VACCINATIONS: Please report adverse reactions as they occur !!!

Vaccincation Decisionsen Espanol

Introductory Message   If you are trying to make a decision about whether to vaccinate yourself or your child we hope you find the information on our website helpful in making an informed decision.  We recommend that you not only use NVIC’s information in making a decision but also talk to trusted health professionals and consider browsing through other vaccine information web sites, many of which are linked directly from this web site.  If you or your child has suffered a serious health problem following receipt of a vaccine, it is very important that you make a vaccine adverse event report to NVIC (click here to report a reaction). Since 1982, NVIC has operated a vaccine adverse event database which is helping to stimulate independent research into vaccine adverse events. A record of what happened to you or your child could help identify common factors which pre-dispose individuals to reacting to vaccines; find ways to prevent others from suffering the same kind of vaccine-related health problems you or your child are suffering; and may well contribute to future development of therapies to help repair vaccine damage.  You should also make a vaccine adverse event report to the federal government’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). The health professional that administered the vaccine has a duty under the law to report all serious health problems which develop within 30 days of vaccination to VAERS. If that person refuses to make the report, contact NVIC and we will help you make the vaccine adverse event report to VAERS yourself.  We encourage you to continue to seek information and ask questions. This is not an easy subject and it is not an easy decision to make. You are in charge of your own health and that of your child(ren). You must live with the consequences of the decision that you make.  Look at all sources of information including sources that describe how the different diseases are contracted and how they are spread.  Without this information you cannot make an informed decision. The following articles on this website may be helpful to you: In the Wake of Vaccines

Are We Over Vaccinating Our Children?

VACCINATION DECISIONS FOR PARENTS

Vaccination is a medical procedure which carries a risk of injury or death. As a parent, it is your responsibility to become educated about the benefits and risks of vaccines in order to make the most informed, responsible vaccination decisions.

1. Your doctor is required by law to provide you with vaccine benefit/risk information materials before your child is vaccinated. Consumer groups, including the National Vaccine Information Center, worked with government health agencies to develop parent information booklets on each mandated vaccine. Ask your doctor for the booklet and take time to read it before your child is vaccinated. You may also ask your doctor to show you the information insert provided by the drug company which manufactured the vaccine(s) your child is scheduled to receive.

2. Your doctor is required by law to keep a permanent record of all vaccinations given, including the vaccine manufacturer’s name and lot number. Ask for a copy of the doctor’s record on vaccinations given to your child to keep for your records.

3. Your doctor is required by law to report all adverse events, including injuries and deaths which occur within 30 days after vaccination to federal health authorities. If your doctor refuses to report a reaction following vaccination, you have the right to report to the government yourself.

4. If your child is left permanently brain damaged or dies as a result of a vaccine reaction, you may be entitled to benefits under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.

DO:

Become educated about childhood diseases and vaccines. You have the ultimate responsibility for your child’s health and well-being and you, not your doctor or state or federal health officials, will live with, and be responsible for the consequences of your decision.

Ask your doctor to give your child a physical exam to make sure your child is healthy before you permit vaccination. A sick child can be at increased risk for having a vaccine reaction.

Write down your child’s personal and family medical history listing major illnesses and diseases or medical conditions, especially previous reactions to vaccinations, and have it included in your child’s permanent medical records. Before permitting vaccination of your child, ask your doctor if any of these conditions will put your child at risk for having a vaccine reaction. A child who has had a previous severe reaction to a vaccination can be especially at risk for even more severe reactions if more vaccine is given. If you are not satisfied with the answers you are given, get a second opinion.

Monitor your child closely after vaccination. Call your doctor if you suspect a reaction. If your doctor is not concerned and you are, take your child to an emergency room.

Obtain a copy of your state mandatory vaccination laws. Become educated about state vaccine requirements, your rights and legal exemptions to vaccination. Click here to review your state law.

Don’t be intimidated by medical personnel and forced into a vaccination decision before you are comfortable with your decision.

