I’ll premise my upcoming statements on the fact that I’ve successfully maneuvered through 8 years of primary school, 4 years of high school, 5 years of undergraduate work (two degrees), 2 years of graduate school, and over 70 additional credits of college classes required to maintain my Colorado Teaching License. I’ve taught in traditional and non-traditional education settings for over 30 years. I currently run my own nature and place-based education program.
I’m going to make some statements below, which will be relatable for some and un-relatable to others.
Consider this my TED-talk.
1. School districts all over the country are grappling with HOW TO EDUCATE CHILDREN when the upcoming school year begins.
Nugget #1: LEARNING HAPPENS EVERYWHERE.
Nugget #2. LEARNING HAPPENS ALL THE TIME.
Nugget #3: ALL OF US ARE BORN WITH INTELLIGENCE.
Nugget #4: IGNORANCE IS A CHOICE – it’s the only “unlearning” that really happens.
2. I often describe my philosophy of a great learning environment to colleagues, families, friends and siblings (4 of whom are parents, and 1 who isn’t). Not once has anyone disagreed with me.
Here it goes:
A child is sitting on a 3-legged stool. One leg represents home. One leg represents “school”. One leg represents community. Without stability and cooperation among all three legs, the child falls.
3. I read a lot of non-fiction, related to science, education and human development. I also read a lot of fiction, related to adventure and fantasy. Currently, I’m reading a book my sister Mercy Burton Russell gifted me back in May, titled “Christina: Twins Born as Light”. It’s non-fiction. I’m relating A LOT to what the author Bernadette is sharing in chapter “10: Critical analysis of our times”. This chapter made it so clear to me why Mercy was so eager to gift me this book.
Along with everything else Bernadette writes in this chapter, these sentences stand out AS BRIGHT AS LIGHT for me: “The conditioning and standardisation of the next generation begins, at the latest, when these children start school. Instead of following their inner intelligence (the natural “highware” [as opposed to hardware], as it were), children and young people unconsciously learn to adapt to an ARTIFICIAL EGO and a PROGRAM DETERMINED BY OTHERS.”
Here’s good news:
YOUR CHILDREN WILL BE OKAY.
LEARNING HAPPENS EVERYWHERE.
LEARNING HAPPENS ALL THE TIME.
Don’t let anyone fool you that your child will be LESS without an institutionalized education. Your child will, and always will be, MORE because they have you and their community.
What they currently may not have is a school that offers what I know is what they need, and what Bernadette wrote so precisely.
SCHOOLS MUST BE PLACES WHERE CHILDREN:
1. Recognize and use their abilities and gifts.
2. Become self-responsible and self-determined individuals.
3. Are full of an unencumbered joy for life, spontaneous, curious and enthusiastic.
4. Are in harmony of body, mind and soul.
5. Find appropriate loving care.
6. Learn by doing.
INSIST ON THIS! This is your time, parents!
EXPERIENCE IS THE SOURCE OF KNOWLEDGE. ALL ELSE IS JUST INFORMATION.
Love it Mary! Wonderful! Too bad I didn’t have you as a teacher growing up, and a different mother then, or I wouldn’t have felt so “stupid”, hadn’t been told “you’re a slow learner”, or, “why aren’t you as smart as your older teacher?”
Forwarding this tomorrow!
“We do not live an equal life, but one of contrasts and patchwork; now a little joy, then sorrow, now sin, then a generous or brave action” – Ralph Waldo Emerson