Friday, March 29, 2013

On Midwives and Wisdom of Unconscious~

Teaching, to me, is an art. And like some other art forms, I associate tremendous sanctity with it. It is a profession of practicing ethics, discipline, and love, while facilitating students to discover knowledge/concepts. 

There is a theory in 'Karma Yoga' that has also been believed in by some psychologists/psychiatrists like M. Scott Peck, Carl Jung - "wisdom of unconscious".

The theory goes on like this for me:

Our un/sub-conscious is all knowing, supremely fast and efficient in perceiving, calculating and predicting. All the knowledge and wisdom that we can gain at any instance already resides within us. 

Like the baby that is inherently present inside the womb of the pregnant female! She can not birth a baby that is not inside her womb already!

And, so is with knowledge:  At a given instance (x,y,z,t,...) one can not learn what one's un/sub-conscious does not know already.

Learning then becomes the process of allowing the subconscious to rearrange its knowledge in a way that is comprehensible to our loud, chattering conscious minds. 

(And learning is often tough, just like birthing a baby. For both involve bringing out what is inside in dark out onto the loud chattering perceivable/thinkable existence. )

Midwives can only facilitate the process of birthing. They can not make a baby out of this air. She is not the source. 

And, teachers can only facilitate the process of learning. They can not impart any knowledge to students. 
They can only help students to discover themselves, their wisdom, and their knowledge - through their words, engagement, or any other tool that they can employ. 

In the Classroom: 

Somethings that we heard in our GEDI class and elsewhere (I am heavily paraphrasing it):

1) Some students are just not ready and engaged no matter what we do. 
2) Teaching is a two way process- both students and teachers have to be ready.
3) Sometimes it has to click. We might 'know' (have memorized by rote) something, but the knowledge has to 'click' to actually 'know'.

Some stuff we might have experienced in a classroom setting:

1) The moments in which learning really happens- whether it is during brief moments in a class, or a homework that is due in 20 minutes. Those moments are so like Csikszentmihalyi's flow experience. Silent.
2) The 'aha' moment!  As if we always knew the truth (the knowledge), but did not know that we knew! Or, never thought of it that way!

To me these are multiple lines of evidence that we only learn what we already have in our shadows and   quiet shelves of our brain. We can only learn what we are ready to learn. 

And, then to me, the teacher is no more than a mid-wife - a facilitator. That is it! 

A very important facilitator though :=)


  1. (a) Very discouraging from the teacher's point of view
    (b) You have probably assumed a static non-evolving brain here;
    (c) If your hypothesis has to be true, then the basic paradigm of ANN fails!

  2. Suddhasheel,
    a) Thanks for your comments! I agree with you that this idea is not in harmony with the traditional information-delivery pedagogy that many of us are used to.
    That is okay!:) Most changes do come to us as shocks!
    b) About non-evolving brain!! Oh! No! Brains evolve! Neurons grow! Please let me rephrase this with the risk of attaching to much importance to our biological state (and that is not my intention here): Learning happens when new connections develop among the existing neurons! If the neurons are not there for a particular learning, the learning wouldnot happen!
    c) Wow! I would love to learn more about ANN! Tell me! (You know my email address, email me!)