MERCK’S GARDASIL VACCINE NOT PROVEN SAFE FOR LITTLE GIRLS
National Vaccine Information Center Criticizes 
FDA for Fast Tracking Licensure

Washington, D.C. – The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) is calling on the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to just say “no” on June 29 to recommending “universal use” of Merck’s Gardasil vaccine in all pre-adolescent girls. NVIC maintains that Merck’s clinical trials did not prove the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine designed to prevent cervical cancer and genital warts is safe to give to young girls.

“Merck and the FDA have not been completely honest with the people about the pre-licensure clinical trials,” said NVIC president Barbara Loe Fisher. “Merck’s pre and post-licensure marketing strategy has positioned mass use of this vaccine by pre-teens as a morality play in order to avoid talking about the flawed science they used to get it licensed. This is not just about teenagers having sex, it is also about whether Gardasil has been proven safe and effective for little girls.”

The FDA allowed Merck to use a potentially reactive aluminum containing placebo as a control for most trial participants, rather than a non-reactive saline solution placebo.[1] A reactive placebo can artificially increase the appearance of safety of an experimental drug or vaccine in a clinical trial. Gardasil contains 225 mcg of aluminum and, although aluminum adjuvants have been used in vaccines for decades, they were never tested for safety in clinical trials. Merck and the FDA did not disclose how much aluminum was in the placebo.[2]

Animal and human studies have shown that aluminum can cause nerve cell death [3] and that vaccine aluminum adjuvants can allow aluminum to enter the brain, [4 5] as well as cause inflammation at the injection site leading to chronic joint and muscle pain and fatigue.  [6 7] Nearly 90 percent of Gardasil recipients and 85 percent of aluminum placebo recipients followed-up for safety reported one or more adverse events within 15 days of vaccination, particularly at the injection site.[8] Pain and swelling at injection site occurred in approximately 83 percent of Gardasil and 73 percent of aluminum placebo recipients. About 60 percent of those who got Gardasil or the aluminum placebo had systemic adverse events including headache, fever, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, myalgia. [9 10] Gardasil recipients had more serious adverse events such as headache, gastroenteritis, appendicitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, asthma, bronchospasm and arthritis.

“Merck and the FDA do not reveal in public documents exactly how many 9 to 15 year old girls were in the clinical trials, how many of them received hepatitis B vaccine and Gardasil simultaneously, and how many of them had serious adverse events after being injected with Gardasil or the aluminum placebo. For example, if there were less than 1,000 little girls actually injected with three doses of Gardasil, it is important to know how many had serious adverse events and how long they were followed for chronic health problems, such as juvenile arthritis.”

According to the Merck product manufacturer insert, there was 1 case of juvenile arthritis, 2 cases of rheumatoid arthritis, 5 cases of arthritis, and 1 case of reactive arthritis out of 11,813 Gardasil recipients plus 1 case of lupus and 2 cases of arthritis out of 9,701 participants primarily receiving an aluminum containing placebo. Clinical trial investigators dismissed most of the 102 Gardasil and placebo associated serious adverse events, including 17 deaths, that occurred in the clinical trials as unrelated.

“There is too little long term safety and efficacy data, especially in young girls, and too little labeling information on contraindications for the CDC to recommend Gardasil for universal use, which is a signal for states to mandate it,” said Fisher. “Nobody at Merck, the CDC or FDA know if the injection of Gardasil into all pre-teen girls – especially simultaneously with hepatitis B vaccine – will make some of them more likely to develop arthritis or other inflammatory autoimmune and brain disorders as teenagers and adults. With cervical cancer causing about one percent of all cancer deaths in American women due to routine pap screening, it was inappropriate for the FDA to fast track Gardasil. It is way too early to direct all young girls to get three doses of a vaccine that has not been proven safe or effective in their age group.”

