The Name I Gave My Daughter and What It Means to Me. 127

The Name I Gave My Daughter and What It Means to Me. 127

When my partner and I set off to pick a name for the baby we had on the way, we did as most couples do, and started gathering a list of potential names. I knew that I wanted a name that was strong and grounded and not too cute or girly as I find some names can be where they are well suited for a small baby but perhaps not for an adult. I also wanted an international name that people could pronounce and understand in many different languages, as our family is multi-lingual (I speak and write three languages on a daily basis; Danish, Swedish and English). When we started going through potential names, it was obvious that someone always had some association with virtually every name we came up with. I really liked the name Vivian for example, but many of the people I talked to about it immediately associated it with Julia Robberts´ character as a prostitute in the movie Pretty Woman, and so therefore experienced an aversion towards it. Others reacted to personal associations with names, like how a certain name could be perceived as a ‘bitch name’  because someone knew a person with that name in their childhood who was a bitch.

In fact, there wasn’t a single name that everybody liked (Obviously. Why would there be?). There were barely any names that my partner and I both liked. When we finally came up with a couple of names that we both really liked, someone in our close environment didn’t like it, and I realized that because they didn’t like it, I immediately didn’t like it as much. This experience (which happened a couple of times) caused an entire avalanche of reactions within me, and opened the point of how I’ve been extremely dependent on other people’s opinions and approval of me.

Rather than blaming them for it and saying that they ruined my baby name, I realized that I wanted their approval, I wanted them to like my baby name and I placed (my own) value in them liking the name. Had they liked the name, I would’ve most likely liked the name even more and I would’ve been really satisfied with it.

Thus, if I stood clear and stable within myself in trusting and standing by the name I had picked, I wouldn’t have allowed myself to be influenced by someone not liking it, because it doesn’t really have anything to do with me or with my child whether they like her name or nor. In fact, I realized that I only told them about the name to see how they would react, to get their approval. On a deeper level I could see that when I allow myself to be influenced by something someone says, then I am not actually being influenced BY THEM or their words, but by my own interpretation thereof. What I am in fact being influenced by, is my own mind. It is my mind that places value on others opinions of me, who believe that it does truly affect me what they think.

The real issue is not about my relationship with others, but about my relationship with myself, my body, my being and my mind, that I allow myself to be inferior to, through accepting certain limitations, beliefs and ideas about myself and about my relationships with others.

So I’ve been working with stopping these reactions, with detaching myself from this dependency and fear in relation to others and to bring focus and attention back to myself. I then decided that I wouldn’t share any more name suggestions with anyone until my partner and I had decided for ourselves, because really, it isn’t a democracy where everyone gets to cast a vote on what we should name our baby. It is in fact something that my partner and I decide on our own.

Ideally I would have preferred for my child to pick her own name, because she is after all the one who has to live with it, but since she can’t do that, I started playing around with talking to my baby inside the belly and try to get a ‘feel’ for what her name was or could be or what she’d prefer to be called.

As my partner and I kept discussing names, I kept having the same letters come up that I seemed to prefer over others, especially the letter L. As I played with asking the baby in my belly what it wanted to be called, I got a very strong ‘sense’ that it was a name that ended with the letter A. I can’t say for a fact that I did indeed communicate with my daughter in the womb, but it was the closest I got to actually be able to ask her, and not simply pick a name that I liked but that may not suit her, or to pick a name that everyone else could agree on, just to not risk displeasing anyone.

Slowly but surely the letters started gathering into a name. Initially I thought it was Lola. I also though of Loa. Other names that started with L and ended in A was Livia, and Liva. But what kept coming up within me – very clearly – was the name Lora.

It wasn’t a name I particularly liked. In fact, I had absolutely no reference or association to it whatsoever. It was ‘blank’ in a way. I kept pushing it aside because it wasn’t something I could relate to at all.

One day I talked to a friend on the phone and she asked me if I had asked the baby what it wanted to be named. Hesitatingly I replied that I wasn’t sure. My friend said: “Of course you know what the name is, just trust yourself!” After the conversation I had a look within me and admitted to myself that I had indeed ‘seen’ or ‘felt’ the name Lora, but I had rejected it because I didn’t trust myself and because I didn’t have any associations to the name that I could attach myself to. I also didn’t know whether it was something I came up with inside my brain somehow or it was her signaling to me telepathically.

I actually thought it was something I came up with (or rather, that she came up with) until I Googled it and found out that it isn’t that uncommon at all. I shared the name with my partner and he also didn’t have any associations to it. What I really like about this name is exactly the fact that I don’t have associations, let alone any preferences for or against it. So it isn’t a name I have picked (unless it comes from some deep subconscious point in my mind) because of my likes and dislikes and my ideas about how I want my child to be. Because it is blank, it is pure, it is clean and therefore it can be her 100 %.

Now, sharing the name we had decided on after she was born, opened up a whole new can of worms as people reacted much like we did initially; with a blank stare. When we told them that her name was Lora, they’d go “huh, uhm, Lora, with an O?” “Oh you mean Laura” – “No, its Lora.” “Oh ok, that’s unusual”. People get this dead/confused look in their eyes like they can’t compute and they don’t know what to say.  So it is clearly a name that most people don’t have any associations to, at least not in our part of the world where it is not at all common. In all of Sweden there are only 65 people called Lora.

The same person that initially reacted negatively to some of our name choices that I spoke of earlier also very blatantly blurted out that we had made a terrible mistake and that this was a bad name and we should think about what we were doing to our child. (Lora happens to rhyme with the word for ‘whore’ in Swedish.)

