Are Humans Shrinking?

ff-vandana-shiva-featuredA few weeks ago, famed physicist, environmentalist (man, I have an issue with this term), intellectual, and activist Vandana Shiva spoke at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights as part of the Fragile Freedoms lecture series.

Unfortunately I missed the event, but I was able to take in the lecture for the CBC Ideas broadcast yesterday on my run.

Here is the link: CBC Ideas: Vandana Shiva (Live at Canadian Museum for Human Rights)

As a teacher of the new Global Issues course in Manitoba, a parent, and someone who thinks about our connection with the earth, I am highly fascinated and concerned with the current destruction of our biosphere. As an educator, I am always surprised that most of our PD or conversations relate to technology, PISA Math scores, or guided reading – given the fact that the very thing that sustains us is about to revolt.

In her talk, Shiva focuses greatly on the notion of systems thinking and how over the past few hundreds years we have put humans on a pedestal above all other species and the earth itself. Shiva refers to this as the shrinking of man, that we have made ourselves something unique and different that is superior to all other systems on this planet. Shiva takes us through this evolution by touching upon how the likes of Descartes, Newton and Bacon, who began to break down ideas into small parts and suggested that man had some sort of superiority over nature. She moves from Descartes’ reasoning, I think, therefore I am, to today’s, I consume, to where we need to be: I live, therefore I am.

Her thesis that we are all connected to the earth essentially connects with all ten major themes in the Global Issues curriculum, but also points to a larger conversation that we, as educators, should be having about what and how we teach. Perhaps we should be looking at providing learning experiences that allow students to see their connection to all systems on earth in the pursuit of what we often refer to as transformation.

This means that Math and technology may have to become partners in education, as opposed to these leviathan-type creatures we have made them out to be. Further, we may need to reorganize this notion of schooling so that learners can actually see the world in systems, and not as micro silos of knowledge.

In any event, please take the 55 minutes required to play this podcast for your students. It might be the most valuable lesson we can offer them.

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