Published on February 26, 2014
Identify Identify – Transform - Globalize The Seven Essential Arts: Suggestions for an Alternative University System* by Gudrun Dreher, Ph.D. FDU Vancouver Gudrun Dreher, FDU Vancouver
The Background: A Shocking Discovery about my Students’ Values
Survey Given to 101 UBC Students (3 Sections of ENGL 112): -> Survey Question: “What are the three most important goals in your life? Please list them in the order of importance to you (starting with the most important one).”
The Result: 90 out of 101 Students answered: Goal #1 =
I find it extremely SCARY that 90% of the most educated young people in BC value MONEY more than anything else. After all, these young people will be the LEADERS of tomorrow. Can we trust their LEADERSHIP and DECISIONS? Obviously not! However, I think there is something we can do to CHANGE the situation: => Create a New Education System!
Identify Flaws of our Current North American Education System
Flaws of Our Current North American Education System 1. Trapped inside the Box: Learning NOT to Look beyond the Walls 2. Half-Brain Education: a Great Way to Make Students Dull 3. “Me-First”: the Link between Alienation, Fear, Competition, Unhappiness, and Lack of Leadership & Responsibility 4. All for Show: Quantity instead of Quality 5. Slaves of the Job Market: an Easy Way to Wreck Your Life 6. The Clock in the Classroom: No Time to Think and Play 7. One Form for All: Choosing – or NOT Choosing – One’s Path
1. Trapped inside the Box: Learning NOT to Look Beyond Walls because of the disciplinary structure of most mainstream universities and because of the fixed curriculum of many classes, students are usually NOT encouraged to look beyond their own subject, course, or discipline in many courses, the focus is on teaching details, which makes students think that details are what is important what gets often lost in this fixation on details is a look at the larger picture in addition, students get hardly ever systematically taught to make connections that lie outside the scope of their specific course or discipline it is therefore very difficult for most students to see the interconnectedness of everything with everything else – and to take this interconnectedness into consideration when they make their choices and decisions
2. Half-Brain Education: a Great Way to Make Students Dull most North-American universities emphasize primarily “left-brain” skills, in particular objectivity, rational, logical, and linear thinking, and analytical skills the typical “right-brain” skills, such as creativity, imagination, intuition, feeling, as well as holistic and subjective thinking, often get dismissed as “less important” at university level and are therefore systematically neglected or even suppressed this suppression in particular of creativity and intuition kills the spark that keeps interest and enthusiasm alive and thus makes students become bored, uninspired, and dull
3. “Me-First”: the Link between Alienation, Fear, Competition, Unhappiness, and Lack of Leadership the Western habit of building walls leads to a feeling of separation from the rest of creation this leads to a perception of the outside world as hostile & thus creates an underlying sense of distrust in the benevolence of the universe, which, in turn, gives rise to a feeling of insecurity & fear • to overcome this fear, people are trying to hoard what they are afraid of losing (symbolically represented by money) • the consequence: everybody wants more than he/she needs – which leads to increased competition & ultimately results in other people not getting their share • the Western education system encourages competition instead of sharing • the fierce competition for grades & for academic & professional success make success seem more important than learning & understanding the material (i.e. learning for grades’ sake instead of learning for learning’s sake) • students & faculty no longer dare to ask critical questions (because this might result in poor grades/ loss of job): instead of critical thinkers, universities thus produce people who conform to the existing system • result: lack of people with leadership skills and with the willingness to take responsibility for the world and to make a positive difference
4. All for Show: Quantity instead of Quality because of the high competitiveness in the current system: most students & faculty are fixated on obtaining measurable proof of their accomplishments (for their CVs) NOT on gaining knowledge & insight the schools feel the need to provide measurable proof for awarding degrees and therefore test mainly measurable knowledge in exams (e.g. memorization of details) the constant evaluation provides an artificial, outward reward & punishment system that takes away the joy and excitement of learning something for its own sake many students lose their natural interest & enthusiasm for the subject and treat learning as a chore instead of an exciting experience true learning, insight, and understanding do no longer happen & are no longer required for getting a degree
5. Slaves of the Job Market: an Easy Way to Wreck Your Life instead of training students to develop critical thinking, leadership skills, and the ability to take responsibility (traditionally the function of the ‘liberal arts’), current university education focuses on preparing students for the job market (traditionally the function of the ‘mechanical arts’) because of this shift in focus students now expect receiving a job training in universities and therefore select programs and classes that they think will help them gain professional success since the selection is a purely pragmatic & rational one, they do usually NOT focus on their unique talents or natural preferences but pick programs & courses they think will increase their opportunity to find a good job the result: students end up in jobs that do neither suit nor fulfill them – a development that leads to dissatisfaction & unhappiness and often also to physical & mental illness