Every time we were to share with a new person our choice of name, I was confronted with my fear of not pleasing others, of them not finding me worthy or liking me, and because I had already made a decision to stand by myself and the name I had decided on, it has been quite a cool experience for me – to make a decision based on self-trust without any external influence, that others may even react strongly to – and to keep standing, and stand by myself. It has in fact supported me greatly to start expanding in other areas, where I see that my effectiveness is contingent upon me trusting myself and building confidence in myself and to not worry about what others might think. It has even made me realize that there are areas where I trust myself very much because I know who I am and I have done my research and cross-referenced the points I see.

Now, I love the name Lora. It is growing on me. Because it is the name of my daughter. As she grows up and develops she made decide to change her name or take on a different name, and that too is perfectly ok with me – because she is who she is, and it is not something I or anyone else can decide for her. Who she will become, will be her own creation, and I will do everything in my power to support her on her journey, as I am sure, she will support me – as she already is.

The Skills We Need to Change the World: DAY 74

The Skills We Need to Change the World: DAY 74

human capital As the human race has developed, it is our cognitive and mental skills we have given the most credit for our ‘evolution’ – an evolution that has lead us into space and virtual realities and through which we have concocted unimaginable technologies and inventions, but that has also left the earth scorn and wretched. So what are the skills most needed to function effectively and optimize our living conditions on this planet?

In The Republic[i] Ancient Greek philosopher Plato famously said that:

“The society we have described can never grow into a reality or see the light of day, and there will be no end to the troubles of states, or indeed, my dear Glaucon, of humanity itself, till philosophers become rulers in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands.”

Plato claimed that we all have our righteous place in the world where those who are most developed within cognitive skills (such as philosophizing) are naturally meant to rule and where those whose skills belong more to the physical realm naturally must have inferior functions in society.

The question is: was he right?

What are the most important skills we as human beings require to function effectively in this world?

In the article Reconceptualizing Human Capita from (1997l[ii], sociologists Nancy Folbre and Paula England discuss the concept of Capabilities in context to the concept of Human Capital to discuss the basic skills that we as humans need to function effectively in the world. They ask why cognitive capabilities are prioritized as being more important than other capabilities and in this article I discuss their perspectives in the context to the implementation of a Guaranteed Living Income System. Folbre and England’s emphasis on the importance of a more equal valuation of capabilities highlights the necessity and utility of implementing a Living Income System – here especially in the context of education, not only of our children, but also of ourselves because that is an absolute imperative for us to be able to change the course the world is currently on. We might not be navigators or steersmen or captains, but we’re certainly driving the ‘boat’ that is this world and the question we have to ask ourselves is whether it is worth it to sink just to stay on the course we’ve set for ourselves or whether we dare turning the entire machinery around, not knowing where we will go except for anywhere but into the direction from which we came?

Let’s have a brief look at Folbre and England’s definition of capabilities:

Folbre and England define a capability, as a skill set that requires effort from the individual to be developed and that, once applied and implemented enables one to function effectively in society. Folbre and England describe four different types of capabilities: physical, cognitive, self-regulating and caring capabilities.

Physical Capabilities

The physical capabilities are the basic practical skills required to be able to care for oneself at physical level. These capabilities include but are not limited to: cooking food, getting dressed, cleaning the house, knowing when to respond to pain etc. However with these basic physical functioning capabilities, Folbre and England contends that they are often not valued, discussed or emphasized be it in social science, economics or even politics, and they suggest that this can be because of the tradition in human history of valuing “mind over matter”. (This is a topic that is exhaustibly discussed in the academic world, c.f. René Descartes famous quote: “I think, therefore I am”.) [i] I am not going to go deeper into this discussion here.)

Cognitive Capabilities

Cognitive capabilities include what is considered ‘formal education’ that according to Folbre and England has an extensive impact on one’s income earning abilities. One reason for this is as mentioned above that cognitive capabilities focuses on mental rather than physical skills which are given substantially more emphasis in the education system, hence the rise of the ‘knowledge economy’ in recent years. Besides the capabilities that is achieved through education, such as reading, writing and math, Folbre and England also describe other capabilities such as house hold economy, the ability to see the cause and effect of one’s actions and points such as mental health and emotions as part of the cognitive capabilities.

Self-Regulation Capabilities

Self-Regulation capabilities are based on the ability to be self-disciplined and Folbre and England suggests that this capability is the basis for the other capabilities, because without self-discipline, one is not capable to develop for example the ability to write. When self-discipline is developed one become able to perform tasks that one does not necessarily want to do or that one experience as difficult. Folbre and England suggest that self-regulation, as a capability is not valued in the economic system as  human capital because economic theory would define self-regulation as a preference and not as a skill. Folbre and England however argues that self-regulation in fact is both a skill and a preference through for example pointing to how becoming skilled and enjoying oneself once skilled is mutually constitutive.

Caring Capabilities

Caring capabilities is described by Folbre and England as a ‘service’ that differs from the other capabilities in that it also contains an element of altruism. They argue that having this capability might not (only) benefit oneself but also others and even that one within this is capable of expressing care without it being of any immediate benefit for oneself, something that according to Folbre and England, refutes the neo-classical notion of rational self-interest. While caring capabilities does require the other capabilities for it to function effectively, it also requires qualities such altruism affection and warmth to be expressed effectively. Folbre and England argues that the main point to make note of in relation to caring capabilities that even though caring as a ‘service’ to others can be exchanged on the labor market, is that it is still valued as less than other types of skills.

Why are Capabilities important for society?

