have found from UNESCO on happiness and the arts in education. School should not be boring and if it is we need to look at it again. Teachers are also not integrating values and anti bullying behaviours, so they also need to be trained in artistic ways to develop happiness and creativity.
Her husband (I didn´t catch his name) told me that in 1980 television was introduced to Peulla, before that no T.V. He said it was interesting as there was no violence before t.v. and the Director of a school, his friend, noticed that violence had increased and that the children became lazier. I remember at the Conflict Studies Group seminar in Melbourne, they had invited a pyschologist from the United States who also had the opportunity to measure levels of aggression in a town that had just introduced television, she recorded higher violence levels. I think on my website I have a presentation I did on violence and television and the statistic of exposures per day. It is unbelievable. I find as I don´t watch television, violence horrifies me as I am not desensitised, but if you grow up with it as a constant, it is no big deal. In my opinion whenever we watch something on some level it has an influence, if the emotions are triggered it integrates it more thoroughly. That is why I teach as a clown, I am stimulating the children´s emotions of excitement to have a clown in the classroom, they take in knowledge faster. So the violence induces fear, people become hypervigilent and become scared going to bed, looking around corners, as they believe it on some level. If it was just fantasy they´d go to bed and perhaps laugh at it. I am sure it is linked. I found an interesting paper you may want to follow up http://cdmc.georgetown.edu/papers/children_and_adolescent%27s_exposure.pdf (don’t think it is available now). I haven´t read it in full but it may provide another perspective. For more papers refer to http://cdmc.georgetown.edu/publications-and-papers/journal-articles/
We also talked about an indigenous philosophy of child development that was framed in water, wood, fire, earth and metal. These elements reflected females and males behaviour at certain ages. For example at the water stage girls are aged 0-7 and boys 0-8, interesting to note the boys are one year older. The baby needs to be held close, constantly in contact with the parents. The second stage Wood is girls 8-13, boys 9-13. The parent has to step back, a visual image could be grafting a stem to a stick, you hold them up but step back and let them stand. The Fire stage was 14-21 in girls and 16-24 in boys. This is to know about the world, boys learn about protection and it is not in holding them. The earth stage the women are 21-28 and the men 24-32. It is the understanding that the person needs something stable in their life, to practice strength, to be strong in life. The last one is metal the women are 28-35 and men 32-40. Everything is created in earth, create something, make it real. So this would be making dreams real at this stage. I believe that is what happened to me around that age. I would add another element Air which to me is transcending duality, this is the spiritual dimension which starts around 30 but reaches its peak around 50 I feel. We had a good chat around the stages. Child rearing can be looked in a myriad of ways. I remember my colleague on radio interviewed Russell Means the American Indian US activist. His name means work for the people. I remember hearing a talk by him in Melbourne whereby he said in his tribe when the baby was first born it was given to the father to bond with for 6 months whilst the mother recovered. This created a nurturing instinct and bond in the men, they placed their women at the centre of the tribe and lived under matriarchy. He said the tribe was very stable and happy. Here is a link to a film that was made about him, remarkable guy. So much for us to learn outside of western modes of thinking. http://www.russellmeansfreedom.com/2010/means-spirited-american-indian-actor-and-activist-honored-at-haskell-film-festival/
Lastly my friends decided to show me a film on Gestalt psychology with Fritz Perls. Here is a little on him courtesy of Wiki Friedrich (Frederick) Salomon Perls (July 8 1893, Berlin – March 14, 1970, Chicago), better known as Fritz Perls, was a noted German-born psychiatrist and psychotherapist of Jewish descent. Perls coined the term ‘Gestalt Therapy’ to identify the form of psychotherapy that he developed with his wife Laura Perls in the 1940s and 1950s. Perls became associated with the Esalen Institute in 1964, and he lived there until 1969. His approach to psychotherapy is related but not identical to Gestalt psychology, and it is different from Gestalt Theoretical Psychotherapy. The core of the Gestalt Therapy process is enhanced awareness of sensation, perception, bodily feelings, emotion and behavior, in the present moment. Relationship is emphasized, along with contact between the self, its environment, and the other.
Brings up the thought ´to thine own self be true´. It is to really understand ourselves, our needs and design societies that humanise rather than regiment us. To really find the true vocation of life is happiness. This is my feeling and my inspiration. This is freedom and peace all rolled in together.