How Sudbury Schools Challenges Traditional Perspectives on Children and Childhood. 114

How Sudbury Schools Challenges Traditional Perspectives on Children and Childhood. 114

“If you observe children learning in their first few years of life, you can see that they can and do learn on their own – we leave them alone to crawl, walk, talk, and gain control over their bodies. It happens without much help from parents. You can’t make someone learn something – you really can’t teach someone something – they have to want to learn it. And if they want to learn, they will.” – Daniel Greenberg, Co-founder of the Sudbury Valley school

A couple of weeks ago I visited the first Sudbury school in Denmark together with a group of fellow educational activists and school developers from Sweden.

The Danish Sudbury School is modeled and named after the original school situated in Sudbury Valley in Massachusetts in the United States.

The Sudbury School is one of the only schools in the world that bases its activities on self-directed learning and unschooling principles, giving children the freedom (and responsibility) to explore their interests uninhibited.

At a Sudbury school there are no classes, no grades and no age segregation. Children from the ages of 4-18 are welcomed into the school without specific enrollment requirements (besides the willingness to embrace the school’s principles).

The basic principle of the Sudbury school is that children are equipped with a natural learning ability that does not require adult control or interference, so at Sudbury schools children are encouraged to follow their own interests and passions in whatever way they wish, be that fishing for months on end or playing computer games for hours and hours.

For people who are used to traditional forms of schooling, Sudbury schooling might sound extreme, radical and even dangerous. “How are children going to learn without adults teaching them?” “How are they going to prepare to step into society without formal education?” “How do they learn to read and write?” “Aren’t the kids just sitting around wasting their day doing nothing when they have this kind of total freedom?”

We have become so conditioned (through our own schooling) to take traditional formal schooling for granted that we cannot even fathom that it is possible to learn without adult interference and control. We assume that traditional forms of schooling are optimally designed to teach us everything we need to know and that its structures of control are created for our protection and safety.

In traditional schooling forms children are viewed as being naturally resisting towards learning and even as savage and malignant in nature and this is why so many structures of control and force are used to keep the child contained and confined.

But what if it is in fact the other way around? That all the structures of control and force embedded in traditional school is what is causing children to become defiant, apathetic and resisting towards learning?

At Sudbury schools a great amount of trust is placed on the child’s ability to direct its own learning. Children are seen as competent and equal members of society who has just as much to contribute with as any adult. Children are given the space and time to find out what interests them and the support of adults and the learning environment to pursue those interests.

In his book Free at last, Daniel Greenberg, one of the founders and chief philosophers of the Sudbury Valley School writes that children at Sudbury schools often learn vast amounts of materials in short periods of time. Greenberg shares an example about a group of 9-12 year old children who wanted to learn math and who, because they were dedicated and self-directed in their aim to learn, with the help of a math teacher, learned the entire 6th through 12th grade curriculum of math in 20 weeks.

What is difficult is not to learn the material in itself but how traditional schools tries to pound it into the heads of children who hates every step of it. The only way to do that is through consistently repeat the material over and over for years on end, and even then there is no guarantee that the child will remember what it was taught. A child who wants to learn however, who has initiated the learning process on their own, can learn something within a matter of days or weeks.

We need to reassess the way we look at education, because at the moment we are holding, not only individual children back from developing their full potential, but in fact entire generations of children and as a result: humanity as a whole.

This is directly reflected in the current state of the world which, as should be obvious to all of us know, is in a state of uproar and disintegration.

Sudbury schools are a powerful example of children’s ability to learn without adult interference and how what comes out on the other end of that education is not a lazy, apathetic, illiterate human being, which is ironically most often a product of traditional schooling.