The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), founded in 1982 by parents of vaccine injured children, has been a leading critic of one-size-fits-all mass vaccination policies and the lack of basic science research into biological mechanisms and high risk factors for vaccine-induced brain and immune system dysfunction. As a member of the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC), Barbara Loe Fisher urged trials include adequate safety data on pre-adolescent children and warned against fast tracking Gardasil at the November 28-29, 2001 VRBPAC meeting .[11]

Full 2001 FDA Transcript: http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/cber01.htm#Vaccines & Related Biological

For more information go to www.NVIC.org.

                                -end-

1. Merck & Co., Inc. 2006. Gardasil [Quadrivalent Human Papillomavirus Types 6,11,16,18) Recombinant Vaccine] product insert. Table 6.

2. Food and Drug Administration. May 18, 2006. FDA Background Document for Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee: Gardasil HPV Quadrivalent Vaccine.

3. Kawahara M et al. 2001. Effects of aluminum on the neurotoxicty of primary cultured neurons and on the aggregation of betamyloid protein. Brain Res. Bull. 55, 211-217.

4. Redhead K. et al. 1992. Aluminum-adjuvanted vaccines transiently increase aluminum levels in murine brain tissue. Pharmacol. Toxico. 70, 278-280.

5. Sahin G. et al. 1994. Determination of aluminum levels in the kidney, liver and brain of mice treated with aluminum hydroxide. Biol. Trace. Elem. Res. 1194 Apr-May;41 (1-2):129-35.

6. Gherardi M et al. 2001. Macrophagaic myofastitis lesions assess long-term persistence of vaccine-derived aluminum hydroxide in muscle. Brain, Vol 124, No. 9, 1821-1831.

7. Shingde M eta la. 2005. Macrophagic myofastitis associated with vaccine derived aluminum. MJA, 183 (03):145-146.

8. Merck & Co. May 18, 2006. Merck briefing document for Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee: Gardasil. Table 24.

9. Merck & Co., Inc. 2006. Gardasil product insert: Serious Adverse Experiences.

10. Food and Drug Administration. May 18, 2006. FDA Background Document for Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.: Gardasil. Table 32.

11. Food and Drug Administration. November 29, 2001. Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. Excerpt from transcript.

Mercury/Thimerosal


Almost every vaccine used for children is now produced in a thimerosal-free form. Several vaccines continue to have trace amounts of thimerosal.

 Ask your doctor for thimerosal-free vaccines. Ask to see the package insert and the vial that is used that contains the vaccine. 

Some versions of tetanus and flu vaccines still contain the full amount of thimerosal.

  BE PROACTIVE AND ASK YOUR DOCTOR.

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GOT COMCAST ? Good luck to ya!

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Comcast Traffic Monitoring a Slap in the Face to Net Neutrality

From Wired, October 23, 2007
By Scott Gilbertson

As we’ve mentioned before, Comcast does, despite what the company says, limit BitTorrent traffic. The Associated Press recently ran some tests and discovered that, yes, Comcast does throttle BitTorrent traffic. So how can Comcast say it doesn’t throttle traffic when in fact it does? The answer is in semantics.

Comcast has previous told Wired News that “we do not block access to any applications,” it does however admit that it uses traffic shaping tools to “manage our network to provide a quality experience for all Comcast subscribers.” In other words, Comcast doesn’t block BitTorrent applications, but it does block BitTorrent traffic.

Now it would seem that the fun doesn’t end there for Comcast subscribers. The EFF reports that Comcast also limits Gnutella traffic and Kevin Kanarski claims that Lotus Notes traffic is similarly choked.

In all three cases Comcast’s limiting technique is quite insidious and would be difficult for the average user to notice. Comcast’s network monitoring tools (most likely Sandvine) sits between your connection and the outside world and sends reset packets to both both ends, disrupting your connection. From the the end user point of view it will merely look like your connection is slow. Very, very slow.

This is more or less the two-tiered internet that net neutrality proponents have long warned about. As the EFF writes:

If this type of conduct is allowed to continue, many innovators will have to get active assistance from an ISP in order to have their protocols allowed through the ISP’s web of spoofing and forgery. Technologies like BitTorrent and Joost, which are used to distribute licensed movies and are in direct competition with Comcast’s cable TV services, will be at Comcast’s mercy.

