Category Archives: Education

New Ways of Being

by Grian A. Cutanda

In December 1997 I wrote a fictional story that I would then publish, in 1998, under the title of Beyond the Rainbow. I told the story of a young man who, feeling a deep sorrow for the injustice, violence and the destruction of nature he sees in the world, was considering the idea of devoting his life to working for a better world. But, what could he do, a young man in the prime of his life, unknown to the world, to change things?

Looking for answers to his questions, the young man —whom I named Amadan, “idiot” in Gaelic, connecting with the traditions of the idiot savants, those sages whose wisdom comes from their simplicity— would begin an inner journey toward understanding by conversing with the Wind, Eagle, Oak, Lake, Fire, Moon… In one of those conversations, the Eagle says:

“A new world requires new people and new ways of being, thinking, feeling, and doing,” the Eagle continued. “And it must be built minute after minute, day after day. You must be impeccable.”

This is in no way an original idea, since what we call collective thinking leads many people around the world to develop the same kind of ideas more or less in the same timeframes. Moacir Gadotti, a Brazilian philosopher of education, wrote in his book Pedagogía de la Tierra (Pedagogy of the Earth) (emphasis in bold is mine):

“The ’emerging paradigm’ (Gutiérrez & Prado, 1997: 29) is supported by new interpretative categories: it went from a mechanistic conception towards a holistic and ecological vision; from a mechanical science which conceived the world linearly towards a quantum and complex dimension of reality. ‘Categories such as space and time, and even matter, are giving way to a holistic dimension, which forces us to consider the world from the point of view of relationships and integrations, and not from that of isolated entities’ (Gutiérrez & Prado, 1999: 30). (…) …this new way of signifying the world means new ways of thinking, being, feeling, acting… brings new values and new behaviours.” (Gadotti, 2000: 167)

And well before he had written:

“Ecopedagogy aims to develop a new view of education, a global perspective, a new way of being and living in the world, a way of thinking in everyday life, seeking meaning every time, in every act…” (ibid: 72)

These ideas, therefore, were not mine, nor Gadotti’s; they were not Gutiérrez’s and Prado’s, nor did they belong to others who perhaps have expressed similar ideas over the last two decades. Personally, I think these ideas were developed by humanity in the collective unconscious, and from there we are all drawing them out to point the way that could take us out of the serious social and environmental crisis which we are living.

The new education, the new pedagogy that we need in order to build a new humanity and finally resolve injustices, violence and environmental destruction, must necessarily lead to a new way of thinking, feeling, acting… In short, a new way of seeing and understanding the world, a new way of being and living on Earth, to be based on our everyday acts and gestures, minute after minute, day after day, trying to be impeccable in everything we do.

It is not an easy task at all, but it is the only path that can lead us to the world which we have all dreamed of. And, in that sense, it is important to not stop dreaming…

“We live in a time of paradigmatic transition of society and school. (…) …in this context of paradigmatic crisis, we need to assert our same old utopias.” (Gadotti, 2000: 152)