Ask people to introduce themselves, and they will likely give their first and last names. Ask for more information, and they may refer back to their parent’s or grandparent’s. Additional inquiry may prod them to talk about a few of their ancestors. How many times can someone expect to hear people refer to their connection to early man or to the universe – the cosmic connections that enable people to co-exist with other humans and things – living and non-living?
Is this apparent disconnection, as evidenced by our treatment of nature and each other, imply a lack of awareness or is there is lack of concern about the overall humanity and its connections? Awareness of the history of the universe, the creation, the chaos, the circle of life, the central role of humans, and the notion of how it all co- exists may be the key to finding relevance in the lost connections that tie us together. This awareness is the central theme of the Interiors method of education.
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Through the idea of cosmic education and the notion of applied philosophy, Italian physician and educator Maria Interiors developed an educational system wherein helping he development of the complete human being is the goal. This paper examines the missing connections, exploring how we understand the complexities and chaos all around us, and asks how Interiors education may provide a meaner to connect the dots. The Enormity and Complexity of the Universe Humans have a long history of trying to understand the vastness of the universe and their place in it.
As we approached the 20th century, evolution theories about the origin of the universe had proceeded at a rapid pace. New discoveries and inventions, such as telescopic devices, enabled people to see parts of the universe ever before imagined. But, up until the last century, and in some cases, even now, most origin theories have been religious in nature. Ancient Greek mythology believed fiery that gods battled, bore children, and, eventually, formed the universe. Hinduism believes that reincarnated gods created the subsequent versions of the Universe. Jude-Christian tradition holds that God spoke and created a universe.
The stories of Hopi Indians tell of how their ancestors descended from the first man, in a world far below the present one, who climbed up through four successive worlds along a reed, and emerged in the world we know today. The commonalities of many of the origin myths and beliefs in the world are dependent upon faith in the existence of a Divine Being: the First Creator who started it all, but who cannot be seen. Such faith is not dependent on any scientific proof, but, rather, upon the stories passed down to people through their families, religions, and cultures.
Can we fully understand the history of humans without exploring the story of the Universe and humanity? Mathematical cosmologist Brian Swimmer (2011) said “Today we know what no previous generation knew: The history of the universe and the unfolding of life on Earth” (p. Perhaps we have to dig deeper to answer the questions when asked to introduce ourselves and find our true identities. Are not identities that came into existence in a matter of a millisecond and spread over billions of light years are fascinating as they are awe-inspiring?
Geologist Thomas Berry (2007) stated that “To tell the story of anything, you have to tell the story of Everything”). Swimmer (2011) further says that, “The appearance of atoms enabled the universe to enter an entirely new phase of its creativity. If no atoms had formed, the luminous matter would continue in the form of plasma” (p. 4). Are we then not obliged to thank that atom, which at the right time, with its correct chemistry, brought the universe, and subsequently, this place we call Earth, into existence?
While the basic elements like hydrogen and helium existed from the beginning of our universe, it took over 300 million years before the formation of galaxies. Per Swimmer (201 1): What is the ultimate origin of a star’s radiance? It comes from the intense compression of matter under the force of gravity… The mass of the future star creates the gravity necessary to give birth to the star itself. In that sense, each star is a self-generating event. (p. 28) How often do we find ourselves astonished by the glimmering light of a star in a clear night sky? How many can imagine that the star whose glimmer is reaching us today may no longer exist?
How Are Humans Thinking Now? As we do more research and gain more scientific proof, more and more people and societies are deriving their meanings from that rationality and rigorous scientific proof. Societies are no longer following religion based on blind faith; rather, they are basing their beliefs on faith tempered with reason. It is getting harder for the subsequent generations to follow faith without reasonable explanation from the world around them. There are reasons to believe that, more than ever, many are now looking for reasoning that goes along with the changing universe.
The changing outlook and mindset could possibly be the result of findings that the universe is changing as well. In 1929, Edwin Hubble made the incredible discovery that whenever a person looks at the sky, he or she can see distant galaxies moving rapidly away from each other. The universe is continuously expanding. Since that discovery, astronomers have had many hypotheses of how matter in the universe went from being closely packed together to achieving the distances perceived today. The Big Bang theory is considered to be the popular theory that paints a picture of the origin of the universe.