Folbre and England argues that capabilities are dependent on their social embeddedness and as such exists as a form of social capital. They claim that both new and traditional economic thinking have “underestimated the social and political nature that effects which children will have their capabilities developed the most” and that as such that “resource constraints should not be ignored.” What this means is that an assumption within neoclassical economic thinking (that which our current world system is operating from) is that everyone intrinsically have ‘equal opportunities’ to develop skills and capabilities. Everyone is in essence ‘equals’ as human beings within having an intrinsic rational self-interest. Folbre and England however highlights the fact that the conditions we are born into determine – to an utmost extend – what opportunities we are able to learn from and develop skills and capabilities within. These conditions are created through a political and financial system that in turn is created by us as human beings. It is not a system created by nature itself. Who and what we live as human beings is thus something we decide individually and collectively in interdependence.

Revaluing our Capabilities

As mentioned in the beginning of this article, for a long time physical work has been disregarded as ‘crude’ and ‘simple’. This is reflected in how people that primarily work with the physical receive a much lower wage than those working in the ‘knowledge economy’. When our children are sent to school, one of the primary points they are to learn, is to disconnect the mind from the body and use the body as a tool for the mind to expand, something that can be seen for example in how we have to learn early on to still and listening to the teacher while suppressing the body’s urge to jump or sing or move. And as a result, in all educational policies it is thus the cognitive capabilities that are prioritized which can be seen in how all forms of craft classes, art, music and sports are minimized and cut back. But when looking at what it is the children are learning about the world, that which they are supposed to learn, to enable themselves to live as effective human beings, it is all focused on the mental processes and capabilities. Children are expected to grow up and direct their physical world and reality, from within and as the mind, while the body remains a mere vehicle, a tool. In very few schools do children learn about their own bodies or how they can create an effective relationship to their bodies. Nor do they learn how to cook, clean or care for animals.

Children do not learn how to interact with nature either, with animals or with the bodies of other children and adults. Instead they learn to disconnect themselves from the physical, to use the body for competitive sports or transportation and as they grow up, they are expected to know how to move and care for their bodies, without actually being in (contact with) their bodies or having learned how the body functions or operates. They might learn about health regimes and that “milk is good for you”, but they don’t learn to feel in their stomach when some food is not supportive for them and then being able to make the directive decision not to eat this food. They do not learn to touch or support themselves or each other in ways to alleviate pain or simply for enjoyment.

We can thus draw a straight line from how the physical is disregarded in the current education system to how the state the world currently is in. What thrive are mind-based designs and constructs at the expense of the physical world – the real world – in which and we live and that we cannot live without. The aspect of physical functioning or capabilities thus reaches beyond far learning basic skills – it involves caring for the entire planet as well as for each other and ourselves.

According to Folbre and England, self-regulation and discipline is both a preference and a skill. It becomes a preference when we discover the joy of completing a task or in learning something new. But as education is designed in the current system, the sole emphasis is on the skill aspect of self-discipline, where we are skilling ourselves to be able to compete with others in an unstable job market. This competition is based on fear of surviving and in many countries that is what enables children to remain disciplined – not because they are enjoying it and expanding within it. Furthermore, the way education systems are designed, children and adults are most often running on tight deadlines where textbooks have to be consumed with the speed of light giving little room to digesting and contemplating the information for oneself.

A Living Income Perspective on Education and Capabilities

A Living Income perspective on education is that learning is about expanding and exploring oneself, alone and together with others – teaching is about standing as a living example, not a regurgitator of indoctrinating brainwash that only has the purpose of creating stupid obedient consumer slaves. Furthermore: both physical and cognitive capabilities should be developed in a variety of ways that incorporate physical learning with focus on developing capabilities that are Best for All as well as the individual in a setting that is not based on fear of not surviving, but instead on self-expression, dedication and openness. If self-discipline is taught without self-consideration or direction, we educate followers that will create secret inner lives where they can live out their desires in shame and create workers that only do exactly as much as they have to for then to go home and leave the rest to someone else. Instead we can educate ourselves (and our children) to develop a self-discipline that is based on dignity, self-integrity and on doing what is Best for All.

A mentioned by Folbre and England, the caring sector is highly underpaid compared to occupations that favor cognitive capabilities. This includes teachers, nurses and all other professions where it is the care for other humans (and animals) that are the primary work function. What this means is that Care in itself is highly under-prioritized in our societies, something that can clearly be seen in the many cases of negligence and lack of funding in many care facilities. We are as a species underdeveloped in our ability to care for others (as well as ourselves and the planet).

We live in a world that does not prioritize what is Best for All – that in fact demotes the people who work for what is Best for All, and as such stand in direct opposition to creating a world (and an education system) that is Best for All. By implementing a Guaranteed Living Income System that in fact is founded upon the principle of always choosing what is Best for All, caring will be a basic fundamental priority as it is embedded directly into the very notion of what is Best for All and in the practical policies developed therewith. By bringing caring into the forefront of a political and economic (and educational) system, we can no longer deny or ignore the suffering of others. We can no longer justify the exploitation of some for benefit of others. We can no longer push and pressure ourselves to only excel and not consider the consequences of our thrusting through the earth. Finally we no longer need to compete, deceive and fight each other to survive.

In relation to care work Folbre and England emphasizes this capability as one that benefits all and as such is Best for All. Within this they bring up an interesting perspective, that there perhaps are other ways to make care work more valuable for society and in this they wish to challenge neoclassical definitions of human capital. Instead they suggest collective strategies for example within using taxes or policies to create inputs that emphasizes care as a capability.

In the development of an Guaranteed Living Income System, we are researching and developing policies based on the practical and physical capabilities that each human being requires to live a dignified life and the implementations of such policies in our society, based on what is Best for All at a practical, physical level. It is open for anyone to participate, anyone who is willing and interested in creating a world, where children can thrive and learn how to support themselves and the earth to live a life of self-expression, dignity, care and enjoyment – a life that in all ways will be Best for All.

