In September 2016 I joined Keen School, as a teacher of English as a second language in Bilthoven, in the Netherlands. Gerdt and Janneke Kernkamp have founded this innovative schooling initiative, designed to holistically educate children from three up to eighteen. Recognising that the current outdated industrial production model of education essentially is cramming information and knowledge into students. Whilst simultaneously developing and refining their ability to pass exams, which hardly equips students to promote the self-awareness and numerous other capabilities they will sorely need, to live meaningful adult lives.
With a long career working with children and young adults, having severe to extreme difficulties in their lives in the UK. I have been aware for sometime, how painfully ill equipped the UK education system has been for those who are less compliant and willing to conform to the system. Working for five years with the Foyer Federation’s holistic housing model, I was a champion and ambassador for a strengths based youthwork innovation termed Open Talent. This was developed with the aim of transforming the way youth focused institutions worked with young people, from a model based on deficits and problems to one based on the individuals’ potential and passions.
Thus with no experience of formal teaching, Keen School provided me an ideal opportunity to experience innovative education from inside a school. The opportunity also afforded me the moment to reflect on the relationship between education and evolutionary purpose. Evolutionary Purpose is a key component in Frederic Laloux’s analyses of how reinvented or next stage organisations will function in the future.
Education and Purpose
The motive to teach, to instruct to draw out a student’s potential as an educator, instructor or teacher, is more often a calling a vocation, which in my view has a selfless component to it. My interpretation and experience of this calling, is that it does not primarily concern possessing, accumulating or becoming, exclusively for one’s self, one’s own gratification. Foundational to this impulse in my reading of and lasting experience of it, is an energetic motive to serve, for the betterment and benefit of others. This motive when authentic, arises from a place of deep commitment, having the power to endure and rebound from even the most horrendous of circumstances and reassert its essentially buoyant nature. This characteristic is very far away, from that sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach, that many tolerate on their way to work in the morning.
The instinctual urge to assist others with pain, to relieve suffering, to draw out people’s capacities, to help them learn, to instill peace, to create a better world, are at their best and most unsullied, deep callings. They originate from a mysterious purpose that compels the human spirit towards an ultimately more engaged and fulfilling life through serving the other. A calling in my view has metaphysical origination, it runs counter to the materialist worldview, in many ways in healthcare, medicine, schooling and a multitude of other contexts, these selfless impulses are being distorted and subverted by the way the technocratic world functions, hence the reason and urgent need for a school like Keen.
Education and Evolutionary Purpose
It is my experience that paying attention and being conscious of the nature of such a deep motive vocation or calling, being conscious of its core characteristic’s potentially carries immense restorative and regenerative power. To understand the mechanics of it, how the motive affects self and others, can deeply assist and stabilize people, who experience a calling, towards evolutionary purpose. These primal, before thought qualities, are mysteriously connected in my experience to the very nature of evolution itself.
The characteristics and qualities of the evolutionary impulse, the ongoing flaring forth of the cosmos into creation, are deeply buried and unconscious in most of our experience. Yet the capacity to be present to and ability to recognise the deep time origins, of human experience not merely as some utterly distant external event, but as intrinsic part of lived experience is in my opinion awakening to evolution itself. The origin of the drive to improve the world to assist others is a profoundly universal phenomenon and as such is embedded in the nature of evolution itself. Thus to surrender to a calling, to an altruistic mission, to serve with no reward, no material gain in mind, to engage fully in this emotional labour, to serve this vocation fully and completely, is to participate in the creation and recreation of evolution itself. This blog will in the intervening weeks and months attempt to explore and uncover similar primal altruistic urges that are potentially engines of evolutionary development.