Q&A re future of education (2)

QUESTIONER: David, how do the children learn basic skills like phonics, writing, reading, grammar, counting, etc with the Eduspire Paradigm? My understanding is they learn from natural environments, which is so wonderful, but these other skills need to be practised through drill in order to learn, at least in the beginning. Until we become a telepathic society again, these skills will still be needed here, so how do they learn them?

DAVID: Could it be that the very idea of “drill” was drilled into us courtesy of our own schooling? Practice by drill was a requirement of the Industrial Age. The Industrial Age has come and gone. The Information Age has come and gone. We are now in the Innovation Age. And yet we still cling to Industrial Age principles. We are running Education 1.0 software in a Society 3.0 operating system.

I observe that a baby learns to walk and talk – the two most complex learning processes that any human being undergoes – without formal instruction. Babies don’t attend walking and talking classes led by walking and talking experts – in which they practise walking and talking by drill. Of course, the child receives role modelling and encouragement from his/her parent(s), but the desire to master these complex skills comes from within the child. There is an innate curiosity, an intrinsic motivation to replicate the behaviour of grown ups. What if we were to allow learning to continue unfolding in an equally natural manner throughout childhood? I recommend checking out the work of psychology professor Peter Gray. In his wonderful book “Free to Learn”, he talks about how children in indigenous tribes learn and how everything we do in school is diametrically opposed to what comes naturally to human beings. There is no formal teaching in these indigenous communities. Children learn “the basics” through observation and play.

I would also encourage you to read about the experiences of students at Sudbury Valley School in Massachusetts. (Peter Gray’s own children attended). This is an excellent example of a natural learning environment in which students (aged 4-19) mix freely and initiate all of their own learning. The school opened in 1968 and has inspired the creation of a further 60 Sudbury schools around the world. In its 48-year history, SVS has not encountered a single child with dyslexia. How is that possible? Because they don’t “teach” kids to read. The kids teach themselves – in their own way, at their own pace, WHEN THEY ARE READY and sufficiently interested. This is the biggest issue with conventional school: it forces children to do things they would otherwise CHOOSE to do if given the freedom to do so.

When children are in an environment that affords them authentic freedom to pursue their own interests and passions, they pick up the basics naturally. Consider, for instance, a child given the freedom to follow her passion for cooking. Weighing and measuring ingredients. Reading recipe books. Researching food of different cultures. Planning a trip to the supermarket. Comparing prices and brands. Creating and recording new recipes. Planning the menu for a party with a group of friends. Organising and running a cake stall at the community fete. She will naturally pick up all manner of skills – not because she has been ‘told’ to, but because she either perceives the need to, or because a desire is born out of her own curiosity/interest.

All of this comes down to TRUST. Most adults have a hard time trusting their kids because they don’t trust themselves. We were taught, as children, that we could not be trusted. And so we pass this distrust on to our own children. I am here to break this self-perpetuating cycle of distrust by reminding humanity that children CAN be trusted. How do I know this? Because I trust MYSELF – unconditionally. I know who I am. Human beings are not fundamentally inert. Every child is born innately curious. Every child possesses a natural drive to learn and to master life on this physical plane. This innate curiosity and creativity is crushed by the tyranny of adult theories. These learning theories are based on institutional wisdom, not nature. As writer and filmmaker, Carol Black, writes in her recent blog post (A Thousand Rivers), “Collecting data on human learning based on children’s behaviour in school is like collecting data on killer whales based on their behaviour at Sea World”.

As for phonics, governments around the world have invested billions in brainwashing schools into believing that this is THE way to “teach” reading. This is the source of the entirely fictitious condition dyslexia. Dyslexia is a visual learning preference. Simple as that. Kids with dyslexia have profound imaginations. They are born with a stronger connection to the right hemisphere of the brain (the visual, creative, image-inative part). They are evolved beings. Phonics is an auditory teaching approach. For visual learners, this approach goes – quite literally – in one ear and out the other. And then we hand them a learning disorder label. As a confidence and self-esteem coach for kids, I spend most of my time un-doing all the harm caused by the “phonics” scam and assuring these kids that they gifted, not disordered.