Adults do not want children to be free, because they fear children, but it is not so much that they fear the children but in fact that they fear themselves. This is what traditional schools teach us: to fear our natural expression, to see it as too wild, too unruly to be left unrestrained. Since childhood we’ve come to associate moments of natural expression with being scolded, simply because most traditional schools (and most families as well) aren’t designed to harness or embrace that natural expression within us – and so we never realize how that wildness, given the right environment could allow us to bloom into our utmost unique potential. If we should learn anything from the Sudbury experiment, it is that. If there’s anything we should model our societies after, it is that.

Stifling THAT child, Stifling the Whole World. 113

Stifling THAT child, Stifling the Whole World. 113

As teachers, parents and adults in general we have become accustomed to categorizing the people we meet into neat little boxes of judgment and preconceived prejudice based on first hand impressions dictated by our biased minds.

Sounds brutal, unfair?

Well it is, especially for the children, who too fall victim to these snap judgments made by adults, adults who are supposed to be their guardians and champions and role models. We sit and wonder how terrorists or school shooters are created and we can come up with all sorts of psychological analysis of boys growing up with too little men in their life or too much heavy metal or religion, but we never consider that the very notion of adulthood relative to childhood is a culprit of such issues.

We have become so accustomed to taking adulthood for granted as a position of seniority that we cannot even conceive of it being possible to question it, let alone its reason for existing in the first place.

A teacher or social worker sees a student. Let’s say he is black or Mexican or from the Middle East. Or maybe she has a big nose or is slightly overweight or has fiery red hair. Instantaneously snap judgments are made based on preconceived bias about certain groups of people. Maybe they are based in fear.

Maybe the teacher or social worker, or even the parent had some traumatic experience as a small child that they can’t even remember that causes them to react with revulsion towards a certain feature or based on something they saw on TV. Sometimes it is obvious and directly spawning from villains created by the media, other times it is more personal and intricate.

Whatever the case may be, the fact of the matter is that we as adults, even in professional ‘care-taker’ capacities, ostracize and stigmatize children through subtle judgments and assumptions about their character, inherent features or level of intelligence.

It is through holding such judgments, bias and assumptions that we hold children back from being all that they can be, when we say: “Oh no, he can’t do that, he’s not smart enough.” Or “I wouldn’t let him do that, they have a tendency to steal, they can’t be trusted.”

The following is a perfect example of how we as adults stifle children’s potential through categorizing and stigmatizing them, even into such normative categories as ‘toddlers’ or ‘teenagers’ or even as broad as ‘children’.

Many years ago I was working in a preschool. I was young and new to the education field. I was assigned to a classroom with 3-4 year olds and was sitting with a young girl, who happened to be stigmatized by the adults as ‘slow’. She was, as they say in psychiatry “double diagnosed” which meant that she in the eye of the adults had not only one, but two stigmas going against her: she was young and she was apparently slow.

Fortunately I wasn’t aware of the stigmas that we as preschool teachers were supposed to envelop the children in, so I gladly went ahead with a project with this little girl based on a book I had found with templates where you could cut and paste stuff to make little figurines out of cardboard.

We worked on the project together and the little girl created the template and the figurine as listed in the book. Shortly thereafter one of the older teachers came in. She took the book that I had used for inspiration and looked at the template we were working on.

She said: “THEY can’t do that, they are WAY too young for that! This is a book for 5 YEARS OLD AND UP! They simply don’t have the capabilities to do something like this, it is WAY too difficult.”

“Oh?” I said. “She just did it, see?”

I had no idea that the child wasn’t supposed to be able to do something that some child development psychologist or motor skill specialist had decided she couldn’t do.

Now, imagine how many times a child is exposed to this type of biased and judgmental behavior from adults in their life – and how easily it comes to affect their own view of themselves and what they are and aren’t capable of?

We literally have billions of people who walk around completely stifled because they haven’t been given the opportunity to actually discover what they are really capable of.

And not only this, but through the constant and continuous bias and judgments that we as adults impose on children, especially in the school and social care system, children from certain ethnic groups are stigmatized to such a degree that self-fulfilling prophecies are sealed on a daily basis, resulting in people becoming dropouts, school shooters and common criminals.

