Hanna Somatic Education – Socratic, Promethean, Herculean

I realize, now, that the title of this piece might seem like hype. I thought Thomas Hanna’s introduction to his methods sounded like hype. What pathos! when the truth sounds unbelievable! when what sounds too good to be true IS true!

To understand the metaphors, “Socratic, Promethean, and Herculean” in relation to Hanna Somatics, we must understand some things about Socrates, Prometheus, and Hercules.

Socrates was a teacher and prominent personage of ancient Greece. As a teacher, he guided his students along lines of consideration, asking them leading questions so that his students might arrive at insight, themselves. His viewpoint of knowledge, topsy turvy to that of most contemporary ways of operating, is that we inherently know everything, but have forgotten nearly everything, and the teacher only reminds us of what we have already known but forgotten.

Compare the Socratic view with this conventional view of knowledge: We fundamentally know nothing and have to learn everything, and the teacher is the one who tells us what’s what. One who really knows what’s what ends up in Who’s Who, and if you’re not in Who’s Who, you’re nobody.

Kind of opposites, aren’t they?

So the Socratic method is “from inside, out, prompted by what’s coming in from outside.” The methods of Hanna Somatic Education produce, to quote Thomas Hanna, “an internalized learning process” by guiding clients through certain self-explorations of sensation and movement.

This is not the same as letting clients dictate the course of a session or do a poor approximation of our instructions or add irrelevant efforts to a movement; it’s not the same as our taking whatever they give us as a response to our instructions. Remember, they are amnesic and don’t usually understand their condition correctly.

Socrates led his students to conclusions interactively, according to their responses; we lead our clients to outcomes interactively, according to their responses. The instruction comes from outside; the learning comes from within.

Now, Promethean. Prometheus was the son of the Titan, lapetos, and the nymph, Klymene. The name, “Prometheus,” means “foresight.” According to myth, it was Prometheus who taught humankind the skills of civilization and gave us fire. (Crane, Gregory R. (ed.) The Perseus Project, www.perseus.tufts.edu, July, 2002).

The gifts of Prometheus were the technologies of civilization and a corresponding awakening of attention of a special kind in order to receive and use these gifts.

Somatics is exactly an awakening of attention of a special kind. It is an awakening of attention on many levels of the human being, bringing self-mastery. The process teaches the relationship between mind “and” body (the “two” being internal and external manifestations of the same thing, and therefore not-two). It awakens us to new sensations. It cultivates the ability to focus attention, to act deliberately, to recognize the relationship between effort and its outcome, to be self-correcting, to follow through to completion. It teaches how to direct attention and intention toward the same thing. It gives us access to more of our abilities.

For almost everyone, these learnings generate a significant awakening. You can see how they are all elements of a sound civilization necessary to responsibly use the gifts of Prometheus. My hope for working and playing with people in the somatic realm, is that their “pilot light” gets lit (they receive the gift of fire), and they are able to continue somatic awakening largely on their own.

And now, Herculean. Hercules, known primarily for his strength, has been described as the perfect embodiment of pathos, the experience of virtuous struggle against great difficulties that leads to fame and, in Hercules’ case, immortality. (Crane, Gregory R(ed.) The Perseus Project, www.perseus.tufts.edu, July, 2002).

Ever try to get someone to do something in a new way? Ever have anyone ask for your advice and then argue with you about it? To do somatic processes with people, even to get them to try it, even when they are interested in doing them, often “gets interesting.” It seems, at ti.nes, that a Herculean effort is needed to guide people through the process of change, even when they want to change.

Magnify that challenge to an entire culture accustomed to placing responsibility for health and wellbeing outside oneself, and you see the scope of our work. To get a culture to change its way of operating from that of dependence upon a DoctorPatient/Parent-Child system (that saves people from the consequences of their own actions) to that of responsibility for ones own well-being (reducing the need to be saved from consequences) is a Herculean Feat tantamount to cleaning King Augeas’ stables by redirecting a river. The feats of Hercules, of which cleaning King Augeas’ stables was one of twelve, required strength and the use of available resources in new ways. They required more than Hercules’ solitary strength, but also his acceptance of help and ideas from others, his persistence, and his ingenious development of new ways to overcome seemingly impossible challenges.

The College Education Conspiracy – What They Don’t Want You To Know

Do you believe in conspiracies? Perhaps you don’t think there is a massive UFO cover-up or that Big Foot is secretly being held in an underground bunker however, you do wonder about “the rest of the story”, as Paul Harvey might say. The rising cost of a college education has always been one of those topics where there seems to be more to the story.

