Those who know much more than me about education are saying that school itself - as it organized and encultured today - may not be the best place, or process, to set our children on course to be ready for the world that awaits them.
How can we help our kids get ready for a world of complex problems? How can we prepare them to see the patterns that all natural systems have? How can we help them see themselves as part of nature and as part of communties? How can we help them change the culture of separateness?
In 50 years kids have moved indoors and have lost touch with how the world really works. This is no small thing. They have been blinded by experience of the indoor life. (Link here)
"In their paper the trio pointed out cross-cultural studies that suggest that the “weird” Western mind is the most self-aggrandizing and egotistical on the planet: we are more likely to promote ourselves as individuals versus advancing as a group. WEIRD minds are also more analytic, possessing the tendency to telescope in on an object of interest rather than understanding that object in the context of what is around it.
Studies show that Western urban children grow up so closed off in man-made environments that their brains never form a deep or complex connection to the natural world.....
Given that people living in WEIRD societies don’t routinely encounter or interact with animals other than humans or pets, it’s not surprising that they end up with a rather cartoonish understanding of the natural world. “Indeed,” the report concluded, “studying the cognitive development of folkbiology in urban children would seem the equivalent of studying ‘normal’ physical growth in malnourished children.”
I grew up in the 1950's. I spent every waking moment outside when I was not at school. But today we tell ourselves that the world outside is full of danger. When kids are outside we supervise them. We don't trust our children anymore.
We have removed nature and real play from their lives. We tell them that the natural world is a dangerous place to be avoided. We inhibit their curiosity. Here is Peter Gray on what this means:
"The secure child, raised in a setting where others are loving, trusting, and nonjudgmental, and where the tools and examples needed for education are available but not forced upon anyone, vigorously and joyfully undertakes the natural childhood task of self-education.
Unfortunately, in our schools, we replace security with anxiety as the foundation for learning, and we keep children so busy doing what they are told to do that self-education becomes essentially impossible. In schools we "teach" in ways that subvert children's natural instincts to learn and that replace trust and security with distrust and anxiety."
What happened? What has made us so fearful - not just of abductors but of any possible risk? Has this imprisoning of our children helped them?
What can we do to reverse a change that has only taken place in the last 30 years? I plan to explore this over the next few months as I write my 4th book - You Don't Need a School to get an Education