 

A Political Awakening of the Young Generation or a Return to 1950’s Survival Strategies? DAY 68

A Political Awakening of the Young Generation or a Return to 1950’s Survival Strategies? DAY 68

youth unemploymentA mother is planning the perfect future for her child. A mother wants her 9-year-old daughter to go to private school so that she can eventually marry a rich man and never have to work. Does this sound like a good idea to you?

On February 12. 2014 a British mother Rachel Ragg published an article about the subject in the Daily Mail. Ragg talks about how she is planning for her daughter to go to Oxford to increase her chances of meeting a wealthy man because that is what she would have wanted for her own life. She talks about how most of the women she know who are juggling both career and children often are left miserable, poor or both and how being a stay at home mom would have been her dream life, had she only married a wealthy man. At the same time there is an irony in Ragg’s appraisal of the life of a stay at home mom, because when she boasts about the £3,000-a-term private school her daughter currently attends, it is the professional merits of its female alums she highlights: ”Cheryl Taylor, controller of CBBC, Kate Bellingham, BBC technology presenter and engineer, and Jocelyn Bell Burnell, the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s first female president.” The irony is that while all of these women attended this prestigious school, yet none of them went on to become a stay at home mom. (Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2557949/I-spend-fortune-send-girl-private-school-shell-marry-rich-never-work-An-unashamed-confession-RACHEL-RAGG.html)

Now – while it would be obvious to discuss gender roles and a regressive return to the 1950’s way of viewing women, I will instead look at Ragg’s perspective from a consideration of where young people currently stand in today’s education system and job market. Because while I disagree with Ragg’s approach of wanting to force her daughter into the kind of life she would have wanted for herself without taking her daughter’s perspective into account, I do see that there is a strategic logic about her approach. Let’s have a look at why that is:

Even with a higher education it has become increasingly difficult to get a job and it doesn’t matter where you live in the world. But especially for the generations under 30 does this ring truer than ever. According to statistics done for the British parliament 920,000 young people aged 16-24 were unemployed in Britain between September and November 2013.
And a report by Richard Vedder, Christopher Denhart, and Jonathan Robe shows that “The proportion of overeducated workers in occupations appears to have grown substantially; in 1970, fewer than one percent of taxi drivers and two percent of firefighters had college degrees, while now more than 15 percent do in both jobs. (Source: http://centerforcollegeaffordability.org/research/studies/underemployment-of-college-graduates)

Another study done by researchers from Northeastern University, Drexel University, and the Economic Policy Institute, based on data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and the U.S. Department of Labor showed that “About 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed, the highest share in at least 11 years. In 2000, the share was at a low of 41 percent, before the dot-com bust erased job gains for college graduates in the telecommunications and IT fields.

Out of the 1.5 million who languished in the job market, about half were underemployed, an increase from the previous year.“ (Source: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/04/53-of-recent-college-grads-are-jobless-or-underemployed-how/256237/)

So while the youth of today not alone face great unemployment when they are uneducated, even those with higher education are at risk of not being able to enter the job market or having to take jobs for which they are (at least academically) overqualified for.

A little over ten years ago when I was a youngster coming into the job market we were coming out of the economic ‘golden era’ of the 1990’s where it seemed like all opportunities were open for us. We were therefore told to choose something that would make us happy and fulfilled, something that we were really passionate about. Little did we know that soon enough we would be unwilling participants in one of the greatest economic recessions in the history of the world and that our degrees in literature, journalism and sociology would become redundant. Little did we know that traveling around the world for a few years or island hopping around various fields of education would have the consequence that we would be too late to invest in property, making us eternal slaves to lease agreements on studio apartments. And the generations that came after us have only faced this even more extensively.

Is it therefore so odd that a mother’s biggest goal for her child is to ensure that she gets married rich?

Obviously it is not a very supportive perspective on one’s child’s future if their best opportunity is to marry rich because it is like telling them that any other skills they may have would be worthless. Sending them to demanding private schools without any expectation of academic achievement also isn’t very motivating for a child to do well at school. And thus the problem would come full circle. But at the same time there is also an element of realism in this mother’s approach whereas other parents might still tell their children to follow their dreams and passion in a world system with increasing competition where very few educational fields guarantees work after graduation.

We often talk about how a very small percentage of the world’s population is sitting on most of the monetary resources, but seldom do we consider that these people are all roughly speaking between 35 – 75 years of age. These are also the same people who are for example able to invest in the property market making it increasingly difficult for people under 30 to enter into the property market. And while it may be attractive for a few young women to strategically target a rich older man, it is also an indication of the severity of the situation we are finding ourselves in, if we have to regress to survival strategies deployed and archived more than 40 years ago (obviously only in wealthy countries). Young uneducated men are the most vulnerable group of unemployed and some statistics say that youth unemployment in Southern Europe have reached staggering heights of 50-60 percent.

So as is evident by now, returning to 1950’s gender roles might seem alluring and as an easy way out for some young women, it is certainly not a solution to the overall problem we are facing.

We are reaching a dangerously critical mass and with apathy and delusion accompanying the rocketing unemployment and student loan rates, it is of great importance that young people start coming together to develop a sustainable solution. Because we are currently supporting a small group of rich people in their efforts to maximize profits with the consequence that we are continuously at the brink of destroying the planet we live on just in the hopes that we might one day become them.

It is the first time in history that the young people coming into the world are facing a situation that is worse than their parents – and this can only mean one thing: that the older generations do not have our best interests at heart. Therefore it is up to us to ensure a change in paradigms. The good thing about all of this is that young people aren’t as stuck in their ways as the older generations. And this means that we’ve actually got a shot at establishing a new and improved way of living together on earth – if we pull our resources together and stand united in the aim of making sure that our children do not have to face a world that is worse off. It is up to us to be the example our parents so clearly never was.