Consider this: each human being has a universe inside of them, a completely unique blueprint, a seed if you will, with all kinds of different skills and potentials and aspects. Very few people are as one-dimensional as we make them out to be when we make our first-hand impression.

But we won’t get access into that universe, unless we actively open ourselves up to it, because our bias have become our default approach to other people. So we actively have to start looking at what is beyond our initial judgments when we meet another person, or when we see a child behaving in a certain way. Maybe their behavior is contextual; maybe it is caused by fear. Maybe we are as adults perpetuating it by treating the child based on our bias and thereby we are in fact responsible for their behavior – and for it not changing.

Children are nothing, if not bundles of unleashed potential. They are not stupid or ill equipped or maniacal. As adults we can support the making of them as the potential of who they can become, or we can break them with our bias and our judgments, and they will grow up to become exactly who we expect them to be and we can say: “I told you so, he was up to no good”.

Every single human being has a unique potential that, when they live and express that, become the best that they can be – not only for themselves but also in service of the world as a whole, a unique way that they can contribute with to the world.

By stifling that (whether directly or indirectly), we are holding each other and ourselves in a permanent gridlock where nothing can change.

We say we want change, but if we really are serious about it, it is vital that we dare to question our own bias and presumptions and be open towards the fact that the world might not be what we think it is, and that we therefore must act differently in it, to bring about change. After all, we too have the potential to be and become so, much more than who and what we believe ourselves to be today.

If you are interested in reading more about discrimination towards children, I recommend my previous blog-post where I discussed childism and education at the precipe of change. My friend over at Toca Boca, Jens Peder de Pedro also wrote an excellent article on children being people too that I recommend reading. I invite you to connect with me on Facebook and Instagram where I regularly share my insights and perspectives in real time. I also recommend investigating the Living Income Guaranteed Proposal which is a progressive proposal for world change that I stand behind 100 %.

Education at The Precipice of Change. 112

Education at The Precipice of Change. 112

“We stand upon the precipice of change. The world fears the inevitable plummet into the abyss. Watch for that moment…and when it comes, do not hesitate to leap.“ – Flemeth, Dragon Age

Throughout the course of human history there have been certain periods in which the advancement of new technologies took quantum leaps. This is no more true than in the times we live in right now, where the very foundation upon which our societies are built are changing in rapid speed, especially through the introduction of a digital and global civilization.

Not only are we living in an era where more quantum leaps than ever are taken in the areas of human development on all possible levels; we are also living in a time where the traditional boundaries between children and adults are disintegrating before our very eyes.

I am sure that all parents, however old, can recognize themselves in the scenario where their 2-year-old or 5-year-old or 17-year-old navigates digital devises with a natural ease that they themselves can only dream of, and that because their child is able to navigate these devises as were it a native speaker of their language, feel like a foreigner in a foreign country.

Our adult-child relations are based on the foundation that adults pr. Definition knows more about the world than the child and therefore has the responsibility, but also the prerogative to educate and administer the child, based on the assumption that because the adult knows more about the world, they also knows what is best for the child and therefore assumes an automated role of authority and superiority with the child as their minion to mold as they see fit.

Through the rapid advancements, especially in the development of digital technologies, a transition of the role of being knowledge-bearing is shifting from adults to children, with the children being the ones who knows the most about how to best navigate the virtual world through digital devises as well as the devises themselves.

There have been other eras in the course of human history where the younger generations came up with, or embrace new inventions in ways that rattled the older generations, but it has never happened in the profound way that it is happening right now, where the new inventions are affecting all areas of human life from social relationships to banking and education.

This means that the generations growing up right now are faced with the challenge of having to teach themselves since adults are in many cases far behind them when it comes to understanding virtual and digital worlds, although most adults still cling onto the illusion that they are (or at least should be) capable of teaching children these tools from a stance of authority.

