In our new education, as we give our children (and hopefully our adults, too) daily opportunities for self-selected meaningful learning activities in specially prepared environments comprised of people, tools, nature and ideas, we will begin to see a new kind of child.
This new child will have certain observable attributes that will allow parents and adults to determine that normal and natural internal development is occurring.
- We should discover a child who loves to be engaged in meaningful activities and energetically seeks learning projects.
- We will observe a child who has strong focus and concentration on these self-initiated tasks.
- We will see a child who has internal discipline and is able to self-regulate behavior.
- We will find a child who shows a social ability seen in joyful work, mutual aid and cooperation within his community of home, school, church and friends.
When we observe a child who has been given these necessary aids for learning and self-discovery, we will begin to see the budding and unfolding of a person who desires to be of service to others–to those people in his or her immediate community, to those whose basic needs of food, clothing and shelter are not met and to those people who will come after us.
The new child following this route of natural human development will perceive need and will work to respond with ability.
The four-year-old pours water at the dinner table for his family and friends. The six-year-old waters the garden to grow food. The eight-year-old practices and teaches water conservation. The ten-year-old researches about finding water and distributing it, then sets about to raise funds to drill a well in West Africa. From the simple-seeing that your family member’s water glass needs refilling, to discovering that villages in Africa need clean water sources, the new child will respond to these challenges with problem-solving skills and action.
Nourishing, protecting and strengthening the human personality in a specially prepared learning environment of people, tools, ideas and nature create a person who has “an eye that sees, a soul that feels, and a hand that obeys.”
The new child in the new education responds to the exponential change in our world with exponential creativity when given the gift of deep time for self-directed meaningful tasks. This new child uses his learning and self-discovery to be of service, not only to himself, but to all.
Our new education gives quality versus quantity. It is not fast-food learning. It is a feast, a banquet, a celebration of life. Our new education develops deep learning and relationships that last a lifetime and are rich in context and content. The work becomes the test of mastery. Children learn how to succeed and thus bypass the need to “cheat” to pass the test in order to survive their schooling and graduate to the next level. Collaboration replaces competition.
Our new education assures success by maintaining daily progress towards mastery. We are continually asking, “Am I better today than yesterday? Are my actions making me into a bigger, better person?” In this way the child avoids seeking refuge from the pain of inadequacy. A downward spiral of academic failure is avoided when the whole child is nourished, protected and strengthened.
In our new education the child discovers heroes in his day-to-day relationships. Parents, teachers, fellow students, grandparents and neighbors become the real-life heroes to model a life of self-discipline, vision, passion and conscience.
By developing a routine of being involved with self-directed purposeful tasks our children avoid the danger of wandering directionless though life, seeking refuge in addictive behaviors.
In our new education, one size doesn’t have to fit all, as our design is flexible because it is based on, and responds to, individual learning needs, desires and dreams. Needs and desires are met within the abilities, expectations and imaginations of the child’s community and culture. Dreams are not deferred, denied or destroyed.
In our new education adults who work with children understand how learning takes place and create optimum learning conditions. Children avoid becoming unintentionally institutionalized, as the boundaries between school and real life merge as children engage in self-initiated tasks with the people, tools, nature and ideas–their community and culture–surrounding them.
The child passionately engaged in the real life work of learning and self-discovery will seek to serve humanity and be a help to all life on our Earth.
This article is part of a series on creating a fresh approach to education.
Next: Win-Win Education