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The Law of Now: An Intersection of Buddhist Teachings and Education

Submitted by Six Red Marbles on Tue, 10/18/2011

Once upon a time, a group of people set out to discover and communicate how to make life better, not just for them, then and there, but for anyone at any time in any place… Who were these people? The early Buddhists of India.

Central to their teaching was a psychology based on external observation and internal introspection. Their curriculum was based on story-telling, repetition, and writing—not just oral tradition and memory. Their pedagogy was based on the proposition that interest (motivation) gives rise to attention, and attention gives rise to consciousness.

Every sense (seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling, and thinking) had its own specialized consciousness. They understood multi-modal experience, even without the aid of modern neuroscientific instruments!

More than two thousand years ago, these early Buddhists wrote about the four noble truths, the eight-fold path, and various types of consciousness. They recorded their teachings in the Abhidharma, which literally translates as “law of now,” but is often translated as “higher teachings.”

You need not be a Buddhist to apply the “law of now” to education. A successful curriculum architecture will allow content to adapt to the experience of the user and provide interactions that enlighten students’ learning in their own unique “now,” while providing a path to new learning for the 21st century that involves creativity, communication and critical thinking.

Pedagogy is then the design for and support of optimal learning whether delivered in a classroom or online. The “law of now” is the best of ancient wisdom and modern study. It belongs in our classrooms and it’s my privilege to help put it there.

Danny Franklin is Six Red Marbles’ resident neuroscience expert and the prime mover behind the Natural Learning Approach™. He has a theology degree from Harvard, has studied Buddhism, and is a former Math teacher.



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