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Wooltorton, S. and Marinova, D. (Eds) Sharing wisdom for our future.

Environmental education in action: Proceedings of the 2006 Conference of the Australian Association of Environmental Education

Chapter 12 Soul Education: Inspiring a New Passion for Sustainable Learning Patricia Sherwood Centre for Regional Sustainable Futures Edith Cowan University: South West Campus 1. Introduction Education for body, mind and heart is soul education and works to reveal the interconnectedness within ourselves of the mineral, plant, animal and human/spiritual worlds. It brings us back to the heart of what Wilbur (1992) refers to as the great nest of being, recognised by cultures and traditions as essential to our human relatedness to a meaningful and sustainable world. Western culture alone, for the last three centuries has produced a fragmented tradition of empirically based thinking that has systematically destroyed the relatedness of the mineral, plant, animal and human/spiritual worlds in its quest for analysis over synthesis, mind over feeling, control over flow, science over ethics. In the 21st century, we are re-integrating the fragments of beingness, both within ourselves and within our world. Alienated from our inner experience, we have increasingly sort meaning in fragmented and distorted realities: our bodies through consumerism and materialism; our minds through narcissism and hedonism, our spirits through addictions and cynicism. This fragmentation has spawned an epidemic of inner collapse; depression, suicide, anxiety and external collapse manifest as wars, violence, human rights abuses, environmental crisis, genocide and species extinctions. The need for soul education is critical if we are to reclaim our experience of interconnectedness with our selves and with our world. Educators and ecologists like David Orr and Gregory Cajete see the new mind of humans as based on deeply grasping interconnectedness and argue that its creation should be the primary task of sustainable education (Forbes, 1996: 3). Other sustainable environmental educators, like Fien (2003: 2) argue that the under-focused dimensions of environmental education programmes are the holistic integration of body, mind experiences as well as the need to give substantial attention to “ways of integrating personal and structural transformation”. Hay (2005, 2006) coins the term “ecosyncronous” to describe how the unfolding of the self involves becoming aware of connections that can reconnect us to the cyclical patterns of nature, which underlie sustainability. He cites Taylor’s work (1991) which argues that our western socio-cultural system is a reflection of our atrophied personal development and expansionist world view and that we must personally change for environmental transformation to be sustainable. Otherwise, Huckle’s (1993) concerns that teachers will remain instruments for greening a dysfunctional, exploitative capitalist system are not unfounded. It takes substantial personal transformation and awakening to become a seed of change within the prevailing capitalist paradigm. While personal and structural changes are cyclical and parts of a complementary web rather than linear with one preceding the other, this paper focuses on the personal change process and its potential to contribute to a sustainable education change process. Sterling (2001: 22) notes how this interconnection mutually reinforces the change process. I use as a working definition of education for sustainability Fien’s (2001) definition which encompasses personal and social transformation of environmental, social and political systems to
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emotional. we are then able to reconnect more fully with the world. Through that intimacy. their need for connectedness and transcendence. Soul Education: A Holistic Model The most popular model of soul education is Kessler’s (2000) seven gateways to reestablishing connection. joy and delight. Verbal languages provide less than half of the story and repress more than half of our experiences. we cannot carve connections with ourselves and others that are deeply rooted and meaningful. They provide the primary languages for reconnecting us with the whole of our experience. their soul. so that we can restore the wholes of human experiences and integrate cognitive. compassion and character at school. deep connection fosters belongingness. Rachael Kessler (2000) 101 . We live like T. They are out of touch with their feelings. Then we arrive at transcendence which moves one beyond one’s limits. sound. Elliot’s “hollow men” with “heads stuffed with straw”. spiritual. Unless we can fully acknowledge and access all our experience as a human being. our universal mother tongue. 2. and Marinova. gesture/ movement.S. D. creative and social intelligences to enable human wholeness to flourish. self-discovery. thinking and logical analysis are the only food of the hollow men. The seven gateways are diagrammatically represented below. fosters creativity and challenges one to push the boundaries of what thinks one knows. Rationality. These are the first languages of all of us. His definition is holistic. (Eds) Sharing wisdom for our future.Wooltorton. S. encourages gratitude for life’s goodness. meaning and purpose cultivates a sense of direction. Essentially. and initiation which provides pathways for navigating critical life transitions. visualising/colour. democracy and conservation. breathing are used in all teaching processes in all curriculum areas. This paper advocates the incorporation of the basic non-verbal human languages into education. justice. the ways in which we experience the world holistically. This can be done deeply and effectively if the nonverbal languages of sensing. I argue that one of the first steps in re-establishing interconnectedness is to reestablish communication with self. recognising the web of interconnections of human beingness and activities. Environmental education in action: Proceedings of the 2006 Conference of the Australian Association of Environmental Education promote equity. silence.