Scientists developed the Big Bang Theory to explain the origins and development of the universe twenty to thirty billion years ago. Initially, the universe was in an extremely hot and dense state and began expanding rapidly. Past the early expansion, the universe cooled sufficiently to allow energy to be converted into articles: protons, neutrons, and electrons. After forming giant clouds of these particles, stars and galaxies were formed while the heavier elements were synthesized either within stars or during supernovae. A supernova is a massive explosion of a star that happens during two scenarios.
The first is when a star undergoes a nuclear-based explosion after reaching its limits. The second, and more common, is when a massive star reacts during its burning process. The Big Bang theory core ideas – the expansion, the early hot state, the formation of helium, and the formation of galaxies – are derived from these and other observations that are independent of any cosmological model. As the distance between galaxy clusters is increasing today, it is inferred that everything was closer together in the past, as shown in Figure 1 . Figure 1 . The expansion of the universe per the Big Bang Theory.
Out of the vast cloud of the early universe, clusters of galaxies and multi-centric universes were formed. One such galaxy, our own the Milky Way, is an enormous wonder of clusters of stars and solar systems. Our solar system, although unique in its own way, is one of millions in the galaxy. The positioning of the various planets in this system provides or a molten rock we call Earth to be ideally and delicately placed to support a sustenance system referred to as life. As Swimmer (2011) stated, “After life had seeped into the functioning of the planet’s systems, a great emergence took place.
A living planet -a complex, self-organizing system – arose with the capacity to maintain the delicate conditions of life (p. 56). We now enjoy our planet with all its self- organizing systems and its capabilities to adapt and survive the many conditions of life. If there were any errors in the birth of the universe, then how would we have men brought into existence to admire and enjoy the many gifts of nature? One can also imagine the brittle nature of this existence as evident by the recent close calls Earth had with two meteors.
Connections of the Universe to the Earth and Life What then is our role in the Universe? The brevity of humans is akin to the notion of the “frog in the well” whereby the frogs vision of the universe, which is limited to what he knows the well, is commandeered to its every whim and existence while the reality is that the well is a speck in the collage of the universe. Our societies today might be focused on mass-production and artificial growth, but how often does mankind ponder upon the delicate balance with which our Universe came into existence?
Is it lack of knowledge or our inability to share the “Story of our Universe” that is creating this ignorance? Theoretical physicist, David Boom (XX) says “During the past few decades, modern technology, with radio, television, air travel , and satellites, has satellites, has woven a network of communications which puts each part of the world into almost instant contact with it all the other parts. Yet, in Pete of this world-wide system of linkages, there is, at this very moment, a general feeling that communication is breaking down everywhere, on an unparalleled scale. ” (p. ) One must be sensitive to the changes around them, to respond to those changes and to realize the importance of the subtle differences that make us unique. Perhaps humility is necessary to realize what Nature endures due to the new ways of life we are creating today. The formation of our planet Earth took about 2 billion years. Since its origination, our planet has undergone many critical changes to its climatic ND geographical conditions. We began from tribal hunter – gathers and have become the industrialized people who, it seems to me, believe ourselves to be masters of nature.
From my perspective, there is a certain discontinuity between humanity and the natural world. With the beginning of the Achaean period, over 2. 5 billion years ago, our atmosphere was made of methane, ammonia, and other gases; it is hard to now consider how human life came to be as it is today. As Swimmer (2011) says: “Earth was once molten rock and now sings operas” (p. 12) “All Creativity and all consciousness rise in the same mysterious way. ” The Cenozoic era- about 65 million years – is considered to be the most recent era. During this era, we learnt about the existence of provisions (early monkeys).
Psychologist and Chimpanzee expert Roger Foots (1997) states “The chimpanzee is humankind’s closest living relative and a member of the great ape family, which also includes gorillas and orangutans” (p. 4). Later, he remarked, “Evolution threatened, and continues to threaten, the fundamental Platonic premise of all Western philosophy: that humans alone are capable of rational thought. Darwin argued that e resemble our ape kin not only anatomically but mentally as well” (1997, p. 52). In spite of the fact that we are part of the great ape family, do today’s humans not rule over the planet as if it belongs solely to to them?
