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Opinion & Essays - Jun, 1993 Issue #22 

by: Steve Cawdrey
Thompson Falls, Montana

I recently completed a 10 day sojourn with a 14 year old from Houston who came to spend time here before attending a local wilderness program. This was the first adolescent I had worked with in nearly two years. Yikes! What a process!

What I noticed was that I did most things very differently than in the past. I experienced a living process educational model instead of writing about it. When the boy's mother called and needed help right now, I didn't fall into the old trap: I am needed! and then proceed to lose my boundaries. I was able to sit with what felt right for me and to call support people to get a reality check on whether my ego and self-will were in charge here. I noticed my panic. I felt trapped on a dualism: I wanted to act in a way for the boy to like and respect me or in the next moment, I needed to be the Director in charge who would brook no nonsense and list the rules and expectations of the program.

The idea that I needed simply to be myself and stay in the moment was a totally novel concept. I did get clear that I couldn't have this lad come to Spring Creek unless I first spoke with him and shared what was happening. His mother insisted that he would never make the call and she struggled with letting go of the outcome. She did let go and he did call.

I had a good experience and could write an entire article on the numerous learning and humorous incidents of those ten days. What I know is that living in process made working with an adolescent more enjoyable, more genuine and more difficult for me to hide from my issues and mistakes.

What have been my first steps toward developing a program based on a process educational model? My first step supported me taking the time for personal recovery, healing and transformation--first things first! A willingness to wait for clarity of direction and having motives based on rigorous honesty provides an operational framework for the planning of any project, decision or program.

I have come to know that my right work is learning, writing and teaching. I have tried to fight this and follow other paths--to find myself disconnected from my spirit, my process. When disconnected, guidance, vision, the creative process ebbs and disappears as water on the sand.

Process education unfolds from participation. Participation flows from a relationship with spirit. Spirit is the nourishing, healing essence, the foundation of creativity, the connectedness to that which is sacred. An openness to learning leads to vulnerability and sensitivity to people, feelings, information, the earth, all creatures. That openness of spirit, that risk to relinquish the illusion of control demands a choice to participate in my life and take responsibility for my learning.

Process education provides experiential learning, facilitates creativity, supports relationships and demonstrates an actual Living Process System. While a process educational model provides opportunities for learning traditional educational material, it is not based on the modern scientific model.

In the last article (Process Education, Issue #21), I discussed recovery and (transformation. In dealing with those aspects in my life which block access to my own truth, I recover my inner spirit. I know there are many ways and paths and I have found 12-step programs to be most effective in dealing with the underlying addictive process in our culture. Transformation offers a way of life based on spirit, a different paradigm--the hold movement as David Bohm so elegantly describes the constant enfolding and unfolding of the universe.

After personal healing, a shift in paradigm and clarity of purpose, a next right step in designing a process educational model involves putting out information: sharing personal experience, writing about the ideas, the philosophy as the process unfolds. Seeking response, sharing information, attracting individuals who have a solid grounding in their own recovery, and keeping things simple become the footwork of a design process. Let the universe's wisdom provide the needed outcomes. Have a willingness to discard agendas or walk away from a "we have always done it that way here" mentality.

Another parameter of a truly open system translates into tolerance, acceptance, suspension of judgmentalism, dogma, rigidity. There exists in open systems a balance of setting limits and boundaries while respecting an individual's process. In a closed system, the consultant, the program, the staff--the "expert"-- determines what is best. What a constant invitation into relationship addiction and co-dependence!

Our Special Purpose organizations often extol openness, honesty, sharing. Yet, how often does a staff express feelings of discomfort with what is happening or names the workaholism, abuse, greed or pressure, and then find themselves ignored or outside the organization one day..

In an open, recovering, process model, the right and safety for every person--staff, student, parent--to think, feel or express any view or idea is inviolate. How often these sentiments are displayed as the values of a special purpose school or treatment program and the actual practice is dramatically different.

I believe there are many levels of truth and that there are barriers to knowing the multi-levels of reality. An honest journey on the path of Truth and Wisdom shatters our illusions, our denial. Some of the barriers on my path were racism and sexism--however subtle or layered with New Age correctness. Also I encountered my numerous addictive processes and a worldview based on modern, mechanistic science. These issues kept me from the natural connectedness I have to my spirit, my truth, my feelings and information each of us has within us to heal ourselves.

Having a deep trust in each person's process and their inner resources to heal, challenges us to explore where a process educational model could take us.

Copyright 1993, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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