Tipping Points

By Alice L Maher - Last updated: Monday, April 23, 2012 - Save & Share - 4 Comments

I learned something new a few weeks ago. I learned that it’s okay to ask. Your responses to “What I Want For My Birthday” were remarkable. I’m particularly grateful to Pamela DeRossitte, a woman of multiple talents who has volunteered to transform the COC mission statement into a short public relations video.

I’m planning to turn 60 again next year.  😉

While trying to explain the Changing Our Consciousness vision to Pamela in a “sound bite” kind of way, I found myself thinking of that iconic Coke commercial, “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony…”

That’s it.  That’s my goal.  Maybe not perfect harmony, but something better than the cacophony that we’re experiencing now.

Think it’s impossible?  Stick with me and I’ll demonstrate that it isn’t.

How do you sing in harmony?

You start with Do Re Mi and EGBDF.  Then you study music theory and music history, practice the scales and songs of increasing difficulty, discover if you’re a soprano, alto, tenor, or bass and make efforts to harmonize with others, hit many sour notes and learn from your mistakes, choose the best conductor for the task, position yourself in ways that bring out the best in yourself and the voices around you, choose or write original, truthful and beautiful songs, and perform them in communion with your audience.

We read books starting with ABC.  We count change, do our taxes, and fly to the moon starting with 123.  We learn perspective and color theory when we make art. “Dancing With the Stars” begins with experts teaching amateurs the steps to specific dances, and practicing together for many hours. The language of computers is new, but we’re figuring out ways to teach it to our children because it’s essential that we do.

The problem with human understanding and discourse is not that we’re incapable; it’s that we don’t have a way to begin.  There’s no Do Re Mi.  There’s no “One; two; cha cha cha.” Changing Our Consciousness aims to discover and give structured notation to a methodology that we can teach to our children – a methodology that will enable them to learn, and perhaps one day master, the essential art of singing in harmony with the other.

Read the comments and join the discussion on “Tipping Points>>

4 Responses to “Tipping Points”

Comment from Aurum
Time April 24, 2012 at 10:41 am

I agree that is hard to articulate it. However, I think you’ve done so rather well. The greater difficulty, I think, is in the process itself, rather than in the attempt to describe its purpose.

As far as I can tell, a key part of the difficulty is that “the other” is not pre-defined, nor is it possible to pre-define “the other”.

In the case of numbers or musical notes, these things are rather well defined before the student approaches them.

So, probably a major part of solving the puzzle with “the other” is finding a way to help the student broaden horizons, so as to interact better with the surprising, the strange and the unexpected.

Comment from Alice L Maher
Time April 24, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Thanks so much for your important question. The curriculum would involve a series of thought experiments designed to push children to think about the experience of the other, realize that there are multiple reasons why other people think, feel, and behave the way they do, and practice various responses based on what they think they’re hearing. Rather than “pre-defining,” it’s about expanding possibilities and appropriately testing hypotheses. For example, imagine the following assignment: “Imagine you’re a child playing in a sandbox, and a classmate comes over and says, ‘Your sand castle is crooked.’ List six different reasons why your friend might have chosen to say that to you at that time, and six different responses you might have based on the reason why you think s/he said it. Develop two of those into more extended dialogues.” Students can imagine whether the other child is jealous, competitive, was criticized by his father that morning, has OCD and gets anxious when things are crooked, has asperger’s syndrome and doesn’t realize that his statement of fact might hurt your feelings, wants to join you and help but said it in a clumsy way and you’re hypersensitive about your art, etc etc. That’s an example of what I mean by listening attentively to the voices of others and responding in harmony rather than attacking or walking away. Does that make sense?

Comment from Aurum
Time April 24, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Thanks for the example, Alice. Yes, I think it clarifies quite well what your project is about. Are you familiar with the visualization techniques the Dalai Lama mentions in several of his books? These may connect well with what you’re talking about.

I am also reminded of the “theory of mind” concept I’ve seen described in articles about autism. Part of it is attempting to imagine what the other person is thinking.

By the way, what I meant by the surprising/strange unexpected was this:
Sometimes when you try to imagine what someone else is thinking or what’s behind their actions, it turns out that they are thinking along completely different lines than what you could have guessed. That’s the difficulty in approaching the matter systematically. I think your starting point is a good one. I’m just saying that somewhere in the model the unexpected needs to be factored in.

Comment from Alice L Maher
Time April 24, 2012 at 8:08 pm

I’m not familiar enough with the Dalai Lama’s techniques so I can’t compare them, but it sounds like something I’d like to do. There are complex theories of mind that already exist in other fields, including the rapidly growing field of autism studies (which will teach us a lot). Theories from neurobiology, psychoanalysis, education, philosophy, genetics, trauma, group process dynamics, etc. I want to integrate all of these models into our K-12-PhD curriculum, giving each separate modules with opportunities for students to study and integrate them over time. The “surprise” element would necessarily be built into the methodology. Over time students would consider subtle and complex differences in communication styles and the multiple ways in which we perceive, imagine and interpret behavior in ourselves and others, while at the same time being prepared for totally unexpected reactions. The classmate who tells you that your sand castle is crooked might be longing to play with you but too fearful, defensive, lonely and angry to ask in other than an off-putting way… or he can be… well… he could kick it over, take out a knife and stab you.

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