Kids Create (September launch)

KIDS CREATE is an initiative designed to bring young people together at a local community level for the purpose of collaborating on ‘real life’ innovation projects of their own choosing. It is a vehicle through which they can channel their innate passions and imagination into creating real value in the world. Whether the intention is to launch an awareness campaign, create a positive news channel on YouTube, coordinate a litter picking exercise in the local park, organise a fund raising concert, film a documentary or provide blankets to the homeless, this is a place where young people’s voices are honoured and heard, and in which they are trusted and empowered to take action on their ideas.

Each project takes place within the framework of a safe and supportive Creative Learning Space (CLS), set up and held by specially trained adult facilitators. Characterised by its three defining values of Play, Trust and Collaboration, the CLS is more an “energetic” space than a physical location. As such, project teams are free to move wherever their projects take them. Depending on their chosen goals, they can be expected to operate in a variety of different contexts and environments – coffee shops, community centres, parks, libraries and museums – and to interact with a wide range of individuals, businesses and organisations in their local and wider communities.

Last week I met with Linda Anne Anderson, owner of The Kitchen Croxley, an independent coffee and cake shop situated between Watford and Rickmansworth, with a view to opening the UK’s first KIDS CREATE community space in her shop. We’ve decided to get the ball rolling by inviting a group of eight children (ages 10-13) to the shop on Thursday 8 September, 4.30-6.30pm. This will be an opportunity for the attendees to begin sharing and discussing their ideas for creating a better world. What will they discuss? What will they choose to focus on? That’s up to them to decide……

KIDS CREATE was born in 2013 when a small group of home educated children in Newport Pagnell announced their desire to create a ‘Prom for Kids’. I offered to support the group in turning their vision into a reality. During the course of the next four months, this team of youngsters took responsibility for all aspects of the Prom’s planning and organisation. They chose the theme. They decided on the dress code. They worked out the budget. They phoned and visited potential venues – and negotiated to get the best deal. They agreed on the food arrangements. They organised sound and lighting equipment. They decided on the song list. They wrote and sent emails to parents. They went shopping for plates and cutlery, comparing prices at different supermarkets. They sourced fairy lights to match their chosen theme. They planned and rehearsed a performance of acoustic songs. They prepared thank you speeches. They decorated the hall on the day, including a red carpet for the entrance and neon lighting for the Mocktail Bar. The ‘Moonlight Prom’ was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for everyone who attended. However, it was the journey rather than the destination that truly mattered. The project team developed life skills and learned invaluable lessons that will serve them as adults.

I believe that KIDS CREATE has the potential to evolve into a nationwide enterprise such that thousands of projects are running in local communities up and down this country at any given time. With the help of Chris Ogle and the Link4Growth network, my goal is to see the idea rolled out to independent coffee shops all over the UK.

The biggest challenge to the evolution of this idea is identifying and training adults who are ready to hold space. This is a completely different approach to working with kids. It revolves around trust. Our ability to trust children is determined by the extent to which we trust ourselves. Most adults do not trust children because they were taught, as children, that they could not be trusted. They were schooled into viewing themselves as limited and the world around them as frightening. Breaking out of this framework of fear is not an easy task; it took me seven years of conscious inner healing work to undo the effects of my social conditioning.

The ability to hold space is more a state of being than a skill. To step into the role of KIDS CREATE Facilitator requires an internal paradigm shift to have taken place: out of the Box of Fear (in which the teacher-knows-best school system exists) and into the Garden of Trust, which is a child-led, innovation-oriented approach – free of adult agenda and unnecessary interference. My job is to convey to kids, through my example, the message, ‘I trust you’. For me, there is no greater gift that any adult can offer a child.

What we’re talking about here is a paradigm of education with the power to redefine learning, childhood, parenting and life itself. Propagating this idea is certainly not a job I can do on my own! So I’m looking to pull together a peaceful army of conscious adults who are ready and willing to support children in creating a better world for us all.

Children have the answers to all of the challenges we are facing on this planet. Our job as adults is to listen, empower, trust and follow their lead.