I could say much more, but, ultimately, it comes down to trust. Our willingness to trust children to be responsible for their own learning is always determined by the extent to which we trust ourselves. Many thanks for your question and interest.

ADHD is a lie

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting a mother and her delightful ten-year old daughter, Libby. Greeting me at the front door to her home with a beautiful smile, I felt an immediate warmth and intuitive connection to Libby.
Libby is having problems “fitting in” at high school and has recently been diagnosed with ADHD. Her mother is now under pressure from the “experts” to put her daughter on drugs to deal with her “condition”.

Funny thing is, Libby sat quietly and patiently beside me for almost THREE HOURS as I discussed the pros and cons of home education with her mother. She made numerous insightful and on-subject contributions to our conversation. She shared personal anecdotes to highlight each of her points. She was even grounded enough to propose a potential way forward that took into account her mother’s needs and concerns.
The most awe-inspiring moment for me was when Libby articulated her vision for a very different type of school – “a place where kids are free to be themselves” – and outlined a process by which her dream school could become a viable alternative to conventional school.

Clearly, Libby does NOT have an attention problem. And the only condition she is suffering from is UNRECOGNISED GENIUS.

Just like so many of the other children cruelly diagnosed with this completely MADE UP condition (it’s an arbitrary list of behaviours, not a brain condition requiring pharmaceutical intervention), Libby is a TRUTH BEARER. She speaks a language called Truth. Institutionalised servants of the system can’t handle the truth; it makes them feel uncomfortable. So they view these kids as “broken” and attempt to “fix” them instead. There is an unwritten yet ruthlessly enforced rule operating in this institutionalised world: YOU MUST CONFORM.

I should know, I’m a Truth bearer myself. I was forced out of the school system for exactly the same reasons. My colleagues and line managers didn’t like me expressing my uniqueness and doing what actually worked for me and my students because it made them feel too uncomfortable. “Play the game, Dave,” they would tell me, over and over again. And in a hierarchically structured organisation you have to do as you’re told – toe the line – or you create problems for those higher up the food chain. After all, these people have boxes to tick in order to justify their positions of authority.

Far from labelling and suppressing children like Libby, we should CELEBRATE THEIR DIFFERENCES. They are GIFTS TO HUMANITY.
I could weep for an entire week at the thought of such a sensitive, wise and beautiful soul like Libby being drugged into submission and conformity by a system that is incapable of accepting that EVERY CHILD IS UNIQUE.
Children like Libby deserve a voice. The world needs to hear what they have to say. I cannot stand by and allow this cruelty to continue for one second longer. Somebody has to stand up and challenge this nonsense. That person may as well be me.

ADHD IS A LIE.

I’m prepared to stand up anywhere in the world and say it. I don’t need a medical background to speak the truth. Truth is self-evident. It requires no proof or validation.

ADHD IS A LIE.

It is a symptom of a sick society. It is a product of a society’s dis-ease with the evolution of the human species. It is the result of fearful adults viewing children through the eyes of judgement rather than UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.
For the record, if I were a child in the school system today I would be labelled with ADHD. How do I know? Let’s see…… I can’t pay attention to subjects and teachers that I have no interest in. I can’t sit still for prolonged periods of time. I fidget, rock from side to side and walk around in order to engage my brain. I have great difficulty following instructions that provoke internal resistance and discomfort within my solar plexus. I struggle with organisation and am often losing things. I am easily distracted (especially when bored out of my brains). I have immense difficulty looking authority figures in the eye when I know they are talking bullshit. I could go on but you get the picture.

I would also be diagnosed with ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder). Why? Because I refuse to do as I’m told. Because I’m an Oppressive Dictatorship Dissenter. Because I’m an unrepentant non-conformist. Because I have an in-built BS-meter; I know when I’m being lied to, deceived or manipulated. Because I’m proud to be MYSELF.