is the energetic interdependence of all these dimensions of humanness. the etheric or the life body which is a template on a more subtle vibration of the physical body and is responsible for health of the physical body repairing. 1996: 9). and the creative unique individual consciousness or I. I now propose a complementary model of a human being at a micro-level which elucidates why the non-verbal languages are so critical to holistic human development. It is diagrammatically represented below: The Four Fold Model • Physical body (earth) • Etheric/ life force/ chi/ pranic (plant) green • Lower layers of mind consciousness/ astral/ ”trauma system ” (animal) red • Higher layers of Mind consciousness/ I am “Reflective self ” (human/spiritual archetype) yellow/gold Sophia College . an educator in the early 20th century. The physical body. (Eds) Sharing wisdom for our future. mental and emotional stresses drain it. the lower layers of mind consciousness or astrality. as do lack of exercise and a sedentary in-door lifestyle. Steiner described as connected to the mineral kingdom. S. Core to this model. good eating. the etheric. It is of the same nature as the mineral kingdom and at death returns to the mineral kingdom. the astral to the animal kingdom and the I to the human/spiritual kingdoms. The etheric Interpenetrating the physical body is what Steiner termed the ether body. b.Wooltorton. 1994). and Marinova.An holistic training model a. This I or I AM has the capacity to link us to the transpersonal world and is referred to by some persons as the spirit (Steiner: reprint. The etheric is strengthened by water. The physical body The physical body is seen as the map of the mind and feeling states and is that part of our experience that can be clearly touched and observed. 102 . sleeping and rhythmical bodily patterns and contact with nature. Physical. This basic fourfold model of a human being developed by Steiner. includes the physical body. D. nourishing and maintaining life processes (Steiner. 1997). particularly water sources as it has strong relation to the plant kingdom and the element of water (Bott. Environmental education in action: Proceedings of the 2006 Conference of the Australian Association of Environmental Education While this model draws critical attention to the deficit qualities in our eduction process at a macro-level. the etheric to the plant kingdom.

Sardello in his introduction to Steiner’s (1999: xiii) collection of essays titled A Psychology of Body. determination. love. This I AM also comprises the daimon of each human being and captures our individual essence. and Marinova. S. limitations and darkness of experiences and to bring back hope. This part strives for what Maslow (1968) terms selfactualisation. the term I AM is employed to relate to connection with the transpersonal. flowing relationship between the outer world. D. healing and growth. The lower part of the astral body is akin to the animal kingdom and is driven by the basic drives for food. It has many names across different traditions and many layers are distinguished within it. breathing and visualising if one is to communicate with these contents of one’s self. courage. abandonment onto other persons. points out that this astrality is not some kind of fixed container but rather an inner dynamic. Steiner (1997: 43) defined the I or I AM. 2000: 135).Wooltorton. It is a recipe for depression on the one hand. that within the human which is divine (Fox. In all religious traditions. (Eds) Sharing wisdom for our future. The lower layers of mind consciousness: astrality This is described as the lower layers of mind consciousness. It is the capacity of the human being to envision new realities out of reflection on past experiences. developing. If one does not communicate with these contents. Steiner (1997) names it the astrality or the energetic system which holds the imprints of our experiences driven by antipathy and sympathy. Within the I AM is the transcendent principle of spirit which connects the person to the highest meanings. Environmental education in action: Proceedings of the 2006 Conference of the Australian Association of Environmental Education c. as the highest level of human consciousness. The stronger the I AM. The astrality is the aspect of the human being which provides the gateway to experience through the senses and becomes the storehouse of experience both pleasurable and painful. Within the I AM. and the most intimate realms of inner consciousness. The relationship and functioning of these particular bodies is further detailed by 103 . We build defence mechanisms against these painful experiences and project the hatred. Steiner (1994) argues that just as the physical body has its centre in the brain. denied and suppressed. mobile. It is the selfaware human consciousness. where all the vibrational patterns of our experience are stored. joy and other qualities which Maslow (1973) named the “B values or higher order values”. the capacities to rise above the pain. This requires one to be fluent with the languages of sensing. d. then aspects of our experience become cut off. Soul and Spirit. soul experiences have their centre in this I AM. water and safety. And brings to us the capacity to access resources of strength. community and planetary actions. It is a great challenge to human beings to purify this layer of the astrality so our behaviours are not driven by loves and hates but rather by skilful means which arises when compassion is active. mediated by the senses through the physical body. sex. are the resources of the human spirit. pain. anger. and narcissism on the other hand. becomes motivated by compassion and is known in Buddhism as compassion mind. This separates us from ourselves. It produces unsustainable personal. others and the world. sounding. the stronger the ability to connect to transpersonal resources and meaning. family. gesturing. The higher part of the astral body is the bridge into the human soul life and when freed from aversion and desire. The I AM This refers to the reflective nature of human consciousness.