As an adult who works with supporting children to become self-empowered and self-directive, I can tell you that nothing could be further from the truth, and the more we as adults try to reign in children and prevent the integration between digital and physical societies, the more they are simply going to do it without us, because it is a process that cannot – and should not – be stopped.

What would be much more beneficial is for us as adults to be humble towards the transformation happening, and rather than trying to position ourselves as captains of a ship that we know nothing about steering, stand as pillars of support for the coming generations and together embark on a journey of discovery and immerse ourselves in this brave new world.

It ought to be clear now, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we have come to the end of rope of our current way of conducting education in this world. There are absolutely no reason why children should not be able to direct their own educational processes aligned to their individual needs and interests – in fact, many results show that this type of education is the most beneficial for individual learning which in turn is most beneficial for society as a whole because the individual is able to develop so much more of their unique potential.

The current education system is archaic at best – and at worst it is clung onto and safeguarded by adults who fear losing their position of power despite knowing how redundant the system in fact is, because it would mean admitting that we as adults are redundant – like a species that did not adequately adapt to the demands of an evolving environment and therefore dies out and vanishes as new life forms takes its place.

We therefore have a choice: we can either embrace the imminent changes and support the coming generations to dismantle the current education system or we can cling onto an archaic system just because we are afraid of letting go of control and thereby make an inevitable process more difficult for everyone involved.

By immersing ourselves in the opportunity that lay before us, to deconstruct and redefine, not only the education systems, but the entire foundation upon which we live on this planet, we too will change, transform and evolve – so rather than trying to hold onto an illusion of importance and authority when it is evident that this belongs to a past long gone, we can make new meaning of ourselves, redefine what it means to be an adult – and create the life for ourselves that we’ve always wanted, but that we never even dared to dream of… until now.

There is a new wave of education underway. You can either let it wash over you and be crushed, or you can learn how to ride it. One thing is certain: it cannot be stopped.

Why are We Here and What are We Here to Learn? 111

Why are We Here and What are We Here to Learn? 111

Education can be defined and reflected upon through many layers or dimensions, some of which are more pure and practical, where others are constructed for the purposes of promoting particular discourses in society.

The most superficial dimension, the one we take for granted in our daily lives, is for instance the belief that all children need to go to school from the ages of six to sixteen, that they should read textbooks to learn about the world and that they should be taught by a teacher. In some cultures education happens when the child is integrated into the daily work of the adults and through a process of apprenticeship learn how to navigate and handle the reality they are a part of. There is no school, and yet – the child is educated.

As such, how we see education is very much dependent on the discourses that we have been brought up with and have come to take for granted.

Looking deeper into the layers of the word education, in a primordial sense, at least in the context of human experience, education is a process of learning from past generations to find the most effective ways to survive. As social animals, we do that through our societies and through our relationships with other human beings, but what if it is possible to look even further?

What does education mean in an existential context?

Why are we here and what are we here to learn?

Some would claim that we are here by the grace of divine intervention, to learn about what it means to be human or to go through a process of karmic evolving, eventually resulting in a form of ‘graduation’ that they call enlightenment. Others believe we are here due to the sins of our ancestors and that our purpose is to earn the forgiveness of God to be accepted back into his graces.

Education is thus on a an existential level, intrinsically intertwined with the question of why we are here and what the meaning of life is, as much as it is grounded in a practical reality question of how to survive in the most effective way.

It is an interesting conundrum because as soon as we ask the questions “Why are we here?” and “What are we here to learn?” we are implicitly implying that we exist in a predetermined existence with an intentional beginning, middle and ending, as were we nothing but the mere fictional characters in a story sprung from an author’s imagination.

But what if there is no such preordained purpose with our lives? Or what is there is, but it is steering us towards the path of destruction? Wouldn’t we want to reexamine that which we call education and to what purpose we engage ourselves within it?

Instead of looking for a preordained and finite answer through which we define ourselves as but the instruments of an abstract divine will, we can change the way we approach these questions. Instead of looking for an answer that is already decided upon, we can decide to answer these questions for ourselves.