I’m about to launch a TV education channel with the ‪#‎link4growth‬ and ‪#‎link4education‬ networks. I’m going to start interviewing children like Libby. I’m going to give these children a voice. I’m going to let them share their innate passion, wisdom, creativity and genius with the world. They will NOT be silenced. They are the key to breaking us out of the darkness of our grown-up ignorance and leading us back into the light and truth of our child-like innocence.

Two questions

There are only two questions you need ever ask yourself in life:

(1) How may I serve?

and

(2) What would Love do?

The answers to these two questions will solve any problem you face. They will also help you to create the joyful and fulfilling life you deserve.

Just be yourself

I’ve been struggling for months – years, actually – to speak my truth regarding children and education without upsetting school teachers. It has never been my intention to undervalue the efforts of passionate and committed teachers, only to point out the pitfalls of the system around them. I was a passionate and committed teacher within this system myself for 8 years so I am acutely aware of the challenges involved in making a positive difference to children’s lives in spite of relentless government interference. Where would today’s children be without these resilient souls? We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude for all that they do.

No matter which way I approach it, I do not seem to be able to avoid appearing to judge teachers when I criticise the school system. After all, they are making a choice to support it. This troubles me deeply. I am a sensitive and empathic soul. Nobody likes to feel judged or to have their purpose questioned.

Today I’ve reached the conclusion that it may be best to avoid mentioning school at all. Our greatest teaching is the example we set for others. From now on, my choice is to focus solely on setting a different example. People are either inspired by my example or they are not. Either way, I am being true to myself, and that is all that matters at the end of the day. Indeed, that is my overriding message to kids: just be yourself.

be-yourself

The Eduspire Paradigm: a child-led vision for the future of education

Children_Holding_Earth2

A civilisation’s approach to education defines that civilisation. And its approach to education is determined by how it views its young.

The time has come to stop viewing children as passive recipients and dependent consumers of educational packages designed and delivered by adults, and to instead acknowledge, honour and celebrate children as the teachers, artists, poets, philosophers, visionaries, pioneers, entrepreneurs, inventors, innovators, community builders, way showers and trail blazers that they truly are.

The “education revolution” is an inside job. And the people riding the crest of the wave of this inner shift in human consciousness are children. They have the power to lead us out of the darkness of ignorance and into the light of truth. Our job as awakened adults is to listen, trust and follow their lead.

The Eduspire Paradigm is a conceptual framework for education and life ‘outside the box’. Its purpose is to liberate children from the chains of externalised conditioning.

Eduspire stands for ‘education infused with spirit’. Rather than children being ‘educated’ (which implies external teaching or instruction), they can instead be ‘eduspired’ – that is, inspired to educate themselves.

Eduspire is an approach that empowers children to go within; to look inside themselves for answers, for guidance, for love, approval, happiness, meaning and fulfilment. It is an inside-out model of education that gives rise to an inside-out world view. A healthy and harmonious relationship on the inside translates into healthy and harmonious relationships on the outside.

At the heart of the Eduspire Paradigm are twelve presuppositions, born out of my own life experience. The interrelationship and overlap between them is intentional; they are to be viewed collectively, as befitting a model of education designed to support a multi-dimensional, synergistic and co-creative view of life. If acted upon, these twelve presuppositions have the power to set our children free; to unleash their innate passion, wisdom, playfulness and creativity.

All of my interactions with children are guided by these twelve presuppositions. I live my own life according to these twelve presuppositions. I am committed to the design, development and support of learning spaces and environments that operate in accordance with these twelve presuppositions.

Together, we can create a New Way of Life on this planet. A New Civilisation. A New Humanity. A New Earth.

The Eduspire Presuppositions

Presupposition #1:
Every child is a unique, divine spark of unlimited creative potential with a unique educational path to follow.

Presupposition #2:
The simplicity and wonder of childhood is real life.

Presupposition #3:
Learning is as natural as breathing; it is a by-product of living.

Presupposition #4:
Education is the pursuit of passion.

