Guide to Understanding our Alienation

This audiovisual guide is a curated collection of talks with Jinan KB, a designer and educationist who has been involved in existential research to understand the processes involved in the creation of knowledge, the formation of creativity, intelligence, aesthetics and its relation to the content of learning and the context.

His primary interest has been to understand our own formation- how we develop various abilities and qualities that enable us to make sense of the world or in other words how our cognitive system gets developed in the process of exploring the world around us. This has led him to research on what conditions are favourable for the development of our ability to create knowledge, creativity, intelligence, humility, sensitivity and what conditions inhibit and distort. He has conducted several pedagogical experiments in various contexts – design and architectural education (especially the foundation year), children in formal and informal situations and with the nonliterate traditional artisans.

His exposure to how children and nonliterate learn made him explore the biological roots of learning as well as the loss of biology among the so-called educated. His present research is on understanding how children learn the real world and world’s impact on children’s formation (psychological and physical) in order to re-imagine how to create conducive conditions for learning, creation of knowledge not only for children but also in ‘higher’ education.

Jinan presented a session entitled “From the Word to the World: Exploring the Impact of Literacy on our Consciousness” during the Re-imagining Education Conference in February 2022, hosted by the Ecoversities Alliance.

by Jinan KB

Cognitive Damages of Schooling – Re-imagining education based on how human beings learn


I have been researching how children autonomously create knowledge of the real world autonomously and how schooling rewires this cognitive ability. There is a fundamental shift I am addressing is based on our biological propensity to CREATE knowledge of the real WORLD instead of ANALYSING secondhand LINGUISTIC information. So I am talking about change in the CONTENT as well as PROCESS as this is part and parcel of our natural cognitive system which is biologically rooted. The fundamental difference between modernity and tradition is this ontological reversal wherein the case of modernity the product precedes the process and in a way totally disregards the process. This means the body has no role in cognition but only to carry the head (mind) which does all the jobs related to cognition. This division of body and mind is brought about systematically within modernity by not respecting the autonomy of children and their life-given gift – the ability for the creation of knowledge of their contexts. Unless we take into consideration what and how children learn naturally we won’t make any fundamental change to higher education. This separation of higher and lower is totally problematic. This again is typical of modernity as adults belong to a totally different paradigm and they make children go through the ritual of schooling to get them accepted into the adult world. What schooling does is to numb their original biological system to create knowledge of the world to condition them to analyze the ready-made information. 

Being in Beauty

Awakened sense is the basis for all art forms. All TRUE art is a result of direct experience. It is not the skill that differentiates artists from non-artists but the ability to sensitively experience the world around them. That is, all of them are deeply and sensitively able to perceive what is happening and also see it objectively. But the focus on teaching doesn’t allow this direct experience and
development of the authentic process.

Future of Indigenous KNOWING

The future of traditional craft depends on the children of the artisan communities. But, in my view the present drive to send all children to school will ensure the death of all traditional skills; craft, farming, healing, folk arts, and other specific knowledge systems that artisanal and village communities hold within. ‘Education’ as exemplified by the system that we are all part of which is institutionalized, structured, instruction -oriented and export-dependent will make extinct all other ways of knowing. The reason for this, very briefly, is that the process of ‘knowing’ in ‘non-codified knowledge societies’ (instinctual, biological, unselfconscious, relating to senses) is very different from the process of ‘knowing’ in ‘codified knowledge societies’ (Memory, text and digital codification). And these present-day systems of learning tend to create blinkers that do not allow an understanding of the earlier systems.

The Potential of Design education

The real potential of design education is to re-imagine the whole ‘schooling’ paradigm TOTALLY starting from the kind of space/condition that is provided for children right from home. This has become an urgent task as the whole modern crisis which is we, the educated turning against life and nature stems from the alienation from our own biology, our way of ‘knowing’ and being. We need to look at design education very differently to explore this and abstract some of the fundamental aspects that make design education unique and apart from other ‘disciplines’ in every aspect- content, pedagogy, process, ambiance, etc. What are the fundamental principles in design education which can be used to learn every other discipline? How can we re-imagine the foundation year to be the foundation not just for learning design but for every other ‘discipline’?

Videos courtesy of the Existential Knowledge Foundation : Existential knowledge is the knowledge of all living beings in order to sustain life on earth. It is an inherent intelligence that living beings are born with and awareness awakened in the context they are located in. It is an understanding that is internalized instinctively, unconsciously (as though already there); and deepened through observation and exploration by and by. Existential knowledge is the basis on which all indigenous knowledge is created. This is why indigenous communities have sustained themselves for thousands of years- their communities are based upon sustaining the existence of life. The foundation has been set up to explore life, by living…… feeling, sensing and being…… EKF has been working with Children, Natural Learning, Deschooling and various allied areas for more than 3 decades now. Foundation may be contacted at

Jinan KB has spent more than 30 years researching on learning process, cognition, aesthetic sense, children, traditional knowledge system, design and architecture education. He believes that introduction to text in early childhood years damages our cognitive abilities. He draws his learnings from researching, living and working with indigenous communities. “My enquiry has been rooted in experience. I stopped reading in 1990 or so and this re wired my cognitive process and stopped reasoning as a way for comprehension. My cognitive source shifted from books/ words to the world. observation/ attention/ awareness/ experience became by cognitive process and self organizing became the process of comprehension. Automatically reasoning stopped functioning with in me. This means understanding began to happens! Nature, children and the ‘illiterate’ are my teachers/ guides in this journey” Jinan continue to work in field of learning and living and sensitize people through various workshops, courses and talks. He may be contacted at

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