Teaching in the New Paradigm



Christopher Bache, 2012

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Everywhere we turn scientists are finding that systems we had previously thought were separate are actually interconnected. Chaos theory has demonstrated that nature is awash with patterns of fractal iteration and holo-graphic inclusion. Bell’s theorem reveals a universe that is instantaneously aware of itself across vast distances. Weaving together findings from quantum physics, post-Darwinian biology, cosmology, and consciousness research, Erwin Laszlo has written compellingly about the A-field, the superimplicate order behind our explicate world, a domain where nonlocality and superconductivity is the norm (1999, 2003, 2004). Though quantum entanglement was originally thought to be restricted to the sub-atomic realm, we are now finding evidence that its effects “scale up” into the macroscopic world (Brooks). Clearly, interconnectivity is a major theme of the new paradigm.


And yet when we turn to the practical art of teaching, it is as though we still live in a Newtonian universe of separate selves and isolated minds. The revolution of connectivity has not yet transformed our pedagogical models or changed how we engage our students in the classroom. But the interconnected universe shows itself here too if we allow ourselves to see it. If we open to the deeper textures of our lived experience with our students, we discover that underneath the obvious truth of our separate and distinct minds lies a less obvious but equally important truth – that our minds mix and mingle in a subtle web of influences, that they move in sync with one another forming larger wholes, and that in our depths we are never isolated from one another.


After thirty years of having my teaching trans-formed by these dynamics, I wrote The Living Classroom: Teaching and Collective Consciousness. While it draws on scientific research, it is primarily a story of experiential discovery. It offers a sketch of how I think we will teach in the new paradigm.


Early Sparks of Synchronicity


It was an ordinary day at the university where I teach in the department of philosophy and religious studies in Ohio. The lecture was finished and the room was emptying when a student came up to me and said, “You know, it’s funny that you used the example you did in class today, because that’s exactly what happened to me this week.” Then he described his recent experience and it was, indeed, a perfect match to what I had said in class.


I had been searching for an example to illustrate a particular concept I was trying to convey. Quickly running through the possibilities in my mind, my stream of consciousness had paused, and out of the stillness, an example I had never used before suddenly rose to my awareness. “Try this,” it said. I used it and it had worked. The students got the point and the lecture continued. But what had been a randomly chosen example for other students in the room cut closer to the bone for this particular student. When he heard his life experience coming back to him in my words, it grabbed his attention. It was as if he had been extended a personal invitation to get more deeply involved in the course, and he did.


The first time this happened,  I  brushed it off as mere coincidence,  as good academics are trained to do.  In the reigning materialist paradigm,  we are taught that our minds are fundamentally separate and discrete entities, one mind per brain. Any suspected overlap or bleed-through between minds is said to be impossible – an illusion, a fiction of our imagination.

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