all things are ready, if our mind be so

In the last post I touched upon the value of role models, and how teaching has to involve role modelling uncertainty as an ignition for learning. This put me in mind of a particular role model of mine. As a teacher I find him a curious case. He’s an ex-grammar school boy who had an apparent disdain for his schooling experience. But boy was he good with words. I mean, just consider for a moment the meaning of the above words and how they might relate to your mindful life.

When teaching I never fail to be floored by the skittering, scattering, skirmishing assailment of ‘all things’. Then again, that’s teaching for you: in all its glorious liminality. You can pretend otherwise. But it is. The problem starts when you start pretending otherwise.

Then there’s Shakespeare’s second clause: the bit with the ‘be so’ in it. The ‘be so’ your mind needs to be ‘ready’ for. The ‘be so’ that is the unfolding moment you need to encounter. The obstacle to this is (as if you didn’t already know) your distracted mind; the voice you’ve had yammering in your head for more years than you care to acknowledge. The voice that prevents ‘all things’ being ‘ready’. The voice that’s stopping you from being ‘so’.

The quest is to get to intimately know this ‘be so’ quality of your mind. Because it’s available. My own quest started with practising mindful awareness. I thought it had started before then, with metacognition, growth mindsets and the like, but mindfulness revealed to me that it hadn’t.

Here’s the thing about mindfulness: it has absolutely no bloody effect whatsoever. It’s changes nothing. No results, no outcomes, not even the whiff of a formative or summative assessment; although I did get a certificate of attendance. On the plus side, it has given me this immeasurable sense of acceptance: of ‘all things’. But no results. Sorry, it can’t promise you that. Except for the result of making you realise that the desire to attain - to get results- might well be the thing blocking your potential to ‘be so’. That’s when you realise that there might well be an education in realising this. An education in cultivating your ‘be so’ mind; one you can use to encounter ‘all things’. 

I began to get a deeper sense - a truly deeper embodied sense (which surprised me a bit) - of what it is to be ‘ready’ in this way through the cultivation of present moment awareness. More importantly though, as a teacher, I began to see through the socially constructed narrative of what teaching is about. I began to realise that the curriculum we teach is only one half of the story; a socially constructed story that deals with the presentation of what it is we are told is worthwhile knowing. But it utterly misses out on another curriculum: that of the inner mind.

How on earth can an educator justify neglecting that world? 

Oh yes, I know. 

Because education, in its current phase, is utterly mindless.

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Every month or so I'll send out ideas and resources - what I think might be of interest and use to you, such as links to books, articles, podcasts, quotes, stories, art, music, meditations - that I hope will help inspire you to cultivate your own mindful life.