In investigating the answers one would give to these questions, one can then also investigate the potential consequential outflows that follow. If you for example decide that we are here to have fun and experience as much as possible, then the point of education becomes a process of learning how to do just that. But what would the world look like if all we focused on were having fun? How long would we be able to sustain ourselves on the planet?

As such, the logical way to answer these questions for oneself would be to look for the most optimal and sustainable long-term approach. If we were to decide that we are here ‘to live’ for example, we would want to make sure that we could actually do that, by taking care of our habitat, because otherwise we would be antagonizing our very own purpose for existing, which would be rather pointless.

If we are interested in the process of creating an optimized, fertile and expansive life for ourselves on this planet where we thrive on an individual level as well as through the global ecosystems that sustain us, we ought to investigate the predetermined and implicit answers to the questions of why we are here and what we are here to learn because whatever the answers to these questions are, is what we are already living.

It could look something like this: “We are here to destroy life.” Or “We are here to consume all resources until there is nothing left.” Or “We are here to compete with each other with the goal of one of us being king over existence and become immortal and untouchable and have control over all life.” It is quite absurd when you look at it this way, but isn’t this what we are already living?

The question of what we are here to learn thus cannot be answered without also answering the question of why we are here and as such, educational process, even in the most surface layers of dimensions will always be connected to this question and the way we answer it, whether implicitly or with intent.

Education is therefore something that ought to be revised and questioned and evaluated on a continuous basis – and not as it is now, taken for granted and locked into static and archaic models, models that does not in any way support life to thrive.

In answering the question of why we are here, with awareness and responsibility, through making a decision based on common sense, the process of education can be clearly determined. In not answering the question of why we are, ghosts of the past will continue to haunt our existence and will possess our every move, as were we nothing but marionette dolls on imaginary strings held up by the figment of our own imagination.

We can make the decision – through directive deliberation and consideration – to decide that we are here, firstly and foremost to stop the destruction of the planet and our habit and to stop the unnecessary suffering of billions of life forms, and secondly, to create a co-existence on the planet that supports all individual life forms to thrive in the most optimal way for all to thrive.

This in fact, ought to be the most fundamental and commonsense form of education, because without it we will always be doing nothing but putting out fires only to reignite them, to do damage control and create makeshift solutions that doesn’t ever really get us anywhere.

We ought to have a common living principle of saying that: first we make sure that our habitat is optimal and that all life forms are supported to thrive and only when this is ensured can we begin to explore what other reasons we will decide to give ourselves for existing. Only then can we begin to explore what it really means to be alive. Isn’t that why we are here? To discover the real meaning of Life?

The Miseducation of Your Humanity. 110

The Miseducation of Your Humanity. 110

Education is a process that each new generation goes through, to learn about the ways of the world so as to effectively integrate into society. We educate our young so that we may not have to reinvent the wheel over and over with every new generation – and it is because of education that we have been able to progress from the horse carriage wheel to the motorized wheel and who knows, maybe someday soon we will implement the hovercraft in its place.

I will argue that education is the most important process for the continuous development of our societies, not only in terms of building on past experiences but also in terms of learning from mistakes made in the past.

Throughout the course of human history we have learned a great deal. We have categorized and sorted the resources of our planet so efficiently that we have turned the planet itself into gigantic organized industrialized machinery that enables us to produce massive amounts of food, fuel and other goods at record speed, all year round.

We used to look upon ourselves as the result of a continuous process of upward progression as we marveled at our own inventions. We still do to some extent, as new technologies are manufactured that seems to break the barriers between the magical and the laws of physics.

There is something else happening as well. We are starting to envision the karmic downfall of our rapid climb through evolution. As our intelligence has evolved, so has our ability to destruct. As our knowledge about the world has expanded, so has the cruelty of our methods of extracting resources from the earth. We are starting to realize that we might not be as smart as we thought, as our eagerness to progress also have brought with it the mass-extinction of entire animal species and seemingly never-ending wars. This too, is a result of education.