The fact that it was a home of many other living creatures before us is considered to be non-relevant. Poet and professor Drew Dillinger frequently mentions how Western cultures need “Earth day’ or something else significant to realize how distant we are from our roots. He says, “Earth is sacred and nature is alive, only Western culture has taken turn towards Mechanistic thinking. Physicist and systems theorist Frito Copra (1996) said “Deep ecology does not separate humans -or anything else -from the natural environment.
It sees the world not as a collection of isolated objects, but as a network of phenomena that are fundamentally interconnected and interdependent” (p. 7). Perhaps educating our generations about the story of the Universe from its beginning will enable our societies to have the sensitivities needed to co-exist amidst the ever growing cultures and differences we now face. Order in Chaos As English professor John Briggs and physicist David Peat (XX) state, “At one mime or another, we’ve all get our lives were out of control and heading toward chaos. For us, science has striking news.
Our lives are already in chaos- and not Just occasionally, but all of the time” (p. 1). Chaos theory teaches us to expect the unexpected and be prepared for what comes to us. By understanding that complexities may arise in plans, a person might be better prepared to change the course of action, if needed. Chaos is all around us. However, it seems to me that our society has yet to welcome the idea that chaos can be more subtle then we’ve considered it to be, that has is a very important part of our universe as it “uses chaos in remarkable ways to create new entities, shape events, and hold the Universe together. ” (Peat & Briggs, XX 1).
I found it interesting to learn that the underlying reason people try to avoid chaos could be because it makes them feel “out of control,” a feeling many people can relate to either at work or in their personal lives. Briggs and Peat point out that “The ideal of ‘being in control’ is so much a part of our behavior that it has become an obsession, even an addiction” (p. 8). Are we ready to adapt to the new meaning of chaos? Per Briggs and Peat(XX), “Every single morning we also have the choice to be open to the creativity of chaos, open to the world around us, open to the possibility that we can make our lives afresh” (p. 30).
Imagine that next time there is complete chaos in our lives, we have the opportunity to have a positive outlook because we believe that what emerges will be new and beautiful. According to Briggs and Peat 00000, “People who regularly engage in creative activities usually resonate immediately with the description of how chaos emerges into form, recognizing that they also collaborate with chaos” (p. 19). Our society from school to industries is continuously seeking “creative” individuals to be a part of the team. Are those businesses ready to adapt to the initial chaos that they may occur before the desired results are achieved?
Schools that initially adapted to the factory method of teaching are now revisiting their curriculums and focusing more on arts and creativity in their learning environment. Briggs and Peat (XX) also say, “The idea that true creativity is limited to special individuals is one of our great myths. ” (p. 1 1) People seem to be labeled as either “creative” or “not creative,” but perhaps it is time o revisit what is defined as creative. Is it being “artsy’ or simply thinking “outside of the box”? In either case, the should the goal not be to consider “self-organization” and an environment that preserves individual creativity?
As per Briggs and Peat (XX) “Westbound it be great to participate in vital self-organized democracies where our individual creativity generates the system and is in turn stimulated by it? ” (p. 73). Education in a Chaotic World Mainstream education in the majority of nations around the world follow the method of education established during the sass’s. Based on the factory model in he times of Industrial Revolution, school were a prep-ground to create efficient students our society can later utilize. Professor and Interiors educator, Phillip Gang (1989) described the education system as an assembly line. P. Formal schooling typically began at age of five and often as the first exposure to any form of education. John Locke, a 17th century philosopher, viewed the child as a blank slate or an empty vessel needing to be filled by the educator assigned. Students were placed in a large group according to their age where the teacher adapted to the whole class teaching model. Often imposed by an outsider, traditional education was to designed to fill the need for the kind of human resources the society desired during the Industrial Revolution and in later years.
On a typical day, the children were to sit quietly at their place and listen to one individual after another reading the assigned book until they were called upon to take their turn. Students continued their studies at home, perhaps processing the readings, and then completing the assigned work. The same material being taught to every child in that age group gave no room for a child to catch up if he or she had difficulties. Traditional education is often associated with a very pressurized environment, one that sometimes even included corporal punishment as part of classroom management.