6. The Clock in the Classroom: No Time to Think and Play in many universities, education gets more and more treated like a 9:00 to 5:00 office job – although most people develop their best ideas and projects neither in the classroom nor at their desks but in their “free” time (e.g. while going for a walk or lying on the beach) inflexible schedules force students & faculty to waste precious time & energy every day to fulfill meaningless formal requirements (e.g. a certain number of contact hours) tons of assignments (that have been artificially created to “measure” student competency) keep students & instructors too busy to think, play with ideas, be creative, or ask critical questions students & instructors alike either have to pretend to be sick to catch up with their work or actually do become exhausted and sick because of too much work and stress education under these condition becomes a laborious chore instead of a source of inspiration, excitement, and fulfillment
7. One Form for All: Choosing – or NOT Choosing – One’s Path the mainstream university system provides the SAME education for everybody instead of taking the variety of learner types, socio-cultural expectations and preferences, as well as personal talents and interests of each individual student into consideration students have basically no influence on the design of their curriculum – except in so far as they can select certain programs and courses course offerings are often limited by financial considerations (budget) & the availability of suitable instructors - and thus limit the choices students have even further most of the time, students have no opportunity to work on projects and ideas they are really interested in, in particular not if their projects and ideas are somewhat unusual North-American universities often expect students, staff, and faculty to adjust to the mainstream belief system - instead of integrating the unique cultural, social, and philosophical backgrounds that students bring with them into the education process by inviting all students to share their knowledge and experiences
Transform Suggestions for an Alternative Education System
In my Opinion, an Ideal Education System Should Be: Holistic & Well-Balanced Interdisciplinary & Interconnected (i.e. with Focus on the Larger Whole) Meaningful & Value-Oriented (but with Tolerance and Respect for People Who Hold Different Values) Individualized Multicultural & Global Flexible & Open to Innovations and Change Playful & Fun
In this System, the Focus Would Be on Students Developing the Following Skills: Taking Responsibility for the World Questioning Everything & Trying to Find Answers Looking at Things from Multiple Perspectives Seeing Everything in Its Connectedness to the Whole Developing Creativity in All Its Aspects Finding a Personal Mission (Dharma) & Following It Gaining Understanding & Wisdom
My Proposed Alternative Education System: CFF
The CFF Consists of the Following Institutions & Programs A University with a “7 Essential Arts” Program (which will be outlined in more detail below) An Animal Organization that Works on Creating More Rights, More Protection, More Comfort, and More Happiness for Animals Worldwide and that also Includes Local Animal Sanctuaries & Shelters that Provide and/or Find Good Homes for Abused, Sick, Unwanted, Neglected and/or Rescued Animals A Wellness Center that Uses and Further Explores Alternative Healing Methods to Restore Health and Prevent Physical and/or Mental Disease A Multicultural Center that Invites People to Learn about Other Cultures and to Share Their Own Cultural Traditions in the Form of Conversations, Lectures, Celebrations, Festivals, and the Performance and Teaching of Culturally Specific Music, Dance, Literature, Arts, etc. A Program that Helps Integrate Active Seniors in Meaningful Ways into Their Local Communities An Outreach Program with Courses for Children & Teens An Outreach Program with Courses for Adults
CFF Mission Statement The Center for Finding Fulfillment with its Seven Arts Program and connected Institutions and Programs Provides an Alternative Holistic Education that has been designed specifically for the Leaders of Tomorrow. The Center and all its Programs and Courses encourage Creativity, Spiritual Growth, Awareness of the Interconnectedness of all Life, Service to Others, as well as a Sense of Responsibility for Making a Difference in the World and thus for Creating a Happier, Healthier, and more Sustainable Future for All in order to counteract the present-day over-evaluation of money, power, selfishness, greed, competition, and the irresponsible and cruel exploitation of people, animals, and natural resources. The Center Welcomes Cultural Diversity, Promotes Global Peace, Green Living, Inner Harmony, as well as Compassion, Love, and Respect for all Living Beings (in particular Humans, Animals, and Plants). The Center and all its Teachers, Staff, and Volunteers Are Committed to Teaching the Values listed above and to Help Students Learn Key Strategies for a Healthy, Responsible, Sustainable, and Fulfilled Life.