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The Eduspire Paradigm (Aug 2016)

What I am sharing here is the culmination of almost 20 years of experience teaching, mentoring, coaching and holding space for young people in a variety of educational settings, along with extensive reading, researching, writing, travelling, networking, innovating, alone time in nature and much soul searching.

I am co-founder of ROOTS, an outdoor creative learning space in the Bedfordshire countryside (UK), which supports young people of all ages (5 through 18) in connecting with their natural selves through a variety of nature-based sensory awareness games and activities. I am also founder of KIDS CREATE, which holds space for young people as they collaborate on creation and innovation projects of their own choosing. I demonstrate my definition of education (see P4 below) as a professional singer, actor and recording artist.

Eduspire stands for education infused with spirit. It is a child-led and innovation-oriented approach to learning and education. Children are not ‘educated’ in this new paradigm; consciously awakened adults hold an energetic space in which children are ‘eduspired’ – i.e. inspired to go within and educate themselves. Eduspire sees children themselves as the key to the creation of the New Earth and our job (as adults) as being to Listen, Empower, Trust (LET them be) and follow their lead.

The Eduspire Paradigm operates within the wider context of a New Paradigm for Living and Being, which is characterised by self-sovereignty, self-sufficiency, connection with nature, ecological awareness, collaboration, community spirit, shared abundance and contribution through the pursuit of personal passion.

The following list of presuppositions are designed to provide a conceptual framework for this new paradigm of education.

THE EDUSPIRE PRESUPPOSITIONS
P1: Every child is a unique, divine spark of unlimited creative potential.
P2: The simplicity and wonder of childhood is real life.
P3: Learning is as natural as breathing; it is a by-product of living.
P4: Education is the pursuit of passion.
P5: The purpose of life is to be your natural, authentic self.
P6: Every child has an inner guidance system.
P7: We are all equals, co-learners and co-teachers, regardless of age.
P8: Nature is our greatest teacher. The purpose of technology is to enhance human experience, not define it.
P9: Failure is feedback; we always succeed in achieving an outcome.
P10: The only constant in life is change.
P11: Play, Trust and Collaboration are the defining values of a Creative Learning Space.
P12: Education is a collective responsibility of the whole community.

Clean your window first

Your perception of the world is determined by the window through which you view it. Wanting to change the world is all very well and good. But you have to start by cleaning the window first.

Eight years ago my window was covered in dirt and grime. Now it is clean. Now I see clearly.

Now I no longer want to change the world. I am creating a new world instead…

window cleaner

Smacking children

PARENT: When is it appropriate to smack a child?

DAVID: Never.

PARENT: But there are times when my son oversteps the boundaries. For example, I can not and will not stand by and let him swear at me, his father. He needs to understand the importance of respect for his elders.

DAVID: There is no conceivable circumstance in which hitting a child is justifiable behaviour. The “adult as authority figure” approach to parenting belongs to the old paradigm of education and childrearing. The need for control over and unquestioning obedience of children is based in fear, not love.
Physiological age is irrelevant; the child is a human being. Human beings are equals. Children are equals. Children are to be treated as co-learners and co-teachers; afforded the same respect as any adult. To teach a child respect for others, you teach the child to respect himself.

PARENT: How do I do that?

DAVID: By treating yourself with respect. A parent who hits their child is lacking self-respect. A parent who hits their child is not in tune with the unconditional love that is who they truly are. A parent who hits their child has inner work to do.

PARENT: What kind of inner work?

DAVID: Smacking a child is a clear sign of an adult who does not understand their emotions and is acting out their own childhood pain. There is unconscious, dysfunctional conditioning to be brought into the light of their conscious awareness. This childhood conditioning needs to be looked at, questioned and released.

PARENT: But you don’t understand how angry he makes me sometimes.

DAVID: Nobody makes you angry. You make yourself angry by virtue of your perception of a situation and your choice of response. Projecting anger towards a child in response to their behaviour is saying, “I have no control over my internal state of being”. Physically acting out that anger by hitting the child is saying, “The outside world is responsible for my internal state of being”. This is simply not true. Such behaviour disempowers both parent and child and serves only to strengthen the wall of resentment between them.
Love is the answer. Love is always the answer. In order to respond to a child with love, you must first become your own source of love. It is the only way.

