Paul Wilkinson - Philosophy of Education

Working towards a better future for our children and the biosphere.


The Future of Schools

What is the human? What do you think schooling will look like in the future? My sense is it will be very different from the current education paradigm . Due to the coronavirus lockdowns here in the UK in 2020, we saw the entire schooling infrastructure change. Buildings redundant, children doing their lessons from home on screens. This was a big change for the teachers, children and parents. My feeling is that a much bigger change to the schooling paradigm is on the horizon, and I don’t think it will be good. I would suggest, however, that our current schooling system is very damaging for the planet and what it means to be human. Imagine a change that further perpetuated the creation of an epistemic commons (centralised knowledge available) which lacked any form of awareness, sense making and dialogue. One that delivered young people a monoculture story, a loss of sovereignty the minute they stepped through those school gates.

We need to stop manufacturing the human, for we are creating a one track mind in an infinitely tracked universe. I believe that we are capable of far more than what this current schooling paradigm fosters and teaches. The values our schools perpetuate need a radical shift in awareness; we are the happiness we seek. Searching for objective experiences and the acquisition of things will only delude us further from the true nature of happiness. Change could come about if we could cultivate the human to generate from the inside out and not didactically from the outside in. We don’t know what we see, we see what we know. In the words of Blake, “I Must Create a System or be Enslaved by Another Man”. We need a shift in what we are aware of, a change in consciousness. For what we attend to shapes our reality, and that attention is cultivated by our education system. In the words of the British philosopher Owen Barfield, “I don’t think the mind is something that goes on in the brain. I think the brain was originally formed by minds, and then used the brain to produce the subject picture of the word in which we live”.

So what does the future hold? We live in a world of very large companies dominating our planet, such as Amazon, Apple, Google, and Monsanto to name but a few. It would have been hard to perceive a monopoly like this 30 years ago. Is the same going to happen to our schooling system? A number of years ago, Elon Musk set up a school for the children of the staff working at space X, called Ad Astra. This is an unschooling model in which the children lead their learning via their own interests with guidance from the facilitators, and here they can develop skills with technology that they will need for the future. They do not do tests and grades. I don’t like labels, as they close the doors of perception, but I am an unschooling parent that believes in trusting the child to guide their own interests and passions. I can assure you experientially that it’s truly astonishing to witness self directed children. If you are a teacher and have never observed an unschooling/home education gathering, then I suggest you should. Stepping outside the system you are embedded in will give you the opportunity to view the human from a different architecture of thinking. I would suggest it will change your perception of the human mind.

After setting up Ad Astra, Musk helped create an online school called Synthesis, and more schools of this kind of model are now starting up. As I currently write this, these lessons are done once a week for an hour in which the students work together to solve complex problems encompassing individual skills to work towards a collective outcome. It’s a fee paying virtual learning space.

My sense is that this project and the combination of school children learning from home could be brought together to create a very different educational landscape. But what would that look like? I would suggest there are a number of ways this may play out. I imagine this would work at high school level most effectively.

Children would visit the school as normal and watch an ‘Uber teacher’ deliver a subject specific lesson to every school in the country at exactly the same time via video link. A teaching assistant would be present to deal with crowd control and questions afterwards. These ‘Uber teachers’ could deliver the lesson from home or a central location. There is a shortage of teachers (1 in 6 teachers quit after their first year) and this would certainly make this less of a concern for the government. This kind of model could also be run by a private fee paying company, an Amazon of education perhaps.

The same model as above could be applied with the children schooling on screens at home. They might then visit the school a few times a week for other activities such as sport or practical work. This could also be run by a private fee paying company in which the children visit their facilities. Many parents now work from home and many buildings remain almost empty so space is certainly available for these private companies to set up schools. This model could even work for those parents that go out to work - businesses incorporating a school room on site, similar to the Space X model.

