There we were in the middle of one of the biggest construction sites in Europe, talking about the Big Bang. Three students in their early twenties from Central St Martin’s College of Arts (CSM), two lecturers and both us: Rod a primary school teacher and Jane leader of Global Generation, an environmental education charity that works with young people and local businesses in Kings Cross. Some of us had never met before.
Rod and I were introducing the group to what we are going to do on a two week holiday project for 11 – 14 year olds run by Global Generation. The Big Bang summer school will introduce children to the creative unfolding of stars, planets, life on earth and all of us over the last 14 billion years. As we shared the story suddenly we both became aware that everyone was really listening, their eyes were lit up and they were physically leaning in. Everyone started to contribute to the conversation including one of the students who had been quiet up until that point. It was like a fire between us. Everyone was were really interested in the content of what we were talking about and when they spoke there was a thrill and excitement that was bouncing between us like a ping pong ball. It was as if the big bang; the creative impulse was animating the very words that were being expressed between us. It felt like the story wanted to be told, it wanted to be talked about and it wanted as many different people from different walks of life to engage in it.
We both noticed that everyone was beaming around the table. It was more than smiling, light and excitement was coming through everyone … a profound sense that anything is possible.
At this point the three students really came alive and took ownership of the project. They seemed to feel the importance of expressing themselves. They came up with ideas of their own about what activities we could include and the effect it might have on the children (involved in the project) through being exposed to a bigger perspective.
The significance and context of what we were doing as we sat in a little porta-cabin surrounded by cranes and the sounds of construction, got bigger and bigger. We spoke about stepping beyond specialism to a more integrated and cross disciplinary way of working, a more ‘human’ way of being. One of the students shared her excitement in recognising the same principals at work on different scales in the universe; from the cosmic to the human.
Everyone around the table seemed to be captivated by the description of how Rod conveys the nothingness before the big bang, (to the 8 year olds in his class) through an activity he calls ‘sitting still’. We were curious that they all seemed relieved, that that there was a way of granting permission to experience who we are in silence and stillness.
One of the lecturers, said that the CSM students were being financially supported to take part in our Big Bang Summer School, because (as well as working with the children) she wanted the philosophy and the ideas to infuse the students course work. The students picked up the baton and spoke about the ripple effect.
It seemed like there was nothing we couldn’t say, there was no cynicism; this was landing in total receptivity. Everyone was contributing to making it more than we could have imagined possible, especially in our first meeting. The power of the Big Bang was alive amongst us.
Jane R and Rod S – Students of Evolutionary Enlightenment