COURSE of STUDY, new ways to educate in the formative years
Drawing out the Human Potential
by Pam Carpenter, D.D., B.A.
Life is for learning. It waits in every corner and doorstep of our existence. Those who reserve it for the classroom or for children rob themselves of the wellspring of life. Those who seek it and welcome it with open arms are blessed. When there is learning there is an awe for life and creations unfoldment -- the intricate design in a shell, the revelation of a better way to accomplish a task, the thrill of a breakthrough in a perplexing question, the peace and confidence of living up to ideals. Learning is most easily seen in the curiosity of children. Yet none of us outgrow our need to learn, to discover, and to explore new arenas of ourselves and the world around us.
I remember visiting my sister during one summer several years ago. Her two chldren were the first to arise, eagerly anticipating the days learning. I observed their delight in discovering what we adults take for granted as commonplace. My nephew was enthralled with individual powdered cream for coffee. He had never experienced milk in this form. I imagined what it would be like as an adult to awaken with the same eagerness for learning. Can you imagine waking up in the morning filled with anticipation of what youre going to learn about yourself and the world?
Young children are eager to learn whether they are in or out of the classroom. This eagerness can be further nurtured by the attitudes toward learning of the adults around them. We need not enter a physical schoolroom to learn. What we do enter is a mental schoolroom, an attitude conducive to learning in which we can grow from any experience. In our mental schoolroom we are filled with an awe of the world around us. Learning is our boon because through it we will know more and be better than we were before. We want to excel so we are open to giving our full attention. We are ready to receive and be filled full, or fulfilled. As we make new discoveries, freshness pervades our mental schoolroom. No matter how many times weve repeated an action we can delight in its newness, like hearing new meaning in a song weve heard a hundred times before. We can relish the memory the moment stimulates, like never growing tired of hearing the same sweet melody. Entering our mental schoolroom means gaining admittance into an attitude of love for whatever were doing.
The word education comes from two Latin words: ed and ducate. The prefix ed means out of. Ducate means to draw. The process of education then is drawing out. In education we are drawing out the potential within the individual so it can be realized, utilized, and made productive. Education is often thought of as putting information into the brain where it wasnt before. This is only one small fraction of the process of learning. The full process of education is in four steps.
Receiving information is the first step. Information can be received by reading, hearing, or seeing something demonstrated. The information enters the brain through one or more of the five senses and is stored there as memory. Lets say youre learning how to swim, to do the American crawl. The instructor demonstrates and explains how to move through the water and maintain rhythmic breathing, how to dip the hand into the water, draw it out and bring it in front again; how to turn the head to the side on the inhale and then bring the face back into the water to exhale; how to kick the legs and feet. It is exciting to receive information or new awareness, and those at this stage would be called intellectuals or neophytes. This valuable and necessary first step in learning can stimulate the desire for the next step.
This next stage of learning is practice. In the example of swimming, practicing the parts separately -- the kick, the arm stroke, the breathing -- offers you the opportunity to isolate each aspect of the total experience and explore it more fully. You use the information in the brain and experience it with the five senses, expanding it into the nervous system, the muscular system, in fact the entire body. Recalling what has been stored in your brain, you continue to practice the separate parts then combine them until the body has been trained to perform the whole stroke as it matches what you remember. As competence in the skill is gained we experience a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Those at this stage are called dabblers, students, or followers, having gained competence of a skill by reproducing what has been presented and remembered.
With the third step you give your skill a purposeful use. You experiment into deeper, expanded realms. You apply what you know in other areas. This can be accomplished in simple ways by using swimming to exercise or as recreation. You perfect your stroke and join a swim team. You add the precision and skill of water ballet and perform it for others. More expansive uses of the skill are to invent a paddle boat that operates on the same principles as swimming or to research and improve the execution of the strokes so they are more efficient and thermodynamic. Those who reach this level of learning are called experts, inventors, or explorers. They have used imagination in an expansive way to bring the skill of swimming to a new height. They have added to this skill as a whole by producing something that benefits more than themselves.
