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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A note of dissent : Development Goals and Final report from the Second World Conference on Arts Education

"The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever pretensions of politicians, pedagogues other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else."

The above quotation is from a speech delivered by top of the class student Erica Goldson during the graduation ceremony at Coxsackie-Athens High School on June 25, 2010.
See the link

After I returned from Seoul I did post my response to many presenters. let once again raise some issues. 
The main issue that has been bothering me is the cloning of human beings though modern education. All cultural diversity is being killed and replaced by one world view.
The problem with power is that it not only corrupts the mind butt also make one blind.

As a person from India and having some what come out of the western conditioning I feel what is happening is a re colonization of non western world though the various projects- the UN, the academia, the corporate world etc.
I think a deeper enquiry/ meeting/ soul searching is required to understand and do something about it.
I consider myself a victim of modern education in general and having gone through design education at the post graduate level aesthetic education in particular.

I say this because it killed my cultural rooted ness, originality and authenticity. All of us in the non western world are being taught the western art, design and architecture and the respective histories and various movements etc.
The result is that we have a homogenized world being made today. I see this all the time in India. It is a real tragedy.
We once had several forms of architecture, artifacts and art forms and all are being destroyed by choosing the western idiom. All modern living spaces look alike.
I would request  UNESCO and the rest of the members to re think the issues raised and set up a research team to understand the whole issue all over again.
How is culture formed? How did traditional cultures create diversity?
And why is modernity creating homogenization?  How do we deal with the harm we have already done and is being carried out. Can we set up new ways doing this with out killing the originality in children?
The most important aspect missing is the understanding regarding biological basis for cognition and aesthetic sense. Why did nature create us with the propensity for beauty. (art is an intellectual construct but beauty is a biological phenomenon).

I think the real issue is to explore the wholistic way of being in the world again by re integrating art, science and language', ‘re integrating work, play and learn’, ‘re integrating intuition and reasoning’, ‘re integrating the mind and body’, ‘re integrating the feminine and masculine’ , ‘becoming PRESENT to the moment’. This is the condition in which children are born but we the so called educated end by fragmenting everything.

Schooling causes several damages. It turns us in to second hand people as we keep learning about what others have thought and did. We are all born original but schooling makes us second hand. All our senses are crippled as we never use them to make sense of the world.
Boredom is an experience typical to 'modern' human beings, again caused by schooling as it forces us to do things we do not like to do and on top of it do things against our biological or natural propensities. I suspect boredom has its roots in making us sit immobile from childhood quite against our will. Schools makes us in to rigid, mechanical and second hand  beings, ready to serve or to order as we learn 'authority' at schools. Authority of teacher, authority ofknowledge.

Let me cut short my mail. Hope we can continue this dialogue.
I am attaching the abstract of the paper i presented and link to the presentation is


Participants/ details and expectations etc of Retreat on Awakening Aesthetic awareness

Akshatha is a UKG student at Yellow Train, Coimbatore, and is at the workshop to play.

Currently researching the musical cultures of children, Chee Hoo Lum is an Assistant Professor of music education at NIE, Singapore.Chee Hoo became interested in Jinan’s work after reading 'Note of Dissent'- the email Jinan had sent to the members of the UNESCO conference in Seoul. Chee Hoo has no specific expectations from the workshop, but is open to everything the workshop may offer.

Principal at Harishree vidyalayam, Chennai, Deivanai’s interest in the workshop was sparked when she received an email about it. Having been an educator for close to a decade, she expresses a sense of dissatisfaction with the current system. She is keen to explore alternatives to mainstream education, and hopes that this workshop could be a springboard for the same.

Pushpa Gopal is also a teacher at Harishree Vidyalayam, Chennai and hopes to fine tune her senses, and achieve a new, different way oflooking at things, particularly, education.
Chitra is a home-schooling mother of two from Coimbatore. She found Jinan’s website by chance, and was fascinated by his ideas on education, some which resonated strongly with her own views. She has brought her two children- Shruthi and Akshatha- to the workshop and hopes to spend time with Jinan and the children, and become more aesthetically aware in the process.

Shakti is a class 5 student from Coimbatore who is being home-schooled. She came to know of the workshop through her mother, and liked what she heard of it. She hopes to learn new things, enjoy nature and make new friends.

Shwetank Powar is a final Year Psychology student from Pune, with a special interest in child and education psychology. Currently exploring his options for postgraduate education, he has been disillusioned with the existing alternative systems of education. Shwetank has been intereted in Jinan’s work since he read an article by him a year ago, and hopes to learn from his insights.

Khoji is from Baroda. He is part of Swaraj University, Udaipur, and loves to travel.  He followed his gut-feeling to Aruvacode after receiving an email about the workshop from a friend. He hopes to further explore his concept of heart-based spaces- Non-Violent Spaces- at the workshop.

Sridhar is an architect from Bangalore who first heard of Jinan through his wife who had met him at a conference. He isn’t sure of what to expect from the workshop, but is on a quest for knowledge He hopes to understand what aesthetic awareness is, and to help his children preseerve their natural selves. Sridhar is particularly interested in the intersection of  aesthetics and spirituality.

Shikha Nambiar is a lawyer from Pune who received the opportunity to participate in the workshop as a birthday present from her mother- a teacher who has previously attended Jinan’s workshops. Shikha intends to trade a career in law for art school, and hopes to connect with her creative side through the workshop.

Devi K from Madurai, is currently awaiting the results of the Civil Services Exam. A mother of two, she has been home-schooling her younger child for the last 10 months. Devi is here to learn. She came to know of the workshop through Sivakumar, and hopes that it will help her understand the many dimensions of ‘sense’, and open herself to the many ways of approaching a single thing.

Sivakumar B, a filmmaker and animator from Chennai has previously attended one of Jinan’s workshops as part of the events at a Tamil Heritage group run by his friend. Father to an 18-month old, he is scouting for the best method to occupy his child without resorting to standard education, and is here to observe and explore.

Ravi, from Pune, has recently begun a travel company. He met Jinan and became interested in his work during the course of setting up tours with a focus on culture and tradition. He hopes to improve his aesthetic appreciation and to enable himself to think from the heart rather than the head.

Joseph is a traveler, seeker who has been on the move since 15 years. Joseph is an amazing soul – patient, loving, humble, wise, uninhibited and fun to be with. He has spent the majority of the last 15 years in the Himalayas on his spiritual quest and generously shared his experiences with anyone who was interested. He also guided the early birds with Yoga.

Jinan, the initiator of the retreat has been exploring the damages of schooling for the past 20 years and was keen to to share the journey and see others felt about the issues.