The Seven Essential Arts consist of the following 1. Spiritual Arts: * Meditation * Philosophy & Spirituality * Mythology 2. Holistic Arts: * Yoga * Aikido * Tai Chi 3. Helping Arts: * Volunteering for Animals & Humans * Creating More Peace and Happiness in the World * Counteracting Current Environmental Problems through Sustainable Living and through the Development and Support of Green Energy & Technology
The Seven Essential Arts consist of the following (cont.) 4. Creative Arts: * Creative Writing * Music Composition * Website Design * Visual Arts * Architecture 5. Performing Arts: * Dance * Theatre * Spoken Word * Music Performance 6. Intellectual Arts: * Sciences * Social Sciences * Languages * World Literature 7. Healing Arts: * Eastern & Western Medicine * Alternative Therapies * Psychology
The Seven Essential Arts Correspond to the Chakras 1. Spiritual Arts 6. Intellectual Arts 4. Creative Arts 2. Holistic Arts 5. Performing Arts 7. Healing Arts 3. Helping Arts
7 Arts Tradition: The 7 Essential Arts Are a Contemporary Transformation of Two Ancient Educational Traditions 7 Liberal Arts -> Free Arts: Arts for Arts Sake / Education for Education’s Sake Trivium (3-way) Grammar Logic Rhetoric Quadrivium (4-way) => Language Arts & Argumentation => Math/Sciences & Music Geometry Arithmetic Astronomy Music 7 Practical/Mechanical Arts -> Training for Professions* Food Production Arts (Agriculture & Food Sciences) Healing Arts (Medicine) Body Arts & Making Clothes (Shoe-Making, Sewing, Hairdressing, etc) Visual Arts & Making Buildings (Masonry, Carpentry, Architecture, Sculpting, Carving, Painting, etc) Social Arts & Communicative Arts (Law, Commerce, Teaching) Entertainment (Theatre, Dance) Martial Arts/Sports (Military Services, Navigation, Hunting, etc) * Other Classifications are Possible
The Seven Essential Arts Syllabus 4-Year Program Year 1, Fall (Sept to Nov): Introduction to the 7 Arts -> throughout the term: 1. Spiritual Arts (5 x per week) 2. Holistic Arts (3 x per week) 3. Helping Arts (2 x per week) -> other arts: in module form (weeks 1 to 7) 4. Creative Arts (weeks 1 & 2) 5. Performing Arts (week 3) 6. Intellectual Arts (weeks 4, 5, 6) 7. Healing Arts (week 7)
The Seven Essential Arts Syllabus 4-Year Program (cont.) -> weeks 8 to 10: Focus on one or two arts of one’s choice more intensively! Individualized Workshops & Tutorials rather than Classes Working on Individual or Group Projects! -> weeks 11-12: Finishing up Projects & Exam Preparation (No Classes) -> week 13: Exams & Presentations & Performances
The Seven Essential Arts Syllabus 4-Year Program (cont.) Year 1, Term 2 - Spring: (Jan to March): Exploring Aspects of the 7 Arts -> throughout the term: Spiritual & Holistic, & Helping Arts -> weeks 1 to 7: Focus on Selected Arts (Classes & Workshops) -> weeks 8 to 10: Working on Individual or Group Projects! (Workshops & Tutorials) -> weeks 11-12: Finishing up Projects & Exam Preparation (No Classes) -> week 13: Exams & Presentations & Performances
The Seven Essential Arts Syllabus 4-Year Program (cont.) Year 1, Term 3 - Summer (June & July) Practicum 1: Applying Aspects of Some of the 7 Arts -> throughout the term: Spiritual & Holistic, & Helping Arts -> weeks 1 to 7: Practical Projects in Groups & together with Local Organization -> week 8: Presentations & Performances
The Seven Essential Arts Syllabus 4-Year Program (cont.) Year 2, Term 1 - Fall (Sept to Nov): Exploring Various Possibilities, Part 2 Year 2, Term 2 - Spring (Jan to Mar): Exploring Various Possibilities, Part 3 Year 2, Term 3 – Summer (June & July): Practicum 2: Selected Possibilities in Action
The Seven Essential Arts Syllabus 4-Year Program (cont.) Year 3, Term 1 - Fall (Sept to Nov): Finding One’s Focus & Mission, Part 1 Year 3, Term 2 - Spring (Jan to Mar): Finding One’s Focus & Mission, Part 2 Year 3, Term 3 – Summer (June & July): Practicum 3: Working with One’s Mission