Until U.S. lawmakers wake up and realize that the two-tiered internet is already here, there are a few things you can do to outwit such traffic shaping policies. TorrentFreak has some suggestions on what you can do to avoid the Comcast roadblocks.

If you don’t agree with Comcast’s policies, you can always switch to an ISP that doesn’t use traffic shaping tools. However, in some markets Comcast is your only option, so for those of you stuck with Comcastic connections, here’s what you can do:

* Force protocol header encryption. See our Wiki entry for more details, but keep in mind that just enabling encryption isn’t enough, you’ll have to force it.

* Run BitTorrent over an encrypted tunnels like SSH or VPN. SSH is going to very practical in the long run, VPN is a better bet. We’ve got instructions that can be adapted to this scenario in the Wiki.

* Lower your download rate. Comcast’s traffic shaping won’t let you seed torrents unless you’re downloading them as well. Once the torrent completes, your upload will be choked off. If you’re using private trackers that force you to maintain a high ratio, make sure you’ve uploaded the whole file before you finish downloading it.

Our personal favorite idea, though we don’t recommend you actually do it, is to follow in the footsteps of Mona “The Hammer” Shaw, who, fed up with what she calls “a bunch of sub-moronic imbeciles” grabbed a hammer and paid a visit to her local Comcast office for a little keyboard smashing satisfaction. Unfortunately, like Mrs. Shaw, this will probably land you in jail and, from what we understand, internet access in prison is monitored slightly more than Comcast’s network.

This article is from Wired. If you found it informative and valuable, we strongly encourage you to visit their Web site and register an account, if necessary, to view all their articles on the Web. Support quality journalism.


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HOLISTIC SCHOOLING

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Some Thoughts on Holistic Curriculum

Published in Encounter, Vol. 19, No. 3, Fall, 2006.

It was originally presented at the VIIth International Conference on the New Paradigms, Guadalajara, Mexico, in November, 1999.

The emergence of a postmodern civilization, with its many unsolved economic, technological, moral, and ecological problems, is a global phenomenon. The degradation of the earth affects us all. The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of transnational corporations and their elite managers affects us all. Our amazing new powers to manipulate information, communication, consciousness, and the genetic structure of life ultimately touches every one of us, often in deeply troubling ways. As Jeremy Rifkin (1987) warned several years ago, this new global civilization threatens to fundamentally alter the relationship between the human being and the world. Everything that exists, everything our lives depend upon — food, water, land, knowledge, language, time, health, and consciousness itself — everything is being turned into a commodity. Someone — more likely, some vast impersonal corporation — owns everything we need and will sell it to us to make a profit. Everything is measured, packaged, or redesigned to make it more attractive or convenient. This new culture is now spreading around the planet; it is rapidly becoming a vast global monoculture.

Throughout human history, most people have earned their livelihood by engaging in physical labor, doing tangible work that produced whatever food, clothing, shelter, and security they could obtain. People’s lives were regulated by the physical and biological environment: the climate, the terrain, the length of the day and season, the availability of resources. Their lives were given meaning by these tangible and vital connections to the world. By contrast, in this emerging postmodern society, millions of people sit for most of the day — and often during the night — gazing at computer screens and tapping on little buttons. By manipulating artificial electronic images, in complete isolation from the real physical and biological world, vast amounts of wealth are moved from region to region, from one nation to another, affecting the lives of millions and millions of other human beings and the habitats of thousands of plant and animal species. A growing number of people now have tremendous power, amplified by sophisticated technologies, to manipulate, control, alter, and seriously damage the biosphere. But because they are disconnected from the natural world and local communities and the primary sources of their food and wellbeing, they do not seem to have the ethical or spiritual sensitivity to use this power wisely, sparingly, or for the good of the whole.

