Sitting on a swing, gazing over the glistening surface of the water, I found myself deep in contemplative thought. The beauty of the trees, the birds, and a gentle breeze swept me away… or maybe I should say, carried me back. In a state of presence, clarity and connection, I had an insight fall into my mind. I caught hold of a thought, some words, that carried with them incredible depth and potential for exploration. Everything whirled around these words, Education and Being.
I felt instantly inspired to share a journey of education and being. I am still not sure what this even entails. It is a start to something new, a way to contemplate, question, and learn about how being human, being a part of the world, and simply being fits into education. It is also about educating our own understanding of being. What does it mean to be?
For many years, I have been interested in understanding the intersection of education and child development with topics such as mindfulness, self-inquiry, nature, yoga, holism, the self, and compassion. My international travels have only furthered this curiosity as many schools and cultures I have visited also engage in these topics. They have challenged me to keep learning, to stay open-minded, and inquisitive. Currently, I am working as a kindergarten teacher at Roong Aroon School in Bangkok. The school is set in a stunning location and designed to be a part of nature rather than overtaking it. The philosophy of the school is based in a holistic approach with process-based, experiential learning. Mindfulness and Buddhist influences can be felt among the community of teachers and staff. It is an integral part of the way that the school runs and allows for a setting that is transformational for all who pass through.
As a full time teacher in this school, I have had the privilege to learn what it means to support the learning process of young children. As we all know, the first few years of life are so important and set the foundations for life-long learning. When I “teach” my students, I am not there to show them the meaning of English words, or count how many pieces are in a puzzle… I am there to be present to their entire being. I have to consider the greater values of being that will be relative throughout their lives. We share together a joyful journey of learning and growing. I have quickly realized that in order to accomplish this, I need to develop myself, develop my own being. As I develop myself, as I transform, so do my students. In return, my students are the ones who give me the opportunities to be challenged, questioned, and moved into my own being. In this way, we are deeply connected. It is a reciprocal unfolding of being. To be in relation with the child in this way leads us back to ourselves, to presence and awareness.
This blog is a beginning, a new look, a look again, at what it means to be in education, and to have education in our being. It is mostly a personal exploration and opportunity to engage in deep thinking about educational topics that matter to me. I doubt that anything I share here will be completely novel since there are so many educationalists, teachers, philosophers, and spiritual leaders who have already discussed these things in great depth. I am simply encouraged to share my thoughts with others who are interested in continuing this movement. I am so grateful and honored to be able to have these experiences in the world and in the world of education. I therefore hope that this blog can serve as a venue to learn and grow as part of a larger global community interested in education and being.