The Seven Essential Arts Syllabus 4-Year Program (cont.) Year 4, Term 1 - Fall (Sept to Nov): Advanced Training and Leadership Development, Part 1 Year 4, Term 2 - Spring (Jan to Mar): Advanced Training and Leadership Development, Part 2 Year 4, Term 3 – Summer (June & July): Practicum 4: Becoming a Responsible Leader, Teacher, and Guide
Evaluating Student learning Instead of receiving grades students get a certain number of points for performances, projects, presentations, and exams. The points will be added up from term to term. Each students has to compile a certain minimum number of points in each Art – as well as a certain number of points in all 7 Arts together - i.e. for this part, students can focus on the Arts they like better but they have to try out ALL 7 Arts first! If people don’t receive enough points they can take additional modules and work on more projects until they get all the required points. In this system nobody can fail – but some people might be a lot faster than others. 4 years is the minimum requirement; people may take a lot longer – and/or participate in the program on a part-time basis.
Does my Proposed Program Counteract the Flaws of Our Current North American Education System? 1. Trapped Inside the Box <-> 7 Essential Arts: Focus on Interdisciplinarity Emphasis on Multiplicity of Perspectives Systematic Creation of Awareness of Interconnectedness of Everything with Everything Else 2. Half-Brain Education <-> 7 Essential Arts: Systematic Practice of “Right-Brain” AND “left-Brain” Skills -> Balance in addition: Focus on Development of Physical, Spiritual, Social, and Mind-Body Skills Sided but Holistic 3. “Me First” <-> 7 Essential Arts: Focus on Volunteering Helping and Serving Others Is Part of the Program Systematic Practice of Taking Responsibility for the World -> not One-
Does my Proposed Program Counteract the Flaws of Our Current North American Education System? (cont.) 4. All for Show <-> 7 Essential Arts: No Grades but Point System Everybody Tries Out ALL the Arts First & Later Chooses any Combination of Arts Suitable for Him/Her CV Irrelevant at least for Duration of Program 5. Slaves of the Job Market <-> 7 Essential Arts: Emphasis on Play and Experimentation Opportunity to Explore Each Art for Its Own Sake 6. No Time to Think and Play <-> 7 Essential Arts: Systematic Integration of Lots of Playtime Time for Exploration Is Part of the Syllabus 7. One Form for All <-> 7 Essential Arts: Highly Individualized Program Design
Globalize Carrying the 7 Essential Arts into the World
Globalization of my Proposed System I think that my proposed 7 Essential Arts Program is suitable to be used globally because: it benefits from multicultural cooperation on a global scale it is flexible and can therefore be easily adjusted to a variety of different cultures, belief systems, as well as socio-economic and political conditions it is designed to help solve global problems, such as violence, poverty, and the destruction of the environment, and can therefore benefit people everywhere in the world However: I can’t do it by myself but need tons of people to help me….. If you think that my proposed model makes sense, please become part of the CFF Transformation Team! Everybody Welcome! I am Open to Criticism, Suggestions, and Support
More Info Website: https://sites.google.com/site/gudrundreher/10-projects/center-for-finding-fulfillment Article: Gudrun Dreher, “The Seven Essential Art: Suggestions for an Alternative University System.” https://www.academia.edu/4598351/The_Seven_Essential_Arts_Suggestions_for_an_Alternative_University_E ducation# Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Thank You!
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