“Think of the things killing us as a nation: narcotic drugs, brainless competition, dishonesty, greed, recreational sex, the pornography of violence, gambling, alcohol, and — the worst pornography of all — lives devoted to buying things, accumulation as a philosophy. All of these are addictions of dependent personalities. That is what our brand of schooling must inevitably produce. A large fraction of our total economy has grown up around providing service and counseling to inadequate people, and inadequate people are the main product of government compulsion schools. – John Taylor Gatto

Every animal goes through a process of education, from the baby chicken that carefully listens after its mother’s chuckles indicating which plants are to be eaten and which are not, to the walrus that gently teaches its calf how to pull its weight out of the water or the Nile crocodile that carries its offspring in a small pouch inside the mouth to a water hole where it teaches them to hunt.

The difference between animal and human education is that animals educate their young ones to survive. Evolution is something that develops over time as the need to survive changes and forces a species to adapt. As such, it can be argued that animals aren’t as ambitious or forward thinking as human beings, which would obviously also explain why we are at the top of the food change with no natural enemies… except for ourselves.

I will argue, that with the state the world is in, we are not educating our young to survive. How can we claim to do that with one hand, while the other hand is busy destroying the planet?

If education is where common sense starts, where we learn how to take care of our environment, how to effectively integrate in society, we ought to STOP all education right now and ask ourselves what in the hell we’ve been doing in our school systems to create the situation we are in right now. Because it could not have happened without education. As such, something or someone must’ve educated us to treat the planet so poorly, or rather – something or someone have NOT educated us to actually REALLY care.

It is difficult to say how far back our miseducation goes. Maybe it all went wrong with the onset of industrialization, maybe it was public schooling that did the trick or the ancient Greeks or maybe it goes all the way back to the beginning of human civilization. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that what we are doing right now is not working.

We cannot have a constant continuous progression without also taking time to do maintenance on our ‘machinery’, take time to stabilize and nurture the resources we rely on; such is the law of physics of living on a planet dependent on its Eco-systems to thrive. Instead we live in an abstract place in our minds where time and space is suspended, and we arrogantly think that we can manifest our fantasies and desires into reality without considering the consequences we impose on reality because of it.

As such, we have to look at what parts of our education of our young (that we’ve too learned from those who came before us) are causing us to be destructive rather than protective of our environment – and accordingly realign our education to prevent further damage and find solutions to the immanent matters at hand.

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler

There are so many educational theories, so many pedagogical and didactic philosophies and strategies for how to best educate children to become productive members of society. We want them to be educated as fast as possible, to a small a cost as possible and yet we very seldom ask ourselves WHY we are educating our children the way we do; we simply take the current models of education (or schooling rather) for granted as THE way, while in no way looking at the kind of society that it produces and how that society in turn functions as a part of the eco-system of the planet.

With the intellect and ambition we as human beings have, we ought to be the proud guardians of this planet, not its clumsy and ignorant destroyers.

We ought to honor the responsibility we have of actually being able to actively educate ourselves, not just to survive, but to progress and evolve beyond our instinctual programming.

Come on humanity; show us what you’ve got! Live up to your self-proclaimed ability to evolve beyond bestiality and rise to the occasion of proving yourself worthy as life.

Because we have been miseducated by the generations that came before us, we have a responsibility to firstly deschool ourselves and unlearn, that which makes us destructive as a species. But while we are busy doing that, we also have a responsibility to simultaneously re-educate ourselves and develop forms of education that will enable us to protect and nourish the planet and all life around us and in time, develop sustainable methods of evolution that works to the benefit of all life. That is real progress. That is real education.

Join me Monday where I will be on the panel on For The Love of Learning – Voices of the Alternative Education Movement together with Brandon Hay and Zak Slavback, hosted by Lainie Liberti. It will be one heck of a show where we will discuss life-long learning, digital learning in the 21. Century and how we as individuals can we make conscious choices to continue to grow, evolve and meet the needs of a changing world as a life long pursuit.
The show airs at 8 pm EST on Monday and for European night owls we go live at 1 am BST.