Presupposition #5:
The purpose of education (and life) is to be yourself.

Presupposition #6:
A child’s inner guidance is more reliable than any external source of authority. Authentic freedom means 100% responsibility.

Presupposition #7:
Children and adults are equals and co-learners. We are all teachers; who we are being in any given moment is our greatest teaching.

Presupposition #8:
Nature has infinitely more to teach us than any creation of the human mind. The purpose of technology is to enhance human experience, not to define it.

Presupposition #9:
Failure is feedback; we always succeed in achieving an outcome.

Presupposition #10:
The only constant in life is change; any educational model or community should be in a perpetual state of evolution.

Presupposition #11:
A ‘Creative Learning Space’ is one that fosters learning, creativity and innovation through its defining values of Play, Trust and Collaboration.

Presupposition #12:
Providing a rich ecology of educational opportunities and resources is a collective responsibility of the whole community.

How do we create harmonious community?

We don’t create harmonious community by enforcing laws or getting people to agree to a set of rules or beliefs. That is exactly the same level of thinking that created our disjointed and dysfunctional society in the first place. A community is made up of individuals. Healthy relationships with others begins with a healthy relationship with self. A harmonious community relies on each member of that community having done the necessary work on themselves to maintain a consistent state of inner harmony and balance. This is our natural state of being. The Eduspire Paradigm is designed to cultivate this connection with our true nature. It is an approach that inspires us to go within; to look inside ourselves for answers. Healthy relationships inside translate to healthy relationships outside. Our experience of the outer world is always a reflection of our inner world. The Eduspire Paradigm is an inside-out model of education that supports an inside-out way of life.

The easiest, most natural way to cultivate an inside-out approach is through spending time in nature. Nature has a restorative effect. It is the doorway to inner silence and inner peace. Spending time in nature reveals to the individual the inherent simplicity of the truth. Peace comes through simplicity. Without simplicity, we cannot be free. So any truly harmonious community enjoys a strong connection with nature.

A harmonious community is a heart-based community. It is characterised by the absence of ego. One of my favourite quotes is by the lecturer and author John Randolph Price:

“Until you have transcended the ego, you can do nothing but add to the insanity of the world.”

The ego is the root cause of all conflict, division and separation inside The Box. The Eduspire Paradigm is a tool for creation outside the box. That is, outside the confines of the rational mind; beyond the limitations of the fearful ego. This is not to say that individuals living in a harmonious community don’t have egos. While we are in physical bodies, we have egos. And of course we need our minds in order to function in the physical world. But the ego is not in control in a harmonious community – like it is inside the box. The inner beast has been tamed. The highest good of the community always takes precedence over individualistic self-interest. But this is spontaneous and effortless for individuals who have reclaimed their true nature.

Now, transcending the ego is not something that typically happens overnight. It has taken me seven years of conscious and persistent effort to complete the transition from my mind into my heart. Ego transcendence entails unlearning everything you were to taught to believe in school, undoing all of your social conditioning, letting go of all your accumulated emotional baggage and clearing out all your fears and limiting beliefs. It’s about facing the shadow self and returning to your original state of childhood innocence. And this is the reason why I see children as the teachers and way showers for the future of education and the future of the human race; they’re not bogged down with so much baggage. They are still living, demonstrating role models of the truth. Their inner lights have not become fogged by over-identification with the ego-mind. They are much closer to that natural state of inner harmony and balance. That’s why the Eduspire Paradigm is a child-led model of education. And that’s why I believe children hold the key to the creation of the harmonious communities that will define the New Earth.

Unconscious assumptions and The Box

Adults operating within the school system often busy themselves with surface-level debates and cosmetic issues without ever considering – let alone questioning – the underlying assumptions driving their behaviour. That’s because these underlying assumptions are unconscious. In other words, they take them for granted.

This is something I observed time and time again during my seven years as a school maths teacher. While my colleagues debated the relative merits of mixed ability teaching versus streamed teaching, for example, I was pondering a deeper question: do children need to be taught? The answer to the latter question completely nullifies the need for the former debate.