We really need to change the way we live on the planet and I would suggest we don’t have long. It is projected that we will have very depleted oil supplies by 2060, that’s not far away. What damage does it do to keep exponentially mining from the planet on a finite plane? What kind of world do we live in when a fish in the sea is worth more dead than alive? We kill around six million animals an hour. Us humans live a very short life in comparison with the planet and we lack the capacity to do good sense making across time and scale (we went to school and are running that epistemology, dead thinking not alive). When Greta Thunberg speaks about climate change she is functioning at a higher meta cognitive capacity than the politicians. She is not paradigm mapping, but has applied a meta move to bring in more diversity to her architecture of thinking. All the great minds apply meta theory, this is not taught on the school curriculum. If it was, the children wouldn’t go!

This kind of model would help lighten the load on the challenges that the world governments will inevitably face. But in a world where the governments lack the cognitive capacity (they went to school!) to understand the power of the tech companies, this could be rolled out on scale rather fast. Just as the governments are trying to understand Bitcoin, which started in 2009.

I hope I’m wrong regarding the discussed model because this would be a bad move for the human, but in this ever more materialistic, capitalistic world we are evolving consciously to grasp in a very mechanistic, industrialist way. As Einstein is reported to have said. “The intuitive mind (right hemisphere) is the sacred gift and rational mind (left hemisphere, good at grasping) the faithful servant. Yet we follow the servant and have forgotten the gift.” The gift being the imagination and its infinite possibilities to shape a new world. In the words of Paul Éluard “There is certainly another world, but it is in this one”. The set of knowledge children didactically receive at the moment could well be taught centrally on scale across all cultures. I would suggest that’s not good.

I do believe however that this kind of model could be used for the benefit of the human and the biosphere. I’m an advocate for unschooling, home schooling, and many other self directed models of decentralised learning. This might not be possible for all parents across all backgrounds. I would like to see a radical shift in our education paradigm. I would suggest we need to have children within the community, returning to the pre industrial period with small school houses located within the heart of our streets. This would help decentralise our education system. There are many great teachers on our street that aren’t qualified teachers and that’s good. They would form the bedrock of ‘guides on the side’ for our children. Young people have few passions they are interested in, being part of a community would foster a deep sense of love and compassion for each other, not divide us. I live near a car garage. If for example a child was interested in mechanics they could work between the home, school house, and the garage. Many things are possible if you can step outside the system we are embedded in. The kind of technology I have discussed would work well if delivered on screens to small groups of children that then engage in a dialogue together regarding what they have just seen.

Within this world there are these kind of learning spaces: Steiner schools, Sudbury Valley, Montessori and Democratic schools to name but a few. Some of these schools will not take children from the mainstream schooling system after the age of twelve. Why do you think that is?

I have just scratched the surface with these words. Collectively we need a shift in consciousness. I begun with the question what is the human? People today identify themselves almost exclusively with what they are aware of, and neglect the very simple experience of being aware. In the Hindu tradition recognition means to know again. The knower and the known are different.

Is thought limited?
What is the one thing you want in life?
What is the one thing we all want in life?

A man who reviews the old so as to find out the new is qualified to teach others. Confucius

The way that can spoken of
Is not the constant way.
The name that can be named
Is not the constant name. Lao Tzu.


An introduction to Non-Duality.

I am known as a musician and music has been one of the most important activities in my life. Creativity is like the ultimate thank you. I believe we must create within this creation. Imagination is the divine source. To quote my 8 year old son Miles, ‘Imagination is the birth of the world’. But I have lived a dialectic life and I have always been fascinated with consciousness. To borrow a phrase from Iain McGilchrist, ‘The quality of the world that comes to our attention is dependent upon the quality of attention we bring.’ When around the age of 17 I picked up a Buddhist meditation book, I became deeply interested in the great perennial Eastern traditions of the past. Over the last 30 years this has led me to explore and investigate many of these rich traditions. Alongside that I have been fascinated by philosophers and their insights. I have spent many years studying Buddhism, Advaite Vedanta, Taoism, Zen Buddhism, the Gnostic tradition, Eastern mystical Christianity, and the mystical tradition of Sufism to name but a few! Alongside that I have immersed myself in the understanding of P.D. Ouspensky and Gurdjieff.

I am in the process of writing a book which investigates these perennial traditions, the ‘I am’, the true self, not the separate self. That book also explores meta theory, thinking about thinking and our epistemic commons (shared knowledge and information that is open to all). Viewing any topic from a different architecture of attention. I would suggest that our collective understanding is deeply polluted and we need to change the kind of human being we are before it’s too late. When the bin is full you empty it, you reverse, you change the direction by doing the opposite action. If you keep filling that bin you’re on a path to pollution. We need a shift of awareness, for what we attended to will shape the world and our future. The conclusion of that book explores the witness (awareness) to the contents of our experiences, what do I mean? Well, I would like to share some of this Non-dual understanding with you here.

A grand piano has a sound board made of spruce wood, on top of which the strings are strung. The keys of the piano are depressed, the hammers hit the string and the sound board produces and resonates the sound. The spruce wood doesn’t mind which notes are played. It remains ever present to receive any musical experience – soft, loud, angry or sad. In this analogy, the sound board is awareness, but unlike the limitations of the piano’s construction I would suggest that awareness is timeless and dimensionless, it is not in time or space. Let’s unpack this a little more. Throughout your life one thing has remained present in all your experience, when you were a child, when you were a teenager, when you were happy, when you were sad. This presence was the simple act of being aware. The awareness of awareness, the ‘I am’, standing in awareness or in the Eastern Christian tradition the presence of God. In our busy world we give exclusive attention to our thoughts, feelings, sensations and perceptions but very rarely do we turn round to view them from the perception of awareness. The knower and known are different. When you stand in awareness you realise that whatever you are experiencing, awareness never changes. It is unchangeless. This simple act of being aware is referred to as the direct path, unlike meditation, prayer, yoga or mantras which are referred to as the progressive path. Awareness is not something we have to attain, it’s something we are. It is the ‘I am’ that shines behind the contents of all our experience, the one that witnesses your thoughts and feelings. Let’s try something a moment. I want this to be experiential.

Close your eyes, listen to your breath. Now imagine the disappearance of all your thoughts, feelings, sensations and the presence of the body. Now what remains? Describe what you’re feeling. When I do this in person people often say the following words: peaceful, empty, still, silence, openness, absence and love. The mind veils itself of its own activity and forgets its true nature, ‘I am’. The mind I might suggest is a perception in consciousness. We live in three states: waking, dreaming and deep sleep. Let’s for a moment look at deep sleep. In deep sleep all your thoughts, the body, feelings, sensations and perceptions disappear, it is peaceful and still. Think about that for a moment. You are all alone in deep sleep. When you wake in the morning, the ‘I’ slept well. This is a place to witness awareness. It is hard to use words to describe this presence, but, I would suggest it is peaceful, timeless and absent from suffering. Not finite but infinite, dimensionless consciousness. In deep sleep all the content of your world experiences disappear and you are left with the true uncoloured self. Nothing in itself but itself. Non-duality means oneness – not two – non-separation from the mind at large. In the words of Jesus, ‘I and my father are one’. The kingdom of heaven is within us.

This has been a short introduction to the perennial Hindu tradition of , Advãita Vedanta. Pure consciousness (Brahman), the knower of all experience, the inward facing path, the pure ‘I am’. Beyond the illusory self, and multitude and diversity of things, to point towards the heart of awareness. You are what you seek, you are the Atman (the universal self not a separate self). I would suggest this understanding is our only hope for the planet and world peace. There is an inside to this world and we have lost touch with it. I thought it would be nice to share this understanding with you. I am ever more called to do so these days.

Give yourself to yourself, just by knowing how things are.

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.” William Blake.

Paul x

#non-duality #awareness #consciousness nondualitymusic



Inversaphor - I have invented a new word!

