Childish Learning

Wednesday 18 April, 2018

Imagine if someone followed you around all day, observing what goes on around you and asking questions. Questions about what’s happening with you and the interplay between external events and your perception of those events. Imagine if that person had the singular focus to make sure you gained as much from the day as possible, halting the process where necessary to ask for your appraisal and your feedback and then giving you theirs:

‘What were you thinking prior to, during, and after what just happened? What does your response tell you about yourself? What lessons and insights can you distill which will improve your life? This is how it looked to me…’

It sounds intense; and it certainly can be. It definitely makes you pay more attention to yourself and your world. During my training, Karaj was the one who followed me around, a constant presence, prompting me to observe and reflect on everything that happened. As I have written before, ‘…he believed in using everything we do and everything we experience for our self-development.

In my experience it’s the best way to learn. Unsurprisingly, it’s also how children learn. Throughout their earliest years, children are accompanied by those close to them who have their best interests at heart and who tirelessly correct their behaviour away from the disagreeable and towards the more acceptable. It’s awareness training; drawing the child’s attention to what is happening and guiding them towards more effective strategies; or better still, allowing them to discover such things for themselves.

But it’s not a one way process. The child plays its own part, because when language kicks in, the questions come flooding out. Children have an intense curiosity. They seem to want to know everything; displaying a natural desire for knowledge and improvement which, when nurtured, can change the world, and will certainly change the child’s life. That’s how every one of us learnt to walk, talk and act in ways which have eventually brought us to where we are right now.

At some point, however, our curiosity wanes, development levels off, and we settle for who we are. But what would happen if we continued to ask questions? Where might we be if we continued to seek out environments, people and teachings which helped us to grow in the same way as children develop: at a remarkable speed, and with a force and focus which exclude everything apart from food, sleep, love and fun?

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