"You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.” ― Alan Watts
25 years ago or so, I took a class of Grade 9 students out to the largest park I could find for a scaling activity for our solar system. Unlike textbooks and those well-intentioned models, I wanted to use the same scale for planet size and planet distance.
I wanted students to appreciate the physical and slightly existentialist truth about our solar system, and hence our universe–that it is mostly empty space.
I open with this memory because I am beginning to feel that, while I sit in various planets of intellectual ferment, there just seems to be a vast disconnect between so many of these organizations and groups. Each one seems to be content with its own truth, unwilling or unable to expand and extend its philosophy with other bodies of knowledge. Generally speaking, this will have an inert outcome–which maybe, reflecting now, will be perhaps far from benign.
My recent resume of connectedness with purpose-driven communities is gratefully rich.
In 2020, I joined Amplify and a great team of writers and visionaries to begin sculpting out a new math resource that centered narrative/storytelling. In 2021, I was invited to be part of the NCTM(National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) Planning Committee for their recently held Conference in Los Angeles. It was a remarkable group of people, some of whom will be lifelong friends. And, just recently I have joined Metal Talk, a UK-based online publication, to review albums and concerts. And, my fourth and final book, Sonic Seducer, will come out in 2023. Mathematics and music have been constantly illuminating bodies in my life.
So, I seem to be in the middle of everywhere. But, as the title of this blog implies, I feel in the center of nowhere.
While that sounds depressing on a grand scale, for the purposes of belonging on The Board of Directors for the Human Restoration Project, it is exactly the perspective I feel I need to chart out the years in front of me. Feeling adrift is a therapeutic and constructive perspective for me. This empty space is where I can be the most creative and compassionate. There is a lightness here, in an empty canvas of sorts, where floating through the possibilities isn’t prejudiced by one thing or another. Every idea and philosophy is explored for the betterment of–us.
It is the same realm that identifies the work at the Human Restoration Project.
The work here has never been more relevant for the purposes of the evolution of education, and finally center it on hope, healing, and humanity. Public education had an opportunity to write a narrative at the end of this century titled “The Great Reset”, referring to an inflection point in education during the pandemic. That would have lessened the work at HRP, maybe making it thankfully redundant–even irrelevant.
But, that is not the story that will be written for the children for that future generation. The one that will be written still needs to be penned. Unfortunately, the luxury of when is gone.
If you don’t understand that education is in a terminal stage of its existence due to its cancer of dehumanizing ideology–compliance, competition, and consumption–then you don’t have children or know of people who do. And, the guardians of their wellbeing at school–teachers–have been stretched to exhaustive points to maintain any semblance of humanity in the classroom.
They are burned out. They are the firefighters in education. They have been asked repeatedly to go into burning buildings and salvage things they probably don’t even believe in–incessant testing and grading for example. They will continue to fight, but it will now come at the expense of their health. If not physical, it will surely be emotional and mental.
As a math educator, my first obligation should be to education, not mathematics. It’s like buying flower seeds and thinking they will grow in sand or some other parched environment. I need to–we need to–all think about education first and foremost. The soil, regardless of how expensive it might be in terms of cost or how long it will take to properly till it, must be the priority.
The mathematics that I believe in–storytelling, narrative, culturally responsive, and anti-racist–is anchored in its history, that spans every race, culture, civilization, and indigenous group. Sadly, I am beginning to doubt if any of that will flower and flourish in the current educational soil, to be frank, that is seeping with bureaucratic and political toxins.
Center of nowhere is where I might be, but the center of somewhere–somewhere that resonates with the belief of passion, purpose, and planet–is where my vector and that of the Human Restoration Project needs to be charting. Logistics to arrive at such Destination, filled with promise, brilliance, and light are being feverishly being mapped out here. The arrival time will not be known for sometime–if ever. That is not the issue. The work at HRP to have the resonance that it desires will require a lifetime–and then some.
But nobody here, including myself, is phased by this time line. Restoring humanity to education–or even planting it firmly for the first time–is an endeavor that is agnostic to any time frame put in front of it.
We are still building the spaceship here. Lots of progress is happening. If you are an educator, we need you. If you are a parent, we need you. If you are any community member, we need you.
If you are a student, we need you–the most.