Syntax and semantics that will bring forth a desired meaning (beyond appearances) that is neither metaphorical or figurative but inevitably assures an automatic inverse outcome.

Words crafted to bring forth a desired meaning which is neither metaphorical or figurative but aims to induce an opposite outcome.


Words crafted to bring forth a desired meaning which is neither metaphorical or figurative but aims to induce an opposite outcome.

For some time now I have been searching for a word to describe an unconscious outcome which is intuited from a given text or speech. I’m referring specifically to the syntax and semantics utilised in our Westernised education system. For me this includes schooling, media, capitalism and politics, where the many listen to the few - a paradigm that performs the sense/meaning making on our behalf. What code (epistemic/metanarrative frame work) does a person run to make meaning of this language? It’s just squiggles of ink on a page, is it not?

In the words of Owen Barfield ‘a (metaphor) is a window onto an entirely new meaning. It’s not the same as the meaning of the individual word it’s something between two meanings and it can only be apprehended by the imagination (right hemisphere) and not by the logical brain (left hemisphere), but it is not unreal for that reason’. ‘No stone unturned’, ‘water under the bridge’ - these familiar metaphors are often heard in our everyday lives, included almost unconsciously. In Japanese culture, the concept of kotodama, meaning ‘word spirit’ is used. This is the idea that there is an otherness, a mystical power which resides in words and names.

The word Inversaphor is a combination of inverse (reverse, opposite, contrary), and metaphor. In the majority of Western cultures the schooling paradigm lasts around fourteen years, more if you go to college and university. Do these institutions teach various meta moves on any given topic? Or are we all utilising the same epistemic processing from generation to generation with the possibility that we could be running malware? If you don’t like school and you voice that opinion, schooling is not going to go well. You have taken your own path, one that has not been trodden. This is written about beautifully in ‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost, here is the opening:-

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood.

Or the opening of the Tao Te Ching:-

The way that can be spoken of
Is not the constant way;
The name that can be named
Is not the constant name.

From my insight into our education system, the introduction of Meta theory can only start to be touched upon at postgraduate and doctorate level. Particularly the Hegel dialectic - thesis, antithesis, synthesis, meta move. This Meta theory is often referred to as a synthetic meta move (which has its limitations due to the constraints in which it is explored). We certainly don’t foster different architectures of thinking within primary and secondary schools here in the UK, I wish we did. We need a different kind of human being walking the planet, in which we encourage and nurture unique thinking. This would surely lead to a deeper understanding. A good place to look at cognitive development in greater detail is in the Model of Hierarchical Complexity (MHC) by Michael Commons. This comes with a warning, though, for it will make you aware of your own cognitive capacities to do various meta moves (task dependent). However, do bear in ‘mind’ it is a thought experiment and by design has its limitations and is by no means exhaustive. A musician can’t repair a car like a mechanic. But, if you are receiving the news/education didactically it would be beneficial to analyse it from different architectures of thinking. Stage one of MHC (calculatory stage) being molecules, the final stage (fifteen) incorporating the work of Einstein, Darwin and Ken Wilbur.

Russell conjugation (Bertrand Russell) is when a speaker/writer chooses words to describe something with a favorable outcome, conveying the fact but also the speaker’s/writer’s opinion of the fact. This is often employed to add bias, influence the audience, and interpret the words (emotive conjugation) from the speaker’s meaning-making perspective. For example a liar and truth-teller are intrinsically linked, for the liar knows the truth (if indeed it is truth!). In the words of Nietzsche ‘Truth serves life’ or as John Dewey wrote: ‘Truth is a collection of truths, which we agree to characterise with the word ‘truth’. Here is an example from Bertrand Russell, I have added the brackets.

I am firm (positive empathy), you are obstinate (mildly negative empathy), he is a pig-headed fool (very negative empathy).

