1 De-educator Profile:
1. Name: Jinan. K.b
Address: Kumbham, Aruvacode, Nilambur. Kerala. 679329
Phone: 04931 221568
Biology of knowing links http://www.vimeo.com/8026239, http://www.vimeo.com/8214350, http://www.vimeo.com/8430320
2. Very brief biographical details of background:
I am a victim of modern education which uprooted me from my culture, nature and soul. Declaration of my degrees is only to show the extend of cognitive and spiritual damage. But the most damaging has been the schooling before 12 years as it damages the tools of cognition. Degree in engineering damaged my aesthetic sense but during this time I celebrated my independence not only by not attending class but also spend time drinking alcohol and smoking grass. Thank god I was thrown out of the hostel which forced me in to isolation. This gave me time for self reflection about what is happening. I realized that this anti social behavior is due to inability to submit to the societal conditioning. I realized that in modernity most people are forced to do things they are not interested.
It was during this time I began to ponder about the damages of schooling. I took an year off to teach in a primary school, to witness, to experience what we do to children. With full faith in the school system I began to think about how to teach children better. I also began to read books by various people on how to educate children.
At NID began to explore what is wrong with teaching or conditioning ones aesthetic sense as that would make the meaning of culture irrelevant. Cultural diversity is retained due to aesthetic diversity in people which again is the result of ecological diversity. Peoples aesthetic sensibilities are awakened by engaging with the environment in which they live in their initial years and in this process get rooted so to say in their respective ‘cultures’.
On realizing that only the non literate can help me to regain my authentic sense of beauty led me to work in rural tribal areas like nagaland, orissa, Bengal etc as their knowledge is not the result of formal teaching.
First turning point began with the understanding that only non literate people can make me understand as to how knowledge is created, how learning takes place etc. They became my first teachers in search of the authentic.
Second turning point began with the discarding of reading/ the written word as the source of knowledge and recovery of experience, again re activated through the use of senses and feeling as cognitive tool.
The third turning point began with very close interaction with a new born child but by giving up all kinds of power over the child. Thus I realized children are born to remind us how far we have moved from our biological moorings.
From 1993 I have been living in aruvacode, a potters village learning/ imbibing the beingness of non literate people and at the same time trying to revitalize the dying tradition of pottery. www.kumbham.org is the site about this work.
As of now focusing more on trying to dismantle the hegemonic culture imposed through schools, hospitals and market.
www.enbaleartisan.org is an attempt in trying to get the artisans to recapture their dwindling knowledge system
3. Starting point of this alternative journey, what is the vision /driving force / philosophy?
There are two distinct phases to the journey.
First one around the question ‘how to teach children’ and the second phase which addressed to question ‘how children learn’. This made the crucial difference to the search as the first question involves psychology and conditioning and the second question centeres around biology and natural propensity.
The first one like most people in the alternative education, tries to improve teaching methods, learning environment etc which is basically trying to teach children in all kind of methods.
But unlike most people involved this search along with studying the context of schools, I also began to study how learning takes place in society especially among the non literate communities. How knowledge is created , how is it learned, transferred etc.
The second phase which began around 1998, while working with a potters community.
Inkling that beauty has biological basis is what made me look at knowledge as a biological response of the organism to survive and I found evidences after evidences to support this assumption in my interaction with non literate people and children.
The most important break through has been the finding that cognition, beauty, love etc has biological basis.
All schooling whether main stream or alternative (home schooling included) is against the true ‘nature’ of cognizing the world. The researchers and activists need to change the question ‘how to teach children’ to how children learn’. Only such a question will attempt to really understand the total system of knowing and knowledge.
That is ‘how children learn’ will also tell us what children learn. These are interconnected.
There is a need to look at the totality of our life in order to re examine and re organize the learning space of our children.
Most important thing to be kept in mind is that we are biological beings and making sense of the world is done using the biological tools of cognition. Comprehension like digestion is a process that we do not have control over.
Learning is a wrong word. Children knows by immersing and imbibing. Immersing in the world they live in and imbibing the experience.
Knowledge is of the past, is absent, is certain, is noun, disconnects from the real world, loss of awe and wonder, loss of aesthetic awareness,
‘knowing’ is of the present, is concrete, is uncertain, is verb, is experience.
‘Knowledge’ activates the reasoning mind, conscious memorizing, do not need the sense nor the values, feelings and emotion.
Schooling reverses and distorts the natural processes.
The main reversal is knowledge preceding the act of knowing. The real content being absent as the actual phenomenon is wordless and word is used to explain. Knowledge’ is of the past and hence absent to the student.
Authentic, first hand experience is termed as subjective where as second hand knowledge from books are considered objective. So any possibility of real engagement is discouraged.
Forced reasoning which is what we learn this schooling process short circuits our self organizing capacity to function and allow knowing to take place.
Real subjectivity comes from engaging with the conceptual world as each person depending on their past make up and give subjective meanings where as when on engages concretely it actually becomes objective and context specific.
