There seems to be a lot of talk these days about how our current American school system really isn’t working the best it can. People say imagination and creativity and play are not really explored much, but testing and focus on whatever is put in front of you is stressed instead. And while there are individual teachers and individual schools really making an effort to shift schools into a new era, I think we need more. More thought, more change, more innovation.
First of all, I should say that I am not an educator in the classic sense. I did not go to school to become a teacher, but I became one none-the-less. I am now a teacher because I decided to pull my children from public school and educate them myself. I did this because I could see how the school they attended, though it had wonderful teachers and staff with good intentions, wasn’t a really good fit for my kids. You can read more about that in my blog post here: Why I Decided To Homeschool.
Out of Alignment
If you’ve ever listened to Abraham-Hicks, you know that when you aren’t in alignment with who you really are and the things you really want, it doesn’t feel good. It can also manifest in interesting ways. My children show they are out of alignment with their true selves when I see signs of Sensory Processing Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Attention Deficit Disorder.This only happens when they are deprived of the things they were born to do for long periods.
Imagine a kid who was born to inspire others and create genius ideas that others can put into action to make incredible things happen for the world. A kid whose art and sculpture is also inspiring, and whose philosophical ideas about the future are way beyond something that a 10 year old should understand.
Now imagine you sit him in a chair for 8 hours a day, tell him not to talk or share his ideas, and make him write a paper about a subject he doesn’t care at all about. Also, tell him not to draw any pictures in the margins, and force him to continue trying to write while all of his friends go out to play. It doesn’t really work.
That’s what public school was for my oldest son. He has been diagnosed with A.D.D. and that is his incredible gift. With A.D.D. he can hyper-focus on what he is truly interested in and can fly through all of the information he can find on that topic so that he becomes an expert quickly. He is a future Richard Branson. He will do great things as long as he is allowed to live in alignment with his true self.
Change For Schools
Because our public school system is still geared toward teaching a certain number of topics by a certain age, kids like mine don’t thrive there. They can make good grades, but they are miserable and quickly tire of trying to conform to what someone else wants. So we need a new way of “teaching”, and I don’t think it includes making all kids learn all subjects. I think we need to let each kid explore the topics and types of learning they want.
As well as the arts, my oldest is interested in circuits, and mechanics and powering things. He does not want to do this in the real world yet, so he uses “red stone” in the virtual world of Minecraft. He does not want to sit down and do math problems. When he needs to learn a certain type of math to help with something he is interested in, he will either go learn it because he’s now motivated and wants to know, or he will find someone who understands that part and they will collaborate.
My youngest son loves math. He doesn’t want anyone to tell him how to do it – it is inherent in his nature. It’s inside his head. He has a comprehension of how the numbers go together and come apart. He also loves animals and has an interest in sea creatures past and present. Although reading is not his favorite, a book or article about wales, for example, will have him fully engrossed.
My daughter loves reading and loves to write. She also loves to care for others – especially if they are lonely or sad. She can do math and anything else just fine, and will do it all pleasantly, but it’s not where her joy lies. She has been telling me her “gift” since she was four years old: it is helping others.
All three of these kids came from my home and my mini culture. Yet they all are interested in different things and have different talents. So why should we stick them in a room full of children the exact same age and force them all to learn things they have no interest in when clearly, everyone will fill a niche that is needed for the world to work perfectly?
What’s The Big Idea?
Grassroots movements are popping up all over the world with ideas for new types of schools and new ways for kids to express themselves. My thought is that when kids know what they want to learn, put them in groups based on interest, not age.
So there it is. Interest based learning, not age based stuff-them-with-as-much-as-they-can-stand learning, not grade them and test them every day. More hands on, more play, more exploration, more self-driven types of learning. There are some schools popping up all over the world with all sorts of different approaches (see links below), trying new things to see if they work better than what we have. I applaud that.
Let’s see what we can build so our kids, and our world, can thrive.
Germany’s Forest Schools: https://www.facebook.com/ajplusenglish/videos/746667968808046/
No grades Berlin School: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/01/no-grades-no-timetable-berlin-school-turns-teaching-upside-down
Alt School: https://www.facebook.com/freethinkmedia/videos/1271176209608411/
Explained through music: https://www.facebook.com/PrinceEa/videos/10154697140809769/
Sustainability Learning: https://www.facebook.com/ajplusenglish/videos/777275869080589/