schools of trust

“Like cattle most humans live and die in passive subjection..We live lives locked into narrow patterns, often filled with great suffering and it never occurs to us that we can actually become free.” -Samadhi

“My dream of course is that we give up these dreadful authoritarian prescribed hateful state systems that clearly everybody agrees.. are obviously failing..”[Derry Hannam, retired school inspector]  We are so afraid of giving children the freedom they deserve in being the driving force for their own education, that we are doing them an incredible injustice in their opportunities for true learning and for their lives.  This is not what children want or need anymore and It is not what is valuable for our futuristic world either.

“We need young people who are independent, who are responsible for themselves,…who can work without strict leadership, we need young people and employees who can think outside of the box. Thats what we need. Everything that our schools don’t allow. It what companies need. It’s what science needs. Its whats needed everywhere.”  [ Jesper Juul, author ]

Why I won’t force my son to stay in school

 

” I think i’m getting dumber”.

This is the statement my 15 year old son made to me one day after walking in the door after school. So my question is, what are ‘they’ doing to make him feel this way about his own intelligence? Why is my son no longer feeling capable?  This is not the way he feels about himself outside of those school walls.

We send our children with enormous amounts of trust into these school domains that have become by law.  We  place our trust in allowing other people, to mould and influence our children’s own innate belief systems because we have been enticed into believing that this is the only way that they will be able to successfully make it out there in the ‘real world’.  We  have been led to believe that they are the better ones or rather ‘only’ ones who know how to provide them with the knowledge and experience that they are going to need.  These notions are ludicrous. This is an old story. And it does not fit our world anymore. Parents are afraid to change it, children are becoming unable to stay within it.

I have seen children unravelling, questioning everything they thought to be true about themselves. I have seen their sense of worth be so diminished by this system that it’s frightening. Our children are never born into this world feeling about life or themselves in this way. So why do they get to 15 and suddenly feel hopeless? Why are they questioning their worthiness within the school domain and worse, then how they’ll make it in their lives outside of school?  Suddenly this place that they have only ever known and trusted (because we said to) since they were five, no longer feels good to them? This place no longer wants them, if they cannot provide them with the highest scores, and grandest achievements and keep themselves from questioning anything. The school domain begins this subtle elimination process early, while young minds are still susceptible to easy manipulation. They question 14 year olds about what path they are considering taking in their educational futures? Are you staying or are you going? As if they are meant to be considering it at all? Aren’t they ALL allowed to stay? The system works out who is worth supporting through to the end and who should be sent packing towards other avenues. These  avenues that are suggested usually feel to the students like the road the ‘dumb kids’ take. Of course, they aren’t but the fact is, that this is the perception that has been created by the system.   The message isn’t even hidden, it’s said directly. [Maths teacher] Are you taking Maths next year? [15 year old]  Yes Why? I’m good at Maths. [teacher] You might want to reconsider that choice.

The system is old, the story is old, it doesn’t work, it most likely never did. We are so far behind our children, that we can’t keep up, and they can’t sit still anymore. Conformity and confinement to uncomfortable conditions in rooms is cruel.  Tables with hard chairs, textbooks and dictation is not working. Trying to control this situation with imposing punishments or worse medication to fit this dynamic, is unquestionably not the answer. The system cannot be reformed,  the story must be transformed.  Learning is innate. Learning and creating is a every human beings right, they will do this without force, if we let them. Possibly, it’s time to begin listening to these young minds and what they are wanting to learn for themselves, instead of dictating an outdated curriculum and insisting that it is what they will need for their future ‘survival’. How can we possibly even know this? We could instead be supporting their innovativeness and their desires to explore and create around their own interests. We could be assisting their learning by trusting them to know what supports it is that they need, instead of compelling them to abide by a support system that is failing to adequately support them anyway.  If our education systems can move towards more agile learning environments with, student-directed programs rather than the enforced dictatorship we currently have; then possibly our young minds operating within these systems can begin to start thriving instead of merely surviving.

 

How Children Fail

…thus  we find ourselves trying to poke certain facts, recipes, and ideas down the gullets of every child in school, whether the morsels interest him or not, and even if there are other things that he is much more interested in learning.