To bring learning to its greatest fruition is in accomplishing the final stage. This step is to teach it to others. In passing on what you know, you enter the realm of master. You discover what you truly know about your subject. You describe the steps or parts of the whole procedure in words and demonstrations that others who dont yet have the experience can understand. You guide them through each of the steps of learning. You unfold yourself more deeply as you guide the unfoldment of others. You have brought forth the skill of swimming from within to its full fruition.
Some have the idea that a teacher is someone who already knows everything. This is a narrow and naive image of teaching. A teacher is still learning on a deeper or more expanded level. The Japanese call a teacher sensei meaning one who is further along. The Japanese respect the fact that the person who is teaching them knows more than they do and is still learning. Teachers havent removed themselves from the path of learning nor have they reached their destination. As they teach, they are continuing up the path of learning.
Universally all learning is focused around a single point. Whether you are aware of it or not the focus around which you make choices is to understand the Universal Truths of how creation occurs. To understand anything you first take it apart and examine its pieces, just like isolating each of the aspects of learning how to swim and practicing them separately. Once each part is understood, you unite them, identifying as you do the relationships between the parts. Having combined all the parts and how the whole operates, you can extract the Universal Principles which apply in any act of creation. For example, in swimming some of the Universal Principles are the process of forward motion with the whole body cooperating in an efficient rhythm. The underlined words of forward motion, whole, cooperating and efficient rhythm are the principles that can be extracted from this experience and applied to any act of creation. The more Universal Principles you identify from your experience, the faster your understanding builds toward fully knowing what it means to be a creator. You learn how to create responsibly. You learn how to respect yourself and other people. You learn the value of the imagination as part of creation. You learn the necessity of attention in order to create. You learn when to initiate and when to step back and watch with anticipation of acting again.
Life is for learning, and the natural instinct for learning which shines in a child can be nurtured and disciplined by knowledgeable and insightful teachers. Each summer, young people ages ten to sixteen have an opportunity to learn how to enhance and cause learning during the College Preparatory Camp held on the campus of the College of Metaphysics. Instruction revolves around many Universal Principles and Self development in the use of undivided attention, the implementation of the will and imagination, and the formulation of an ideal and being true to that ideal. The three ingredients of reasoning: memory, attention, and imagination are taught and used by campers daily. Learning to believe in yourself and the possibility of achieving ideals becomes part of their awareness.
Students have a large arena for applying their learning and have the advantage of adult guidance and supervision. In the mental and physical action of gardening, campers learn how to set a goal for themselves for the day and keep their attention directed toward the ideal at hand. They become aware of how unattended distractions can cause them to stop short of achieving their desire. In this way, they learn how their thoughts are important, having an effect upon themselves and the world around them. By taking care of the smaller animals in the Colleges Agricultural Department, they learn to care for a living creature who is dependent upon them. This builds a sense of trustworthiness, responsibility, service, and compassion.
Mental skills are even applied to some of the simplest activities people do every day. For example, when undivided attention is presented, students practice this when brushing their teeth. They give their attention through each of the five senses to experience what brushing the teeth is like. When was the last time you really listened to the sound of your toothbrush against your teeth? The more you can give attention to what is received through the five senses, the more you are able to accurately and factually experience, remember your experiences, and communicate those experiences to another.
The camp is called College Preparatory Camp because what young people learn can be applied to being a more effective student in college and ultimately throughout life -- in their relationships with people, their careers, their hobbies and recreation, and their contemplation. The activities aid them to be well-rounded, utilizing their mind in anything they want to accomplish. They learn how to draw out that potential within them so they can expect to become productive and fulfilled adults.
Learning these Universal Principles expands your awareness of learning. When you know the value of undivided attention, memory and imagination, you enhance every area of your life. Understanding and applying these universals gives you the freedom to imagine and grow more quickly. Each of us has made choices that determine the course of life. Each choice offers the opportunity of how and what will be learned about creation at any of the four stages.
Life is for learning. Enter your schoolroom every day, embrace the wonders the world offers, become master of yourself and an example and teacher for others.