We have reached a point in history where it is possible to alleviate the grosser forms of suffering. This is wonderful! It is a great achievement of the human mind and spirit. But now we need to ask why these new powers are not being used on behalf of all humanity and to preserve the sanctity of life on earth, but primarily to help those who are already excessively wealthy and powerful become obscenely wealthy and powerful. The arrival of this brave new world, this “new world order,” compels us to make a fundamental moral decision: Shall we continue to celebrate, indeed worship, the utilitarian, manipulative style of thinking that made global industrialization possible? Does it still serve us well? Or has it outlived its usefulness? Is it possible that it might be a tremendously destructive mistake to continue to treat the world entirely as a resource, as fuel for the omnivorous economic machine we have built? Is it possible that we must now tame and humanize the machine before we destroy the earth and ourselves with it?

Holism is a response to this possibility. Holistic thought is an attempt to reclaim the sense of connection to the world that utilitarian manipulation and advanced technology have steadily eroded and now, by the dawn of the twenty-first century, nearly wiped out. Holistic thinkers believe that essentially, by nature, the human being requires a sense of connection to the world. Our experience needs to be meaningful to us or else our lives are unfulfilling, no matter how comfortable we make them through material wealth or political and economic power. To the extent that people simply seek to enjoy whatever comforts and luxuries they can gather, even if they have gained them at the expense of other people and other living beings, then to that degree they are so much less human and act like merely clever animals. Every religious tradition, every mythology, many ethical systems, and much of our great dramatic literature, condemn this way of living as morally inadequate, psychologically deficient, or explicitly subhuman. Human life is fulfilling and meaningful only when we experience ourselves as being connected to the world — connected to the land, to a cultural heritage, to a living, striving community, to archetypal spirits and images, to the Cosmos as a whole.

The danger of our time is that in our cultural worship and personal pursuit of comfort, security, wealth, and power, we have become disconnected from these sources of meaning. By learning how to control virtually every aspect of the world, we no longer know how to dwell in its mystery. We seek to alter, improve, or commodify everything, and therefore we cannot see the world’s intrinsic beauty, discern its inherent patterns, or hear its spiritual secrets. Meaning is no longer found through the soul by dwelling in the world with reverence, but imposed by the calculating mind, which assigns everything a value or a utilitarian purpose.

All of the leading holistic thinkers identify the crisis of our time as an epistemological crisis. We are not arguing against technology as such, or against capitalism in itself. We are saying that underneath our political, social, and economic arrangements, the way modern culture defines and understands reality itself is faulty, and this flawed way of knowing gives rise to distorted, we might even say cancerous, forms of technology and economic organization. Educational philosopher Douglas Sloan (1983, 24) refers to this as a “technicist” way of knowing. David Orr (1994, 33), one of the leading theorists of environmental education, attacks what he calls “technological fundamentalism.” Other holistic writers commonly identify “reductionist” or “mechanistic” ways of thinking and knowing as the primary problem of our civilization. All these terms point to the utilitarian, manipulative, objectivist, and overly rational ways of treating the earth and the life that inhabits it. So long as a culture sees only economic value in the world and pursues material abundance and comfort with no sense of restraint or regulation, that culture will be blind to the more genuine sources of meaning that connect the human soul to the Cosmos. David Orr (1993, 33) identifies just what is missing in our distorted world view. “We need decent communities,” he says, and

good work to do, loving relationships, stable families, the knowledge necessary to restore what we have damaged, and ways to transcend our inherent self-centeredness. Our needs, in short, are those of the spirit; yet, our imagination and creativity are overwhelmingly aimed at things that as often as not degrade spirit and nature.

This is to say that our considerable powers of intellect have served primarily to disconnect us from the world. Modern systems of education have fed these powers well, training young people how to gain knowledge over the world, knowledge at the expense of feeling, information without wisdom, facts without moral discernment. In the United States in recent years, technocrats in state after state have successfully forced educators to focus more and more narrowly on what they call “standards” — arbitrary packages of intellectual content that have little to do with deep understanding of the world but which give the technocrats useful data for evaluating and sorting students objectively. The increasing standardization of learning prepares young people to act aggressively, cleverly, and resourcefully in the job market and the competitive corporate world. It contributes little or nothing to decent communities, loving relationships, or ways to transcend self-centeredness. Holistic education is essentially concerned with these basic sources of meaning, and seeks above all to reconnect each person to the contexts within which meaning arises: the physical world, the biosphere, the family, the local community rooted in a history and a place, the culture with its many layers of meaning — artistic, religious, linguistic, archetypal — and the Cosmos itself.

