Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Nomadic Soul

We are all habituated learners, but it is discovery that lies at the core of our nomadic souls. A way of thinking that propels us toward a new territory, towards a new truth posited not as a solution or an imposition of a higher truth, but rather the provocation to problematize, to think first of all the truth of problems than of solutions. 

Leading thought away from predefined, canned solutions allows us to deconstruct what we've learned so that we can "learn" to see anew. The politics of critique and enlightenment, as well as the problems of authority vanish when we learn to think for ourselves. Our input becomes relevant, offering a distinctive viewpoint to any given problem. 

The ability to distinguish our thoughts from those of others is more difficult than one may think, in particular with the flux of canned information moving back and forth in our controlled society. 

Rather than leading students toward solutions and answers, as hoped for by established curricula, the nomadic soul is one that focuses on its creative function and the art of problem solving and critical analysis. 

Discovery or Nomadic Education (NE) suspends temporarily formal laws and norms. This suspension of predefined answers allows students to conceive of their own questions to problems they see or encounter. While formal learning can enlighten our thoughts, we must be allowed to think for ourselves, first. 

The world is unpredictable and unknowable. To think differently is to be held hostage within a rigid thought system defined by someone else's subjective experience, which may differ from our own. 

The path less traveled is uniquely connected to pedagogy, as seen historically with the youth hostel movement, which began in 1909 by Richard Schirrmann, a German schoolteacher, and Wilhelm Munker, a conservationist, who saw the need for overnight accommodation for school groups. 

Today, there are over 4000 hostels worldwide. Hostelling International defines its mission as:

To promote the education of all young people of all nations, but especially young people of limited means, by encouraging in them a greater knowledge, love and care of the countryside and an appreciation of the cultural values of towns and cities in all parts of the world, as an ancillary thereto, to provide hostels or other accommodation in which there shall be no distinctions of race, nationality, color, religion, gender, class or political opinions and thereby to develop a better understanding of their fellow men, both at home and abroad. 

The Nomadic soul pays homage to exploring how we're all connected rather than how we are separated. NE is a self-orgainzing process involving the constitution of an assemblage of components, relations with other assemblages, and the analysis of their effects on the constitution of subjectivity. 

In other words, it's a subject-group exploration that produces a fresh, new way of seeing and living that strengthens rather than inhibits cognitive thinking skills we value in society and in education. NE continues until a student is "ready" to choose their place in society whereby they can contribute the most based on what they've seen, heard, learned, smelled, and intuited from their many travels. 

Just as the adult citizen, from time to time, needs to "get away from it all" to put things into perspective, nomadic educational approaches put an entire world into perspective so that young minds can best see where and how they fit in an ever-changing world. 

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