by request. we have an uneasy feeling near a particular person which is later confirmed. Soul and Spirit and Bott (1996) in his work: Spiritual Science and the Art of Healing. the core connecting human feeling. connect with the world and transform experience. long before we have translated our feelings into words. plant) and to the creation of empathy. The non-verbal languages should be integrated with verbal language in the teaching of the entire curriculum and then students could more wholly access the seven gateways posited by Kessler to connection. compassion and their character development. 4. Such cultures which are rooted in natural environments such as traditional Australian Aboriginal culture. so central to Indigenous cultures. and visualising. The ability to sense is critical in connecting to our own experience and to other beings (human. Sensing as a language has been eliminated by modern science as not empirically verifiable. alerting children to shared bodily senses of discomfort and danger common to all persons that they should read as warning signs.com). breathing. have highly developed sensing for deriving information from the natural worlds which is essential for their productive survival. We sense negative thoughts from others. Environmental education in action: Proceedings of the 2006 Conference of the Australian Association of Environmental Education Steiner (1999) in his work: Body. I will outline the non-verbal languages and indicate how they enable the individual to communicate with self. “Where?” I asked. We sense our fear. animal. the bad feeling in the stomach. This programme runs in many schools. 3. “He hurt me miss”. Sustainable education reconnects us with our senses by reminding us of our place in nature and our need to care for her so she might care for us. Languages of Soul Education Our first language is not English or French or Mandarin. sounding. These remain the ways in which our primary experience of the world is created and communicated to ourselves and others. the lump in the throat. It was developed by Child Protection authorities in Victoria and has been conducted widely throughout Australian primary schools. Concrete buildings and computers create a virtual reality which stifles our sensing abilities and reinforces our disconnectedness from the natural environment. Our first languages are the non-verbal languages of the soul: sensing.protectivebehaviours. and Marinova. and to speak up to a network of five supportive adults who can help. It is time western culture returned to the languages of sensing within and without. so they can take pre-emptive action in the face of potential or current violence or sexual abuse. (http//:www. He replied: “In the heart when he looked at me”. As one six year old told me. pain. We sense danger around the corner.Wooltorton. We sense the knots in our stomach. If we are to fully connect to ourselves and know our experiences then we need to understand these languages. (Eds) Sharing wisdom for our future. D. delight. 104 . we need to educate our children to understand them. S. pleasure. Rather than ignore or repress these important bodily experiences. The protective behaviours programme does just this. to give primary school children the ability to listen to their body messages. Sensing: An Energetic Language Expressing and Transforming Experience Sensing refers to the human ability to sense the flow of energy within and around oneself. gesturing/ moving. Wilbur (1998) would argue that intersubjective verifiability is what we need to integrate the empirical and the inner life. The “protective behaviours programme” is one excellent education programme that engages children in sensing their bodies.

