Summary: This post is a followup to a story published about me, my program and my new company – Ermah Ge – in the Thursday, December 5 edition of The Republican Journal (Belfast newspaper), and on their website today (December 6).
Since today [December 6] is a busy day, and I don’t have time to develop this post as thoroughly as I’d like, I’ll publish it in two parts.
For now, I’ll offer a sincere thanks to Dan West, editor of The Republican Journal, for a nice story!
There were two minor errors. The first was my fault because I didn’t clarify this for him: he wrote that my full name was Alder Stone, where as in reality it’s Alder Stone Fuller. Alder Stone is a pen name that I use for this web site, email and several social media sites. It confuses others, too, and is not an issue for me at all.
Second, in the printed version of the story, the dates of my upcoming Belfast Climate 101 seminar are noted incorrectly. The correct dates are as listed in the online version of the story (which they kindly corrected):
- Free intro presentations on Wednesday, 12/11 and Friday, 12/13, 6:00 – 7:30 pm
- Seminar is Saturday, 12/14 (9 am – 5 pm) and Sunday, 12/15 (10 am to 4 pm).
Other than those minor glitches, the story is a good one, and I sincerely thank Dan West and TRJ for publishing it. But I’d like to expand the topics covered a bit, clarify a few points about my new company – Ermah Ge – and add another couple of elements that Dan did not have space for in the article, in particular, a first draft explanation of my new program called Community Supported Education, or CSE, about which I am very excited. I’ll also be adding a full post (and soon a page) about CSE.
OK, that’s all for part 1. Oh, one other point. Their online version of the story is accessible to subscribers only. But since it’s about me, I’m taking the bold step of making the text (which I paid for!) accessible to my blog readers. It is copied below.
Part 2: Learning to see the world anew,
or why I’m not just teaching for the fun of it
After some reflection, I’ve come to understand the part of the story/article that may be the only real inaccuracy about me and my program: the implication in the title that I am merely “teaching for the fun of it”. The full title is “Independent Educator ‘teaching for the fun of it’ in Belfast”. I honestly don’t think that’s a direct quote, and if so, it does not convey an accurate reflection of why I’m teaching. I’ll explain.
First, let me be clear: I do enjoy teaching, especially the material in my curriculum — except for some of the climate components, the ‘bad news’ part that’s not fun for any of us to wrap our minds around. But the other ideas are fun to teach.
Yet, trust me, it’s not the ‘fun’ that kept me walking, or climbing – at times crawling – up this long, hard professional road for 13 years, often against the mainstream flow. I mean, try being a freelance anything, let alone a free lance college-level educator in a world educationally dominated by colleges and universities, and if you’re not part of ‘the club’, then you’re not considered quite good enough. ”Why don’t you just get a job at a college and teach your stuff there?”, I heard umpteen gazillion times during the last 13 years. Each time I roll my eyes. My decision to divorce mainstream education was intentional and backed by sound reasons, and I do NOT regret doing so – but those are topics for a later post. There are more important fish to fry in this one.
But back to my main point. Even though I have fun teaching, that’s NOT the main reason that I’m doing so. Thus, the title of the RJ article reflects a misunderstanding – perhaps caused by my own insufficient description – a conflation of two points I made during the interview: why I’m teaching v one reason (among many) that some of my students choose to study with me. The latter is for the fun of it. But again, for most of them, that’s only one reason, and not even the main reason.
So, I’ll cut to the chase. The main reasons that I teach these ideas and the main reason that most of my students study with me is that system sciences and geophygiology:
- cast Earth, life and literally all of reality – including what many call “nature” – in a radical new scientific light that corresponds with the ancient wisdom of tribal cultures that are/were much more integrated into ‘nature’ and recognized it as ‘in control’ and intelligent.
- are necessary to understand the probable 1-in-50 million year climate change event that has begun, is accelerating, will continue to accelerate to a tipping point, then ABRUPTLY change everything, threatening not only civilization but the existence of our species.
- most importantly, are necessary – no, crucial – to effectively address the question of what to do about said abrupt climate change event (see point 2); and to be clear, this relates directly back to point 1.
I want to be explicit, because I’ve been saying this for 13 years, but if people are embedded in the old paradigm, stuck in the matrix of the 20th century, then they simply can’t understand it. They may hear it, as many have, but they won’t deeply rationally and intuitively understand it, and it effectively bounces off them and they go back to business as usual, embedded in the old paradigm that got us into this mess in the first place.
As Albert Einstein said, “You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew.”
As alluded in reason 1, system sciences and geophysiology do precisely that: they help us learn to see the world anew. In a VASTLY different way. If the old view is night, the new view is day. It is that big a contrast. No joke. No hyperbole. My word of honor: it’s that big a difference.
