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I believe in so much that it is hard for me to choose just a few words. I love the notion of voluntary simplicity. The more we do with less the better. Is it just doing less? Is it just feeling more and just being? We make matters more complicated than they need to be. We lose sight of what really matters. Living happily is my vision. What if we live everyday to the best of our ability and do as much good as possible? We live our lives to the fullest, not separating but merging as many aspects as possible. Making fewer distinctions and separations allows me to live life meaningfully and passionately. There is meaning in it all. I may not know it all yet and may never know it, but trusting that it is there. Trusting my instincts and being intuitive enable me to see the good in most things and continue to move forward, taking many with me on the same path. At the same time, I let others pass through or cross my path or run passed me. So, live life to the fullest with its bumps and bruises along the way. Learning occurs when we have to struggle the most. Experience has taught me that there is always going to be a way out or beyond it. It may take longer sometimes; however, it is all worth it in the end.
I vow to live according to as many voluntary simplicity principles as possible. I vow to be the best I can be and to do the best I can do. I strive for happiness and be there for others whenever I can. I will take care of as many relationships as possible in the human and nonhuman world. I will change the “ I” to “we” whenever I can.
The world is a vulnerable place. A place filled with uncertainty, struggle and unknowns. I like to reflect on a life that is exactly the opposite. I like to dream and to think big. I like to change things for the better. I like to see others change things. We all have a part to play. We are all part of it. We need to see what is possible and make a difference. I include everyone who cares and like them to include me. Why are there so many divisions and disagreements? I walk away from some of them if I can. I try to negotiate others. Some of them I let go off entirely. Harmony may also not be possible. If everything is in harmony, it is in equilibrium, quite boring and unstable. Harmony is too much of the same thing and not enough variety or diversity.
I was recently asked about the philosophy of the Talons (The Academy of Learning for Outstanding, Notable Students) program and how it implements its theory into practice. Its theory and practice inform one another on almost a daily basis and our learners often influence our practice more than anything else. While its approach is grounded in the Autonomous Learner Model developed by George Betts, we adopt and merge other insights as they seem fit and a good match.
My own personal/professional philosophy of learning is mostly influenced by people such as David Orr, Chet Bowers, Fritjof Capra, Rachel Carson, Barbara McClintock, Barbara Kingsolver and Donella Meadows. Capra stresses three elements of particular importance to me:
He advocates for a shift in perception that is:
1. from the parts to the whole
2. from objects to relationships
3. from objective knowledge to contextual knowledge
4. from quantity to quality
5. from structure to process
6. from contents to patterns
Meadows refers to systems thinking as a dance:
1. get the beat.
2. listen to the wisdom of the system.
3. expose your mental models to the open air.
4. stay humble. Stay a learner.
5. honor and protect information.
6. locate responsibility in the system.
7. make feedback policies for feedback systems.
8. pay attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable.
9. go for the good of the whole.
10. expand time horizons.
11. expand thought horizons.
12.expand the boundary of caring.
13. celebrate complexity.
14. hold fast to the goal of goodness.
It is up to us to do these things!
(Source: Stone, Michael and Barlow, Zenobia (2005). Ecological Literacy Educating our children for a sustainable future).