PARENT: I don’t understand why my child is so rude to me.

DAVID: Perhaps he is giving you an opportunity to look in the mirror…..

Innovation education in practice

Here is the YouTube link to last night’s L4G.tv Education Channel interview with the inspirational Jon Thorne. This man is able to express in practical terms what I have attempted to outline conceptually in previous shows.

Jon offers us a fascinating account of the genesis of MyInnovationSpace.com, which provides opportunities for young adult innovators. His perspective on the difference between “fixing others” and “defending space” is also essential listening for any adults out there wanting to contribute to an innovation-oriented approach to learning and education. Inspiring stuff!

The deputy headteacher

In 2008 I was working at a middle school in a pastoral consultancy and life skills coaching role. The school was located in what might be described as a socio-economically deprived area and had recently been placed under special measures by OfSTED. The staff morale was flatter than a pancake and the staff turnover shockingly high. I remember one freckle-faced lad telling me that he’d had five form teachers in as many months. “We keep getting different supply teachers,” he said. “They come. They don’t like the place. They leave. So why should we listen to anything you have to say? You’ll only end up leaving us after a few weeks – just like all the others.”

My responsibilities included advising the leadership team on whole school behaviour management issues, coordinating PSHCE provision (Physical, Social, Health & Citizenship Education), setting up a Student Council, and providing one-to-one coaching to children identified as having social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Every child in the school knew who I was because I was also responsible for leading whole school assemblies – a role that I shared with the deputy headteacher, John.

John was decidedly “old school” in his approach to teaching and dealing with students, continually barking orders at them and taking every opportunity to criticise and belittle. To say that I was disliked by John would be the understatement of the century; the man positively despised me. I overheard him complaining about me to a colleague one day. “All this pandering to the emotional needs of pupils has got to stop,” he said. “Children must learn to do as they’re bloody well told! It’s as simple as that.” (For the record, he never addressed any of his concerns to my face.) Unfortunately, John also happened to be the individual responsible for signing my time sheet at the end of each week. In other words, my pay cheque was dependent on his signature – a situation that ultimately proved to be my downfall.

My approach to delivering an assembly was the antithesis of John’s approach. While he insisted students sit in complete silence as he talked AT them, I engaged my audience with interactive demonstrations, asked questions to get them thinking and invited them to discuss possible answers with the students around them. He consistently focused on highlighting poor behaviour; I consistently looked for the best in the students and appealed to their inherent goodness. He talked about school rules and policies; I shared the latest developments in neuroscience and quantum physics. He reinforced messages of conformity and compliance; I emphasised the importance of following your heart, pursuing your passions and living your dreams. He was closed and guarded about his private life; I was open and honest about mine, sharing personal stories and anecdotes to highlight my messages. The students found John’s assemblies boring and pointless; I regularly received a round of applause at the end of mine, finding myself surrounded at lunchtime by kids eager to talk more about the ideas and concepts that I had shared.

One day, I led an assembly on the theme of bullying. During my presentation I announced my decision to replace “Anti-Bullying Week” with a far more empowering “Pro-Peace Week”. I explained how quantum physics has shown us that energy flows where attention goes. Thus, why spend a whole week energising something that we did NOT wish to include in our experience? Instead, the students were encouraged to look for and acknowledge examples of kindness. My assembly was extremely well received by the students, as evidenced by their standing ovation at the end. Yes, children know and respond to Truth when they hear it. Adults, not so much. To date, this remains my most cherished memory as a public speaker. It was the greatest assembly I had ever led. As it happened, it would it also be my last.

The following morning I was called into the headteacher’s office. The pot of money for my post had apparently “run dry” overnight; the school would no longer be requiring my services. My internal BS meter hit the extreme right position (TOTAL BS) during this conversation. It was very clear that the headteacher’s arm had been twisted. As I drove slowly down the school drive for the final time, there were children tapping on the windows of my car – tears streaming down their cheeks – as they begged me not to leave them. Hand on heart, that was the single most heartbreaking moment of my entire life.

I didn’t want to leave. I knew I was making a difference to those kids. I had connected with them in a way that perhaps no adult had ever connected before. They had taken my messages into their hearts. So many of these kids came from troubled and unstable home backgrounds; they viewed me as a source of love, hope and inspiration in their lives. Although the decision was completely out of my hands, I did appear to be abandoning them “just like all the others”. The deputy headteacher may have gained an extra spring in his step as a result of my departure, but the students certainly didn’t gain anything. Then again, the school system was never set up for the benefit of children, was it? Everything – from compartmentalised buildings to segregation by age to fifty-minute teaching periods – is set up for the convenience of the teacher, not the learner.

What was the crux of John’s issue with me? What exactly did I do to earn his disdain? Ultimately, I was guilty of consistently speaking and embodying Truth. And he couldn’t handle it. My presence itself was his biggest issue. John wasn’t a “bad” man. As I reflect back on the situation now, I am able to view him with compassion. Putting myself in his shoes, it is clear that I threatened everything he stood for, everything he had been conditioned to believe about children and education. He had no frame of reference for anything I was saying or doing. In a way, he had no choice but to despise me. What was the alternative? Admit that I was right and that he was wrong? He’d been in the system for decades, served his time at the chalk-face, earned his stripes and progressed through the ranks to reach his well-deserved position of seniority. Who the hell did this young upstart think he was, waltzing through the corridors of the school, high-five-ing students and dismissing decades of hard-earned institutional wisdom in favour of his own newfangled claptrap?

John wasn’t “wrong”; he simply wasn’t ready or able to entertain a new perspective because he lived in a fixed and immutable map of reality. Nobody can be judged for not being ready for the Truth. And if they are not ready, what do they do? They shoot the messenger instead. Each of us is at a different position on our own evolutionary life path. Today, I send John forgiveness. And I ask for his forgiveness too.

Cultivating creativity & innovation in young people

During this second Link4Growth.tv Education Channel show, Chris Ogle and I talk about how to how cultivate creativity and innovation in young people.

Discussion topics include…

* Children as natural-born creators and innovators

* The importance of immersing kids in nature

* The ROOTS Project (nature awareness programme)

* A real life example of the new paradigm of education in action

* Coffee shops as potential spaces in which to facilitate creativity and innovation by kids

* The creation of a community-based infrastructure for learning and education requires a shift in consciousness that takes place within the mind of the individual (it cannot be “taught” or programmed from the outside)

The future of education: live video interview

Live video interview with Chris Ogle on the L4G.tv Education Channel, during which we explored the future of education and the importance of empowering children to create and innovate.

The future of education and transformation of schools

Make no mistake, the education revolution is already happening. However, it is, first and foremost, an inner revolution. It is taking place within the hearts and minds of individuals. And the people riding the crest of the wave of this inner revolution are children. It is time to LET them out of the box (Listen, Empower, Trust) and to follow their lead.

The Information Age is over. We are in the Innovation Age now. Improving the quality of delivery in schools is not the answer. It is time to stop delivering and to start listening.

How do we teach creativity and innovation to children? We don’t. Innovative entrepreneurship is not something that can be taught; it is an active endeavour.

Let’s provide opportunities for children to be the natural-born creators and innovators that they truly are. Let’s empower children to forge their own educational pathways. Let’s empower them to teach themselves. Let’s empower them to teach us. Let’s provide platforms upon which they can stand and have their voices heard.

Let’s stop building new schools and start utilising the infrastructure of learning spaces already available in the community — libraries, coffee shops, church halls, parks, farms, office spaces, museums, art galleries and community centres. Let’s move from a one-to-many school system to a multitude of many-to-many anti-systems. Let’s set up a variety of Creative Learning Spaces in which children can take over as masters of their own destinies.

Can existing school sites and buildings be transformed to meet the learning needs of the Innovation Age? Absolutely. It is the top-down hierarchical organisation and attachment to “standards” within these institutions that must go. It is time for schools to cease all ties with central government, to abandon all standardised curricula and testing and to horizonatalise their hierarchical structures.