Educational reform follows exactly the same pattern. Reforming the school system is like painting a tabletop different colours in the belief that this is somehow improving the overall quality of the table. But when one takes a good look under the table, one discovers that the legs supporting and holding it up are rotten.

Table top

The school system can’t be fixed. It can’t be fixed because it isn’t broken; it is obsolete. The fundamental assumptions upon which it was created no longer apply in the 21st Century. The school system continues to do today what it has always done: prepare children for life inside “The Box” – a box that perfectly suited the needs of the Industrial Age, but whose culture of teaching and testing is radically at odds with the culture of learning, creativity and innovation needed to prepare children for life in today’s continually changing world.

The school system can’t be fixed. It can’t be fixed because is isn’t broken; it is obsolete.

When you’re inside The Box, all you know is The Box. You have to make a conscious choice to climb out of The Box and feel the warmth of the sun on your face in order to really “see” what is going on inside. We can’t solve the education dilemma from inside The Box. Attempting to improve the school experience by, for instance, making the curriculum “more fun, relevant and engaging” misses the point entirely. It is the curriculum itself that needs to go! The assumption that children growing up in an innovation-driven society require a prescribed curriculum in the first place has to be examined and questioned.

Look Outside Box

Children in our schools have been challenging these deep-rooted assumptions through their why-questions for decades. Sadly, we have chosen not to listen. Instead, we appear to be satisfied with answers such as:

“Because it’s in the test.”

“That’s just the way it is.”

“Life’s unfair – get used to it.”

I made a different choice. I chose to listen. As a direct result of listening to my students’ questions, I was able to climb out of the box in which I had been living for thirty years. To my amazement, I discovered a world of infinite possibility outside. It became immediately apparent that school is just one of infinite educational paths from which to choose. And my mission since that moment has been to bring the monopoly that schools have over education to an end – not for my sake, but for the sake of future generations of children.

Now, returning to the curriculum issue, what is the deeper assumption underpinning the assumption that children require a prescribed curriculum? It is the assumption that learning is the result of teaching. And what is the assumption underpinning this assumption? It is the assumption that children cannot be trusted. It is the assumption that children are fundamentally inert – i.e., that without the external interference of adults, children would not achieve much. Why do we assume that children can’t be trusted? Because we were taught, as children, that we could not be trusted. Because we were schooled into believing that “the experts know best”. And so we pass this distrust on to our own children, ensuring that generation after generation remains locked into this self-perpetuating cycle of distrust.

Why do we assume that children can’t be trusted? Because we were taught, as children, that we could not be trusted. Because we were schooled into believing that “the experts know best”.

How to break this cycle of distrust? Welcome to the Edupsire Paradigm! We let the children OUT of The Box! Education needn’t be a rehearsal for life in the Industrial Age. We can instead empower children to be the natural-born creators and innovators that they truly are. They can then teach us how to trust ourselves.

Questioning assumptions

Are you ready to make “The Shift” from the outside-in paradigm of control to the inside-out paradigm of trust? Here is a list of myths about education and learning that are supported and propagated by the prevailing school education system. For many adults, these assumptions remain deeply buried in the unconscious mind, courtesy of their own schooling as children. Consequently, they take them for granted and it does not even occur to them to question them.

You need to have examined, questioned and dismissed every one of these myths before you can consider yourself “de-schooled”:

  • Education means “going to school”
  • Education is the sole responsibility of schools
  • The experts (teachers, scientists, doctors, politicians, psychologists, etc.) know best
  • Adults are authority figures for children
  • There is a clear distinction between “teacher” and “student”
  • Learning means “being taught”
  • Learning takes place in classes
  • A “teacher” is a certified professional who imparts knowledge
  • Children must be forced to learn
  • Learning is a solitary process
  • Talking interferes with learning
  • A standardised curriculum is needed (to cover “the basics”)
  • People are motivated by reward and punishment
  • Learning is a formal, linear, step-by-step process
  • Children are best processed in batches according to their date of manufacture (age)
  •  Proficiency in a given subject is dependent on age (i.e. the younger a child learns to read, the better)
  • Failure is to be avoided
  • Children must “fit in”
  • Some children have Special Educational Needs
  • The rational mind rules
  • Tests measure degree of mastery in a given subject
  • The best measure of teachers’ effectiveness is students’ performance on standardised tests
  • Play is a reward when work is done
  • Not going to college or university implies poor job prospects
  • Children need formal qualifications to succeed in life
  • The purpose of education is to get a job (to pay the bills)

