CONVERSATION 26 — LITERACY vs LEARNING
This is a topic that concerns us all, at a far deeper level than the obvious, Kari! I follow on from our previous conversation about co-creation, with particular reference to the differences of relevance between Literacy and Learning.
To begin with, we should take a look at the definitions of the two words:
Literacy, in its simplest definition, is the ability to read and write. It is a process that lasts a lifetime, from comprehending the ‘ABC’ to putting it all together, enabling us to get from A to Z.
Learning (according to Wikipedia), “is the act of acquiring new, or modifying and reinforcing, existing knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information.” As a human being, we are learning from even before we are born, as our physical form develops in the womb.
It stands to reason then, that both are crucial to our ongoing development as human beings—just for very different reasons!
As I’ve mentioned in a previous conversation, I find it disturbing how the written word seems to have deteriorated over the past couple of decades. Despite the fact that world literacy is increasing (according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, world illiteracy has halved between 1970 and 2000 and today, is around 14-15%), I see more and more how people seem to disregard the simple use of grammar (syntax) in their writing. Please note that I refer only to the English language here, as it is my first language, and I’ve not ascertained as to whether this applies to other languages as well.
Perhaps I am of the ‘old school’ in that I believe correct use of language, including spelling, grammar and the formation of words, is vital to ensuring effective communication. I may well be misguided…
It could also be that with the change in pace of people’s lives today, there’s no time for correcting mistakes, or wondering if you’re getting the message across. But it’s this lack of attention to detail that limits our literacy progress. Surely we should be seeking to grow it instead?
It cannot be discounted though, that language changes over time, and I’ve noticed how much less ‘wordy’ we’ve become in comparison to, say, fifty or a hundred years ago. It takes serious academics to comprehend literary works dating back five hundred years and over—I never quite got to grips with Shakespeare myself!
Throughout the world there are varying degrees of literacy. Although many are indeed literate, they might not have completed their schooling, for whatever reason, thus limiting their capacity to absorb or communicate more advanced written concepts.
And so we come to learning… I cast my mind back a few decades to recall a man named Tony Factor, who was dyslexic, and could neither read nor write, and yet he was one of South Africa’s most successful businessmen in his time.
It cannot therefore be said that you need to be literate in order to succeed. Your limitations stretch only as far as your thinking. In another Paul Theroux quotation from his novel, The Lower River, he said: “Anyone who said literacy made a person brighter was wrong. Being illiterate, not speaking a language well, out of your element and perhaps feeling insecure, unnerved, and suspicious—all these made a person much more observant.”
We learn, whether we choose to or not, for as long as we draw breath, and far, far beyond. We are the culmination of countless previous lifetimes, from which learning is gleaned and retained. We might even be learning from future lifetimes, those in another timeline. Yet we remain hamstrung by our present circumstances and how we have been taught to think, during the few very short years of our physical life.
Whereas literacy applies strictly to the physical form, learning is not confined within the boundaries of space and time, for it is infinite…
It’s when we venture out, far beyond the city lights, where technology becomes irrelevant, that we begin to understand that our years of literacy represent but a fraction of our capacity to Be.
Years ago, my brother, a friend of his and myself, travelled to a very isolated stretch of the South African eastern coastline, along what was then the Transkei Wild Coast. It took us most of the day to get there in the old Volkswagen Kombi, for once we had left behind the tarred roads, and then the gravel roads, we had to follow pathways used only by rural people and their cattle.
Even though it was back in the early 1980’s (before mobile phones and faxes; when Microsoft was still getting going) and I was just a teenager, I remember that feeling of liberty as the ‘civilised world’ receded and was replaced by something far more awe-inspiring!
We spent about a week at this location, camped on the beach next to a lagoon, with the river mouth about 500m to the south. We caught fish in the surf, and local children came each day to offer us mussels they’d harvested from the rocks. At night they’d bring us firewood and we’d cook and brew coffee over the fire. We’d sit and talk afterwards, throwing a log on the fire every now and then, and contemplating the vast canopy of stars, planets, constellations and galaxies above us.
