Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wisdom and Teaching - two companions on the journey

Wisdom and Teaching - requisite partners in life's journey

One of these odd wake-from-sleep lessons - Wisdom's payment is teaching. You can learn all you want, but as you do - you must share what you know.

There's the entirety of study and training - regardless of what they hold as valuable in Western schools. Once you learn, you are required to teach what you know. The student and teacher are one and the same - because so often they trade roles.

Only in our western culture does the dogmatic teacher-student relationship become a one-way, top-to-seeming-bottom flow.

Our oldest surviving philosophy/life-system is found in the Polynesian Huna-Kahuna (Secret of Secrets). Here anyone who had mastered his particular set of life-skills was a kahuna. And taught only as another student asked questions. Being judged a kahuna wasn't some official status, it was just a community recognition of the wisdom and skill a person had attained. This didn't mean they knew everything about everything. A kahuna skilled in catching fish would not know the same data as a carpenter-kahuna.

So there was ample opportunity for a person to learn from others while having apparently mastered his own niche.

But I don't think that within any particular niche that there are closed doors to continuing knowledge. Farmers I know who are judged expert in rotational grazing cattle (moving them to a new section of land every few days or daily) say that they are constantly learning new stuff every year. (And the land so grazed is producing grasses no one has ever seen before, interestingly enough.)

Once, for some years, I had a job of internal consultant for a large West Coast corporation. It had set policies on how to consult. I had been trained several times on their consulting methods as they had changed over the years. And had gotten so good at it that it had almost become repetitious. Solutions were too easy. But then I got so good that it looked like I was "cutting corners" because I could tell people within minutes what their problem was and write out a short list of policies for them to study and actions to do. This made my bosses so afraid of reprisal from their seniors that they forbade me to act that way. Seeing that I was trying to operate with understanding in a corporate structure based on fear, I quit. Transferred to another department in that organization that had nothing to do with consulting (graphic design, actually) and set about learning a whole new set of skills. And a few years later, transferred right out of that corporate culture entirely.

Didn't mean I quit learning.

After that, I then boiled down their entire structure and phil0sophy into a short book called "Go Thunk Yourself!" This then became a short series, which actually contains a sort of universal solvent to learning just about anything.

Of course, then I had to learn all about marketing, since no one will sell your books for you.

However, just having these books and knowledge doesn't mean you can sit on it - so blogging is a natural means of expression. Here, people can find what they want to understand through searches and RSS feeds and life-streams and other aggregators.

So it's the old Kahuna-student relationship on Internet steroids.

The expert in one field is the rank amateur in another, a willing student as well as a willing teacher.

That's the future of our lives, our planet, our cultures.

What a great life to have!