I can disinform you without lying to you. When we are attacked in the UK and people are killed it is called a ‘terrorist attack’. When we attack a country in retaliation and do the same thing it’s called ‘collateral damage’. Words also change their meaning and emotive impact according to the context, place and time in which they are spoken. If the prime minister is talking about children and education, this will be staged invariably in a school setting. What was unreal becomes the reasoned real, even if that lacked any form of ontological reality in the first instance. If you were starting a new company and setting up a logo/website, an early discussion with the branding company would be with regard to what kind of emotion you want to bring about from your customers. In the words of Wittgenstein ‘philosophy is the struggle against the bewitchment of our minds by means of language’. For Wittgenstein language is not explanation, but simply a pointer to things. Words are used to make sense of the world, but they are a synthetic reduction, language is a social construction. In the words of Kant. ‘Even if we could impart the highest degree of distinction to our intuition, we should not thereby come one step nearer to the constitution of objects in themselves’. If I ask my son to bring me my walking boots, my language does not break things down into the total sum of the parts of my boots, it’s a representation of many things. If I am asking for my boots it’s another way of saying I’m going for a walk. Just as children know all the implications that surround the word ‘bedtime’.

Wittgenstein used the phrase ‘the language game’ and ‘Inversaphor’ certainly fits well with the game and power of words to move people on mass in an unconscious slipping and sliding of contexts, just as the green of the land brings forth a collective inner glow. So here’s the crazy bit I’m implying. ‘Inversaphor’ unlike a metaphor, is not apprehended via the imagination but from a previous taught epistemic frame work. It is running a meaning-making system that can produce a desired effect that is not explicitly present within the given words. In the words of Noam Chomsky; ‘People not only don't know what's happening to them, they don't even know that they don't know.’ Or as Jean Baudrillard explains, ‘We are simulators, we are simulacra, we are concave mirrors radiated by the social, a radiation without a light source, power without origin, without distance, and it is in this tactical universe of simulacrum that we will need to fight.....Clones, cloning. Human cuttings ad Infinitum, each individual cell of an organism capable of again becoming the matrix of an identical individual’. Which pill have you taken, blue or red? Life changing truth or blissful ignorance?

So there you have it. My new word creation. Maybe this thought experiment is utter nonsense. Well if that is the case I’m very happy to have created a new word that my son (he’s 8) has employed to create a villain in his super hero universe of ‘Phantom Woman’, ‘Shadow’ and Statico’. I’ll close with my son’s definition of ‘Inversaphor’:-

Inversaphor (alias Flinton Maxines) was Statico’s college friend when they were teenagers. As they grew up, Maxines was displeased that statico had super powers and he didn’t. Because he was sad, he gained the powers of the Great Opposite God and became Inversaphor. When somebody punches Inversaphor, they just punch themselves.

This whole text could have perhaps been summed up by that last sentence by my son!

Paul Wilkinson, October 2021.




Owen Barfield

In this video I discuss with friend and artist Edward Foster about the philosopher/writer Owen Barfield and how imagination is core to deep creativity and the human soul. This is the first of many dialogues or "creative chinwags" I will be doing with Edward.


Meta-Piano (metapiano)

Thinkg about thinking. Looking at Piano Teaching."The Way that can be spoken of is not the Eternal Way" 道可道非常道 Tao Te Ching.



A Study in Ideo-Kinetics By Luigi Bonpensiere

Looking at the text by Luigi Bonpensiere New Pathways to piano technique.


How to play a lead sheet (fake book) - Solo Piano - Part 1 & Part 2

Part 1


Part 2


Becoming More Human

Discussing The Master and his Emissary by Iain McGilchrist - Edward Foster and Paul Wilkinson. In this dialogue I talk with Edward Foster (Artist) about the seminal book on the two hemispheres of the brain by Iain McGilchrist. We discuss how we perceive the world differently with the two sides of the brain and the danger the reductionist left side poses. We also discuss the deeply connected view of the right side. We also touch upon the recent discussion between Jordan Peterson and Iain McGilchrist.


William Blake.

Talking about music, poetry and art with Edward Foster. We both adore the work of Blake.




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Thanks for reading. Paul