Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Honoring & Integrating Our Divine Masculine & Feminine & Its Meaning for the Future of Higher Education

In a recent Facebook thread, my colleague Johnson Thomaskutty asked for responses to a link to an article about Noble Laureate  V.S. Naipul as stating, "I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me" (http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23955458-women-writers-are-different-i-can-tell-they-are-unequal-to-me.do)

Author Toni Morrison
My response was to turn to my good friend Virginia Woolf. In A Room of One’s Own she certainly talks about differences between women’s writing and men’s writing, although I believe what she ultimately is showing is the differences between “masculine” and “feminine writing,” or more simply put, left-brain oriented writing and right-brain oriented writing. The left-brain is linear and detail-oriented, interested in analysis, comparison and contrast, rules, logic, with a focus on the external world.  The right-brain is intuitive, non-linear, interested in synthesis, unity, connection, with a focus on the internal experience. Irrespective of gender, any individual can lean more to one type of brain. A famous illustration of a female with a male brain was seen in the case of Alice Bradley Sheldon, who writing under the name of James Tiptree, Jr. composed science fiction that was convincingly male.

Now Virginia went on to say more about gender and writing. She put forth the suggestion that the best writer has what she calls an androgynous mind. I think she is right, and I will maintain even more broadly with Jung that men and women need both their masculine and feminine selves to be completely human. Divorced from a connection to inner experience, the left-brain can be trapped into endlessly analyzing and making rules about that which is ultimately not of significance. This is because without that inner connection, there cannot be a spiritual connection.  At the other extreme, a separated right-brain can be trapped into mistaking that personal intuition can automatically be applied to other individuals (the fallacy about spiritual experience about which William James has warned). Without that connection to external reality, there is no recognition and celebration of human difference, making it very difficult to communicate effectively with others who have different views let alone not harm them. Together however, the left and right-brains can both generate new insights and help make those insights become realities. The right brain works best in deciding what to do and the left-brain works best in deciding how to do it.

Author Anne Lamott
Our current civilization has been suffering from a brain imbalance. It is ruled by a left-brain consciousness that does not get its orders from the divine via the right-brain consciousness. It gets its order from a consciousness that is interested in being in control which it falsely believes is about controlling one’s external environment, both other humans and Mother Earth. Not only is the feminine consciousness not consulted, it is demeaned, whether it is found in women or in men. Yet if only that masculine consciousness could unite with the feminine, it would find the love of self that it so desperately seeks.

There are new changes sweeping the planet beyond the chaotic weather patterns and wars.  There is a growing awareness that the return of the feminine consciousness to rejoin the wounded masculine consciousness is in process now. All over people are leaving jobs and relationships that are no longer based on an authentic sense of self grounded in love. They are moving into better places.  People are protesting governments that have oppressed them. People are recognizing that sustainable living, not nuclear power, can allow us to live in harmony with our planet. There is a better future coming. Together we can bring it forth.

Let’s turn now to Higher Education. We all know that we can see that the wounded male consciousness is in charge here. No one would think up the kind of system that we have out of love. No, the system reeks of money and power. What kind of system is it that makes it difficult to be with one’s family if one wants to succeed? What kind of system is it that rewards scholarship over teaching? What kind of system is it that has created an entire slave class of adjunct teachers? And what kind of system is it that enables and protects professors who abuse their students?

Let us return to first principles. What is education?  Education is the means by which an individual can acquire the skills and knowledge to be the very best person they were meant to be, a fully authentic and self-actualized person whose talents have been honed to the highest level.  So this means, any educational system should serve the needs of its students, not the needs of that system, and not the needs of corporations interested in hiring those students. Ideally, the student should play a large role in designing a course of study, in collaboration with an educator who has the student’s best needs at heart. The way the student’s progress is evaluated is also based on the specific learning goals of that student. You really don’t need grades. Students simply need to know what they have learned and what they need further to learn.

 To properly attend to this most important task of teaching, teachers devote their time to teaching.  If they wish, they are free to publish and may get time off to help with the publishing, but publication is not a requirement. No one who does not feel the call to teach should teach.  Would you have your brain operated on by someone who did not want to be a surgeon? Those called to teaching should also be given the opportunity to study the craft as carefully as a plumber studies plumbing.

All of this boils down to that students and faculty are not at the mercy of a system that possess rules that are not of true significance. That students and faculty with their connection to the divine, have the right to self-determination, to know what is best for them to be their authentic selves, and to be able to live and learn accordingly. The excitement of discovery, the joy found in a new skill, the fun of working together to figure something out, the pride in accomplishment and above all, the love of the life of a mind integrated with the heart and with the gut – that is the learning environment all students shall enjoy one day, may the Eternal make it soon.

Written by Guest Blogger Dr. Naomi Schwartz Jacobs (Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible)

No comments: