CFRCE is an organization devoted to positive change via learning. We make learning an extraordinary experience as a matter of culture and human refinement.
Undoubtedly so. Learning is the most natural and spontaneous of actions that human beings can do. As they grow, they tend to lose it by not using it rightly. But the brain has what is known as neuroplasticity by which it can restore any faculty at any age. Learning is one such faculty.
We evoke an individual's innate sense of curiosity, surprise, wonder, awe and mystery and heighten attention. Next, we study the already acquired skills of the individual in any domain and develop a strategy to transfer it to another domain where they are not yet developed.
Yes, technology transfer, one could put it like that.
We base our strategies on the most powerful practical resources available via disciplines like Cognitive Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Performance Psychology, Systems Thinking, Complexity Theory, Neurolinguistic Programming and Eastern Wisdom.
We do subsume it into our methodology. However, we would like to point out that it really does not make sense to force MI into a framework. Howard Gardner himself warns of the pitfalls. The Brain has no doubt localized regions of development and one should give attention to their development. But attempting to cast learning into so-called, Logical-Mathematical, Musical, Spatial, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Linguistic, Bodily-kinesthetic 'subjects' or 'tests' is not quite right. As Howard Gardner says, the MIs are options to be used in imparting a given subject in as many ways as the brain can grasp via MI.
CFRCE is a place where you learn. Where you really, really learn. There is no compromise on that. It does not matter whether you study or not but you learn. And you do that in the most natural and spontaneous manner possible to a human being. You know, one of the most key distinctions we base all our methodology is this: Learning is an Instinct. You don't need to teach learning, not one bit. It is there programmed into the genes, into the neurology, into the very stuff of what makes us human. I would go one step further and say that learning is a survival instinct programmed into every organism starting from the one-celled prokaryote, bacteria! It is just that as human beings are in the very crust of evolution, they have the greatest potential instinct. But having it does not mean you use it. Instinct can manifest only under the appropriate environmental conditions. Even the bacterial learning instinct can be inhibited by hostile environmental conditions. Likewise, most present educational systems actually inhibit the learning instinct. Teaching is a great inhibitor of the learning instinct in children.
One of the greatest superstitions of all is that the past is necessarily wise, that the ancients were always right. Now, why should they be? Are we going to be always right in what we know? Don't we and aren't we making blunders and gross mistakes all the time? Would we expect future generations to expect us, their ancients, to have been full of ripe, old, wisdom? Not necessarily.
Now what that does mean? Punishment drains the brain of its resourses by injecting stress hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine and leads to premature aging. Positive methods nourish the brain by injecting growth hormones like endorpines and leads to slowing down of the aging process.
So you see, the older generation did not really know the difference. They were not wise in this respect. But in several others, of course, they were wise. Similarly, they did not know, if you wish, as much as we do, that learning is an instinct.
That's right, you got it perfectly. We believe in teaching in the real sense. But strangely, if you do notice wherever and whenever great teaching has taken place, it has mostly been unconscious. The greatest teacher is one who makes learning happen, who creates the most powerful environment to learn, who brings the learner alive in the individual. Of course, such teachers are also unique. They each have a very distinctive personal style.
Now, you don't get such teachers, you attract them. And then there is no "training" as such. When you stand for a great cause, you attract individuals drawn to that cause. They come with their flaming aspiration and grow and thrive in the warmth of the already existing environment. And they in turn shed light and warmth on the young minds. This is how learning propagates itself, in a self sustaining manner.
But in absence of a great cause or vision, learning tends to become mechanical. So the first condition for learning to happen is for the teachers or mentors to stand for a cause, for a vision, for a compelling future.
I said, we don't "train" them. Perhaps I should say, we dont "only train them." As I always like to point out, it is only reptiles who can only be trained, mammals who can only be trained and tamed but it is only human beings who can be tamed, trained and educated.
Our mentors go through all the three. But they don't do so as someone who comes raw to be turned into a finished product. They come as conscious human beings with a great deal of independent thinking, originality and creativity. They come with their own ideas and thoughts on learning, inquiry, education and research. They come seeking the great environment of free creative thinking that CFRCE offers.