no longer under the guardianship of the I AM. 6. to the light and the air. etheric and physical body that become contracted. D. Everything we do to the external environment we first do to ourselves and our inner environment. These experiences. more commonly known as body language. with self and others. violent children. The I AM presence is carried by the breath so is extinguished from the parts of the astral. We need to teach children how to uncover the ways in which we stop breathing fully into parts of our body because this is the key to our disconnectedness (Brazier. Angry. (Eds) Sharing wisdom for our future. run around for 10 minutes to restore the rhythmic flow of the breath between the I AM. children can learn ways to restore the flow of the breath through their bodies. grumpy. S. the astral. Soul education must help us to communicate and recover these parts of ourselves so we might connect fully with ourselves. We shall bring it to the surface. Pease (1992: 6) cites the research of Mehrabian which found 105 . Gesture and movement enable children to view exactly what is going on inside themselves. and Marinova. before they transfer their states onto other children. which is so poignantly expressed by Leunig (1992): We shall rescue the entombed heart. We shall nurse it and listen respectfully to its story. meditation and the range of active physical sports. Together again we shall find relief and joy. Through class activities such as yoga. it is automatic to avoid the pain by reducing the breathing into the site. of darkness and yearning. There is remarkable improvement in the behaviour of children who have been outdoors. etheric and physical bodies. are projected upon others. Pease (1992) is one of the most popular. The heart's story of pain and suffocation. Difficult experiences are vibrationally imprinted on the astrality and these result in different combinations of contraction of breath because it is painful to continue breathing into these places and unless one is aware of what is happening. If we taught children in all subjects to notice when the are not breathing fully. We shall help our feelings to live in the sun. 1997). Environmental education in action: Proceedings of the 2006 Conference of the Australian Association of Environmental Education 5. and it is from these places of fear and anger that we create unsustainable personal and social futures.Wooltorton. Movement/Gesture: An Energetic Language Expressing and Transforming Experience There is a considerable body of research on gesture. Gesture is frozen breath. Children need to notice they have contracted their breath and to stop and understand why. Breathing: An Energetic Language Expressing and Transforming Experience Sherwood (2004) reiterates the important connection between the I AM and the breath. have first restricted their breathing within themselves. The breath being invisible is difficult for children to grasp but a medium is provided through gesture. These are the parts of experience repressed and not embraced by the I AM and which produce mental and physical disease and unsustainable lifestyles based on fear and anger. What is the pain that is difficult? Name the feeling and reconnect bodily sensing with feelings and then thinking has a chance of being insightful and skilful rather than reactive. we could help them to bring their fears to the light and accept the whole of themselves rather than push through with a task rather than support a process of reconnection with their feelings. Gestures are the primary map of the thinking/ feeling life.

We collected series of photographs of the great apes and gestured and named their feelings and wrote stories of their feelings derived from reading the gestures of the great apes. mind and feelings and the body movement enables one to express and transform inner emotions. children entered into various gestures of the Buddha.1983) established Curative Eurythmy which combines internal connections between sounds. Based on the four fold model. Gestures are also important to create empathy and connectedness with other nonhuman sentient beings so that children may learn to act with kindness and compassion towards them. dialoguing to imagined persons in empty chairs. Steiner in the 1920’s (reprint. When a child is speaking in an unskilful way. ask the child to freeze into the gesture of how they are speaking and notice the shape of their body. and Marinova. Tagar (1999: 71) in elaborating earlier work by Steiner (1921) proposed that every human experience can be directly expressed in a gesture by every functioning person and be universally understood. gesture and movement can be incorporated and should not be restricted to drama alone. (Eds) Sharing wisdom for our future. spoke about how these gestures made them feel. How do they feel when their body is in this shape? How are they likely to relate to others when their body is in this shape? How could they change the shape of the bodily gesture? Then I might ask the other child who has been put down to freeze and gesture how they feel. Using a range of techniques such as role reversal. so the other child has the opportunity to gain concrete insight into the impact of their thoughts and actions on another person’s feelings. The research on dance and movement in transforming a range of difficult physical and mental behaviours is impressive. For example in Buddhism. future projection. children can start to understand each others’ views more concretely. insight and movement to connect with ones own body and feelings and to connect with others feelings. In most subjects. we explored the rules in each of the five great religious traditions. Then we made the gesture in clay. Steiner (reprint 1983) developed an elaborate system of movement called curative eurythmy to facilitate the resolution of childhood developmental problems that affect learning. and movement into a form of healing used particularly for children with developmental delays.Wooltorton. then made the gesture of the Buddha in clay. For example when teaching a course to year four on “the Rules”. We did not simply write them down. mirroring. S. developed ‘The 106 . creativity. One example is the work of Koshland. We moved and found a gesture that typified each of the rules. D. imagination. 38 percent intonation and inflexions and 55 per cent non-verbal gestures and movements. It is a method of bodily learning that uses acting. Gesturing and moving is the ideal way to enliven learning processes for it engages all the non-verbal languages of sensing. and sounding. and develop greater insight and empathy into those around them. Wilson and Wittaker (2004) who found dance interventions effective in reducing aggressive behaviours among 54 multicultural elementary school children who undertook the programme. visualising. breathing. Movement as dance is also very important to enliven the etheric body and to release blocked emotions in the astral body. Modern spontaneous free dance and movement integrate body. I took a class with a group of children on the Australian philosopher Peter Singer and animal rights. time regression. Environmental education in action: Proceedings of the 2006 Conference of the Australian Association of Environmental Education that the total impact in communication is 7 percent words. More recently Audrey Mc Allen in England during the 1980s.

