It is potent and important for us to hold an attitude of healthy skepticism (disbelief) regarding any of the materials, content, opinions, thinking styles and resources we put into our eLearning courses at Gaia University.
Whilst we do our very best to be carefully critical, thoughtfully analytical, true to our own experience, aware of how things go for other people and so on, we may accidentally and, who knows, deliberately deliver misinformation and propaganda.
This is the case for all information (not just that delivered by Gaia U) and, as part of our mission, we seek to develop in each of us an ever improving and incisive capacity for detecting falsehoods and flummery.
Therefore check it out! If our way of thinking does not tally with yours (or with the way of thinking of people you trust) then let’s discuss it. We can always decide to differ and hold to a creative tension if that helps!
Oh, and then there is the question of ‘does it really matter’. By which we mean that there are differences that do matter and some that don’t. Together we’ll do our best not to spend a good deal of energy on debating differences that don’t make much of a difference.
Prepare to train!
Later we will introduce an approach to dealing with content that helps us to develop a systematic ability to critique any presented material and to critique our own thinking.
This method (we call it ArCEA) invites us to become an active reader who knows how to: –
- deconstruct content then
- reconstruct it using our own words/images whilst
- applying critical analysis (from an ecosocial standpoint) then
- expands the content by linking it to what we already know or self-forage on the topic and
- imagines using the content in action to ground it in ‘doing’
We will have plenty of opportunity to learn and practice this ArCEA approach as we go along.
 ArCEA is a mnemonic (a device to assist with remembering …) that stands for Ar = Active reading, C = Critical analysis, E = Expansion and A = (imagining) Action
There is an idea in permaculture design that proposes the following: –
Any system that allows animals and/or people to collect their food from the source themselves is a system that is likely to be energetically efficient. Examples are range and grass-fed beef rather than stall/grain fed feedlot cattle and a yard or garden close to dwellings for people.
In these approaches the animals or people are “self-foraging” for their needs …
We strongly recommend self-foraging as a core skill for un/learners.
How to practice
If ever we use ideas, concepts or words you don’t understand (and, if we present a link that fails to resolve well – maybe it returns a 405 or other error message) please select a self-forage approach from the following options (and please do make up others for yourself).
- Self-forage for explanations and word-meanings by looking these up using a search engine – our favorite is DuckDuckGo as it does not track where you go (and hence does not cause social media sites to send you targeted adverts).
- Take a think and listen with another person to tease out what you do and don’t understand ready to ask focussed questions of your advisors during webinars
- Guess – it is quite all right to allow meanings to emerge over time so it is not necessary to understand everything, all of the time.
- Ask around amongst people who you might expect to know.
Due diligence again
However it is crucial to remember that you should apply due diligence, critical analysis and intuitive evaluation to any information from any source.
 Garden beds edged with Alpine Strawberries make excellent self-forage territory for young children who delight in seeking out those sweet red berries and eating them directly – sugar-snap peas work well too. Adults can use the time young ones are absorbed in this self-forage approach to do some of the garden tasks that would bore the children …
 There is an issue with discipline here – it is easy to disappear down rabbit holes when self-foraging – this means that we follow link after link whilst time flies by until we are startled to notice that all our study time has been eaten up by the self-forage activities. Watch out for this and work out a way to limit the self-forage time to ‘just enough’ so as to allow enough time for the main task (reading the content of the courses or dealing with an assignment). Use Diigo to help – in Diigo you can save any link as a ‘read later’ resource.
 Un/learners – that’s us – in Gaia U we recognise that we likely operate with scads of misinformation. We call the process of identifying this and letting it go unlearning. And, because we are also gathering new thinking and bringing that into action (learning) we often note our overall process as un/learning.