At some point in the history of humanity and schooling, “academics” became a separate, stand-alone category, considered the most essential part of school, the “instruction” and “learning,” in today’s parlance.
The reading, writing and ‘rithmatic, along with science, social studies and all the other arbitrary subject areas. “Academics” as opposed to art, athletics, or extracurricular activities.
Imagination and spirit were oppressed. The notion of connecting with our own inner spirit or soul (or heart or shadow) at school was distilled and deformed down to the debate over “prayer in schools”—i.e. whether or not it was okay for Christian prayers to be recited at school or school-sponsored events such as football games. (It wasn’t, thanks to separation of church and state and the right to religious freedom, though religion still creeps into plenty of public schools.)
Learning to connect is the key to learning, but with what? Our own inner selves—our personalities and all their quirks, strengths, needs, passions, interests. Our breath and bodies. Our minds—emotions, thoughts, ideas and plans. In summation, our total being, and that includes spirituality.
Can we do this within a school or learning community without venturing into the realm of religion? The growing popularity of mindfulness and yoga in schools indicated that the answer is yes. Regular practice of non-dogmatic techniques of meditation can help people of all ages better handle stress and maintain good health and overall well-being.
By connecting, we learn, in a conscious way, every day, all the time. By knowing ourselves and thereby being able to learn what we want and need to learn, we ourselves can blossom and flourish and help others to do the same.
How can we connect with nature? Our own selves? Family and friends?
How can we learn to connect with the flow of Life, or God, or the Universe (that trickiest of things to name because it is so immense and unnameable)?
By connecting in these ways, what do we learn?