Thursday, August 13, 2015

How to help create a new paradigm of education

How to help create a new paradigm of education

Lecture style teaching and the increasing volume of testing are based on the premise that we can manage and control learning in others. Growing evidence is demonstrating that this method doesn’t work. What really works is to acknowledge that other people, of any age, are autonomous, powerful and intelligent human beings who choose what information that they will accept and what it means to them. If you’ve ever had a conversation with a two-year-old about why a food that they don’t like is good for them and tried to convince them to eat it, you’ll know what I mean. Broccoli chunks on your nose is the most likely result!

The current school environment of standardized testing, and the assembly-line view of the process of creating education for young humans is failing miserably. How arrogant of adults to think that they can force-feed knowledge into another human being and make them retain it through mindless repetition! Human beings have an amazing capacity to use our brains to be creative, inventive, and make meaning of the world around us. We all have an impact on everyone and everything that we touch, but we are ignorant of of that basic fact. Instead, we often fall prey to the deception that we can actually control anything or anyone. When we let go of trying to control others and accept responsibility for our impact, we see that everything we do matters. This leads to taking more careful consideration of our words with other people, and of our actions in relationship to our environment. 

Children are sponges that absorb everything around them. The most effective way of “teaching” them is to simply create an environment around them that allows for and supports their learning. All it takes is genuinely listening to them when they tell you about the inner world of what excites them, and then taking action to help them find the resources that will take them one step closer to achieving their goals. If they’re excited about something, then they’ll learn it effortlessly, and retain everything essential to them. If they’re implementing information, then it will become permanent knowledge. If they choose what they are learning, then they will be inspired and joyful about learning it.  

What if instead of schools with rigid curriculum and standardized testing, we had resource centers with passionate learning facilitators and personalized portfolios? These centers exist currently in various forms, but they are in the minority. What if they were the norm and every child had access to them? Homeschoolers create this for themselves through co-ops, support groups, and community involvement. This is wonderful for them, but so many children are still in the standard system and aren’t given this environment. What if this kind of environment were available to every child? What if every school and every parent were committed to this vision for all children? What kind of world could we all live in, and what kind of future could these children create? 

While this may sound idealistic and pie-in-the-sky, we all can have an impact in transforming the
world into this vision by taking a stand for this in our own homes and communities. It’s so simple. You can choose to be loving and supportive of the unique individuality of the children (and adults!) that surround you. You can choose to be courageous by raising your voice in your community in support of this learning environment. You can choose to take ownership of your impact in the world. You do have a powerful impact in the world; what will you choose for it to be? This future is possible. Will you take a stand for it?

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