These ideas are absurd and harmful nonsense. We will not begin to have true education or real learning in our schools until we sweep this nonsense out of the way. Schools should be a place where children learn what they most want to know. The child that wants to know something remembers it and uses once he has it; the child who learns something to please or appease someone else forgets it when the need for pleasing or the danger of not appeasing is past. This is why children quickly forget all but a small part of what they learn in school. It is of no use or interest to them; they do not want, or expect, or even intend to remember it. The only difference between bad and good students in this respect is that the bad students forget right away while the  good students are careful to wait until after the exam. If for no other reason, we could well afford to throw out most of what we teach in school because the children throw out almost all of it anyway. John Holt, How children Fail, 1964

I know, I am unrelenting in my passion towards changing the way children are educated. I also realise that the very idea that the school system may not be working for our children, is just too hard to even contemplate for most. We have come to rely on the ‘system’. We have come to expect that this is the way, the only way our children can learn, therefore be educated, and have a successful life. This system has become so normal and so accepted, that to veer in any other direction is met with disturbing scrutiny. Nevertheless, many brave ones are tempting the path, and heading themselves towards uncharted waters.  We are a part of this movement. Not just because we love Autism too much to conform it out of our children but because we are simply not willing to conform our children to fit a broken system.  We are moving towards empowering our children rather than suppressing them. Moving in a direction of allowing, rather than controlling their minds and bodies.  Trusting that they have the ability to learn what it is they require to know at any given time. Much the same way we trusted that they would recognise us when they were born, or learn to walk and talk without our forced instruction.  Most important, understanding that they are not here to fulfil any requirements of my ideas of what they should be doing with their lives. This is not a new notion. There has been a quiet progressive movement towards this for a really long time. A.S.Neill founded Summerhill School, the first ‘free to learn’ school, in 1921 and the Sudbury Vally School in Massachusetts has been successfully running since 1968. Many more have been successfully modelled on this idea of educating.  The idea of allowing children to be free to be who they are, embrace what they want, and learn in a way that comes naturally and supports their thriving, is not really as radicle as it may seem. There continues to be an unassuming movement towards freeing children from the grips of the industrialised school systems. This unyielding movement is steadily growing and I assume will keep on growing as parents become less and less contented in allowing the detrimental failings that schools are  having on large proportions of children.

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learning from a barefoot movement

‘First they ignore you then they laugh at you then they fight you then you win’ – Mahatma Gandhi

Any proposed new idea that is going to  challenge a way or belief that has been followed and indoctrinated  for so long is going to gain immense resistance. But to keep going along with systems and ideas that we know are no longer working especially when those systems are ones concerning our children, is no longer justifiable. We are in a time that is requiring brave people to come forth with new perspectives, even if the perspectives are seemingly unorthodox, in the beginning. It is no secret that the education systems in western civilisation are having an adverse effect on children. Some of the most revolutionary ideas of how we may move towards a more diverse and nurturing educating way to serve future generations of humanity more effectively, is coming forth now.  Having  had children that patently do not fit the mainstream educational systems without having to clearly identify necessary provisions in order for them to participate, indicates that change is necessary and any system that no longer endorses notions of what we are deeming to be normal and abnormal is much welcomed from where i am standing.