This was Learning as I had never imagined!
Although my brother’s friend spoke Xhosa, the language of the local tribesmen, my only means of communication was with sign and body language, yet I made myself understood to the local people, and they in turn could understand me. I walked on the beach, I swam in the lagoon, I sat and contemplated—well, everything! In this way, I managed to learn so much more about life, and about my own inherited knowledge, than any textbooks could ever teach me.
I didn’t want to leave! And every time I’ve been lucky enough to venture out to these far-off places, I’ve marvelled at how my imagination and cognitive awareness expands to fill the Universe. Once the deadlines and social pressures, the expectations and commitments, the roads and their traffic were no longer of influence, my consciousness is free to explore the simple experience of what it means to Be.
To quote from the book, Shibumi, by Trevanian, “Shibumi is an understanding of the great refinement underlying commonplace appearances… One must pass through knowledge and arrive at simplicity.” It is here, beyond the reaches of modern conceptualisation, that Shibumi is to be found. It is here, where literacy and academic study do not apply, that one can truly begin to learn. It is here, that I am able to Be.
Kari, I’d love to hear your perspective on this topic, particularly from the point of view of a Kinesiologist and Reiki Master.
You are into something very significant here, Guy! Literacy and learning are indeed two very different things! Still they work together like two partners, depending on each other for the best result.
The first thing that strikes me when reading your start to this conversation is that the reading experience is exactly like every other experience, according to our brain. It doesn’t matter for our brain if you read about an experience or actually experience it firsthand, it will be archived like something that really happened, as a reference, together with everything else in that reference category.
And there you have learning. At least in theory…
As a Kinesiologist, a great deal of my work has to do with how the brain interprets the information and alters understanding according to what it interprets. So the critical question is: How does your brain work? What kind of information do you get through literacy and how does it apply to what you already know?
There is actually a certain area in the brain called Broca's Area that accommodates the spoken language, usually located in left hemisphere, our logical part of the brain. Stress in Broca's Area can result in problems finding the right words and putting sentences together, which could be part of the fact that we are less “wordy” as you say. Whether we think of it or not, most of the people in the world live a daily life in unnatural stress.
When we put the words we read together in sentences and paragraphs, we enable the cognitive function that refers to the human ability to process thoughts—the ability to learn new information and understandings from written words. And it entails how the different parts of the brain work together.
Again, our magnificent brain uses information from every single experience in our life! Also, when it comes to understanding the written word and making sense out of it. So what you get from what you read is very personal, and a process that depends very much upon the stress level you’re at.
When we talk about learning through experience, we talk about something different and yet still familiar. Every experience we have involves emotions. Good emotions cause us to want more, as they activate a healthy hormone level. They release stress, activate a healthy immune system, and a healthy digestive system. And even more of a wonder—every time you think of the experience, the same thing happens in your body! That is a quantum process, where we jump into another timeline and our memories become our reality. We’re back to the exact same moment, and our body reacts in the exact same way!
When you tell us your beautiful story, Guy, you’re back to when it happened. Your timeline changed and it is just as real for your brain as it was when it occurred! And what’s more, I am sure I’m not the only one having a cascade of pictures and emotions when reading it. “Yeah, I know what you mean! I remember when….”
So what happens to us reading this? Our brain searches through our very own ‘experience library’ and starts playing a movie of pictures and emotions based on our own life experiences.
That is, when we read without stress!
As soon as we reach a stress point, for whatever reason, the alarm system triggers and the brain goes blank! You can continue reading, but you forget it immediately, and you will not be able to make any reasonable understanding of it all until the alarm system shuts down again.
So what if the reading process is itself a stressful experience? Under what circumstances did you learn to read? Well, I guess, if you have reached this far, you have a pretty balanced reading experience. The question is, do you read this with your logical mind, your feelings, or a combination of both?