Consider this quote from a college financial aid insider. “You go into massive amounts of debt just to get an education that you need as a prerequisite to get a job. Then you spend the rest of your life paying off that educational debt. There has got to be a better way.”

When I heard this statement it made me stop, think and question everything that I had experienced personally as a high school student approaching college admissions, as a student in college and now as a parent preparing to send my daughter to college.

Once Upon A Time…

It reads almost like a fairytale. We are taught form a very early age that if we desire to have a better quality of life than our parents, we must obtain a college degree. Try using Google to search the phrase “value of a college degree”. You would not be surprised to learn that most of the results are filled with charts and graphs that describe the earning “potential” of a college graduate compared with that of someone with only a high school diploma. It makes sense doesn’t it? In fact companies announce that to even qualify to work for them you must have at least an Associate’s Degree and most likely a Bachelor’s Degree.

Reality Sets In…

For those of us that are old enough to have experienced life 5 – 15 years after college we understand that the fairytale was only partly true. We were not told that while in most cases we do enjoy a better than income than our undereducated counterparts, we were not fully informed about the true cost of all of the student loan debt it took to fund that college education. We were also not told that while we did get our dream job, it was only after changing careers or industries multiple times. In fact, I wonder if as you read this now, you are currently employed in the field for which you received your college degree.

It Gets Worse…

What’s worse is if you attended a well-known expensive university only to find your self today, working at the same company, in the same position, with other people who attended less expensive schools. This would be bad enough if the story ends here but unfortunately it doesn’t. After all of this you would think that we would have learned from our mistakes but we have not. Without knowing it we now are preparing our children to make this high school to college transition no better prepared than we were.

Why is Education a Must For Everyone?

Each of us must have a good education. It is a requirement for us to do better in life. We all know about the quote that says “Education is the key to success.” This is true, in a sense that we are capable of being successful and will reach high in life if we are educated. Starting our childhood years, we are being educated. From primary education, to our high school years, then comes college, and even higher degrees. After we have our careers, we still continue to educate ourselves by researching and other activities.

Education is what broadens our horizons for us to have a better and wider understanding of the world around us. It will help us know how things are working, and how they should be operated. Being in a civilized society, we need to have more knowledge on what the modern world has to offer. If not, then we cannot live our daily lives the way other people do.

Also, we are in need of education because the economy encourages us to have the chance of contributing to it. We can develop talents that we can use in helping out country. The intelligence we can acquire from the people who educate us will give us the ability to be better citizens. We can all see how advanced our society is today. It was all the contribution from earlier people who were once just youths that educated them so that they gain knowledge of the world around them. Everything we see not that we are using is based upon what they have learned, and the ideas they came up with based on the things they learned.

Just imagine how the world would be 50 years from now if education will continue. The future generations would have easier lifestyles, greater success, and happier living. People might have longer life expectancies by developing modern medications or any science contributions. The governments might be more secured and strong. Technology can be in its peak. All of these things are coming from a single foundation and that is education.

Also, people that are well-educated are more confident. They are well respected by others. We can always gain the praises that we want when we get a proper education. It is our key to have a better life. Better, not only because we are secured financially, but also because we have the pride and self esteem that is built upon knowledge.

So before you think of quitting school and thinking you are tired of those study routines, think of what you might be letting go if you pause your education. Time never waits for you. We better act now.

Sustainable Education for a Healthier Future

Education gives knowledge which as Bacon rightly puts, is a “source of power to man”. However, it is crucial we note that this power can function either as one employed to build a better future or as one that destroys.

Our masters, the likes of Galileo, after much philosophizing and experimentation, discovered truths and initiated beneficial principles now observed in our educational system. Their great philosophies are perfect for numerous situations, but our system does not show scholars the path to think and understand the proper situations to apply them. This is chiefly because the concentration of teachings nowadays is not to make people think, which ought to be the primary goal, but chiefly to uphold existing laws, reasoning in the confinement of principles, and empowering indirectly an unsustainable world.

Acquiring Knowledge of established principles is good. But our educational system is leaving out an essential goal of growing our thinking faculty, by not grounding scholars with the understanding that the established principles are simply discoveries employed to help and should not be taken as final. Such limits our sense of discovery needed to address the diverse problems growing in our world.

Time or situation can transform valid principles to invalid; the superseded scientific laws or theories we had and will still have are examples. “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment” (Ralph Waldo). A good quote it is; however, students are not grounded to understand its context and scope: Sadly, one can now see a sadist employing similar quote to justify actions, causing mayhem.

