After I was initiated as a Sangoma I felt disillusioned by how I was being taught.
I expected my teachers to make appointments with me, to give me material to learn verbatim and perhaps occasionally to have some kind of test, so that I could measure my success.
None of this happened.
It took me a long time to realise that my initiation meant that my world now operated on a different premise. Here’s what I can tell you about my tradition’s teaching methods:
It’s aimed at unleashing hidden potential.
It creates entrepreneurs. It empowers.
It requires initiative and encourages exploration and experimentation.
It allows for individuality, creativity and builds ingenuity.
It discourages parrot learning and focuses on experience.
It is respectful of your process and doesn’t interfere with it unless you ask for it.
It is not forced upon you.
It is not focused on information.
It is not mass produced.
You can’t imagine what a mind shift it was to stop expecting someone to feed me information, and to start experimenting, playing and discovering how to engage the world without a barrier; a filter that interprets on my behalf.
The truth is that you can’t force something on a person, not even information. They will store it in their minds for exactly as long as it is necessary and then erase it.
To learn, to really learn something, you need to have involve the whole person. You need to encourage inquisitiveness and ingenuity.
To really learn something, you need to initiate the learning yourself.
I spoke to a woman in her eighties the other day. She said:
“You know, I can’t believe how hard children today have to work! When I went to school it was only for three hours a day and we never had any homework. Then, when I had Mary, the hours became longer and work started coming home. These days I think school children work harder than grown-ups do!”
I heard Oprah talking about the importance of education. She has opened a school in South Africa and she believes that she’s doing something great. She’s right. Knowledge has power, but in order to gain knowledge (understanding) you also need to live.
Westerners place an enormous amount of value on intellect.
Thoughts are everything.
You are also a body, a spirit, a soul, a human being. Some things can be perceived through intellect. A lot of things simply can’t.
There are basic things we all need to learn in order to get on in life. I’m not saying we shouldn’t teach our children to read and write. I’m saying we shouldn’t institutionalize them in the process.
In a world where people are systematically developing more and more mental disorders, and teenagers are becoming more and more prone to suicide, I have to wonder:
What is the school system currently structured to do?
What is the product that it aims to create?
And what is the purpose of that product?
(Picture by Mishimoto on Flickr: Children, Ginak Gambia)
NB: Thank you so much to all my facebook friends who have put links to my new website on their profiles. You rock!