Education as if
A shipwrecked sailor landed on an island where everybody was
always born blind. The sightless islanders nursed him back to
health, however, he became a nuisance. He demanded that they
get him things they had never heard of: windows, lights, books
and glasses. Puzzled, a scientific panel of leaders examined
him. They discovered that he had abnormal organs that gave him
a malfunction they called "sight." In their wisdom,
they cured it by removing his eyes.
People are not born blind to nature. As some societies demonstrate,
along with the rest of life we inherit nature's capacity to live
Unknowingly, and unlike nature, contemporary society teaches
us to blindly think in ways that produce the environmental, social
and personal disorders that plague us and Earth.
Fortunately, the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia
is farsighted. With the foresight to help reverse the mental
blind spots that produce our disorders, it has accredited a new
process of global education, one that does not keep a student
blind to the psychological abberations that produce our problems.
It is an educational nature connected psychology called the Natural
Systems Thinking Process. No matter where students reside on
the Planet, young or old, using the Process helps them build
responsible personal and global relationships at home, work or
Via the internet, the Integrated Ecology Department of Greenwich
University teaches students to learn, practice and teach the
Natural Systems Thinking Process. This is accomplished through
interactive online courses and degree programs. A participant's
previous parallel experiences are incorporated into the program
that leads to a B.A., M.S. or Ph.D degree.
Through the Institute of Global Education, a Associate of
the United Nations Department of Public Education and Portland
State University, the courses may be taken
individually and transferred into a student's program at other
universities or to meet professional requirements.
Below, from student journals, are four
examples of the transformation that occurs through the Integrated
Ecology program. For additional information use the links that
RE: Uncontrolled consumerism/materialism:
"As I continued doing the special forest activity, I found
myself attracted to the songs of the birds and then gradually
to the various stones and nuts and shells in the path. I would
stop in the path, pick up the stone, admire its beauty and then
feel clearly called to return it to its appropriate place. So
often other times I have felt I needed to put it in my pocket
and carry it home. Now, through the activity, I had a real sense
of appreciating each rock, each shell, each leaf in its place
for the time I was there. I felt suddenly freed from the need
to possess something. I had a growing sense of letting things
be and to just be still and glory in the fullness of the moment.
As I allowed myself to connect, appreciate, thank and move on
with so much of what surrounded me, I felt a letting go into
being present. In this transformation, I began to feel I was
part of the scene more, not my other self that needed to possess.
I learned that I do not need to possess something to have the
joy of it."
RE: Personal and Global Peace:
"I was never taught to ask permission to relate to people
or the environment, I just take that for granted, as we all do.
However, this activity required my senses to learn how to ask
an attractive tree covered area for its consent for me to walk
through it. The area continued to feel attractive, but something
changed. It was the first time in my life that I totally felt
safe. It felt like Earth's energies were in charge of my life,
not me. It gave me a wonderful feeling of having more power to
be myself. I felt in balance with nature and the people here
because I could distinctly feel their energies consenting to
support me. I never experienced nature and people that way before.
It was like a powerful law that protected not only my life, but
all of life. I felt very secure and nurtured as I walked under
those trees and spoke to people. I learned that when I seek permission
from the environment and people I psychologically gain energy
and unity, I belong."
RE: Destructive stress:
"This morning I was battling the remnants of some depression
I had been feeling about my family and life "stuff".
I was doing the attraction activity, looking around enjoying
the day, the breeze, the sun, the beautiful trees and the sounds
of birds chirping. In a flash of good feeling, I realized that
these feelings are what is so good about living on earth at this
time. It was enough, if for no other reason, to be here, to experience
the beauty of this planet. This was a major breakthrough for
me, because I battle the reason for being here quite a bit in
my recovery work. This happened before noon, and it is now 6
pm, and I still feel great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wanted
to share this because I am so happy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The activity helped me become aware of my attraction
to the crescent moon as it hung over two hills near my home.
Soon, its mellow glow, framed by peaks and trees, embraced me
in a wordless, ancient primordial scene. Timeless power, peace
and unity swept me up. I just wanted to stay in that state of
awe, I felt in balance with all of reality. I was simply "BEING."
No tension, no pressing goal, just truly belonging to the global
community. This natural energy captured my stress laden pulse
and seduced it to the rhythms of Earth. The sleeping disorder
I have battled all my adult life dissolved in this power. For
the first time in decades, I gently fell asleep after dark and
arose shortly after dawn. I celebrated the breakthrough and I
thanked nature. I thanked the activity, too, for it lets me reconnect
whenever I choose."
Additional example of the Natural Systems
Thinking Process and its effects are available at http://www.ecopsych.com/millecopstrand.html
Dr. Mark Brody, a psychologist with
the Philadelphia Public School System says "The experiences
expressed in the above paragraphs may be some of the most important
since Earth Day 4 1/2 billion years ago. They are at least important
for anyone in our possession-addicted, excessively destructive
culture to contemplate. It is significant that nature reconnecting
activities help us make such breakthroughs."
Pulitzer-Prize winning sociobiologist
Dr. Edward O. Wilson, of Harvard, affirms that people have an
inherent biological need to be in contact with nature. He says
Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive,
and even spiritual satisfaction.
In conclusion, Cohen says, "In
learning how to think with nature is the salvation of our sanity
and Earth. Excessively living indoors, our mentality stressfully
disconnects from nature's balanced sensory rewards. In replacement,
we crave and psychologically bond to destructive gratifications.
Genuinely reconnecting our thinking with nature replaces our
destructive bonds with constructive passions and responsible
For further information
Degree Programs and Courses
Natural Systems Thinking
Who to contact: Michael
J. Cohen, Ed.D.
Institute of Global
In Association with the United Nations Department
of Public Information
Degrees, Courses and Training Books
Post Office Box 1605,
Friday Harbor, WA 98250.
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