thinking on tippy toes

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This is what i intrinsically believe learning to be for him.  Thinking requires immense bodily  movement. Walking, talking, bare feet and tippy toes.  Thought forms are  spoken out loud with tremendous enthusiasm and with repetition to anyone who is readily available to listen. He will do this until it makes picture perfect sense, to him. And sometimes it is absolutely necessary for him to move to higher spaces, where the air is somewhat clearer. Floor play is the preferred play way where chairs and tables are rarely sat in for extended periods of time and if they are he prefers not to sit down in the traditional sense. He moves to the freedom of how he is feeling and there are no forced days he is required to fit into. He is moving completely at will, and to the flow of himself.    Everything requires  a curious explanation with the discussion beginning first thing in the morning and continuing the entire day. There aren’t really any schedules or rules to follow, except eat when you are hungry, rest when you are tired, bathe when you’ve changed colour and if you can make it yourself, then you should.  This is what free learning for him means and as he embarks on his learning adventure, he won’t be constricted to rooms, spaces, furniture or shoes.  His body will remain as free to move with him as his mind is. He can think out loud, as loud as required without disturbing anyone. He can speak his thoughts as they arise without needing to pause and wait until appropriate discussion periods are allocated. This point is particularly important to note as often his thoughts and ideas that arise during conversation require additional verbalization for it to make sense to him and necessary if you are wanting him to retain the information for further learning at another stage. Often if waiting is required even for short moments, the ideas and the words chosen for the communication are unfortunately, usually lost.  His contribution to his learning is on going, and most importantly moves to his unique flow. He is learning to collaborate with people, not of just the same age and or development but from the many ages he is surrounded by. And like adults he choses who to engage with not by age but by the more natural laws that attract people to each other.    He is fortunate in not  being confined to only the experience of five year old minds. He partakes in the wild and expansive imaginations of his younger and older siblings, in a kind of play based learning that if acknowledged and rightly valued, should continue way past pre school years and will undoubtably continue to serve them all for the entirety of their lives. Materials that are usually phased out during the primary school years will most likely remain in our learning experience. We won’t be out growing our home corner, by the age of 6. Home Economics will grow and expand as he does. He will be able to learn math and operate the washing machine. We will learn about anything and everything that he arises interest in and we will learn it in a way that we have advanced to. There are few rules and no time limits allocated to any one subject. Everything can be interwoven and overlapped and expanded if there is freedom in learning.   I know, there are schools like this that exist. Learning environments that are willing to take the alternative way towards educating our children, one that nurtures individuality and inspires curiosity and most of all  values children’s innate ability to know what it is they are wanting to learn and know about at any given stage. And even though there are a few, it’s not many. And we are needing many. We are requiring this approach of educating to no longer be the alternative approach and  in retrospect only available to a handful of children but rather how unprecedented would it be to integrate this alternative way into the whole. And allow our children to truly lead the way in their learning abilities.

my path of least resistance

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I’ve decided to stay with myself for at least 30 days. Much like inviting an old lost friend over to  spend some necessary time with. I’m getting to know the me that is within the me.  I’m wanting this to be a beginning of the commitment to myself. This is my gift to myself. This is how i will begin the practice of moving with intent, intentionally moving with purpose.  I am keeping myself in the moment, from moment to moment what ever that entails.  I’m asking all the questions that one asks when arriving at this place in their life. And I’m listening whilst deeply awaiting the answers. This is how the clarity is surfacing, things that seemed important, are no longer. The ideas that i have been moving my whole life from are changing, I’m realising that they have never been my ideas.  I’ve been following a way, a human blueprint for’ this is how things are done way’.  And this simply does not fit with me anymore or possibly i am no longer wanting to be a willing participant.  There is a larger picture, a greater more expansive idea of ourselves, if we are brave enough to jump and i’m jumping in. I am moving from within, from the inside out. It will be my creative force that will bring forth my ideas that will define my path now, not a story generated so long ago that it no longer makes sense in the world of today.  Somewhere along the road we stopped listening to ourselves, and we started following, following all those who went before us. We did this in trust, that they knew better and knew where they were going and that it would lead us too, where we believed we needed to be. I’m not so sure that’s how we should be moving now, and I am sure that it’s not those ideas and deep-seated beliefs that I’m going to insist my children learn from and follow. I know that they already know who they are, it is not my job or concern to cloud their views with personal or world fears.  Their stories are that of their own and i trust they know what is best for themselves. My children have the freedom to be. I am not insisting that they part take in the situations to which conformity is enforced upon them if it is not what they are wanting, even in their young ages this can be clear. I’m giving them the space to feel their way rather than filling them up.  They will be free to choose and lead their own ways. They are my greatest teachers. It is in all their innate determination and unwillingness to conform to the old stories and beliefs that keeps me asking the unorthodox questions that need to be asked now more than ever before. It is them who have come forth and bought me to where i am standing now, who are leading me towards higher grounds, and i am willingly letting them lead the way, all the way.