Traditional schools are often only able to provide a teacher-centric approach to education. With students in close age ranges and presumed to be close in abilities, direct instruction is obtained through the instructor, assigned textbooks, and assignments. Lack of correlation between topics and learning in isolation often provides little or no social development opportunities. In fact, students are often discouraged from socializing and peer- learning. The bond between the student and instructor is weak due to the formal relationship students are expected to maintain.
A child’s success in education is based on individual performance, and schools are quick to label a child “best” or “worst” based on the translation of the knowledge received into test grades. The mantra of memorization rules traditional education. Knowing the right answer prevails on the need to understand the subject in depth. There is no room for error. Traditional education is a teaching-based approach wherein learning is not necessarily the goal as it is assumed that the teaching leads to learning. As commonly seen today, most middle and high school students have six or seven subjects to learn about over a course of the year.
They are expected to adapt to several teachers’ teaching styles, rather than the teacher trying to adapt to the unique learning needs of each child. The focus is on the class subject matter rather than on the individuals that comprise the class. There isn’t much room for customization since the educational curriculum is often dictated by the school district and implemented by the school administrators. Are we still following the same goals of producing the student we believe will be needed in the society? And if so, is it really working?
The next section looks at the Interiors method as one possible way to educate children in a way that meets the needs of society by addressing the needs of the individual students. The Interiors Way Maria Interior’s educational approach found offered a wake of possibility and change in the education system. Interiors believed in the notion of applied philosophy. Her goal, unlike the goals in the traditional education, was to aid the complete development of an adult human being – a human that was part of the society.
Interiors education begins with the understanding that the role of an educator s to unfold the many powers with which the child is born. The child has an inborn capability to guide the formation of the mind. A beautiful quote that paints a picture of how a Interiors teacher is distinct from a traditional teacher can be seen in a quote from Interior’s book The Interiors Method (XX): In the Children’s Houses, the old-time teacher, who wore herself out maintaining discipline of immobility and who wasted her breadth in loud and continuous discourse, has disappeared.
For this teacher we have substituted the didactic material, which contains within itself the control of errors and which makes auto-education possible to each child. The teacher thus becomes a director of the spontaneous work of the children. (p. The Interiors philosophy is based on the observation and needs of the child rather than imposing what adults believe to be the best for the child. I find Interior’s focus on the whole child to be a refreshing shift from a teaching-centered classroom. The Interiors classroom, through the preparation of the environment and the educator, facilitates the learning process by cultivating independence and elf-discipline to personal achievement and growth. The prepared environment provides an opportunity for a child to collaborate and discover based on individual interest and unique abilities. Students move beyond rote memorization to achieve higher level thinking skills. With permission to move about and work in collaboration, children are empowered to develop socially, emotionally, and academically.
Unlike traditional education, Interiors designed the curriculum holistically bringing the use of one subject in as part of the big puzzle. With mixed-age groups, students function as in real-life communities. As the older students blossom in the key role of leadership, students have the ability to learn not with each other but from each other. Being able to remain in a classroom for a three-year period allows students to learn the importance of community and gives them an opportunity to develop a strong sense of belonging.
This environment also provides an opportunity for the teacher and child to create a kinship relationship that might benefit the learning process. As Interiors said in her book The Secret of Childhood (XX), “It is through the environment that the individual is molded and brought to perfection…. Since child is formed by his environment he has need to preside and determined guides and not simply some vague constructive formulae”(p. 32). Upon careful observation, Interiors established Four Planes of Development (shown in Figure 2) marked with specific characteristics as well as certain needs and sensitivities.
These four key developmental planes in the Journey to adulthood are as follows – 0-6 years old, 6-12 years, 12-18 years, and 18-24 yr. Each of these planes has its own goals; in the first, the development of the self as an individual being. In the second plane, the velveteen of the “social being” takes precedent; in the third, the birth of the adult and finding one’s sense of self emerges before consolidating into the mature personality and becoming a specialized explorer in the fourth plane.
The complete development of the adult human being requires the specific needs of each of these periods to be satisfied. Figure 2. An illustration of the Four Planes of Development further describes what Interiors followed as guiding principles in education. Within each of these planes the child or adolescent has specific “sensitivities” or windows of opportunities o acquire a particular human trait; for example, there is a sensitivity that guides the child to the acquisition of its language in the first plane (0-errs) and another that guides the child to the development of a moral compass in the second plane.