Use So unlike what we have assumed that we/ children learn FROM experience we/ children in reality, learn THE experience.
of conscious reasoning to ‘understand’ short circuits true comprehension. All schooling is about use of reason which is also no good in dealing with unknown.
But I must thank few people who wrote some fantastic books that did help me before I decided to quit reading. Dostoevsky, Camus, Kafka, Ayn Rand’s Fountain head, Gandhi s autobiography, Decolonizing history by Claude, Paolo Ferire and the greatest of all Ivan Illich. Two books that were truly instrumental were not read fully. One of them was by J. Krishnamurthy which I just read one page in 1983 or 84 and probably that set in motion my journey towards unconditioning myself. The second one was left half way which actually made me quit reading or living in books to leading a real life. This was in 1990, while staying with potters in a small village- Bagusala in Parlekhmundy district of Orissa. I was reading Thoreau’s Walden pond in which be beautifully talks about his life near the walden pond and suddenly I felt the life out side is really the what he was describing. From where I was sitting and reading I could see the houses of the Shepherds, on the left were a family of weavers and further to that were the farmers etc and my own hose was that of a potter. There was so much happening there I felt what I am reading is nothing compared to the real life out side. So thank you Thoreau.
The engagement with the wisdom knowledge of non literate communities helped me to see the traps and distortions of the hegemonical western knowledge system which is authoritarian, expert /text depended and second hand. Engaging with such knowledge system completely overn turns the wholistic nature of our world views to a linear, fragmented, rational, egocentric, anthropocentric, male, west centric and now commerce centric knowledge system.
What we are experiencing now is along with destruction of our cognitive abilities and at the same time our resources are also being taken away or destroyed. Schools disconnects us both phiscically and psychologically from our age old traditional know-how by making them seem like out dated and un scientific
4. How does this translate into practice?
Two things I do is 1, Research related to how human organism learn and the damages of schooling and 2, Activism through talks/ workshops etc to create more people aware of this. These activities have come about as a result of personal exploration in knowing and being.
A. Research, collation and Documentation
Working towards creating researchers/ activists to explore and understand the biology of learning/ cognition/ aesthetic sense. In order to convince so called educated people this kind of proof and scientific studies are required.
B. Parenting workshops on how children make sense of the world.
Meant for fence sitter parents who are in double mind whether to send or not to send children to school.
C. Retreats, talks and workshops for the cognitively damaged. (awakening the aesthetic awareness, Against the tyranny of reason)
This is meant for people who want to address their own fragmentation, lack of aesthetic awareness, numbed senses, mind body split etc which are the damages caused due to schooling.
There is a need to consciously re awaken our senses, ability to observe, experience with our stored ‘knowledge’ coming in the way. Conceptual knowledge forms the framework within which the sensed and perceived thing is fitted. We then use our ideas and concepts to bring order to the world from without. Order and meaning are imposed on phenomena by the thinking of human beings.
Perception is thus potential knowledge, or knowledge in the process of being born. Aesthetic awareness takes the ‘conscious ego’ out of this experience thus re establishing our deep connection to nature.
D.Workshops and talks in schools for teachers and parents.
Giving talks/ workshops etc in interested schools as to how to do less damage to the child. How to spend less than 10 % of the time in preparing to pass examination and other 90 % in allowing children to BE.
5. Thoughts/plans if any for the future.
Research, collation and Documentation
Urgently data need to be collated based on the researches happening in the western universities in the various departments dealing with cognition, aesthetic sense, brain, neurology and artificial intelligence. How children learn has been of great interest to the Artificial intelligence departments of western universities in order to develop intelligent machines. But these findings are not being used in the education or psychology departments as their intention is to condition and clone people. There are ample evidences about childrens intelligence and innate abilities.
To fight against the dehumanization of human being done through the modern institutions- school, hospital and market. Schooling cripples your cognitive process thus killing your creativity and making you slave of the industrial system. It also deskills you from your traditional knowledge which helped us to live for centuraries with out being schooled, so as to make you depended on the market. Distrusting your body makes you depended on the industrial treatment system.
6. A personal statement or quote.
We are facing a cognitive crisis caused by schooling and ‘knowledge’. We have exchanged our biological propensity for learning/ to make sense of the world with memorized knowledge of experts.
Modernity has completely destroyed the true potential of what is to be human by distrusting the body/ beings ability and created a world depended on knowledge to be accessed from outside- books, experts etc. It has mistaken ‘word’ as knowledge.
It is like fish going to school to learn to swim or birds learning to fly.
Only from a clean slate could one begin this journey of recovery. A pre linguistic re experiencing of the world is probably required as words have taken over the cognitive space.
Schooling is the biggest crime against humanity in general and life in particular because it kills the biological propensity of the being to lead a holistic and harmonious life.
By disconnecting children from community knowledge it is deskilling the young generation of knowledge and skills of thousands of years of traditional knowledge.
It is creating clones/ slaves loaded with ‘knowledge’, slightly better than the computer.
All kinds of engagement which are unidirectional and top down disables wholistic learning. Believing in any kind of knowledge leads to superstition. So today schooling, books and experts have become the cause for creating superstition in the society.