Shae. I think people can naturally have a transtemporal consciousness and the mechanistic idea of time as only expressed by a ticking clock can have the effect of dampening such sentience, of lessening the expression of consciousness. I certainly saw that with my secondary students.

I am reminded of autochthonous understandings of time, which are also resonant with an understanding of time within quantum field theory, where deep time of all evolution can be accessed now; it’s not that the past didn’t happen or that time is an illusion, because there are effects on the body of all matter, but it is more a view of how the deep past continues in the present. And filaments of the future to come are also already present now. This is so even with the dynamic indeterminacy of life patterning into being all the time. An example of this tricky transtemporal concept that I like to share with young people is related to the stars we see in the sky. Some of them were active billions of years ago, but we are just experiencing them now as it takes that long for the light to reach us; it is a now of all time as well, not just a slice of time in a linear sense. Indigenous sensibility in sentience engages with deep time this way, with evolution as continuing now. We don’t generally see three million years into the future by looking at the stars though… That is an entirely different thought experiment! 

Memories of Things Yet to Come

Shae. Your comments about developing knowing, and indeed re-membering things-to-come are interesting. It is a kind of future thinking in the same way that you can access the intelligence of your ancestors, way back through your bones and through time… it is not really time travel because it is all now, and the emerging now, but as you say, it is like shifting of focus and frequency. I imagine an antidote to the panic of our own individuality and the drive to ferocious empire building and wealth hoarding is the teaching and learning of complex time that includes the deep time of past and future as threaded through the present. 

To understand individuality in terms of fleeting being, and simultaneously in deep time, past and future – and all of the complexities in between — may release the terror of having to achieve everything in your own lifetime since, truly, you just about flash by in the big time of generations and evolution. I understand from my experience of teaching and learning of complex time that there is a very Western chronophobia, a terror of time, and it can be, needs to be, released. I really believe lots of mental health problems for young people are related to this temporal issue. The ubiquitous nature of mechanistic linear time is not the appropriate temporal environment for humans to thrive. Time appears to be relegated to the background as something that is not thought about much within education, and yet I saw students in a kind of temporal rigidity that froze them from being able to live in the fullness of their lives.

Complex Time

Shae. We need complex time as a foundation for a freedom that is vastly different from the freedom to exploit and exercise power over others. Yes, I believe transformational education requires a strong temporal dimension! One of the four patterns of Complexity Patterning forms a temporal patterning. It engages with the complexity of rhythms and temporalities within our own experience. Using patterns as metaphors assists with engaging in broader sentience, and in this case, with temporal sentience.

Alexander. Yes, understanding complex time is assisted with metaphors, as we don’t normally experience it directly. 

Brown, S. L. (2023). Teaching complex time through pattern thinking and understanding. Time & Society. Special Forum: Teaching Time.