Investigate the Proposal for a Guaranteed Living Income System – a proposal for a system that has the potential to fundamentally change the concept of ‘work’ from something that we do to survive to something that we do to support and expand ourselves to thrive and LIVE.

I also recommend reading the following blogs:
Parenting – Perfecting the Human Race Series
Natural Learning Abilities blog series – a MUST READ!
Automation is the Key to Effective Education
Education in the New World Order
Education – Equal Money Wiki
Education is a Human Right
Deconstructing the Root of All Evil
World’s best Education is based on Equality
The Fall of our Education System
Application of Knowledge, is it being Fostered in our Educational Systems? – Education Research Part 1

Additional sources:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21302065
http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2013/06/07/the-unemployment-news-is-worse-for-many/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nC4N6aLb2jE
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/uk-youth-unemployment-million-jobs-work-foundation-499067
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/nearly-a-million-under25s-still-unemployed-despite-growth-8935723.html
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/nov/29/eurozone-youth-unemployment-record-high-under-25s
http://www.good.is/posts/young-educated-and-unemployed-a-new-generation-of-kids-search-for-work-in-their-20s

What I have Learned About Education from Teaching: DAY 67

What I have Learned About Education from Teaching: DAY 67

In the last post I talked about the past year where I have been teaching and I looked at the point of going to work every day and the experiences that come up within that of how we often drag ourselves to work in the morning only to find a brief relief for a short moment during weekends.
In this post I am going to review the last year I have worked as a teacher in terms of what I have learned from teaching.
Because as I looked back upon the last year I realized that I have learned more about education in this short time than in all my years of higher education.  I’ve worked with education for more than ten years, first as a teacher’s aid in various facilities such as kindergartens, after school programs and care homes for disabled people.
My first degree was a professional bachelor (undergraduate) degree in pedagogy which in a Danish context means that I would be schooled to take care of human beings both within the child care system, but for example also addicts or mentally disabled people. So it is a very broad education. But during the years where I studied I was continuously surprised at how academic this education was. We learned very little about how to care for children or people with mental illnesses. Instead we learned about the history of pedagogy and took lessons in theater and music. We did have 2 x 6 months of practical internship, which is where I realized that I wasn’t going to work as a social worker or preschool teacher because I was so unsatisfied with the current care facilities and this actually brought me to go to the next step of going for a master degree with the intend of eventually working with changing the educational systems.
So I went to university to study educational sociology, a term that I find quite misrepresentative as what I have studied is not an educational form of sociology or how to teach sociology but rather the sociology of education and thus education systems, philosophies and principles within society. We would read all the classics, which is actually what we would do throughout the two years where I studied. A lot of it was fascinating and it certainly wasn’t boring but I kept asking myself (as well as the professors) what the point with all of this was. To me it was just a lot of mudding around in knowledge and information – because a lot of the theorists had cool thoughts on how to change reality, but then another theorist would come and counter argue and many years of intellectual battles would ensue leading nowhere in practical reality. I spent my final year as an exchange student at Stockholm University in Sweden and there I for the first time experienced a significant benefit of higher education. Ironically it was through a course on gender and feminist theory and not education and one of the reasons why I learned so much was because we had guest lecturers by Ph.D. graduates who had been in the field and done actual research. They connected theory to practicality and this gave the theories a backbone that I hadn’t experienced before.
Now – last year I started teaching. In many ways I am not qualified to this job because as you can see, most of my training has been strictly academic. I guess you could say that I am educated more to theorizing, to researching and thinking than to actually spend time in practical reality and effectively direct points in the real world. Like I mentioned in the last blog-post, when I came there were no material or curriculum and I had never before stood before a class. So everything was completely and absolutely new and I had a lot to learn. Furthermore I am the only teacher within my language group so although I can rely on my colleagues for points that has to do with general stuff around teaching, a lot of times I have to work things out for myself. So every day is filled with learning new and practical things, like how to communicate with children, parents and school employees, how to teach, how to create a curriculum, how to schedule my time effectively and how the school system works. And in many respects I have learned more about education in this year than in all my years studying education as a theoretical subject.
A lot of times we see people who have been academically schooled, like politicians and various consultants come in and write proposals for changes within a field or working environment and often these proposals seem so utterly out of touch with reality for the people who actually work ‘on the floor’.  It is thus no wonder that a lot of highly educated people have trouble finding jobs in the current system because many of these educations, especially within the humanities does not gear the students to a practical working life, and so we learn a lot about thinking, analyzing and philosophizing, but very little about placing those theories into a practical context.
Plato thought that it was the philosophers of society who were meant to be rulers and leaders because they had the capacity to reflect objectively on reality and thus were able to see what would be best for society as a whole, but what I have found is that it is the people who are in the thick of it every day who has the most commonsensical ideas for how to change the system.
I would go as far as saying that in many respects we don’t need to keep philosophizing and producing knowledge, because within the fields of knowledge-production there is a lot of repetition and regurgitation where it seems as though knowledge is produced for no other sake than producing knowledge – it is an inflation. What we need, especially in these times are innovative and transparent ideas that can be practically implemented and that are based, not only on theoretical reflections but also on practical experience. Obviously one can also get so caught up in practicing in one’s field that one starts growing blind to new possibilities and ways of looking at things. And this is where theoretical reflection becomes applicable and useful. But knowledge without a practical dimension is useless.
Of everything that I have learned in the last year one of the primary points has been to remain open, flexible and humble towards the children and teachers and environments that I meet on a daily basis. This learning process has primarily come from a point of slowly building up reactions of resistance, reluctance and irritation for example towards specific children who might not be as enthusiastic towards learning as others. It will show itself in thoughts where I would project myself in to the future in my mind and think: “oh god, now I’m going to that child, that’s not going to be fun, he’s always so resistant.” The consequence of this approach to my work is that I will literally encase and limit myself to specific expectations and experiences and will plainly speaking get into a ‘bad mood’. And it is certainly not fair or respectful towards the children – no matter the demeanor they meet me with – because I decide before hand ‘who’ they are and within that do not allow for any other expression to open up. So as I have explained in previous blogs, what I have done to stop this from escalating is to firstly stop the thoughts when I see them ‘pop up’ in my mind, but to also place myself in a stance of unconditionally embracing the uniqueness of the moment that I am walking into. And this has assisted the point of humbleness to develop within my work, which in turn has allowed me to discover new and unknown dimensions, not only of the children but also of the teachers, the school environment and of myself.
Today I attended a mandatory course in pedagogical documentation in preschools. It is basically about using various forms of documentation and observation like video and audio recording to expand oneself in one’s work as a teacher. There was within this an example from a Canadian preschool where a researcher and preschool teacher spontaneously had started a project with a group of children within which she took their interests and from there lifted these into an educational process of development. One of the things they did for example was to discuss and investigate McDonalds and their happy meal boxes, something that often catches the attention of children. They did so in a way where they eventually were able to discuss pricing, salaries, gender discrimination and nutrition – and this was a group of three to five year olds. This example showed me yet again how much I still have to learn and how important it is to learn from the people that have gone before us, who can give practical examples and provide learning-by-doing guidelines for how to approach a certain topic. Because within my work I often see that there is more to it, like a deeper meaning or the possibility to take the project to another level of development – but I have not had the practical tools to do so. Here theories are cool to assist oneself in reflecting, but what is needed most of all are practical suggestions and ways of working with the material.
What I want to say with all of this is that this entire point and what I have realized about my learning process can be transferred into a larger societal context in looking at how much we preoccupy ourselves with virtual realities and abstract knowledge, thinking and believing that this is what is needed to transform ourselves, the systems we live in or even the world as a whole.
One day I came to a preschool where the children (ages 0-3) were sitting around a table with containers filled with dry chickpeas, rice and other grainy products. Each of them would have two containers, one filled, the other one empty and perhaps a spoon or a whisk. The children were completely immersed within the activity, which basically consisted of sticking their hands into the containers and taking rice or seeds from one container to another or whisking it around. I sat down and participated and enjoyed the exploration of chickpeas together with my two-year old student. Later I discussed the activity with one of the older teachers at the preschool and she explained to me how she had made it a priority to use materials from real life rather than plastic imitations in her work. This makes complete sense to be, because we are so fascinated by imitative products that we quite often forget the wonders of actual reality – the reality that we’re supposed to grow up and participate in, but that we are taught to remain completely disconnected from.
Conclusively I will say that all of us, no matter where we are in life or what kind of work we do, need to get back to physical reality, because this is where our attention is required considering the conditions of the current world-system. And within turning our focus and attention back to reality, to nature, to animals, to our bodies, to practical living – we might discover new and unseen dimensions that give us the opportunity to look at ourselves in a new way.
Investigate the Proposal for a Guaranteed Living Income System – a proposal for a system that has the potential to fundamentally change the concept of ‘work’ from something that we do to survive to something that we do to support and expand ourselves to thrive and LIVE.
I also recommend reading the following blogs:

Education in the New World Order

Education is a Human Right
Deconstructing the Root of All Evil
World’s best Education is based on Equality
The Fall of our Education System
Application of Knowledge, is it being Fostered in ourEducational Systems? – Education Research Part 1

What You Should Ask Yourself About Why You Go to Work Every Day: DAY 66

What You Should Ask Yourself About Why You Go to Work Every Day: DAY 66

Today I am taking inventory and within that re-committing myself to the work that I am doing as a teacher – with a new starting-point and direction. I invite you to walk with me here:

It has been a year since I started working as a teacher in the Swedish school system.
Today one of my students asked me if I liked teaching children. She is 7. I answered that I like it a lot and this is true. I learn something new every day, about children, about communication, about relationships, about the school system, about scheduling and organizing and about teaching. It has taken me the better part of a year to establish an effective way of teaching. When I started the job, I came to a position where no lesson material or books existed, without any experience with teaching. (I’ve worked in preschools previously but never with older children in a school setting). So it has taken me quite a while to build up lesson materials and a functioning curricular. In addition to this, I teach 40 children from age 1 – 16 who is each on completely different levels and thus requires some form of individual lesson plan. I teach them on up to 25 different schools so I spend my week taking the bus or train or ride my bike from place to place, having almost more time transporting myself around than I do actually teaching. The time dedicated to planning my lessons are allocated to evenings, early mornings, weekends and holidays and I have finally found a way that works for me and where the students actually learn something and where I don’t have to spend every waking moment thinking about schedules and planning lessons.

I have been told by my colleagues, who has been the single most important point of support in this process, that it takes up to 2 years before a new teacher is ‘settled’ and can stop running around like a beheaded chicken. Because a lot of what I do can only work in a trial-and-error kind of fashion and I have learned that this is okay. This job has been humbling to me. And when I when I came back this January after the Christmas holidays I was very reluctant and resisted going to work. When it has been at its worst, I have thought only about making it through the week, counting the days until the weekend and then felt frustrated and stressed when realizing how short the Saturdays and Sundays goes by.