One of the many positions of service she holds, Pam Carpenter is director of the College Preparatory Camp offered each summer for young adults ages ten through sixteen on the College of Metaphysics campus. For enrollment information, write to her at School of Metaphysics Headquarters.
by Dr. Pam Carpenter
If youve ever arrived early to a symphony concert youve had the opportunity to witness the tuning up of the orchestra. All the musicians tune their instruments to the note given by the first chair violinist. This is the note of A. The first chair violinist gets his note from a tuning fork giving him the exact pitch of A. By playing this note all the other musicians can tune their instruments to this same note so once they begin to play, the whole orchestra will be in the same key. Every instrument will be played harmoniously with the other instruments.
This is a good example of discipline. Discipline in the true sense of the word means reaching for that fine clear note of a high ideal, standard, or truth and continuing to tune your thinking, actions, or words to match the imagined ideal, the pitch of the first chair violinist. When discipline is employed we are living harmoniously with ourSelves, our fellow man, our family, our society, the rest of humanity, the world, and the universe. The rewards of discipline are great because they bring a sense of peace, contentment and security to the individuals who practice them.
The word discipline comes from a Latin word disciplina which means teaching or learning. Discipline and disciple come from the same source. Being disciplined means being a disciple, a follower of a standard to emulate.
Standards require structure and organization. To embody the standard through discipline means understanding the structure and learning to operate within it. Does structure imply restriction? No. In essence it offers freedom. I once learned about structure and freedom while riding on a ferry. I was standing at the railing looking out at the water, at the waves going up and down. I thought, Freedom, absolute freedom means being out in that water. The thought was frightening. Having the structure of the boat gave me a sense of security and safety and allowed me to reach my destination. I am free within the structure of this boat, much freer than I would be if I were in the water. Structure gives a sense of security, a sense of safety and a way to achieve goals and ideals.
When there is discipline, there is the movement toward and embracing of a standard to which you aspire. You know where you have been and where you are now, and you can imagine the steps involved in getting from where you are to where you want to be. Some think of discipline as donts or shouldnts, as depriving or denying. When it is viewed from this standpoint, discipline is no longer discipline but punishment and reward. With reward and punishment you know where you want to be and where you are. Youve yet to imagine the steps between the two. You know where you want to be and because youre not there already theres something wrong with you that needs fixing.
Discipline implies reaching toward the desired result. Punishment implies getting rid of what is unwanted. Discipline is not denial. Its not deprivation. It is a fine tuning. In the fine tuning you remove impurities, so to speak, that do not ring true. You remove any distractions. With discipline there is the process of refinement, of becoming pure or concentrated. Think about something thats concentrated -- for example concentrated orange juice, all it contains is orange. Theres nothing else. Something thats concentrated is in its pure form. The same thing is true when we discipline ourselves. Theres a refinement which concentrates our actions whether mental or physical. Impurities are removed in order for any element to be pure. With discipline, there is the same kind of process.
On a physical level there is discipline through actions. You can see this with children who are learning how to walk. They have an ideal of what they want to become. They have seen their parents walking and they want to walk like that. That is the standard they are seeking. Their bodies are not yet strong enough. Their balance is not matured enough, yet that doesnt stop them. They continue to build strength and balance refining their movements until they can walk like they have seen an adult walking. The discipline of their practice has removed the impurities of awkwardness and weakness. They have no attention directed toward removing or denying themselves awkwardness. They give it no attention. Their attention is directed toward learning how to walk, pure and simple.
I watched a child who I thought messy and uncoordinated. With greater attention and observation, I discovered she was deliberately spilling bowls of beads and beans so in picking them up she could practice the fine movements of eye-hand coordination. Each time she had successfully filled the bowl she proceeded to dump out its contents again to continue practicing. Her whole attention was directed to learning how to use her hands and eyes in the refined coordination that picking up beads afforded her. She had no consciousness of denying or depriving herself. These negative attitudes are not part of disciplined thinking. With discipline there is no acknowledgement that the action is not developed enough or pure enough. The mind is directed toward imagining what is desired and acting accordingly.
