Today, I went on a walk with ekthorp and sarahj to discuss what our plans would be to arrange the opening and closing for tomorrow’s ramble. On our way back we began discussing “the Lives of Animals” and I became really fixated on the part of Elizabeth’s speech where she brings up Sultan, who is starved until he can achieve his task. In doing so, he is being trained to focus and give importance to only one thing, and being asked to disregard all other possible thoughts or distractions. I had recently listened to this podcast that had reminded me of Sultan for another one of Anne’s classes (http://www.onbeing.org/program/last-quiet-places/4557) and it had a huge effect on my thinking. One of the things discussed in the podcast is how children are taught to direct their attention, to close themselves off to divergent and distracting thoughts. I began to see a connect here between the way we are conditioned to focus and the way in which Sultan was taught to abandon his instincts and focus only on one thing in order to achieve his task. I wondered about the way we teach children, and how often learning and play are intertwined. Most “play” moments actually serve as teaching moments, where children learn problem-solving skills, teambuilding skills, leadership skills. It doesn’t seem like children are ever just playing. However, I’m starting to wonder whether or not it is “ecologically literate” to teach and condition children to filter out divergent thinking. In a way, the majority of children are being taught not to pay attention to their surroundings, to let the environment fade into the background. Only certain, more materialistic things seem to be valuable enough to warrant our attention. Maybe a more environmentally friendly way of teaching children would be to actually use the environment as a place of learning. I don’t think we should entirely stop teaching children to focus, but maybe the environment would be better protected if we indulged divergent thinking more, instead of always attempting to shut it down. Maybe the world would be better served if instead of reprimanding the student whose eye has been caught by whatever environment can be seen from a classroom window, we were to give that student the opportunity to go outside, to broaden their thinking horizons. Maybe we would be able to expand our concept of importance, give focus to what has been consistently pushed into the backgrounds of our imaginations.