Bird Droppings December 22, 2015
Understanding the symbols of life
I was recently in a discussion about child by four years old can identify hundreds of symbols. McDonalds, Burger King etc. Yet most cannot identify a single bird, tree or flower. This was not a discussion from my house since my own children grew up wandering the woods and even this past week I was sharing plants with my granddaughter letting her smell the mint and oregano. My sons as the played as children, caught salamanders, snakes and turtles always asking and talking about their finds. They would talk rocks and minerals with my dad as he rode them around on his golf cart. Many stories my father would tell would require questions from his grand kids and they learned about the out of doors. For some symbols are more than a hamburger much deeper and more meaningful.
“Symbols express and represent meaning. Meaning helps provide purpose and understanding in the lives of human beings. Indeed to live without symbols is to experience existence far short of its full meaning. Ways of expressing and representing meaning include the symbol systems of mathematics, spoke and writing language and the arts.” The Sacred Tree
For several days I have been pondering this simple paragraph. It has bothered me in more than a spiritual way. What if a human being does not understand symbols sitting thinking in terms of education the inability to move through existence without understanding? I see this as a significant issue in education. We tend to facilitate achievement in a given subject not based on understanding but based on acknowledge of symbols not understood. I recall a comment from a math teacher as I questioned a certain problem. We do not need them to know why, simply know this equation creates this graph. That was several years ago. Math curriculum and testing has become a joke in many parts of the country. Numbers of failures have increased. I started thinking especially in math if at an early age we simply want the correct answer and not why it is correct when the math becomes more difficult how will a student solve the problem without someone showing an answer? We are teaching math wrong was my corresponding thought. We need to go back and teach the symbols.
I more often than not find my discussion on a spiritual level more so than on an educational curriculum subject although the bulk of my education has been in curriculum and education. Understanding the symbols is a key component of understanding our existence and place in the world. This applies to reading to art, and to written language. Teach the symbols first when children can understand the symbols they can piece together the parts of the whole. Without the pieces the whole is insignificant. I watch students graduate frustrates because they know little of what has been taught. They have simply been doing the minimum to get to next level and the next and out of school. They are missing the pieces along the way and can never truly see the whole puzzle presented.
So today I add just a thought for more thinking, how do we really teach the symbols? Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts as you proceed through this weed and weekend ahead and always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)