Along with many others, including Ilya Prigogine, Lynn Margulis, James Lovelock, Stephen Harding, Dorion Sagan, Dianne Dumanoski, Simon G. Powell, William Irwin Thompson, Mary Midgley, and numerous other scientists and writers whose ideas inform my curriculum, whose books are my texts, I believe that our species will go extinct much more quickly if we do not quickly understand these ideas – rationally and intuitively – and incorporate them into the cultural maps that guide us in living on this Earth. If we continue business as usual, based on ‘obsolete and dangerous’ (Dumanoski’s term) scientific models of reality (aka mechanism), we will not be effective in addressing our accelerating climate crisis. You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew.
The shift does not come quickly. After completing Systems 101, let alone Climate 101 – which only employs selected elements of Systems 101 crucial to understanding our climate crisis – one will not walk away with a full understanding of the new view; at least one foot will likely still be planted in the old view. The transition takes some time, and at least a few courses (I say based on 13 years experience with advanced students), and time to build the big picture, the context. And as one of my favorite authors – Simon G Powell, author of Darwin’s Unfinished Business: The Self-Organizing Intelligence of Nature – says, context is everything. (His book explains why that statement is much deeper than one can perceive from the surface. I recommend that you buy it, then come study with me so that I can help you fully understand it, because my curriculum offers much detail to support his thesis. The importance of his thesis is beyond academic or intellectual, and relates to the stability of our civilization and the continued existence of our species.)
But when the shift in perception and a new understanding does emerge, as it has for me and dozens of my advanced students – when using the principles of system sciences and geophysiology to see Earth, life and nature – a phase transition occurs in our thinking, when suddenly we see faces looking at each other where as a moment before we saw a goblet. When that happens, the effect is profound and life changing. Again, no hyperbole: life changing. It is as if someone flipped on a light switch, and we see the world anew.
Finally, I’ll call your attention to a new page on this site that is relevant to this post, and to my next professional steps. The new page is about Ermah Ge, and will serve as a portal from this site to the new web site at ermahge.com — when that page exists. As of this date – 12.08.13 – it does not exist, but will soon.
Why I am creating Ermah Ge? For the same reason I’m teaching: I want to help people learn to see the world anew.
Thankfully, the learning process can also be fun.
Independent educator ‘teaching for the fun of it’ in Belfast
By Dan West | Dec 06, 2013 | The Republican Journal | Village Soup
Alder Stone, an independent educator who holds a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology and ecology, has come to Belfast to continue his work teaching more than 30 courses in system sciences, which he developed over the past 13 years.
Stone began his career teaching at Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque, N.M., before striking out on his own. Finding the political environment in traditional university settings to be be problematic Stone said he decided to open his own school located in Eugene, Ore.
“There were no degrees. I was teaching for the fun of it,” Stone told The Republican Journal during a Nov. 27 interview. “The reason to branch out on my own was I wanted to teach these ideas independently.”
The ideas Stone has become so passionate about as a teacher are those of system sciences, which he says are “night and day” when compared to traditional science education. His curriculum delves into the interacting parts with different physical and living systems.
“My students will often say, ‘I knew this is how nature works, but I didn’t have the language to describe it,’” Stone said.
After running his school for 10 years, Stone left Oregon and moved to Maine. For the next two years he moved between Lewiston, Skowhegan and Waterville giving lectures on Climate Change before settling in Belfast this year. It is here that he has started his next venture a small for-profit education business called ErmahGe.
Located at 17A Main St. in Belfast, part of The Office, ErmahGe will offer small courses ranging in size from a half dozen adult learners up to 20. The courses that Stone will offer range in length from 12-hour introductory classes to some advanced courses that take as many as 16 weeks.
Stone says his reputation in Maine thus far has come from a series of lectures he’s put on that apply system sciences to climate change. However, he notes that while some of ErmahGe’s courses will focus on climate change many will be about system sciences more broadly.
“The bottom line is we’re dealing with a sick planet,” Stone said. “We need to understand the problem, but first we must relearn what nature is and how it works.”
Right now ErmahGe only consists of Stone, but he said he hopes to hire more employees if he is successful, especially someone to handle the financial side of the business, which he said was challenging for him at the last school he ran.
In order to generate interest for his courses, Stone will be giving several 90-minute free introductory lectures. The first two lectures will be Wednesday, Dec. 11, and Friday, Dec. 13, at 6 p.m. in his Belfast office, followed by his first full course offering in Belfast of Climate 101 over the weekend of Dec. 14 and 15. Stone asks anyone planning to attend to register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stone said that he hopes students will be drawn in by the fun, pressure-free environment of learning without tests or papers and by the courses he has spent many years refining.
“I don’t do a lot of things well,” Stone said, “but I can boil down complex science concepts so they’re easy to understand.”