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Education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself.
-- John Dewey
What if, as depth psychologically-minded cultural workers, we labored against falsely separating the processes of individuation from those of liberation?
-- Mary Watkins and Helene Shulman
"I think it would be a good idea."
-- Gandhi's response to being asked what he thought about civilization
What is Deep Education?
“Deep Education” as I conceive it and attempt to practice it encourages the evolution of our relationship with our animated and reactive planet from one of objectification, alienated consumption, and, at worst, destructive exploitation to that of a loving, responsible conversation in the ongoing human-nonhuman dialogue.
"Deep” also means encouraging the learner to probe through appearances, surfaces, and customary explanations--the “natural attitude” noted by phenomenology--to explore the motifs, images, collective fantasies, and other structural forces moving in the personal and cultural unconscious. These forces shape institutions, works of culture, and technologies alike and constitute the true foundations of our time.
Who are Deep Educators?
Deep educators are world therapists and cultural mentors who work toward just communities that can adaptively reimagine and reinvent themselves through collaborations in which every citizen can be truly free to participate. This, of course, is already happening around the world, but new mentors stand in need of reflective learning (a lifelong necessity) and networking together for common efforts.
The Deep Educators who tend these depths seem uninterested in becoming publicly popular, and for good reason. Social movements containing evolutionary potential remain powerful to the degree they attract the entire society in their direction. The Women's Movement and the Civil Rights Movement unleashed deep change by sticking to their goals and visions, NOT by trying to appeal to the mainstream (which at that time felt just fine about excluding blacks and women from politics and the workplace). Rather than succumb to the heroic temptation to change a culture, only to be absorbed by it, Deep Educators work on their own kind of culture and invite the interested to participate.
Everyone doing transformative cultural work for a just, aware, and sustainable world is a Deep Educator by virtue of passion, skill, and experience. Some have certificates and degrees, some don't. All work in service to these goals:
- Integral education of the whole person: body, vital, mental, emotional, spiritual, soulful.
- Delight in conscious, polycultural, worldwide diversity.
- Initiation into emotionally mature, wise, discerning, and loving modes of living.
- Awareness of the foundations of personal and collective consciousness.
- Collaborative leadership. "When the people lead, the leaders will follow." - Gandhi
- Affirmation of our responsibilities toward and relationships with the nonhuman world.
- Creation of safe, fair, and Earth-friendly communities of belonging.
- Networking of deep educational experiments to share best practies and pooled wisdom.
Four Deep Education Projects: Ecotherapy Groups, Sophia, Earthrise, and Terrania
If you are scared out of your mind by climate crisis and ecological devastation, you are not alone. But how to come to terms with these terrifying realities? Ecotherapists and Holos Institute psychotherapy interns are beginning to form ecocrisis groups where participants can move from paralysis and shock through a range of feelings into support and action.
To suppor the work of Deep Educators everywhere, I have formed a diverse Bay Area team to assemble a compendium of freely available cultural transformation practices that create containers, wisdom groups, and safe spaces for brewing new ideas about how to manage environmental fear and displacement, how to encourage generative leadership, how to stay intelligently networked with each other, and how to imagine the kinds of community we most desire: the multi-platform and, one day, worldwide Encyclopedia Sophia Project.
Truly transformative education cannot be segregated into separate disciplines, bloated by abstract theory, dissolved in spiritual bypass, or reduced to numbers and measurements, although it includes the latest scientific findings as well as lore from ancient wisdom traditions. A Deep Education might offer content or training, but always in service to evolving deeper, higher, and more flexible modes of consciousness-in-community.
To do this it must shatter and mine old worldviews, melting down their accomplishments into educational containers for the surfacing "new paradigm" emphasis on ecology, interdependency, networking, information, and participation as basic modes of apprehension. Following the lead of Joseph Campbell, I refer to this world paradigm, or eradigm, as Earthrise, the mythic image for our time.
Earthrise education--education for a living, networked planet--cannot remain in the classroom, although aspects of it do start there. It must draw on sources all over our planet to fashion new ideas, visions, and experiments centering on how to fashion just, sustaining, Earth-friendly communities in which world citizens feel truly at home. The global civilization capable of supporting such communities will have to be organized around new stories that frame human experience more interactively than models caught in fantasies of separateness, detachment, domination, or control.
When I think about the just, peaceful, and Earth-conscious civilization we must evolve in order to survive and flourish, the word “Terrania” floats through my mind as the code word and aspirational axis around which all my labors and projects turn, driving me onward to continue my own evolution as a Deep Educator and perpetual beginner.
Deep Education as a pathway and process, ecotherapy as a means and perspective, Encyclopedia Sophia as a resource and hub, Earthrise as the big picture for our time, and Terrania as the ultimate goal: these inform all my work as a Deep Educator.
At LinkedIn: Deep Educators Network