 

Momentary Reflections on Education

Momentary Reflections on Education

I regularly publish momentary reflections to my Facebook wall; reflections that emerge in moments of inspiration and often in passing while visiting a school or during late night philosophizing. I will start sharing them here so as to gather a body of reflections aimed at sparking discussion and inspiration when it comes to education.

Here are a few of my reflections from 2015:

We each have our own Superpower

“I am certain that all plants have their own unique ‘medicinal’ or ‘extraordinary’ qualities. For some plants this quality is located in the root, for others it is in the flower or in the seed. With some plants you can only extract this ‘extraordinary’ quality by cooking the plant, whereas others must be ingested raw. Some only work on animals, others only on other plants. Some work best when they remain in the ground. That is where they best express their unique quality. It is the same with human beings. We all have an ‘extraordinary’ unique quality, our own ‘superpower’ if you will, but this can only be discovered and ‘extracted’ in the right environment where it is nurtured and supported to grow and develop. This is why education must be individualized and suited to each person’s unique talents and skills. Some learn faster, others slow. Some prefer physical work, others are great with numbers. With a one-size-fits-all school system, we miss out on these ‘superpowers’ and we prevent the world from becoming what it can become; a place that is best for all. We call it ‘equality’ but it is not. It is the idea that everyone should be the same. But we are not. Real equality is to see and nurture each person’s individual expression as equally valuable.”

Working with Passion

“If you are able to make your passion your source of income, go for it. If there’s a possibility of turning it into a source of income in the future, go for it. If you can’t, do it whenever you have time. However – there is also something to be said about the fact that most of us do work that does not allow our full potential, our passion to come into fruition. So let’s also contribute, in whatever way we can, each at our best, to changing the system so that we may create a world where work and income is not tied together – where work is about sharing, contributing, expressing your passion and your potential. This is why I support a Living Income Guaranteed by Equal Life Foundation”

School as a ‘House of Horrors’

“Japan has suicide rates 60 % higher than other countries and among these numbers, many are students. When our school systems are so mentally and physically straining due to the pressure and brutality it consists of, that young people would rather kill themselves than continue on studying – isn’t it about time we ask ourselves what the purpose with schooling really is? Is it such a daunting idea to consider that maybe, just maybe there is another way to educate our young, to not send them through the same ‘house of horrors’ that we’ve been through during our schooling years? Isn’t it possible that maybe they will turn out different from us – more adept at handling a world in peril? Are we really so scared of admitting that what the school system has taught us wasn’t all that fantastic and didn’t turn us into all that we could be?”

When a Phoenix Rises from the Ashes

“There is nothing I enjoy more than working with someone who is struggling and perhaps feeling a lack of confidence and wanting to give up, who then rises like a phoenix from the ashes and pulls through, bursting through the walls of limitation that they’ve set up for themselves, out on the other side, laughing as they surprise themselves in realizing that they were capable of doing so much more than they thought they were capable of.”

Harnessing Your Unique Potential

“There are so many people in this world that knows how to do something really well, either naturally or through practice; things that they can do for hours on end, that they enjoy perfecting simply because they enjoy the process of creating something and seeing it manifest, things that others rarely see or even know about. Often these things are looked down upon by others or by society at large; the farmer that has perfected his skills of making butter, a grandmother that knits, a young man that plays computer games as though he was conducting a symphony. What all of these people share is passion; the passion to create, to contribute, to share. If all of us got to contribute to this world with that we are most passionate about, if we supported one another in developing these passions and valued each other, imagine what an amazing world we could create; a world full of wonder, a world with perfectly crafted tools and ornaments, crafted from passion. That is a world I would like to live in. What is your passion? What passions have you considered to be ‘too small’, ‘too meaningless’ for others to value? What can you do to grow and develop it?”