I have never been to Africa, at least not in this lifetime! But I do have a brother that was very adventurous when he was young, and at 18 years old he went hitch-hiking all the way through Europe and down to Africa, where he travelled around for a year.
I was 9 years when he left, and he sent me postcards every time he reached a post office, telling about this huge, wonderful continent. I waited and waited for those postcards. There were always pictures of African animals and for every new card I received, I went to our encyclopedia to read of the country or area he was visiting, and about the animal on the card.
I experienced Africa together with him, I imagined all the different smells and sounds and I learned the different African words he related to me. When he told me about how he chose to sleep under a car in a nature reserve and woke up to the sounds of a hippo bathing a few meters from him, I proudly told everybody about it! I was so proud of him and I dreamed of being 18 years old—to be old enough to do the same.
When I read your story, Guy, I get the same feeling! I am in another timeline too, I get exited and I want to learn more. My brain doesn’t care if it is myself experiencing this for real, or just imagine it. It will still be a part of my reference of learning.
And that is the beauty of our brain and how we affect each other! Everything we experience through our senses will be altered and interpreted as our own experiences, whether it is something we read, see in a movie, or hear stories about. It makes absolutely no difference, as it will all go into our huge reservoir of references!
And we use it! We create our life from this! Look at small children. Up to the age of 3-4, they live a life of imagination and play. There is no logical mind, telling them that anything is impossible, and they usually live a happy life, very much in the moment. They learn through experiencing, and from their experiences they gain logic.
At a certain point our logical mind takes the lead. To most of us it is based on education and literal teachings, and so many people lose contact with the right brain hemisphere’s playful, spontaneous and creative abilities. That is when we start living in Scarcity! And as you have stated earlier, Guy, 99 % of the world’s population live in Scarcity!
In order to live a life in Abundance, it is crucial to turn this process around. Now, I don’t mean we should un-learn anything, but we can change the references used by our brain, through meditation for example. A conscious meditation process, where you ‘see, feel, smell, touch’ what you want to accomplish, will immediately channel your brain into another mode, giving new signals to your body, helping to create what you desire, step by step.
Knowledge is power! Knowledge will create peace on Earth, at some point! But knowledge is so much more than literacy! It has to be combined with our thoughts and feelings, our learning of life!
Now, Guy, last time we spoke, you mentioned the difference between freedom and liberty! Will you share your thoughts about this important subject with our readers?
Yes indeed, Kari, and thank you for reminding me, because understanding this difference is an important factor when we speak about choices of consciousness—especially in the context of literacy and learning!
When Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990, many people thought that he had been given his freedom after 27 years. This is untrue. He always had his freedom, but he was given his liberty… During his imprisonment, he retained his acute wisdom, he wrote extensively and he kept healthy. Through the sheer power of his thinking and the influence of his being, all that he desired came to fruition, for himself, his people and his country. During those 27 years though, he was not at liberty to leave Robben Island, yet he was nevertheless granted all that he had asked for in the end.
Most of us believe that we’re never truly free, because of the restrictions placed upon us by governments, society, family or whatever, but this is pure illusion and a figment of our imagination. We imprison ourselves, actually; we limit our capacity to learn by simply complying with what’s expected of us.
Sure, the majority of us have our liberty—at least we think we do… I speak for myself when I say that I am not at liberty to hop on a plane and fly to Europe, or America, or wherever I choose. I have to stop and think, now do I have enough money for starters? I need a visa; will the country I want to visit grant me one just like that? Most of China is closed to tourists, for example. North Korea is certainly a no-go (not that I’d consider visiting). If I wanted to see the incredible vistas of Antarctica, I am not at liberty to do so, unless I have a specific skill set and have been accepted by the powers that be…
All of you valued readers are literate and seeking to learn something new, or else you wouldn’t be reading this, right? So it’s a given that you have some sort of educational background, sufficient enough to follow the concepts, thoughts and ideas Kari and I are sharing with you. You have either completed your secondary and tertiary education, or are perhaps contemplating sending your kids to school—even grandchildren.
