labeling

Mother, Artist, Vegetarian and Chocoholic. That isn’t me. But that tagline, which I read on someone eles’s blog, struck me as interesting. I am a mother. I am also inclined towards vegetariansim, and I like chocolate. But I am not an artist. Or am I? Aren’t we all? I mean isn’t the act of living artistry? And aren’t we all mothers (even the men)? And singers? And teachers?  Aren’t we all just bits and pieces of the same stuff?

I am struck by how driven we are to categorize. Not only driven, we are good at it! No one taught my sons how to identify a girl from a boy or a plant from an animal. We are born with this skill. It is both innate and primitive.

We have a tendency to interface with the natural world using the same framework: identify, name, categorize, analyze. Inherent to this process is the creation of boundaries and of separateness. When we isolate the individual (the species, the element, the season) we miss the wholeness, the interconnectedness of everything in the cosmos. But, nothing exists outside of a context, an intimate relationship with its surrounding environment.

In an essay on the philosophical underpinnings of a holistic approach to education, Ron Miller describes a holistic perspective as emphasizing “the complementarity of all phenomena; in place of division and opposition, it sees the world as a dynamic balance of forces. Wholeness includes light and shadow, joy and suffering, feminine and masculine, mind and matter, human and nonhuman, and so on. In this view, the world is not divided into exclusive categories or unsolvable contradictions. This worldview is comfortable with paradox, mystery and emergence. A holistic epistemology seeks synthesis and integration rather than analysis and dissection.” Yes, that seems so right! But I am (we are) stuck with a cultural upbringing based on categories and analysis and our language has evolved to express these same ways of thinking.

Where are the words to explore this holistic view of life? The words are there, for some, but not for most. But the ideas exist even if the words fail us. This is why our children need to be in the natural world without agenda, so that the limitations of our language do not limit their perception of the world. And this is also why we need to tell stories…more on that next time.  Now, I need to go categorize this post.

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2 thoughts on “labeling

  1. O my! We seem to think the same!? Sorry for this outburst! I too am struggling with exactly this and, more amazingly, your quote, with that sentence “A holistic epistemology seeks synthesis and integration rather than analysis and dissection”: that’s *exactly* the kind of sentence I would focus on and mull over and hold on to! A very analytical (philosophical) way of approaching the issue, don’t you think? Which is the point!

    Ah which words indeed? I’m also looking, for Amie, for myself…

    I’m going to read all of your blog (oh love the outdoor school!), but right now I need to sleep. I left a comment for you on your comment on my blog.

    I look forward to reading! Will link to you in my sidebar.

  2. Again sorry for the outburst. I’m calmed down now 🙂
    And I just thought of Barry Lopez’s “dictionary” *Home Ground*. It’s not so much the memes as their explanations which ring so true in a holistic sense. Very inspiring.

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