As I close my eyes and drift away to a land where there is love, health, peace and blessings. I wanted to take the time to think and reflect.
The truth is that I was thinking about the idea of protection of the environment. Who is responsible for this? Is it the students who are arriving at school to learn? Are they solely responsible for the protection of the environment? Can we as adults place this responsibility upon them? The truth is that in the early years of schooling it is important to enable a love and appreciation for the environment. This love and appreciation will develop into a sense of care, for the environment or habitats where human beings live.
As children or students get older, or reach the higher grades of schooling, they may experience anxiety or worry when exposed to some of the troubling challenges of our time, with regards to the environment. Of course some of these are socially constructed, and some are not. The question is that if students are experiencing worry, or anxiety, should educators stop and decide that the subject matter or topics should be avoided?
This is where the element of courage and the ability to take risks as an educator arises. Rather than avoiding topics, why not support students through controversial learning? The controversies or tensions within learning are actually a good preparation for entering the public sphere. In the realm of the public there will be choices, chances, and risks that students will have to take. When engaging in controversial learning it is important to remember that previous learning, or life experiences will influence how students perceive learning at the present moment. So it is important for the educator to understand the brain structures that are involved with both learning and emotion.
If there are experiences that have caused trauma in the past, controversial learning could trigger these memories. So even a topic such as care for the environment requires careful planning. Because in it's essence, this topic does not exist in isolation. You cannot talk about the environment and not think of health, peace, poverty, or any other social issues. If you think about it, the topic of the environment is actually quite political. Whilst teaching this topic, we cannot burden students to say that they are responsible for the care of the environment, but we can instill teachings to create shifts within the students thinking, to develop a sense of care. Even the intention to act is a type of action, that will inspire action.
Here we can also think about how human values play a role in decision making. If behaviour does not match our thinking, then of course the chance of cognitive dissonance is high. If a student knows that he or she is causing environmental damage, for example: littering. They may feel this sense of dissonance, because that have learned the effects of littering through their learning. Morals and values coupled with learning can indeed create pivotal shifts within human beings. Our levels of awareness has been increased, and also the process of education is hopefully doing something to human beings.
These thoughts can also be transferred to any topic that involves controversial learning. Topics that cause discomfort or tensions can be viewed as vital for the processes of innovation, because knowledge must constantly be produced for the benefits of service practice, as well as for further investigations.
Dedication: These thoughts are dedicated to all beings, to all who have incurred injustice through power structures, know that you are loved. My thoughts with love & kindness! :)
Notes: These thoughts were originally hand - written on August 4th, 2017.