Were you aware that the standard education system of the world today is still virtually the same as it was 250 years ago? And why is this so? Well, with the onset of the Industrial Revolution, came the need for organisation and uniformity in the colossal factories beginning to emerge. These industries required skilled and semi-skilled labour, and they needed to be disciplined. They had to work in unison, much like an army I guess, and they had to adhere to predetermined schedules, arrive at work on time, etcetera…
Prior to that time, schooling was for the elite, where children were privately tutored, and all the rest began working from an early age, on farms or small enterprises. Because factories required workers who were essentially literate and who had certain basic skills, schools were set up to accommodate the masses.
Think bells to announce the beginning of class, where kids had to arrive on time and in an orderly fashion; think desks in neat rows, all squared up; think uniforms and regulation haircuts; think punishment for lack of discipline and performance… Sounds just like work, doesn’t it? Well that’s precisely what it was meant to be. A smooth transition from school to workplace—all well-conditioned workers who made for seamlessly functioning factories, that made sick amounts of money for those few at the top of the food chain.
Richard Branson, the British billionaire and founder of Virgin Group, said this about his schooling: “I was dyslexic, I had no understanding of schoolwork whatsoever. I certainly would have failed IQ tests. And it was one of the reasons I left school when I was 15 years old. And if I’m not interested in something, I don’t grasp it.” Are things any different in the 21 Century?
No, and actually, not much has changed in 250 years really. We still have huge organisations controlled by the very few. One difference is that automation has taken the place of manual labour—in fact, machines that can learn! Now there’s a thought! So machines take the jobs of people, while the global population increases, resulting in more people out of work… Something has to change!
My point about this past quarter millennium, is that the manner in which we think today, the uniformed patterns of society, right down to the structure of our cities; what’s acceptable and what’s not, stems from the requirements and expectations of people in high places who stood to become rich. Some might attribute it to progress, or improved standard of living… I call it greed. The need for literacy (on their terms) overcame the importance of learning all those years ago, and only now are a few of us beginning to wake up from their slumber of ignorance to question the ‘status quo’!
You made a very interesting reference to children and their power of imagination, Kari! I can recall all those games I played as a child, where trees were fortresses, or spaceships, and I would create an entire world out of my imagination—for hours upon hours… Remember when Father Christmas was real? I really did catch a glimpse of him once, arriving with his sleigh and reindeer!
As you say though, Kari, when we grow older, our logical, analytical mind takes over, correlating what we see with what we know (or what we think we know) in accordance with what we have been led to believe is the truth; what is real. Yet is it? We still give a great deal of conscious thought to what we want, or who we would like to be, then shake our heads, sigh, and return to ‘the real world,’ full of problems and struggles, pain and hardship.
What if I told you though, that all of these desires are absolutely possible? What if I said that the instant you apply your thinking to whatever it is you want, it begins to manifest? Well, you probably wouldn’t believe me—and you’d be correct not to, because as soon as the wheels of possibility are set in motion, you hit the ‘off’ button, which shuts the entire mechanism down. You keep on doing this, because you ‘know’ this to be no more than just a dream of what you might be. With all of your literacy and all of your learning, you haven’t even begun to work with it to your advantage. It has become more of a hindrance than an asset to who you are—to your Way of Being.
What Kari and I do though, through her training as a Kinesiologist and mine as a Transformational Coach, is assist you in turning those dreams and feelings into beliefs, which you would then nurture and mould into your new reality. Remember that your reality, your truth, is whatever you’re choosing it to be… By accepting your world as it is right now, you have made a choice.
Don’t be lulled into a false sense of contentment, thinking that because you have lots of money with a great job and life is just peachy, you’ve reached your fullest potential. Once you realise that all your life you’ve been blindfolded and living in a maze, and that there really is this vast reservoir of untapped potential awaiting you, you’ll discover your own path to Enlightenment.
And besides, the mere fact that you’re reading these conversations (for which Kari and myself are indeed grateful) tells me that you’re looking for something, because your intuition is saying that there’s a big piece of pie missing. So when you’re ready to choose to go within and find that reservoir, connect with us and we’ll gladly assist in whatever way we can!