It is not about ‘getting it right’

“The most supportive adults to a child are those who listen and embrace the child unconditionally. These are adults who facilitate a dynamic space for mutual learning rather than enforcing a static one. That is where learning can happen exponentially, because the focus is on learning itself, not on ‘getting it right’ or ‘NOT getting it wrong.’ The same can be said when it comes to self-change.”

The Imperative of Deschooling

“It is a travesty when we as parents mistake spite, ridicule and abuse for education. But is that not what the system has taught us in how we were raised ourselves? #Deschooling is an imperative process for all prospecting parents if we are serious about leaving a different world behind for our children than the one we came into. #guerrillateacher #UnschoolingTheSchoolSystem”

A Discussion about Education

“Today I talked to an older teacher who has decided to quit teaching all together. She is an amazing teacher but honestly admitted that she’s had enough. There are too many students in the classroom, too much bureaucracy – she can’t do the job she loves. At another school the new young teachers were nervous because they don’t know if they have a job next term. This is how it is every year. And the students? They have to get used to new teachers yet again, sometimes several times per term as well as being taught regularly by temps without teaching certificates. This is an unsustainable and unacceptable situation and I encourage more teachers to stand up and speak up – not just to ‘improve the situation’ but to start a discussion about what education and teaching is, and should be to be optimal and expansive for everyone involved. ”

Say Sorry

“We teach kids to ‘say sorry’, we scold them so that they will feel bad about what they have done and identify themselves as ‘being bad’ in situations where they make mistakes or deliberately act out in self-interest or harm others. We do not teach them to understand cause and effect, to understand the sequence of events (inside and out) that lead up to the point of making the mistake or doing something deliberate that caused harm to another. What do they learn from this? Certainly not how to take responsibility for themselves or their actions.”

The Voice Within

“Inside of all of us there is a voice of sorts, not a strange or alien voice but a voice of truth, of depth, of sound. You could say it is the sound of our being. This voice is what comes through when we stand up for our integrity in moments where we risk ridicule or rejection. It is the voice that comes through when we dare to be fully honest with ourselves and admit the things about ourselves that we’d preferred to keep hidden. At first it may be like a whisper, barely audible. We’re not even sure if it is there or if it is even a part of us. As we strengthen it, for example through writing and through connecting with our bodies, it gains more substance, more depth and we start being able to at first hear it more and recognize that it is there. Ultimately the sound of our being that at first seemed detached from us, is the voice of our being. It is not something magical, religious or even spiritual. It is simply what was Here all along, as the potential of who we are and can become underneath the static noise of the mind. And when we speak with the voice of our being, others are able to hear as well. There is a fundamental recognition of substance in hearing another speak from the depths of their being – whether still muffled or slightly out of tune; it is undeniably Here.”

Learning from A Child

“It is interesting because it is as though we expect so much more from children than what we do from ourselves. We want them to be respectful, honest, open, corporative, generous and empathic, as though that is the standard of the principles upon which this world functions. But we all know that this is not so. And by teaching children that it is so, we are feeding them a lie. We are teaching them to live on a lie and in an illusion. It is no wonder that the world is in the state it is in when this is the example that we set forth, ambiguous at best and at worst, outright deceptive.”

The Pattern Breaker

“We have an expression in Danish that, translated to English means “Pattern Breaker”. Pattern-breakers are people who, for example come from Illiterate families and who against all odds have been able to break through the glass ceiling of their social class and go to college. Studies have shown that in most pattern-breakers lives there has been one or two significant adults who in their childhood believed in them and their potential – who supported them to break out of their predetermined life-path of social inequality. Imagine if every child had the support of such an adult. Imagine the potential that goes unnoticed and that is wasted because we do not see the potential that is within every child. Imagine how different the world would be if we would all break the patterns of our past and start living our true potential. #unschoolingtheschoolsystem #Guerillateacher”