The Liebster Blog Award

I am both delighted and honoured to have received the Liebster Blog award from Elizabeth Godwin of 365 Days of Inspiration. Thank you so much!

The Liebster Blog Award is given to bloggers who have less than 200 followers and is a great way to bring attention to other worthwhile blogs and bloggers.  This is a pay-it-forward award and the rules are:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to his or her blog

2. Copy and paste the “Liebster Blog Award” icon into your post

3. Pass the award on to your fellow bloggers and let them know you did so

[Liebster, by the way, is German (n.) and means: sweetheart, beloved person, darling.]

Here are the  blogs I am passing the award to:

Meaning of Strife: thought-provoking perspectives on life and the wisdom contained within the Bible

Jaclyn Rae’s Blog: a beautiful, honest, inspiring and uplifting blog that touches me at the deepest level of the soul

E. F. O’Neill of Prestolee

Edward (Teddy) F. O’Neill was the headmaster at Prestolee School, an elementary school near Farnworth, between Manchester and Bolton, in 1919. He was a wonderfully wise and inspirational educator and his words are just as relevant today as they were then.

Teddy believed in the following three principles:

1. Self-Activity

2. Originality

3. Initiative / Persistence

 

Teddy’s ‘Credo’

“I believe that education should deal in realities and not be artificial. It should be concerned with the day’s work of the Jack-of-all-trades, children and teachers, the response to actuality, genuine employment called for by the circumstances of their environment, inside school as well as outside.”

“I believe that the ability to find out and the desire to do so matter rather than any limited load of information a child can carry, remember and repeat.”

“I believe that the function of a lesson should be to provide opportunities for the exercise of the life force latent in every child and to facilitate such exercise in every possible way, and never to withold opportunities.”

“I believe that teachers should do things with children rather than for them.”

“I believe that children should be allowed to work together, to discuss their work one with another, and to learn by helping each other.”

“I do not want you to ask me what they know. Ask me: How are they growing? What kind of people are they becoming? Are they going to be able to fit in and be effective elsewhere?”

“The aim here is that, by being given abundant facilities to use their inborn powers of discovery and interpretation, these faculties will grow and grow through such healthy exercise. The knowledge will accumulate as a by-product of this activity, but initiative and resourcefulness will have greatly increased.”

“Of all the incentives, that known as ‘marks’ must be the wikidest, stupidist and cheapest.”

“Moreover, not having been brought up to be dependent on a teacher for guidance and instruction, their faith in themselves will not have become paralysed.”

 

Teddy’s proverb

The problem of education is the idiot teacher:

For whom no problem exists

Who expects children to do what he himself can’t — learn

Who can only do what he has done

Who only wants to teach his own subject

Whose qualification is that he has passed his exams

Who is repetitive and uncreative

Who has never really lived

Who has a bus to catch

 

Other quotes and proverbs from Teddy

“Let teachers be spacious”

“Educate for difference”

“The passing of exams is not education — ask him something he does not know and see if he can find out”

“Real poverty is lack of imagination”

“The best way to learn is to live”

“What do the children do when the teacher is out of the classroom?”

“Children are only little devils when they cannot find something legitimate to do”

 

Let teachers be human

They are not parrots — let them get off their perches

 

Simultaneous work means the suppression of individuality

Simultaneous work means the suppression of initiative

 

[All information in this post came from a book, “The Idiot Teacher”, by Gerald Holmes, London: Faber and Faber, 1952]

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