Perhaps, Kari, you could share with us, the benefits of holding onto those childlike dreams, and developing the imagination, using the tools of literacy and learning with which we’ve been blessed.
Yes, Guy, our ability of daydreaming, imagination and envisioning what we want are some of our most important activities, especially when it comes to literacy versus learning!
It is a wonderful part of being human, that we are all one. Science has discovered that when increased levels of understanding occur, they are collective, in the sense that the same increased understanding happens all over the world. Not to everyone, but to a few, who then teach others…
We can make this very spiritual, if we choose, placing it outside of ourselves and be honored as someone with special skills and in contact with the divine. Or we can accept the fact that when one person changes, they will influence everybody. It is said that in order to change the world, all it takes is 1% of the population. And we are there, aren’t we? As we already have 1% living in Abundance!
We have spoken of this enormous storehouse of references in your brain and how we develop in our understanding according to it. Our ability to use imagination is always what creates our possibilities as well as our boundaries. Human consciousness entails both the synapses in your brain and your multidimensional, spiritual part. Literacy relates to the synapses, which involves our multidimensional facets, while learning is a multidimensional experience that creates new synapses. Real learning comes with a balance between these two aspects.
Our childish daydreaming actually serves us very well, as it evolves our understanding of how life works. In our imagination there are no limitations, we are able to do what we want and get what we want. We are dominated by the creative right hemisphere of our brain, whilst the left, analytic hemisphere plays a minor role. Our body reacts to our daydreaming depending on what we focus upon; the effect is the same, whether it happens in real time or as a fantasy.
I often use the gift of imagination in my treatments. Going back to a certain age, a certain situation, to something that has had a negative influence on a person’s life, and play the movie again, this time with a positive result, actually changing the whole influence. Or the other way, you sit down and consciously play a movie regarding something you’re about to do. Picture yourself doing it so well, that the result is exactly what you want it to be, and you will be amazed to see you’re most likely right.
This is not literacy—it is actually a quantum experience. Still, your former experiences, your former learning, settle what you get out of literacy.
I have experienced something wonderful when working with children under the age of puberty. They know! Often they have their mum or dad with them, who talk over the child’s head about what is wrong, as they see it. When I ask the child a question, mum or dad answer, or the child looks at their parents to see what the right answer is.
Now, for me to do a good job, I need information from the person with the experiences, as Kinesiology is personal, innate knowledge and not other persons experiences with my client—that is another story. So when pointing this out, things opens up.
When asking the child directly what they believe is the cause, they always have the answer. They know the root of the problem, often the biggest problem is grown-ups, believing they know what’s wrong because they have read child psychology, or some doctor has diagnosed their child with some letters, like ADHD, ADD or whatever. And they forget to ask the child…
My father taught me to read when I was four years old, so when I started school, I was way ahead of the rest of my class. Still I had to learn from the start. When my daughter started school, she already had two brothers going to school, and she had followed them in their schoolwork, so she was also way ahead of the other pupils in her class.
It was 30 years between these two events. And I am sure that during those 30 years, there have been other pupils like us. Still, my daughter had to follow her class, just like I had to do. Her teacher got annoyed at me when I pointed out the fact that my daughter needed some challenges, and not using the first two years in school learning what she already knew.
I honestly don’t think that I was as wise as today’s children, when I grew up. Children of today are changing—they enter this world more developed than my generation was. It is amazing to explore the ability children have to understand the result of a task, even if they don’t always know how they find the result. They just know.
To return back to the child client, I always ask one question: If this is why you came here, and this is the result you want, what do you need to get there?
Their answer has nothing to do with literacy! It is inner knowledge coming from increased access to the potential in their blueprint!
This brings me to our next topic, Guy. We did mention briefly the difference between freedom and liberty, but I would like to talk more about that and how increased consciousness affects this.
(Digital art by Cameron Gray)