The word 'Tradition' is used to indicate a way of being in the world where human beings engaged with the world directly and not by the mediation of language. It would be probably better to use the word 'illiterate' which modernity has invented to distinguish itself as the advanced and the 'educated' meaning people who know how to read and write!
But the fact is that illiterates learn the WORLD where as the literates learn the WORD. The illiterates way of learning is experientially rooted, learner driven. It has the quality of re-creating, re-inventing and re-living knowledge. The cognitive space ensures the first handedness in these learnings and helps the learner to situate oneself in the cultural conditions of one's life.
Categories and concepts that modern man has created to understand the world do not exist among the traditional cultures. So if there is a sincere urge to really understand tradition on their terms, the modern educated man has to re examine his cognitive paradigm, his frames of reference and the lens that he has created to see the world. This requires courage because this attempt will break his self image as 'educated', 'developed', and thus superior. The very fact that one feels superior is mental distortion. So it is only with total honesty to one self and with a spirit of self criticism that one can engage with other cultures.
Having escaped ‘education’ and ‘development’, the so called illiterate people would still be original and authentic people who are holding on to the culture and worldview which sustained them for centuries. We have to go into the world of the rural communities not with the intention of 'developing' them or educating them. Instead we have to go to them to regain that which we have lost in the process of getting educated.
It is important to understand the core elements that enable learning without teaching and how the connection with nature is retained. The total cognitive system in traditional culture is pro life and is natural and organic.
All learning is done through experiencing or DOING and all teaching happens in BEING what is to be taught. Words have no role to play in this act of making sense as knowledge per se is wordless.
The physical space, the architecture, the activities, the relation to nature etc are all conducive for an organic and natural growth. In that sense the tribal world is an inclusive world. Children are the standard for creating spaces. People inhabit the world of children. Everything happens at ground level so that children by they are three to four years can also be part of adult life.
Traditional people's learning is experientially rooted, learner driven. It has the quality of re-creating, re-inventing and re-living knowledge. The cognitive space ensures the first handedness in these learnings and helps the learner to situate oneself in the cultural conditions of one's life.
There is no word for waste in indigenous communities. So the concept of waste is absent. Naturally they don’t waste. An attitude of non-wasting is inbuilt in to their conscious ness.
Just the fact that we keep waste paper basket in our living space teaches our children ‘to waste’.
An Attitude for sustainability is built in to the COGNITIVE SPACE. This may be due the fact there is no 'waste' in nature. The very notion of waste is the creation of 'anthropocentric' human beings where as nature centric human beings do not have waste in their consciousness as nature itself do not have waste. There is a "sloka" on the use of materials in one of the books on traditional architecture. It says that it has taken millions of years for a rock to evolve. That was the reason why traditional cultures used rock, only to build temples which for them symbolized permanence, continuity of culture and sanctity. Even the palaces where made of mud.
Thus the worldview of the traditional cultures did not allow them to waste and sustainability was part and parcel of their life style.
It is worthwhile to look at how traditional societies have responded to the waste generated by the result of modern knowledge. All around the country side one can see interesting reuse of plastic. The potters in villages use plastic to burnish their wares. In the farm one can see the carry bags hung as scarecrows. Due to wind the bag flutters and keeps the birds away. Plastic buckets etc are repaired and reused by sticking with another piece. The milk packets turned in to chattayi (woven mats) for sitting on the ground. There are several types of chattayi depending on the type of plastic. The reuse the modernity’s waste is seen all over the traditional communities all over the world.
One can say, the modernity creates the waste and the tradition clears it.