The teaching I do there is quite different from my usual work in the school year. The teaching system at these bike camps was founded on the insights of a mechanical engineer. It relies on some very cleverly designed machines to do the teaching. Had it been designed by teachers, it would be focused on the interaction between cyclist and teacher, rather than the interaction between cyclist and bicycle.
Bike camp is a unique experience for me. Theres nowhere else I practice my teaching craft that my own personal style is so clearly secondary to another element in the learning relationships of students, skills and objects.
Because of the reliance on the innovative machines, limiting the curriculum to just one skill set, and limiting the students to those who can walk, keep feet on pedals and want to learn this skill, we succeed at a high rate.
I reflected on this on Sunday morning. Is there a technology to teach the insights and skills of silent worship? Quakerism is not something I believe so much as something I practice. The teaching techniques shouldnt rely on some set of words, or books to read. Its more likely that well get the hang of opening ourselves to the Light by a set of practical exercises.
The advantages of the bikes used at camp revolve around their design to give return information about balance (Most people call it feedback, but I dislike the term.) to the rider without dumping her off the bike. It would be nice to know how effective my worship practice was as I went along during a meeting. So often I find that the salutary effects of spiritual practice are subtle and slowly observed.
Maybe thats why I do a time of daily prayer that can include reflection on the previous days walk with God and people. Even so, I sometimes struggle through months of dry, rote, ineffective prayer.
Whats also clever about Rainbow Trainer bicycles is how they progressively lead a student toward the successful use of a regular two-wheeler, with which the full experience of pedaling is available to the rider without adaptations.
I think about some technologies various Friends, and others use to make worship more accessible:
- zen practice,
- a program of singing, prayer, scripture reading and a lesson from a wise member of the community, or even
- mind bending drugs
There are some drawbacks to these. Often they put too much focus on a personality or a material artifact and the seeker becomes dependent on that person or drug for their spirituality. One of the best aspects of Quakerism is the promiseand realityit affords of an unmediated relationship with God.
If you know some good ways to learn silent worship, please clue me in.