Where do we begin and where do we end? | Benjamin Freud, Ph.D. | 12 Min Read

March 6, 2023

Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilisation.

—Mahatma Gandhi

Shortly after the birth of my daughter, I picked up one of those habits that today I can’t imagine living without. For the past 12 years, I have (on most days) woken up naturally, well before the sun, and carefully slinked to the living room. With a cup of coffee on a side table, I wallow on the couch to read. These mornings are my nourishment, when I absorb, connect, and feel inspired by the many worlds that capture my imagination. It makes me realize how we have to carve out these quiet moments in our artificially busy lives. Yet when I explore that space away from others, I am never away from others. 

My cats too have developed a similar habit. We have four rescued cats in our home and at least one of them jumps on the couch to visit me every morning. They mostly take turns, which allows me to connect with their different personalities. On cold days, Snowball likes to burrow under the blanket. Bungee never quite lays on my lap, but she does walk over me a few times before settling on the armrest. Clementine plops wherever she likes. Chutney just asks to go outside. I guess I can’t be greedy. 

What if we were more than we thought we were?

Donna Haraway begins her book, When Species Meet, with a question that I will alter slightly to make it appropriate for my context: “Whom and what do I touch when I touch my [cat][1]Thank you Charlotte Hankin for making me aware of this. Donna Haraway refers to her dog, not her cat.?” I think about this question and another arises: Where do we begin and where do we end?

Why does this last question matter for schools and organizations, for the building of an ecological civilization? Because the infinite number of possible responses do away with separation, individual achievement, and competition. The beautiful thing is that we all respond to it and contribute together.

Where do we begin and where do we end? This is a question that itself has trouble finding its beginning and its end. Where involves the notion of space or of location. Looking for that point from which we can draw…

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1 Thank you Charlotte Hankin for making me aware of this. Donna Haraway refers to her dog, not her cat.

Benjamin Freud, Ph.D.

Benjamin Freud, Ph.D. is the co-founder of Coconut Thinking, an advisory that supports schools and learning organizations to co-create, co-develop, co-stress test, and co-implement ideas that nurture the conditions for emergent learning. Benjamin is also the Head of Upper School at Green School, Bali. He was previously the Whole School Leader of Learning and Teaching at Prem Tinsulanonda International School in Thailand. He was the Academic Coordinator at Misk Schools, one of the most prestigious and high-profile school in the kingdom. In 2018-2019, he was also the Head of Upper Primary and Middle School at Misk. Prior to this, he was Vice-Principal of the Middle School and High School at the Harbour School in Hong Kong. He holds a Ph.D. in History, an MSc in Education, an MBA, an MA in International Relations, and a BA in International Affairs. Benjamin was born and grew up in Paris, France. He moved to the U.S. when he was 15 and spent 11 years there in different cities before living in the U.K., Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and now Bali, Indonesia. He started his career in consulting for Internet start-ups in Silicon Valley in the late 1990s, working with people whose ambitions were no less than to change the world. This experience had a profound effect on Benjamin's outlook on education, innovation, and entrepreneurship.