(Extra Lesson was offered to some older children at this time.com/results. As early as 1921. S.html Accessed 12-9-06 7. Sound: An Energetic Language Expressing and Transforming Experience Knoblauch (2000) sees music as integrating and healing the human psyche and he cites Loewald’s (1977) theory of language formation which shifts focus from Freud’s word-thing model to an acoustic field in which words always have a somatic impact both pre and post verbally. http://www. He defined his holistic theory of sound experience.Wooltorton. (Eds) Sharing wisdom for our future. The results in literacy and learning in an Australian primary school are tabulated below: The 1992 results. dyspraxia.32 months improvement per month for all the students from Class 2 to 6. The outcomes for learning are impressive. gestures. shown in Table B. the etheric 107 . Environmental education in action: Proceedings of the 2006 Conference of the Australian Association of Environmental Education Extra Lesson’ based on the four-fold educational model of Rudolf Steiner which incorporates bodily movements. Steiner propounded the importance of the sounds of human speech impacting as vibrations on the fourfold human being. and Marinova. claiming that the dynamics of the sounds of speech provide the whole structure of the human constitution. It has been applied in Australia and elsewhere with considerable success with children with a range of learning disorders including ADD. The physical body is shaped by the forces of all the sounds. D. and auditory processing. ADHD. to work developmental with releasing blocks in the child’s early developmental stages that are interfering with the learning process. in The Alphabet. The average gain was 4.) This is a much larger than expected rate of improvement. show a range of improvements after participating in the Extra Lesson programme on the Schonell reading test.extralesson. dyslexia.

‘m’. and Marinova. imagination. D. ‘n’. their own well being and in turn that of their communities and the planet. All sounds have a character that lives and moves in our bodies and the character creates and sustains. swirls and pulsates within its own echo chambers. above time. and represses them in the pursuit of task outcomes can only produce adults who repress their own feelings. If one does not weep for one’s own losses and find qualities to work to heal that place within us. S. All teachers need to familiarize themselves with the healing and transforming power of each particular sound in the alphabet. For example. art is an essential part of human wholeness. Within the chamber of the subtle bodies of human being. their sadness. This much more skilful than releasing the anger by acting out. poetry. repeated 3-5 times he/she can release and restore the free flow of breath. repressed feeling. then the breath is restricted. Events of inner life alongside events of outer life take place and pass away with the ongoing flow of time. continuing to resound: below time. Endless consuming.Vowels express the inner experience of the persons. hurting others or imploding it within oneself and creating illness and bitterness. There also live the echoes of the human’s own creative world: the echoes of ones own thoughts and feelings. Environmental education in action: Proceedings of the 2006 Conference of the Australian Association of Environmental Education by the forces of the vowels. while consonants are the way in which the personal relationship to the outer world is expressed. bodies which are made entirely of resonances. colour movement. Tagar (1999: 84) graphically describes how sound waves work within the fourfold model: …human experience ebbs and flows.proposes that every aspect of human experience can find its counterpart in a sound pattern and that the sounds of human speech are capable of representing in their many different combinations. From there they govern the basic patterns of one’s life… In essence. live all the aspects of experience one has ever had. We need to 108 . These are particularly important for helping children honour their grief and loss. If the child can sense the anger in his/her body. But their echoes remain. how will we ever weep for the losses of this planet and find the qualities to work for her healing. Steiner in Speech and Drama (1924. thinking at all costs. which often drive our reactions to new experiences from behind our consciousness (Tagar. the earth. Similarly. there are sounds that can be used for resourcing. Human experience lives in these patterns of vibrational resonance. reprint 1986). There are sounds that can be used to keep one’s space clear of bullies such as ‘d’ or ‘b’. clears or builds particular emotional and physical states. Vowels and consonant sounds can be used to represent a range of emotional experiences. In these patterns of resounding. 2000). leave us stuck in the left hemisphere of existence.Wooltorton. responses and deeds. their anger. (Eds) Sharing wisdom for our future. then with a loud ‘g’. not in time at all. the echoes of experience never cease to resound…. the astral by consonant sounds and the I by vowels. Grief and loss rituals incorporating sound. every experience has a vibrational pattern which lodges within the astral body where the senses meet the world and come through the etheric right down into the physical body. An education that denies feelings. and to quickly move through experiences. for bringing missing qualities of love and connectedness back into the life such as ‘l’. the aloneness and in helping children have simple tools to resource themselves. the entire of human experience. song. when a child is angry.

