From the inside out

wonton soup, baked lumpia, potstickers, bao

My favorite class with our students is our silent class.  Music + lots of handwork like folding = self accomplishment. Students don’t think they are going to like working without talking to each other, but after awhile, all of a sudden we are working together seamlessly.  Flow. Fully Alive.  There are many terms for this. This week in about 30 minutes per class, we folded over 400 dumplings (4 different kinds). Wow.

The bigger wow is for them is when they begin sensing that learning isn’t all about being given doses of information to digest through powerpoint presentations and lecture, from the outside in – learning happens much more quickly when it comes from the other direction -from inside the student outwards, from the inside out – and it is a lot more interesting and satisfying.

Now some people might tell you that we can’t regularly teach in this way – particularly if you have more than 8 students per adult, it is extremely difficult and requires a lot more preparation.  They might also tell you that the teenage brain doesn’t have that kind of wiring quite yet – that the synapse development, connecting our brains many file boxes, sparking the “go to” not the “receive from” is just starting to happen.  Still, I see my students being pretty resilient, and snapping to this quickly.  It could be because the desire to work and work around our common element – food – is also there. But it is clear that working in this way is a completely foreign feeling to them, and at the same time, it feels right.  95% of my students want to work silently more and build this focus and awareness.

There are other factors too. Life is hectic, noisy and distracting.  But we need to share experiences more with our students, not just talk about them to our young people and expect them to understand. We need to practice how to access this awareness and choice so that they use it to learn anything – from the inside out.