How does holistic education connect people to the world? What is a holistic “curriculum”? Let me be very clear about this: There is no single method or technique for practicing holistic education. There is no “curriculum,” as modern educators use the term, that best represents a holistic worldview. To understand the meaning of holistic education, we need to recognize two principles: First, an education that connects the person to the world must start with the person — not some abstract image of the human being, but with the unique, living, breathing boy or girl, young man or woman (or mature person, for that matter) who is in the teacher’s presence. Each person is a dynamic constellation of experiences, feelings, ideas, dreams, fears, and hopes; each person reflects what Asian traditions call karma — a meaningful pattern of influences, actions, and thoughts that shape one’s possibilities if not one’s destiny. And as all holistic educators have emphasized, each growing child unfolds this cluster of possibilities through distinct phases of development, and at each stage the child needs the right kind of support, the right kind of environment, in order to move securely to the next. Maria Montessori (1963, 69-70) said it simply, “Follow the child!” Following the child is the true beginning of holistic education. An education that starts with standards, with government mandates, with a selection of great books, with lesson plans — in short, with a predetermined “curriculum” — is not holistic, for it loses the living reality of the growing, learning, seeking human being.

The second principle of holistic education is this: We must respond to the learner with an open, inquisitive mind and a loving heart, and a sensitive understanding of the world he or she is growing into. Now, this is indeed the hard part! A holistic teacher cannot be a technician, administering a series of workbook exercises or performing a script he or she learned in a teacher training program. A holistic teacher is acutely sensitive to the student’s needs and, at the same time, acutely aware of the challenges and possibilities the world offers this person at this moment and in this place. How does the teacher act on this awareness? Again, there is no simple answer. We must constantly recognize the dialectic, the tension, between liberation and accommodation. In holistic education we want to free every individual to find his or her own destiny, to think and feel and do whatever he or she finds most meaningful and fulfilling; yet at the same time, we bring to our students the awareness that the world makes its own demands, and that for many complicated reasons of psychology, ecology, culture, history, politics, and many other factors, no one is totally free to follow one’s impulses and desires. Meaning arises from the reflective engagement between person and world, and the holistic educator’s job is to facilitate this meeting, to help it become more reflective, to help it touch deeper parts of the learner’s soul. The growing individual takes the world into his or her experience, incorporates it, assimilates it, responds to it. This is what I mean by connection. The student comes to feel that he or she belongs in the world, and shapes his or her purposes accordingly, in relationship to it, in dialogue with it.

Holistic education does not simply instruct young people about what is true and what is false, what is correct and what is mistaken; holistic education enables the learner to inquire “What does this mean?” How is this experience, or this fact, or this advertising message related to other things I know? If I act on my understanding, how will that affect other people, or the habitat of other living beings?” Holistic education teaches young people how to care about the world, because we care about the world, and we care about our students. Nel Noddings (1992, 36), one of our wisest educational theorists, has written that “kids learn in communion. They listen to people ho matter to them and to whom they matter. . . .Caring relations can prepare children for an initial receptivity to all sorts of experiences and subject matters.” To learn in communion means to experience connection. Other people matter; their lives mean something to the learner. The natural world matters. Cultural heritage, social responsibility, and ethics matter. A person educated in this way would not take actions that violate the integrity, rights or feelings of those who contribute so essentially to one’s own identity.