So today I had a chat with myself about this point, about how I’ve pitied myself because I have to go to work, about how petrified and desperate I’ve felt every week when Monday came around. I know that many people in this world feel the same way; we know that we are virtually existing as work-hamsters in the hamster wheel of the global economy, we know that there is no escape, we know that we have no choice but to do it – – and still there is a part of us, an awareness that this is not how it is supposed to be, that this is not how life is supposed to be. Now – obviously within the current world-system there are no alternatives to the daily rut of day (and night) labor in all its various shapes and forms. Sure, we are offered the seductive illusory carrot that is American Idol or Professional sports – but we all know how slim the chances of getting into such a position are, how few people win the lottery.  And if you’ve seen the movies The Island or The Matrix or the Hunger Games you know for a fact that there is no bounty beach waiting for us at the end of a hard working life. (If not I suggest go watching them).

So what I realized as I was having this chat with myself while walking through slush ice from one school to another is that the situation is what it is. I cannot change the fact that I have to get up and go to work each morning and that when Monday morning comes, the whole cycle repeats itself, week after week, year after year.

What I can change is my starting-point within how I experience myself and how I see the situation. Because – I am here, all limbs intact. My work is not dangerous or debilitating. I don’t have to work two or three jobs to support a family – which is a faith bestowed upon millions of people in this world. I am fortunate enough to even have a job. In fact, I have a cool opportunity within my current position in the world to establish stability within an effective work ethic and myself as I go about my day. I am grateful for everything that I am learning every day. I am grateful for the interaction with the children that I meet. And so I decide to change my starting-point – not because I have suddenly realized how good I have it compared to other people. It is not that kind of realization, although that is something that I have also had to open my eyes to, in terms of understanding how and why I have reacted the way I did, basically do to having lead an incredibly luxurious (read: spoiled) life until now where I’ve spent the last twenty years educating myself in a soft-core education system without any accountability on my part. So it is obvious in this context that it has ‘shocked’ me to enter into the ‘work-force’ and become part of the worker bees of society, a shock that I can imagine most people go through when they realize what it actually means to become an adult in this world.

The realization however has to do with an understanding that, yes, the current system is fucked beyond borders – but there is nothing I can currently do about it. And I am certainly not going to retract to a cabin in the woods just because I can, because that would be traitorous to this very realization and delusional in fact. So the only choice I have left is to be a good little iRobot and produce, produce, produce, in my case produce well-educated children – and while I am doing that and becoming effective at my work, I am slowly but surely standing myself up to recreate this desolated world along with everyone else who has realized the same within their lives – because that is the only choice I can make. That is the only way I can change this situation. And it might not be in my lifetime or in yours. But if I do not want to live this kind of life where work is something we do for the sake of deluded entity called the ‘world economy’ and not to support ourselves and each other to life the best possible life, I wouldn’t want it for the children that I teach either. I do not want them to grow up with the illusion that we have to exist like rats in a maze eating our own tail to survive.

And so this becomes my self-empowerment. And the point of ‘me’ and ‘them’ in the equation dissipates – because it is about the bigger picture now, about all of us. So I go to work in gratefulness, because I have a job, because it doesn’t kill me, because I get to educate myself on how the system works, how the human psyche works. And while I do so I have the opportunity to walk my process of becoming a self-directed individual, who no longer is governed by preprogrammed response and reactive patterns. I have the opportunity to transcend the symptoms of this diseased system such as stress, anxiety and frustration – experiences that I have allowed myself to go into on a daily basis because I was resisting the situation that I am in. I was hoping it would change. I was so spoiled that I felt like it was unfair that I am in this position. But within that reaction was a realization. And that realization is that what we’re doing here on this planet is unacceptable. That realization is that it doesn’t have to be this way, for any of us.

That realization is that this is not what life is and can be – this is not living. And so, I accept the fact that I cannot change it tomorrow and that I have to go to work. But I realize that I don’t have to stress about it, I don’t have to lose anything of myself. I don’t have to feel like I’m wasting my time. I don’t have to feel like I would rather be somewhere else. I don’t have to look at the clock every ten minutes just to see how many hours are left until I can go home. No – I can immerse myself within my work. I can walk my process as I participate in the world-system. I can dedicate myself to do my job with integrity and common sense and remain open to the moments of opportunity that emerge where I can make a difference. And by doing so I can make myself an example, however humble and meager at first – that we are directing the world-system to a change of principles, a change of starting-point.

And so I am committing myself to letting the resistance and reluctance that I have allowed myself to accumulate within me go and instead embrace a new starting-point where I walk into my day as a woman of steel, malleable, but durable and unbendable – and I look differently at the task at hand, because although I am doing the same work as I did yesterday, I am no longer doing it in a desperate hope to escape. Instead I walk with this system that we have created together, hand in hand – to change myself and to change the system as myself, one step at a time.

Investigate the Proposal for a Guaranteed Living Income System – a proposal for a system that has the potential to fundamentally change the concept of ‘work’ from something that we do to survive to something that we do to support and expand ourselves to thrive and LIVE.

I also recommend reading the following blogs:

Education in the New World Order

Education is a Human Right
Deconstructing the Root of All Evil
World’s best Education is based on Equality
The Fall of our Education System
Application of Knowledge, is it being Fostered in ourEducational Systems? – Education Research Part 1

