An Exploration of Sacred Parenting and Education

Posts Tagged ‘sohbet’

Is imagination more important than knowledge?

In Education, Mevlevi Tradition, parenting on January 2, 2012 at 9:30 pm

“Why is it that in creative writing courses today, the very first thing we teach students is write what you know. Perhaps, that’s not the right way to start at all. Imaginative literature isn’t necessarily writing, who we are or what we know or what our identity is about. We should teach young people and ourselves to expand our hearts and write what we can feel”. Elif Shafak

The paragraph above has give me, somebody who thinks in pictures, numbers and symbols, the courage to set up a blog and write. As a parent I feel. I feel authors like Elif Shafak, who have immense levels of creativity, have much to teach us and remind us through their imaginative story telling. But how are we to expand our hearts and express what we feel. I must confess I was poor at both verbal and written expression until I sat in sohbet (spiritual discourse). I don’t claim to be particularly good now but I think I’ve improved a great deal. The first thing Kabir Dede asked us to do when to speak was not worry about grammar or sounding eloquent- “speak from the heart” he said. For his own teacher, Suleyman Dede, didn’t know any English nor did Kabir Dede speak Turkish. Yet they got by; teachings were transmitted, hearts understood and souls were cooked. In sohbet students are asked to listen non-judgmentally with presence. Isn’t that amazing? listening opens up a space both inwardly and outwardly! Mevlana Rumi reminds us of the importance of listening:

“Since in order to speak one must first listen,

Learn to speak by first listening”

Rumi

Today I found my daughter having a wonderful conversation on her toy phone with a police man. I listened attentively, as she used words I didn’t know she knew. She ended with “bye now, you too”. I asked her what she was talking about. She said she was phoning the police man because, Owais, her younger brother was being naughty.

Later I reflected on this incident and I realised what an active imagination children have. How much of it gets nurtured and how much gets covered by ‘things they are supposed to learn’ which has its place too but often at a price. Ask a class of year 7 if they can ‘explain what it feels like on the moon?’ and a dozen or more hands go up. Put the same question to year 11 and less then half a dozen. What went wrong in those five years? The goal of secondary and sixth form teachers nowadays is, from my experience, to create independent learners and thinkers. May be a way to start is give space to their inquisitive minds and imagination while they are young. How can we expects kids to be creative if they’re imaginations haven’t been given its due importance? Didn’t Einstein devise his theory of relativity with thought experiments such as ‘what the would the world look like if I sat on a beam of light?’ To complete the quote on imagination “Imagination is more important that knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand”. Albert Einstein. .