Back in Toronto.





Last night I gave a three hour talk at the Royal Botanical Garden.

It started with the awareness question of  “Notice all the squares in the room, anything that is a square or rectangle.”  Then another question: ” Notice all the circles in the room”.   Once asked, the shapes came into our awareness.  What else is like that ?

The next awareness: “Notice the shape that we are sitting in”.  Rows in a large square shape, all facing the one presenter.  “Feel what it feels like in your body, right now.  Now, everyone get up and rearrange themselves into one circle”.

Once settled, I asked, “So what does it feel like now ?”  People shared these things:

I feel vulnerable.

I’m participating.

I’m responsible.

This is like community.

I can’t hide.

If rows of chairs (squares) is like content (school) then a circle of chairs is like context.

Front row only education is a shift in the context of learning.  It’s a shift in culture.

Where else can we shift the context to create cultural change ?

2 replies
  1. Anneke
    Anneke says:

    Hi Mark, great subject!
    I know a school where all the chairs in classrooms for the junior students are colored yellow/black… what message does this convey subconsciously… !?!

  2. Paul Tobin
    Paul Tobin says:

    You have noticed that everything an Indian does in a circle,
    and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles,
    and everything and everything tries to be round.

    In the old days all our power came to us from the sacred hoop
    of the nation and so long as the hoop was unbroken the people
    flourished. The flowering tree was the living center of the hoop,
    and the circle of the four quarters nourished it. The east gave peace
    and light, the south gave warmth, the west gave rain and the north
    with its cold and mighty wind gave strength and endurance. This
    knowledge came to us from the outer world with our religion.

    Everything the power of the world does is done in a circle.
    The sky is round and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball
    and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls.
    Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours.
    The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon
    does the same and both are round. Even the seasons form a great
    circle in their changing and always come back again to where they were.

    The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is
    in everything where power moves. Our teepees were round like the
    nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation’s hoop,
    a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children.

    Black Elk, Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux 1863-1950

    Over a hundred years ago Black Elk had a vision of the time when Indian people would heal from the devastating effects
    of European migration. In his vision the Sacred Hoop which had been broken, would be mended in seven generations.
    The children born into this decade will be the seventh generation.


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