In addition to these age-specific sensitivities, human beings have a number of behavioral tendencies that give each child the ability to adapt to its place and time. For example, the human traits to explore order, manipulate, imagine, repeat work, and communicate have been crucial to human evolution and are active within the child. Cosmic Education – Connecting the Dots Cosmic is defined as “of or relating to the universe, especially as distinct from Earth, infinitely or inconceivably extended. The principles of Cosmic Education revolve around the natural development of an individual from infancy to maturity, also known in Interiors education as “sensitive periods” or the “planes of development,” and the vision of indivisible unity that emphasizes interdependencies between the living and the non-living agents of creation. Interiors recognized that all of science and history tell portions of the same story – the creation of the Universe. In its own unique way, Interiors philosophy offers children context for and reveals the connections between subjects.
Astronomy, chemistry, geography, history, and biology are presented in an intertwined curriculum that shows the relationship of the subjects. Interiors considered each child to be a cosmic agent, one who has the ability to lead the full progress of the human race. The basic premise of Cosmic Education allows the tying in and relating of all elements in the curriculum rather than teaching each subject in isolation. Interior’s cosmic education naturally relates all areas of knowledge to the cosmic task and our connectivity to it.
Cosmic education helps each learner search for his or her cosmic task both as an individual and as part of the human species. Study first focuses on the story of the Universe narrowing it down to the individual community they reside in. This gives children a bigger picture and the ability to consider themselves as part off puzzle and not the puzzle itself. While enabling children to satisfy their growing imagination, Interiors learning provides a common ground for censorial experience and abstract thinking. Cosmic education may be a powerful tool to protect the humankind from the endless acts of war and aggression.
Cosmic education teaches children to recognize the needs all people share and to be aware of the social differences by which cultures meet those needs. “Let us give the children a vision of the universe,” wrote Interiors (XX) in To Educate the Human Potential. “The universe is an imposing reality and the answer to all questions” (p. M). As global awareness increases, it seems to me that we are seeing more talks and initiatives towards world peace, open communication, and problem solving. This conversation is brought into the classrooms by introducing peace education.
Interiors observed firsthand children’s eagerness to understand themselves, their world, and their place in it. Interior’s vision of cosmic education was to give children an opportunity to grow into responsible members of the family and allow them to work towards transforming the world. Cosmic education leads us to the understanding of the cosmos and our evolving task in the Universe thereby giving us hope and providing meaningful perspective to the human experience. Conclusion If we agree that young minds are impressionable, the question for education becomes “What template should be used to impact that impression?
I find that the human mind to be a phenomenally beautiful creation of nature: how the synapses and connections are made is largely a function of how the impression is fashioned. Interiors discovered that for such a template to be fashioned correctly, it must be one that allows the mind to come to natural conclusions – one that is both imaginative and intuitive. A mind fashioned in this way goes through a process of auto-education where the child begins to develop an understanding of the world around her and the interconnectedness of its elements.
What is important is that this action of imagination and intuition extends to the teacher, which leads to the recognition of the unique developmental needs of every child. From Interior’s perspective, the goal of education was to create a fully integrated human being. Focus and immersion are primordial undertakings in the first plane. A child develops a deep sense of connection and an understanding of basic elements. Understanding the creation and history of the universe is fundamental to the second plane. Cosmic education is a process by which the child learns about the world.
The cosmic stories are an important aspect of the way in which a child understands that interconnectedness. Inclusive in this learning is the understanding of the universe, the Big Bang, and how the galaxies, stars, and solar system came into existence and those relationships to each other, the development of life (its unique qualities and its delicate nature), humans (their contributions and qualities), civilizations, and the development of language (alphabets and writings, and the system of counting and numbers).
The key that binds all of these together is the interdependence and connection of all things living and non-living. In his 2010 TED talks, Sir Ken Robinson scribed creativity as “the process of having original ideas that have value, more often than not comes about through the interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things. ” The Interiors approach is an education systems that enables such creativity to take root at the earliest stages of development; a stage where human development is at its peak.