On a mental level, discipline your thinking to a desired outcome. Desire and then reach for the kind of thinking to which you aspire. When you are aware that your thinking is not in alignment with the ideal, acknowledge it and direct your thinking toward the desired aspiration. Because of this pureness or concentration in thinking, speaking or acting, a disciplined person gets many things done during the day. Their thoughts, words, and actions are not accompanied by extraneous motion called distractions. What they do has purpose and is toward accomplishing an ideal or an objective.
In order to be disciplined, it is of the utmost importance to be able to still the mind. As your mind becomes stilled it is concentrated upon a single point which opens your consciousness to a universe of transcended awareness. Albert Einstein, as a young man, wondered what it would be like to ride upon a beam of light. He focused directly, intently and deeply upon that question opening up a universe of thought and birthing new awarenesses; his discoveries of Relativity. Picasso as a young painter wondered what it would be like if he took a three dimensional object and placed all its surfaces upon a two dimensional surface. This one pointed question led him into a universe of what is called cubism; a word coined to describe one period of his painting. By focusing purely upon one point of thought we allow ourselves to enter a universe of exploration, discovery, expansion, and transformation.
Discipline is one of the most beautiful mental skills we have. Through it we have security, structure, ideals, freedom and transformation.
©1994 Vol. 12 No. 2
The Gift of our Creator
by Pam Carpenter, D.D.,B.A.
What kind of creator are you? How much of your mind do you use for creation? Do you think "Why does this always happen to me? I wish my life could be different? I never have any fun" or "There's got to be a better way. I wonder what it would be like if. What can I do to help?" Whether your thinking is limited by old thoughts or open to new ideas your words form images setting into motion patterns of thinking that influence and determine your life.
When our Maker created our universe He began each day of creation with, Let there be... and ended it when He saw it was good. As sons and daughters of our Maker we are also creators. Let us make man in our image and after our likeness. We are like our Creator because we are creators too. The manner in which we create is like our Maker, in images.
We create by first forming an idea or image in our mind's eye. Where do these images come from? We draw these images by two processes. One is by using memory, and the other is by using imagination.
When we use our memory only, we draw from past information and experiences. The brain receives and records impressions from our five senses. For example, we eat a peach. We see it is a rounded heart shape with a soft, fuzzy skin. It has a fragrant odor and is soft as we pick it up to taste it. With the first bite we discover its sweet juicy meat, so juicy we might even need to inhale to keep the juice from running down our chin. We discover a hard, rough seed in the middle. All of this becomes memory stored in the brain and available for future use. Following our experience with a peach, we know how we can eat a peach and what it tastes like. As we eat other peaches we can compare our new experience with those previously stored in the brain, evaluating and cataloging each new experience with the ones we've had previously. This is the best peach I've ever eaten or this peach has little flavor. If we continue to use memory only, we will eat peaches the same way for the rest of our life, never changing the experience.
Continuing to do what has been established, or maintaining the status quo, is using memory and attention only. People who live on memory only say things such as, This always happens to me. Thats the way I am. Thats the way things are or the world is. Just like eating the peach the same way, they choose the same response to similar situations. They stay the same until some outside condition or situation becomes too uncomfortable to bear. This discomfort can come in the form of boredom, exasperation, embarrassment, disgust or guilt. In any case, it is intolerable, the last straw, the straw that broke the camel's back, hitting bottom. The individual won't allow him/herself to stay in this situation or sink any lower. It is at this point such a person begins to look for an alternative to the situation. They begin to use imagination because they are forced to use it. People who use their memory only are slow to respond, so change, learning and growth is sluggish. If growth is to occur, the imagination will be used.
Imagination need not be the result of discomfort or forced change. When the imagination is incorporated through choice, we draw out two or more pieces of information from our brain and combine them in a new way. This can be new to us or new to the world. With peaches we might slice them and combine them with other foods making peach ice cream, peach pie, pickled peaches, peach preserves on toast, or brandied peaches. Botanists have spliced peach and plum treelings together to produce a new fruit, the nectarine. They imagined the possibility of a new form by combining two existing ones.
