“We shall not cease from exploration
HOW DO WE DO THIS?
Travelers: From the beginning, we ask participants to approach each phase of the training as though they were entering a foreign country. All around is a world of unfamiliar sights, sounds, colors, tastes and customs. It is a time to try new things, from sarongs to kilts and from calamari to the local stew pot – whatever it may hold. In this unfamiliar territory there will be many new and strange ideas and experiences. Even the familiar will be approached in new ways. We ask participants to lean in fully – suspending judgment and opinion, noticing but not acting on their resistance – until they have tasted all that is offered.
Later participants will have the opportunity to reflect on and critique their experiences. They will compare the new with the old, sometimes rejecting one or the other, sometimes weaving them together into new, whole cloth. But it all begins with openign to the new. In the end it is critical for the teacher to be able both to lean in fully without judgment and to step back and reflect objectively. Only then can she choose wisely.
HEAR DIRECTLY from the TRAINEES:
SEE the TRAINING in ACTION
Contemplative Education: Contemplation can be defined as the viewing of something for its own sake, giving complete attention or standing in rapture. This quality of attention is central to all we do in this program, be it arts, movement, study or community life.
The contemplative attitude that runs throughout this program is specifically cultivated through a non-sectarian mindfulness meditation practice. This particular practice has been used in many traditions throughout the world. By sitting still and bringing our attention to our breathing, mindfulness meditation brings us back, again and again, to the present moment. It is here we rediscover our simple humanity and natural appreciation for life. Like the child, we see things anew; we come to know each moment for the first time. This is the openness of the beginner’s mind. This practice does not preclude any other form of spiritual, religious, or psychological practice students may be pursuing on their own, but offers a simple and direct way we can come back to the present moment.
Does this mean our only concern is ourselves? No – quite the opposite. Contemplative practice provides a foundation for working genuinely with the issues of our time. We believe a global perspective must be based on viewing the peoples and cultures of the world for their own sake. An ecological one must grow from perceiving the earth for its own sake. And how can we possibly know the compassion of an ethical or religious view unless we look with open eyes, awake to the moment?
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” – Shunryu Suzuki, Roshi
Outside In and Inside Out: To provide direct, experiential learning, we work from both the outside in and the inside out. Working from the outside in, participants engage in research, presentations and lectures on specific views of child development, curriculum, and methodology. They are challenged to look through each theorist’s eyes and connect with his wisdom and passion. In this process they come to see which ideas resonate with their own experience and which do not. As different, and sometimes contradictory views are encountered, each participant discovers more about her own assumptions and biases, and more about her own wisdom.
Working from the inside out, participants undertake a variety of artistic endeavors that bring them direct, personal experience of how children learn at different stages. For example, they are asked to enter the young child’s world where learning happens primarily through imprinting/ imitation. Expert and beginner alike will learn to play recorder, paint, and dance solely by following the instructor’s movements. Immersion in the texture of the child’s experience has a deep and far-reaching impact as participants awaken sleeping capacities and re-visit their own childhoods. From this internal vantage point they are asked to look outward and re-evaluate their own views of education.
Joining Body, Heart, and Mind – An Artistic Approach: Underlying the Enki approach is the understanding that human beings have several very different capacities – divergent modes of experiencing, learning and expressing. In the Enki program, we call these body, heart, and mind.
Although each of us experiences all three capacities throughout life, in the course of child development there are successive stages in which different capacities are dominant. Each capacity has its own strength and its own challenge. In the realm of body, we rediscover the ability to explore and express through movement, and the open, unbiased quality of being imprinted by all we meet. Here we find the young child. In the realm of heart, we rediscover the artist in us as we explore color, song, and story, bringing learning to life through the imagination. Here we find the grade school child. As we question, analyze, and wander down logical mazes, we train the powerful gifts of mind. Here we find the adolescent, awakening to new powers of thought.
Mirroring this process of development, in the Enki Teacher Training Program we strive to re-awaken and integrate these capacities. We are working for a harmony that goes beyond balance. It is not so much a matter of making sure we have a fair share of everything in our stew, but that the ingredients are mixed to create a single dish. At different ages for the child and in different contexts and endeavors for the adult, particular combinations will spark this harmony. Throughout the Enki program, in every class and every workshop we strive to draw on all three capacities and weave them together; this is the seat of well-being.
By its very nature this is an artistic undertaking. The teacher works with the elements of each class much as a painter brings together colors or a musician, tones. Specific concepts, skills and traditional arts are the colors on the teacher’s palette; music, painting, drama, and movement are as much a part of the academic learning as are study of facts and ideas. No particular skill or prior artistic experience is necessary; artistic training is part of the course work.