Over the years I have studied many forms of alternative education, from Montessori and Waldorf pedagogy to free schools and homeschooling, from progressive education to critical theory. There are significant philosophical differences between them, but the most critical difference, I believe, is in how they define the relationship between freedom and structure. Some radical educators, such as A. S. Neill and John Holt, have told us that learning ought to take place in an entirely free manner. No one should tell another person what or how or when he or she should learn. Every child should be free to play, to explore, to experiment, to ask questions. Education springs organically from a child’s interests and natural curiosity; there is no need for artificial structure. On the other hand, other educational pioneers, such as Montessori and Steiner, insisted that the growing child needs a particular environment, carefully planned and aesthetically designed, in order to activate and support the potentials latent at each stage of development. On the surface, these views seem to cancel each other out: Either we give children maximum freedom or we don’t. Either we let them explore the world freely, or we tell them what they need to learn. In my view, however, holistic education transcends this dilemma, by finding value in both points of view. The two fundamental principles of holistic education work together in dynamic balance:We start with the child, not abstractly but in reality — with the living child. But then we respond to the child, guided by a sensitive awareness of the world. The issue is no longer freedom against structure, but freedom in a dialectic relationship with structure, or the individual person in meaningful dialogue with the school, or with society. The student is not constrained by alien forces, but gladly participates in a structured world to which he or she feels connected.

In this sense, a holistic “curriculum” is not a pre-established plan that the teacher brings to the classroom. Curriculum emerges from the interactions between teacher, student, and world. This idea — emergent curriculum — is one of the revolutionary concepts to come out of the progressive education movement. John Dewey (1964) wrote a century ago about the organic relationship between child and curriculum, and although he is not widely regarded as a founder of “holistic” education, no one has written more wisely about this relationship. As the child grows out into the world, his or her experience grows deeper; connections are made and become more meaningful. Education starts with this process of growth; it respects the quality of this experience, and it facilitates these meaningful connections. A holistic curriculum is a growing-young-person-in-relationship-with-the-world. The curriculum is not outside the student, but the student does not completely determine the content of the educational process either.

You might wonder, isn’t there anything that a holistic educator would want to make sure to include in the child’s learning experience? Even if we confidently assume, based on experience, that in the course of a student’s meaningful discoveries he or she will adequately learn the so-called basic academic skills — writing, reading, and arithmetic — there are surely other skills or values that we believe to be important. David Orr, for example, has written eloquently about the desperate need for ecological literacy — an understanding of our interdependence with all living beings and the earth as a whole. In recent years, many holistic educators have embraced the notion of emotional literacy, as proposed by psychologist Daniel Goleman (1994) and others, meaning a person’s ability to recognize and manage one’s own inner life and behavior in constructive ways, and to solve conflicts peacefully. We also talk a great deal about social responsibility, and want our students to think critically about social, political, and economic problems, as Paulo Freire urged so passionately. But, are all these educational goals best considered as aspects of a “curriculum”? Should they be fashioned into “units” or lesson plans (let alone “standards”) and presented to students as subject matter? I want to say no. I want to see them as reflections of our moral sensitivity as educators, rather than as static bodies of intellectual content. We bring ecological literacy, or emotional literacy, or social responsibility to our students through our own presence to them, our own way of being with them. If we are deeply concerned about the ecological crisis because we care about life on this planet, this concern and this caring will enter the educational dialogue with our students. Asking a school, or the local board of education, or the state government, to add our favorite causes to the curriculum will not result in meaningful, transformative learning for students if the teachers who administer this curriculum do not themselves care about these things.

Similarly, young people learn Shakespeare from teachers who are passionate about Shakespeare, and they learn chemistry from teachers who love science. It is not the curriculum that teaches them, it is the living reality of their teachers. This is just what Nel Noddings meant by saying that “caring relations” prepare students for academic receptivity. In holistic education, academics are secondary to human relationship. Curriculum is secondary to connection, or direct experience rooted in caring.