And then, they soon resonate with the vision and purpose that are after all not narrow and restricted but broad and open and take into account the diversity and uniqueness of human beings.
The process is similar to how we select our students. By word of mouth or by our connections. As you know we take students only by recommendation of someone who already has an understanding and appreciation of our vision and methodology. Likewise, we don't recruit the mentors. They are sent via recommendations from our associates or faculty in the research institutes.
There are four requirements. The first is that the individual be an inquirer with an open, inquisitive and creative mentality. The second, that the he/she have a sound appreciation of the difficulties a student goes through including the emotional upheavals due to social pressure and expectations. Third, he/she possesses a working knowledge of the sciences and psychology associated with learning and creativity. And fourth, that the individual has evocative skills and personal power.
A true mentor is a person who does not merely imparts knowledge. But on the contrary, who witholds knowledge if necessary and calls it forth from the student. By personal power I mean, the mentor should be able to empower the student, to stand for the student, to provide emotional-psychological security in which the student can grow rapidly. In short, CFRCE mentors are refined, sensitive, caring individuals with lofty aspirations and ideals. At the same time they are intensely practical and can act swiftly and effectlively to meet the varying requirements of life.
Yes, undoubtedly. Indeed it is somewhat strange that it could be otherwise. In ancient times it was well known a mentor or teacher was a person of great self-mastery. The term self-mastery is of course a misnomer nowadays as one thinks it is relevant only in an esoteric discipline or practice. So be it, use the term personal development instead. I would say that a teacher is nothing without a great deal of personal development. After all you are not going to impart information to the student, certainly not in this information age! What you really can and should to is to stimulate the student's growth faculties. You can do this best by example, not by instruction. Greater your personal development, greater the effect you have on the student. As Jim Rohn says, you must work hardr on oneself than on the job. Stop imparting information. Google does millions of times better than you. Do what Google cannot do, infuse meaning, create design, invoke symphony, arouse empathy. These are the things that bring about education. Information follows these as a matter of course.
Well, the student came to us in the 9th grade. He was fascinated by Theoretical Physics. He had attempted to learn Calculus by himself some Mechanics from the MIT Open Course Ware. We introduced him straight to Theoretical Physics bypassing the routine dull topics conventionally taught in undergraduate courses. He completed 3 volumes of the famous Landau and Lifshitz course of theoretical physics in a matter of three months. And we then led him directly to Geometric Quantum Mechanics and Geometric Quantization. He mastered both in around 4 months. By his 12th grade obviously, he was a thoroughbred Theoretical Physicist World-Class and par excellence. No wonder he is going to bypass the Bachelor's and Master's and go for a direct Ph. D.
Nothing surprising if you consider that learning is a neuro-cognitive potential. It is already there in an individual. You must help preserve and nurture its flowering by protecting it from unenlightened interference. We do this powerfully with our students. As a result, more and more of them are going on to achieve such results. In fact the later they are coming the more intense their success. Much of it is also due to the fact that we also are learning at higher and higher rates through experience in making it happen for these students.
Well, it all depends on the inner urge of the individual. We have many a child at the 4th grade who has come with that. We need such a point d' appui to begin our work. If that is present the child can go very far, very quickly. One of our 8th grade students has already mastered the whole field of modern Mathematical and Theoretical Physics. He has already published 4 research papers on Quantum Gravity and String Theory. His roots go back to his 4th grade when he began to get interested in Calculus and mastered it.
There really is no upper limit. There are individuals at the Corporate who are involved in studing Physics all over again. They feel redeemed as during their student days they had been pushed into engineering and lost out in pursuing their passion. Now they are very happy to be able to complete their past passion. Also, we work with individuals at all ages, especially to help them actualize their neuro-cognitive potential. This means, empowering them to achieve a great degree of inner personal development. Then there are individuals in transit of jobs who want to build up their self-image and self-esteem. It really does not matter what the individual is aiming at. What that thing is, is actually leading one towards some kind of personal development. And once one sets out in that direction, the neuro-
cognitive potential begins to unfold and spontaneously self-organize itself.