Our Western belief system, which places high priority on the rights of the individual, creates insidious difficulty in the classroom. The individual is considered the basic social unit of our society and it can be argued that all disciplines have been affected by this mindset. David Orr sums up the problem, claiming that “education in our modern world was designed to further the conquest of nature and the industrialization of the planet.”
He says that we need a new kind of education that is “designed to heal, connect, liberate, empower, create, and celebrate.” Education, and science education in particular, must be life centered, not person centered. This is our challenge.
Our sense of self is so very small, separate, and fragile that it must be constantly defended. Joanna Macy says that our self is so “small and needy that we must endlessly acquire and endlessly consume.”
We create a powerful sense of aloofness that has made it “ok” to market drugs that will only kill 1% of the people who use them or allow unsafe aircraft to fly because it will be cheaper to pay the wrongful death lawsuits than to fix the airplanes.
I have developed an approach to teaching and living that assumes that we must face and embrace the bad news in order to fully appreciate the beauty in our world and to be motivated to preserve that beauty. This approach also involves improving our personal health and connection with our body. How can we appreciate that changing our consumption behaviors will result in improved health from fewer toxic substances in our world if we are used to not feeling all that great anyway?