Mid-April review, Part 1/5: A Global Network of Humanistic Education

Part of the reason I keep blogging is because I need to be able to remember what I’m doing, followed by being a way to let people who follow me what I’m up to when an individual e-mail doesn’t come from me for a long time. Unfortunately, when I get so busy that I don’t blog for over a week, I don’t worry about people thinking I’m in prison or dead, I worry that I won’t be able to remember what I’m up to in life.

I didn’t even remember where I was one week ago when someone asked me where I was, so here I am trying to recap the last 17 days of this month, broken up into five parts: 1) the Soka education event and show at UCLA, 2) my trip to New Admit Day at UCSD for my graduate school program, 3) Indonesian Culture Night at UCLA and the Worldfest arts performances a few days later, 4) the UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies Legacies of Violence conference on human rights in Southeast Asia, and lastly, 5) a panel I attended titled “Are We Khmericans?” regarding the subject of the transnational ethnic Cambodian community. So five updates to follow from here.

Starting here with April 3rd’s event, “A Global Network of Humanistic Education”, I went there as an invitee from a friend and to see some musical performances in the form of Japanese taiko by L.A. Zone Taiko, an Indian tabula performance by Vivek and singer Gaayatri, and American jazz by Ambassadors for Peace.

The importance of this event as I understood it was to introduce the idea of Soka education, in which people are calling for a new approach to education that isn’t based off of test scores, grades, or a piece of paper certifying you as “educated” and “intelligent” (whatever those terms mean now), but a way in which the institution transforms into a community, one that is designed to help bring out the highest potential in everyone.

Taken from the event flier: “The event will feature exhibitions on human security, human rights and ecological sustainability; cultural performances and a keynote lecture from DePaul University professor of education Dr. Jason Goulah. Dr. Goulah will examine the humanistic approach of the Soka education system developed by Japanese educator Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and the role it is playing in the construction of a more peaceful world in the twenty-first century.

What was fascinating was that one of the principle founders, Makiguchi, was that he paid for bag lunches out of his own pocket for children who were not financially stable, and even placed them in the janitor’s closet to pick up privately in order to avoid the inevitable ostracization and alienation if their peers were to discover that they were poor.

The fact that people here have a very global perspective and are not caught up with the idea of “valedictorians” or “being smarter than others” is very attractive to me. That the arts and humanities are emphasized as part of creating that global perspective rather than on being something they have to do to satisfy their general education requirements that they forget out about once they get into their “real major” like I went through in UCLA is a testament to how fragmented education is now. By creating specialization, we are losing sight of the big picture that causes us to ask what we can do with our education for the world rather than what the world owes us for our education. This is definitely part of what I want to incorporate into my future organization down the road.

So instead of walling ourselves off as historians, anthropologists, engineers, economists, and physicists, we need to understand where it’s all going.  Without that creativity and global perspective, the people who work on genetically modifying foods may not know the disastrous consequences of what they’re researching and creating. Worse: neither do the shareholders who only see profits and market growth rather than the resulting food crisis that could result from affecting the diet of our livestock and our own species, such as the genetically-modified alfalfa fed to cows that creates flatulence that eats up the ozone layer, which creates global warming, which then affects the climate and environment, which then affects us. Quite scary to know how it all ties in together, much like the concept of chaos theory with a butterfly flapping its wings in England and causing a hurricane in the amazon.

Now that I’ve left you all scared, here are some nice videos from the performers at the event! 😉

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