At a tender age, it was like a law according to my parents and remarks from people that rain starts and ends in certain months. I remember asking: “What if it rains in January?” their answer was: “It cannot”. The reply came with some air of finality because the principle had been valid historically and probably because they had never experienced otherwise. The principle was true. To them it was irrevocable. But time has invalidated that principle through climate change. Now the months they had known to bring heavy downpours sometimes turn to be the driest.

Life gets more complex every day, luckily we have principles intended to help, not to mold or limit our future. Sadly, our recognized principles cannot fit in every situation, and sticking on them will only bring about chaos. For a sustainable world, we need a kind of education where principles are acknowledged as a stimulus and not a decree. We need Education where people have enough grounds to express themselves beyond established principles, laws or philosophies; one that develops our reasoning and thinking faculty without constraints.

Pitiably, the knowledge we now gain from education does not train one in the part of wisdom which grows when one begins to think. It only exposes some people’s wise thoughts or principles. Our system of education now yields educated fanatics: people that have acquired better knowledge on how to present and manage their fanaticism, planting chaos by training advanced erroneous people.

Due to life’s growing complexities, education that develops our discerning ability to avoid further knowledge misappropriation is needed. Adoption of fine principles helps, but we should avoid settling in a period where ¬≠scholars are chiefly concerned with following of principles, so we can elude a future of people that reason more with citations than their heads, like robots.

For a peaceful and sustainable future, we should stop the degrading practice of following principles thoughtlessly in our educational system, and welcome fresh educational scheme that stimulates our thinking faculty. That will enable all to understand the fact that time or situation can change anything. So, one would not be quick to conclude because of knowledge from recognized scholars or universal principles.

I believe in the future of education where people do not just copy principles or laws, but where people also philosophize on situations to know where the principles are usable. This will free our world from the problematic chains of principles. Some of our masters foresaw this ugly future of ‘scholaroids’; Socrates addressed it: “I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.”

Education Is Where Our Future Lies

Education has always been one of the most important aspects of my life. Striving for more knowledge, even outside of my comfort zone, is what I try to work towards on a daily basis. There are certain things in my life that help me with that, such as famous quotes. Just about everyone has some sort of line that has been stated by an individual they view as great (whether that is a friend, family member, someone famous, or a complete stranger, is completely up to them). There are no rules for who we, as individuals, view as important or influential in our lives. For me, one of those people would be Maria Montessori.

Have you ever read one of her many thoughts on how we should educate children?

She is one of the biggest factors as to why I chose to pursue an education degree as an undergraduate. Education is one of the most important factors for any society or group to be able to progress forward into the inevitable future. Education should be viewed as a starting point, or foundation, regardless of what it is for (i.e. individual, community, country, etc.). Unfortunately, in many cases, school can end up becoming viewed as a mundane task. Which is why so many essentially “give up” and just do the bare minimum to get by. Which is how we end up with such a gap of basic knowledge and understanding as a population.

The way students are taught, along with what they are taught as they develop, will be their foundation for the rest of their lives. From what I have seen and experienced, though, we are not achieving that with every student within our schools. What we are having them develop is a rocky surface that is impossible to build on without the necessary tools; an unfinished foundation that they no longer have the means to finish it.

I say this as someone who always felt like an outsider in public schools. I finished my last six years of K-12 schooling in public schools but started at a private Montessori school, so my foundation is from before my seventh grade year. My understanding of why there are so many individuals with such rocky foundations is this:

Public schools are controlled by so many required tests to develop statistics, that it is crippling the current and future generations. What good are these tests if the ones taking them are not really benefitting from them?

Students are being taught a broad scope of information, regardless of interest or necessity, while we leave hardly any room for exploration within topics for personal and developmental growth, which is how we end up with eighth graders that ask questions along the lines of, “Is France in Italy?” Montessori environments can teach you everything a public school can, but at the same time, leaves so much room open for individuals to learn on their own.

One of the many concepts and beliefs that come from Maria Montessori is creating a learning environment where the students have been guided [by their teacher], but have continued their learning and exploration without the teacher “holding their hand” every step of the way. That is when she (Maria Montessori) felt the teacher has truly succeeded.

So, in order for education and our future to succeed, we need to stop with this whole, “proving a subject is truly worthwhile to have in schools,” and, “teaching to the test,” mentalities. Because, if we really allowed a teacher to do the job they are most passionate about, without having all of these mandated tests, I feel our future and educational system would be that much brighter.