Every invention and discovery has been the result of imagination. It is evident that when the imagination has been employed in our civilization there have been great advances scientifically, technologically, economically, politically, and artistically as during the Renaissance or the Industrial Revolution. When the imagination is stifled Mankind experiences times like those of the Dark Ages where there was very little change or advancement. From combining the wheel and a box have come carts, wagons, chariots, wheelbarrows, carriages, horseless carriages, automobiles, trucks, tractors, tanks, buses, trains, go carts, and roller coasters. A flat piece of rock used for digging has developed into shovels, spades, crowbars, spoons, forks, knives, pancake turners, hoes, ladles, chisels, scrapers, and back hoes.
A classic example of the employment of imagination is the invention of velcro. The space program needed a clothing fastener easy for astronauts to manipulate in a zero gravity environment and while wearing bulky gloves or suits. The idea came from sticktights, those pesky little burrs that stick to your socks and pants when you walk in tall weeds or near the beach. One side of the velcro is soft like the fuzz on a sock and the other side of the velcro resembles the briars of a sticktight. This invention not only aided the space program, it expanded the clothing industry. Velcro is used for fastening shoes, shirts, or pants. They are even used to attach shoulder pads into clothing making it convenient for cleaning or ironing garments.
Those who use imagination also hit bottom but where and how they hit bottom is much different than the bottom hit by those using memory only. Their bottom is a point of need or a point of doing something better than they did the last time. In some cases of extremely successful people the bottom may be the best they did yesterday. Today they strive to improve themselves beyond where they were the day before. They have an ideal or a vision and nothing else will suffice until their accomplishment matches what they have imagined. Their energy, attention and will is riveted to improving themselves and their environment instead of waiting until a situation becomes too uncomfortable to bear any longer. They use the gifts God gave them. Certainly the joyful and fulfilling way to change is to employ imagination to better the place where you are rather than to relieve pain. How valuable and important it is to teach ourselves and those around us the most productive use of the imagination.
Great mens lives are filled with examples of the use of imagination. Benjamin Franklin, a genius in his own time, designed numerous inventions from a rocking chair that when rocked would activate a fan to keep the flies off the sitters head to the lightening rod and the Franklin stove. His ability to see the needs of the people in his city of Philadelphia and to act on them brought improvements such as paved streets, libraries, a better postal service and a reliable police and fire department. He constantly sought to improve and challenge himself. As a young boy he became adept at swimming then challenged himself to swim by holding three parts of his body out of the water, holding his leg or even being pulled by a kite across the lake where he swam. He had a valuable impact upon the founding principles of our country. His brilliance in many fields is remembered today and appreciated by all Americans because his contributions have made our country a better place to live.
Individuals who are curious and ask questions, people who see needs and want to better themselves and the world around them use imagination. People of vision bring hope to others, encouraging them to think more expansively and creatively and bring about global changes on our planet. Many people dwell in the past using only a limited amount of their God-given resources. Conversation with these people are about books theyve read, movies theyve seen, places theyve been, food theyve eaten, and so on. Theres little purpose in these memory thoughts except to bring attention to the self. Rare is the person who uses memories to teach a lesson or shed light upon the present condition bringing perspective in order to make decisions with maturity and intelligence. Rarer still is the one, who with vision and insight, talks about dreams and aspirations inspiring others to cast their eyes into their own futures. Dreaming about what could be can be transformed into a will be with continued refinement of the imagination and determined effort.
This is the hope the gift of imagination brings. It gives us freedom to grow and prosper. It connects us with our Maker because the imagination is how we are intimately related to our Heavenly Parent. It separates us from animals and when used to know Truth unites us with angels and brings heaven to earth. Let the gift of imagination shine in your life as you begin each day of your creation with Let there be... and end it knowing It was good.
©2002 School of Metaphysics
Return to Directory
Course of Study