What Children Have Taught Me about Teaching: DAY 65

What Children Have Taught Me about Teaching: DAY 65

In this blog post I am continuing with the series about communicating with children based on my experiences as a teacher.
Here are the previous parts of the series: 
http://teachersjourneytolife.blogspot.com/2014/01/what-we-can-learn-from-how-children-see.html
The point that I will discuss here is about how children pick up on what we, as adults are experiencing. The other day I was in a lessonwith a young boy and on that day I had been a bit emotional in the morning, not really giving it much thought as I went about my day. But in the lesson the boy suddenly touched my arm and said to me: “don’t worry so much”. And it was a profound moment in that, I had not even considered how I was coming across to the child, because the experience within was not directly or overtly expressed openly. As such the child resonantly picked up on what I was experiencing through my expression in a way that I was not even aware of myself. And I have found that this happens more times than we, as adults would like to admit. Often if I go into stress about time because I have to leave one child to get to the next, they will ask me if I have to go or when I have to go. Or if I am somewhat disconnected and not fully present with the lesson, they will also be disconnected and even look at the clock asking me when the lesson is done. So as I’ve shared in previous blog-posts, I have made a commitment for myself to, as I walk into the classroom, I am unconditionally there with the child, even if it is only for half an hour. And the effects of this commitment has been profound because I am able to immerse myself in communicating with the child, where what previously seemed like a very short and rushed lesson, will be rich and plentiful in terms of me actually being able to teach the child and open up an effective and enjoyable communication for both of us.
Children exist at a much more physical level than we as adults do. They are literally more HERE than we are, because we so often have our minds scattered in all sorts of directions, pretending to others and to ourselves that we are here, when in fact we’re somewhere in our heads and not fully present with the moment that is here.
There is for example one child that I teach, a girl who is very slow in her movements – slow, compared to the hectic and rushed schedule of the school system. She moves slowly and is simply here with what she does and it has previously been stressful for me because it means that she often does not get things done in the allotted time, which means that I’ve had to rush her to get things done. So I have decided to give her time to move and to simply let the lesson unfold in every which way possible – though obviously also not letting the speed of her movement be an impediment for her learning process. Instead I have realized that I can plan the lessons and consider how she moves. In my last lesson with her she was standing and getting undressed from having played outside and I simply waited while talking to her. Another teacher came along and told her to hurry up. And I noticed how unnatural this was for her.
Small children do this all the time. I’m sure all of us has either seen or experienced for ourselves how small children will walk and move slowly through reality, looking at everything they see, stopping to pick up a leaf or gazing towards the skies to the constant frustration and irritation of their parents.  And we then think that the problem is that children do not yet comprehend time or the importance of a schedule, but I would say that it is actually we as adults that do not understand the concept of time and how we exist in relation to it.
So with this student that moves slowly, I’ve begun investigating how I can meet her in her way of moving and still teach her in an effective way. But I see this point in general in how it is almost like a lottery where some children are comfortable being in the school environment and setting and others are clearly not. And it is an astounding large portion of children for whom the current school system is not optimal – specifically because we’ve created this system based on the example of the world system and the job market where everything has to be fast and efficient, quantity over quality all day long. So for a child that naturally moves slowly simply because she is more present in her physical body, school can be a devastating experience and what is even more alarming; such a child can be at the risk of not learning effectively which in turn can and will affect them for the rest of their lives. Now – if this was only one child in a class, it wouldn’t be that big of a problem, perhaps that child could go to a special needs class. But if we consider how it is virtually all children for whom the school environment isn’t effective, the consequences are far more alarming.
There are a thousand ways we could rearrange the schooling system that would be of much more support for a child to naturally learn and develop themselves, but we have created the school system in the image and likeness of the world system, literally making the school system a preparation facility for children to get ready to enter onto the job market – and because we have accepted this world system as the only possible way of living, we do the same for our children, to their detriment and to the detriment of all of us.
So when we talk about communicating with children and how children pick up on what we as adults are experiencing and sending out, it is not only our inner experiences, our bias and insecurities – it is also our acceptance of the world system as a finite way of living on earth. It is also the world system in itself that we bring with us, whether it is to the classroom or through the front door of our own house.
And what is fascinating here in terms of looking at a solution to this point is that we cannot fake authenticity or inner stability – because children are like walking lie detectors, whether they directly expose us or internalize the lies they see us make. And so to change this point, to present them with an example of a way of living that isn’t based on rushing through life in survival-mode, we are actually going to have to change ourselves for real. And this is something that will not only benefit our children but most certainly also ourselves.
Within my work I am on a tight schedule every day, all day to get from one place to another, from one student to another. It quite resembles the daily rut that most of us find ourselves in. And if I can walk into a classroom and unconditionally be present and here for 30 minutes with the result of having an enjoyable and educational lesson with a child, then every parent and teacher should be able to do the same. I’m not saying that it is easy – I’m still working on it myself. But I have seen tremendous results within doing this already in terms of the level of intimacy and mutual enjoyment that opens up, where I in no way see the child as a burden, but as a being that I can learn from and whom I can myself with and teach in a way that both of us can enjoy.
So my suggestion is the following: Do an experiment. Next time you meet a child and a moment opens up of being able to spend some time together, sit down, breathe, and stabilize yourself here. Let go of all the thoughts about where you must be, where you’d rather be, whom you’d rather be with. Let go of that nagging experience of stress and rush and simply sit down and talk. Look at the child, share yourself with them, tell them about your day, get some play-dough out of a box or get a hold of those crayons and start drawing. Even if it is only for 30 minutes, it might bring a quality to your life, you didn’t even realize was missing. It could almost be a form of therapy on its own to spend time with a child, because they will stand as an example of how it is possible to live, how to walk with one’s physical body at a natural and comfortable pace. They will show you how to be present here and how to discover the physical world anew in an unconditional enjoyment of being alive… if you let them. So instead of being so focused on bringing children into our world, we should try living in theirs for once and we might realize that we’ve missed out on the most important part of being alive, namely: Being Alive. 
I also recommend reading the following blogs:

Education in the New World Order    

Education is a Human Right
Deconstructing the Root of All Evil
World’s best Education is based on Equality 
The Fall of our Education System
Application of Knowledge, is it being Fostered in ourEducational Systems? – Education Research Part 1