We should look closely as several words that holistic educators often use to point toward wholeness and connection. These words are soul, spirit, and Cosmos. I have always insisted that holistic education is distinguished from other progressive or alternative pedagogies by its spiritual orientation, but it is never easy to explain what this means. When we say that the human being has a soul, we are suggesting that some vital creative force animates the personality. The sophisticated sciences of biochemistry, neurology, and even genetics cannot explain this force: When they try to contain it within the boundaries of their disciplines they are committing reductionism. Instead, to recognize the wholeness of the human being requires us to acknowledge that our minds, our feelings, our ambitions, our ideals all express some living force that dwells mysteriously within the core of our being. We cannot locate it physically; it is a nonmaterial reality, an invisible reality. Science, at least, conventional science, doesn’t know how to approach it. But poets and mystics do. Like them, holistic educators treat the soul with reverence. In many contexts, the word “spirit” means something supernatural, something so foreign to our understanding that we make up an imaginary world to give it a home. But for holistic thinkers, having a spiritual perspective does not mean voyaging to supernatural realms or maintaining a blind faith in religious imagery. Spirituality can take religious forms, of course, and many people, including many holistic educators, have found inspiration in these forms. But just as the experience of inspiration is not the form, the experience of spirituality is not the same as religion and can exist independently of it. As I understand it, spirituality is a living awareness of the wholeness that pervades the universe. It is the realization that our lives mean more than material wealth or cultural achievements can provide; our lives have a place, a purpose in the great unfolding story of Creation, even if this story is so vast and so mysterious that we can only glimpse it briefly through religious practices or fleeting moments of insight.

Finally, when I use the word “cosmos,” the root of the word cosmology, I am trying to suggest that the universe is not merely a vast collection of stars and galaxies that we can study through telescopes, but an interconnected whole that encompasses everything that exists and everything that can exist. Cosmology is an attempt to understand this wholeness, to provide an intellectual framework for the intuitive knowledge that everything we know is connected to everything else we know. Beyond these few words — soul, spirit, cosmos, and wholeness — I am speechless. The Tao which can be named is not the eternal Tao. It is a mystery. Let’s leave it at that, and hold it in reverence.

So now I hope it is clear why I think it is futile to design a holistic curriculum. If the goal of holistic education is connection, then we are ultimately dealing with the soul, with spiritual experience, and with the unfathomable meaning of the Cosmos. We are trying to help our young people find a place deep within themselves that resonates with the mystery of Creation. And it is only when we, as educators, look deeply within ourselves and strive to embody wholeness in our own lives, that we will inspire our students to do the same. Our lives make up the curriculum. Let us work on ourselves, and our lesson plans will take care of themselves.

Holistic education, then, is a pedagogical revolution. It boldly challenges many of the assumptions we hold about teaching and learning, about the school, about the role of the educator, about the need for tight management and standards. Holistic education seeks to liberate students from the authoritarian system of behavior management that in the modern world we have come to call “education.” But ultimately holistic education is far more than radical pedagogy: It is an epistemological revolution as well. It demands that we take a hard look at the foundations of the emerging global capitalist culture — the “technological fundamentalism,” the worship of money, the assumption that the world is merely made of lifeless matter that is ours to manipulate and consume. This new paradigm, this new epistemology we call holism, challenges our addiction to violence, exploitation, and greed. When we embrace wholeness, when we recognize that the Cosmos is the ultimate source of meaning in our lives, then we will design not only educational institutions, but social, political, and economic institutions, dedicated to the nourishment and fulfillment of all human beings and the preservation of the ecosphere. To establish this profound connection to the world is to experience an incorruptible reverence for life.

References
Dewey, John. 1964. The Child and the Curriculum. In John Dewey on Education: Selected Writings, edited by Reginald D. Archambault. New York: Random House. (Originally published in 1902).

Goleman, Daniel. 1994. Emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam.

Orr, David. 1994. Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.

Montessori, Maria. 1963. The Secret of Childhood. Calcutta: Orient Longmans.

Noddings, Nel. 1992. The Challenge to Care in Schools: An Alternative Approach to Education. New York: Teachers College Press.

Sloan, Douglas. 1983. Insight-imagination: The Emancipation of Thought and the Modern World. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Rifkin, Jeremy. 1987. Time Wars. New York: Holt.