the third quadrant connections with the animal kingdom and the fourth quadrant connections with the human/spiritual kingdom. the Mandala. Environmental education in action: Proceedings of the 2006 Conference of the Australian Association of Environmental Education acknowledge the feeling life in our classrooms so we can be leaders in Capra’s (1986) Turning Point. new futures. The person uses collage. or love or hatred depend upon what we visualise and think. and a range of images and symbols which represent the inspiring and nourishing connections they feel with each of these four kingdoms. D. just of a different vibration to buildings. a form brought back from Tibet. maths. the faculty of the soul whose companions are intuition and inspiration. In every lesson. by Carl Jung who saw it as the creative symbol of the unique integrated self. chairs or physical bodies. Hermione and Harry are horrified to witness Hagriff’s friendly monster Buckbeak being executed for responding to the taunting Malfroy. Visualising is a powerful language and we need to alert children to its power and to teach them that thoughts and feelings are realities. Encouraging the expression of the imagination in every act of schooling from art. Conclusion 109 . It is through visualising that we can create new possibilities. One quadrant represents the connections from the earth that inspire and nourish the person’s life. the second quadrant connections with the plant kingdom. and Marinova. movement. (Eds) Sharing wisdom for our future. But Professor Dumbledore unveils the secret power of the imagination to recreate the scenario so that on this occasion they visualise themselves rescuing Buckbeak and taking him to a safe place. sculpting and the like. Here. to heal their hearts and reconnect them to themselves. A range of classroom exercises to assist children express their feeling life are documented in Pearson (1998) Emotional Healing and Self-esteem. The process is simple but soulful. “Do you want kids who can solve problems or kids who can fill in boxes on worksheets?” Imagination expresses itself through colour. to science. painting. the imagination of children is harnessed to problem solve. Visualising/Colour: An Energetic Language Expressing and Transforming Experience Visualising is the firstborn of the imagination. lateral thinking. environment studies is critical to maintain contact with soul. Quantum physics and body-mind research is now demonstrating that this is not just a child’s fantasy but that the thoughts we create and visualise literally release chemicals that travel down to the receptors in the cell walls and which increase over the time. S. A beautiful exercise to complete with learners of all ages to reconnect them with their soul is the Mandala of inspiration. As one very bright 9 year old said to her teacher one day. The number of receptors for anger. problem solving.Wooltorton. McNiff (1992: 21) brilliantly captures the importance of the contact with soul in everyone’s lives: Soul loss is the a metaphor for soul’s tendency to elude the grasp of consciousness as well as its more primal detachment from feelings… loss of contact with its movement in our daily lives results in bodily and mental illness. Imagination is truly the soul’s primary language. is divided into four quadrants. rich with the fruits of the imagination. Through visualising. In the marvellous story of Harry Potter. rigidification. 8. colour media. 9. reading. the absence of passion and the estrangement from nature. there should be a grand doorway for the engagement of creative and imaginative capacities if we are to nourish the souls of our children.

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