Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Rethinking Education - understanding the biology of learning

I met Jinan almost at the end of my 2 months trip in India. He was one of those special visitors stopping by at Shikshantar who I should meet up with said Manish, saying I would like Jinan. Manish, the founder of Shikshantar, always seemed to have an extraordinary antenna for who to put in touch with each other, or around which particular topic. In my case he's always been spot on, actually more than that, I almost felt that he had an ability for some form of pre-emergent sensing, as if he was a pinch ahead of us, maybe without even realising himself.
I just came back from spending a couple of days outside of Udaipur, celebrating Diwali with an Indian family in a nearby village and by that time had already forgotten Manish's special announced guest. When I entered Shikshantar I saw an older man with a long white beard, somehow Sufi like, sitting on the big rug in the light near the big window with lots of people around him, listening to his stories and looking at the art albums he brought along. I was curious what everyone was looking at, what they were listening to and so fascinated by.

When I approached the group I saw the images he brought along in a book of a workshop he led. It was filled with images and creations of artisans, of potters and of children from the numerous villages he had visited in the past 20 years. The images were portraying the beauty of their creations, of their work, their plays. There were clay figures, tiles, images and objects made from leaves, twigs, colour arrangements and others.

Jinan was immediately captivating though I only really got to know him and his stories on the following day, when I had the chance to interview him for an article in the learning bulletin which Shikshantar publishes on a regular bases. Manish suggested I speak to him about what he called "biology of learning" as it would fit quite well with the theme of the next bulletin being centred around that topic and the challenges of cognition.

Speaking to Jinan has been a tremendous pleasure. I felt I couldn't have met him at a better point of time in my trip. I very strongly resonated with his interests around natural processes of creativity using all our senses and our capacity to experience the world, on aesthetics and creative learning, on child development and human life cycles in the context of Nature and community. Hearing about his experiences and insights from spending the last 20 years in rural India with indigenous tribes and illiterate communities, felt like receiving a huge gift, a gift of affirmation to something that has been with me throughout my travel, like finding some of the responses to the questions which I have carried with me for some time now without ever articulating them, but carrying them with me with a sense of unease, doubt or discomfort but also with an inspiration for a different way of living, creating and upbringing of our youth which has not arrived in our very conscious, sorted and clearly articulated world yet.

Thank you Jinan for a true inspiration you have brought to so many of us who had the chance to meet you these days!

(Part 1 total length - 12:01 mins)

(Part 2 total length - 17:05 mins)

( Part 3 total length - 14:13 mins)

( Part 4 total length - 5 mins)

Jinan's website

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