For to be free is not to merely cast off one's chains,
but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
- Nelson Mandela -

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Computers and Peace

The other day we were discussing freedom and world peace. You know, as you do over dinner.
And I remembered a passage from this book I translated from English into Dutch in 2000, when life was in more of a turmoil than usual for us, because we'd taken the children out of school and were just starting on the path of 'unschooling', at the time totally illegal in Holland. The only reason I managed to do this translation is because the book gripped me right from the beginning. It became a lifeline to me and each chapter brought me a new and very valuable insight.
The book was 'Zen Computer' by Philip Toshio Sudo.

Here's the bit I read out to my dearest and nearest:

"For as much as technology transforms our lives and society, Zen Computer says true transformation - the kind that's authentic and profound - will not come through technology alone, but through the transformation of people's souls, one by one by one. It says salvation arises from self-awareness, not better tools and faster communications; that world peace stems from inner peace; that
freedom for all people demands first the self-discipline of each individual. To cultivate self-awareness through the use of tools and communications - this is the hard work Zen Computer seeks to support. Only then will we elevate our humanity."

It was and still is food for thought and contemplation.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Learning from Life

Our eldest daughter has a new job.
A job that - in my opinion - really suits her.
A job that she holds no paper qualifications for.
I am so happy for her, because I know this is the kind of work she really wants to do. And in my mind, it's the kind of work she's cut out to do.
She's going to be a support worker with MenCap, working with adults and children with learning disabilities.
Ever since she started to think about what she wanted to do she's said she wanted to work with horses and with special needs people.
She did the Horse Management Course in college, but it wasn't satisfactory for her. Too much aimed at 'the industry', while her interest lies in the connection, the bond between horses and people.
For her work experience she went back to Holland, to the riding school she used to go to when we lived there. They are specialized in working with children with special needs.
By the time she came back to England - not entirely by her own choice - all she wanted to do was earn money and have a good time. Go shopping. Party. Make friends.
She got herself a job in Tesco, which gave her the money and the time and opportunity to do what she wanted to do. But soon she started to realize that working without job satisfaction was only okay up to a certain level. And she didn't want to do it for the rest of her life.
Then we saw this job in the paper. And we talked about it. I could see the sparkle in her eye, I could sense her intention when she went to fill in the application forms. And I prayed that she would get the chance to go for an interview, because I was sure her intention would be clear to other people, too.

The invitation for an interview came. She was really nervous to start with. But then she started to prepare herself. Reading more about MenCap on the internet and in the leaflet they'd sent out. Buying the same perfume her clan-sister uses and wearing it to the interview, so she felt her much loved and supportive clan-sister was with her.
I drove her there and it literally felt as if the car was filled with purpose. I dropped her off and an hour later picked her up again.
She was all smiles and totally relaxed and said that, even if she wouldn't get the job, she was really happy with how the interview went and she was proud of herself. Big thing for someone who's suffered from a fear to fail and insecurity for a long time.
There had been three people and at first she'd felt slightly overwhelmed. But once she got the chance to talk she came into her comfort zone. She'd told them how it had been growing up with a brother with Asperger Syndrome and what she'd learned from that. She spoke of her work with horses and special needs children - and I know how she radiates enthusiasm when she talks about that. They'd asked her if she'd be prepared to do the necessary training and she'd said she'd love to and explained she learned best when it was coupled to 'real life'.
They said they'd let her know within the next couple of weeks whether she'd got the job, but we'd only been home ten minutes when they were on the phone to offer her the job!

It'll be part time to start with and they'll fit it around her hours in Tesco. That's good, because she wants to get her drivers' license and she wants to move out. So she'll need the cash. Once she's completed the training they'll be able to offer her fulltime employment. That's an excellent incentive for her and I'm sure she'll do what it takes.

For me it's hugely satisfying to once again see that autonomous education does work.
It's funny, actually.
As is custom in Holland, we sent birth announcement cards to friends and family when she was born. At that time totally unaware of home education, let alone autonomous education or child-led learning, I'd asked a friend of ours to make this drawing of a man and woman asleep in bed, with a balloon above their heads showing the dreams and expectations they were having of their child.

On opening the card there's this baby, peacefully asleep, and a text above her head:

Isn't it amazing how true this has turned out to be!