The A.W.E. Project

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Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human

Matthew Fox

192 PP | 6" x 9"
Paper
ISBN: 978-1-896836-84-3

Matthew Fox has done it again. As one of the most prophetic voices of our time, he has created a unique new project that speaks to the concerns and hopes of all of us who care about creating lives of meaning – for ourselves, our communities, our children and our children's children...

The A.W.E. Project reminds us that awe is the appropriate response to the unfathomable wonder that is creation – from the magnificence of galaxies, to the complex and brilliant process of cell-differentiation, and the miracle of the human hand (a product of 14 billion years of evolution). Imagine how much richer learning will be for all ages when we intentionally cultivate a sense of appreciation and wonder.

A.W.E. is also the acronym for Fox's proposed style of learning – an approach to balance the three R's. This approach to learning, eldering, and mentoring is intelligent enough to honor the teachings of the Ancestors, to nurture Wisdom in addition to imparting knowledge, and to Educate through Fox's 10 C's. The 10 C's are the core of the A.W.E. philosophy and process of education, and include: compassion, contemplation, and creativity.

The A.W.E. Project does for the vast subject of "learning" what Fox's Reinvention of Work did for vocation and Original Blessing did for theology. With passion and conviction, Fox turns conventional "education" upside down, shakes out what is no longer working, and offers visions of what can be.

The A.W.E. Project includes a DVD featuring original compositions based on the 10 Cs by Hip Hop artist and filmmaker Professor Pitt – part of the worldwide movement of rappers for peace and justice.

Matthew Fox, Author

Matthew Fox is the author of 27 books including The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, A New Reformation, Natural Grace (with Biochemist Rupert Sheldrake), and Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet.. He is in demand around the world as a speaker, leader, and reformer. For 30 years Matthew Fox has been at the cutting edge of creative and meaningful education for adult learners. This book distills Matthew Fox's pedagogy and experience he has learned from those very successful programs and applies it to children and learners of all ages.

An excerpt from Chapter 2: The A.W.E. Project: Awe-Based Education

Developing a daily dose of awe
We carry awe with us daily and we need the help of scientists and teachers to awaken that awe. I attempted to provide a “litany of blessing” of the awe of our flesh in my book on flesh and spirit called Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh. I offer here a brief summary of the facts I gathered. They belong to all of us. They are awe reaching out to shake us up and wake us up today. They ought to provide the substratum for all learning and all education – learning is itself one of the truly awesome activities of the universe. And we are in the middle of it! (How dare we render learning boring and call it “education.” Shame on us!)

Here are some facts staring us in the face, if we only listen.

  • Matter is frozen light and for every molecule of light that is matter there are a billion particles of light that are not matter. This means matter is rare and special – we are incarnated light.
  • Sixty percent of the matter of our bodies is made up of hydrogen atoms, which were present in the first years of the fireball, 13 billion years ago.
  • The remaining 40 percent of our bodies is made up of atoms forged in the stars about 5.5 billion years ago.
  • The human body holds 100 trillion cells each with 100 trillion atoms in them. Together they produce enough light to illuminate a baseball field for three hours with one million watts of floodlight brilliance.
  • While the nine planets began with the same elements, all geological activity came to halt on four of them within one billion years, and on the other four hardly anything evolved at all. Only Earth was the proper size so that a balance between gravity and electromagnetic energy happened and with it complex molecules for life.
  • Thanks to the moon, the entire North American continent rises six inches during the new and full moons.
  • Some of the dust we breathe daily is as old as our solar system – 4.6 billion years old.
  • One million earths can fit inside the sun.
  • The sun emits more energy in one second than humankind has consumed in the whole of its history.
  • Our Milky Way galaxy represents one trillionth of the universe.
  • Topsoil is 50 percent air. The soil actually inhales oxygen and exhales carbon dioxide down to a depth of several feet.
  • In summer, an average-sized tree gives off a ton of water every day.
  • There are prairie grasses in the Midwest whose roots are 10,000 miles long.
  • A single rye plant’s roots grow over three miles per day in search of food.
  • The human heart weighs only half a pound, but it does the daily work-equivalent of lifting a ton from the ground to the top of a five-story building
  • Stomach acid is so powerful it can dissolve razor blades in less than a week. The stomach produces a new lining every three days to protect itself from its own acid.
  • Fat is 88 percent carbon and hydrogen, which makes it chemically very close to gasoline and other hydrocarbon fuels.
  • Our bones are one of the strongest building materials known to man. They can withstand stresses of 24,000 pounds per square inch, or about four times that of steel or reinforced concrete. Yet they live and grow back when they are broken.
  • The sky is actually the air we breathe and walk in every day.
  • One square inch of human skin contains 19 million cells, 625 sweat glands, 90 oil glands, 65 hairs, 19 blood vessels, 19,000 sensory cells and more than 20 million microscopic animals.
  • African bushmen can see four moons of Jupiter with the naked eye and can hear the sound of an airplane approaching them from as far as 70 miles away.
  • Humans hear frequencies as high as 20,000 hertz (vibrations per second) but dolphins hear frequencies as high as 280,000 hertz.
  • Our mammalian brain is the fastest developing organ in evolutionary history.
  • Each second over 100,000 chemical reactions occur in the brain. The brain produces more than 50 psychoactive drugs, which affect memory, intelligence, sedation, and aggression.

 

Surely these scientific facts are worthy of arousing awe, wonder, and praise. They are perfect material for young people to celebrate through song, poetry, rap, theatre, music, video, and more. These facts could provide the content for the new language of rap and video and music-making, which our technological revolution has made available to youth. Youth are at home with these new forms, but they deserve elders who will teach them healthy content. Otherwise, lacking healthy content with which to fill their spirits or souls, they experience only discontentment, and the content of their songs and poetry derives from anger alone and not from deeper places of awe and gratitude.

We live, move, and have our being in these realities, just as we carry all the mystery and wonder of our cells around with us. I cannot imagine the young of every age and every class – but especially the materially dispossessed and disadvantaged – not responding joyfully to these facts and figures. These awesome realities can awaken interest in learning all over again. And the beauty of the response that is sure to follow might set hearts aflame and launch a new renaissance from the ground up.

Why is education not arousing youth to such creativity and gratefulness? Are we all busy learning and relearning the role of awe in our lives? If not, why not? Perhaps it is because adults, including teachers and superintendents and educational structures, are no longer struck by awe. They are old and senile and goat-like. Maybe they need to go back to school – not to modern schools whence they were originally educated, but to wisdom schools where awe is on the agenda.

It is essential that all teachers and indeed all adults learn such awe-filled truths about their lives. Without awe, we are low in energy and we have little of importance to pass on to the young.

With awe, one is filled with praise. And that makes all the difference.

What if education became praise-based? Awe-based? What would change? Wouldn’t everything change, including our level of joy in our learning process and in our learning spaces?