School buildings can become home bases of learning and resource centres for the whole community. Classrooms can be transformed into interactive spaces in which people of all ages come to connect, collaborate and create. Children and adults can come and go as they please, working together on real world projects of their own choosing and making impactful contributions to their local communities.

In order to support this new paradigm of education, a new breed of educator is emerging. These individuals role model the pursuit of passion and living from the heart. They are facilitators of learning, working with and alongside children as collaborators, co-learners, co-teachers and co-creators. They are not afraid of change, they live in the moment and embrace the unknown.

I am one such educator. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you need support in transitioning from “teacher” to “enabler”. My own de-schooling and de-institutionalisation process took several years to complete; I understand the challenges involved.

The education revolution is a child-led movement that requires, above all else, TRUST. Our trust is the greatest gift we can offer our children. As the English novelist and journalist George Eliot observed:

Those who trust us, educate us.”

Q&A with David: Nature of Reality (1)

QUESTIONER: What are you doing to help the poor, the destitute and the homeless? I can’t see how your utopian visions are addressing real world issues such as poverty.

DAVID: I am not here to solve society’s problems. It is not my job to fight the Universe. I accept What Is. I choose to align with the flow of the river rather than head upstream. Each of us is moving along our own evolutionary path through life. And each of us is at a different stage of the journey. I view the poor, the destitute and the homeless the same as I view all others: through the eyes of unconditional love. I trust and accept that everyone is where they are because that is exactly where they need to be, based on their current position along their respective evolutionary path. Everyone is experiencing what they are experiencing and learning what they are learning right now… because they are. I have no desire to interfere with the lives of others. I have no desire to change others. I accept them just as they are. I respect the choices they are making, regardless of whether these choices are conscious or unconscious. No one is a victim and no one is helpless, even if they have chosen to cast themselves in these roles. At the level of the soul, everyone knows what they are doing. I’m not here to “play God” with others’ lives. I’m here to be myself. I’m here to be my true, authentic, unconditionally loving self. That is my soul purpose in life.

Q: Don’t the more fortunate amongst us have a moral obligation to help those in need, to make the world a better place for all?

D: What world are you referring to? The one in your imagination? I’m very clear that my contribution to life on this planet is the personal reality in which I live and create on a moment-to-moment basis. Who I am being in each moment is the source of that creation. Who I am being in each moment is my truest teaching and my greatest gift. There is no objective world to change; physical reality is a subjective experience. I am attracting the people, events, situations and circumstances in my exterior reality according to what I am projecting from within. Perception is projection. The reason many people find this so hard to accept is because they are slaves to their unconscious minds. They do not see themselves as masters of their own realities because they have little or no conscious awareness of what they are projecting from the depths of their unconscious being. They delegate personal responsibility to economic circumstances, governments, fate and external gods in order to avoid facing their own pain.

I made a different choice. I am no longer unconscious of my unconscious. I am awake. I am responsible. I am response able. I have spent eight years in the wilderness facing all the pain hiding in the shadows of my unconscious. I have done the necessary inner work to see and experience myself as a divine being of unlimited creative potential. I have invested in myself, rather than in the illusion of a broken world. I have freed myself from the karmic cycle. My full, conscious presence in each present moment is my present to humanity.

Q: But how is your presence serving the starving children in Africa, for example? Don’t you care about their suffering?

D: The starving children in Africa are a reflection of the general state of human consciousness, of a strong collective belief in scarcity and lack. My personal world is in no way lacking. It is abundant because I am abundant. My attention to abundance draws more expressions of abundance into my reality. Energy flows where attention goes. In answer to your question, I care deeply about all life on this planet. It is my unconditional love for creation that keeps me in this state of abundance.

Q: So what is your stance on charity? Are you saying I should not give to those in need?

D: I am saying no such thing. If it serves you to give to those in need, then give. If it serves you to support a charity, go ahead. Charity starts at home.

Q: If it serves me? Surely, the purpose of giving is to serve others?

D: It is not what you are doing but who you are being while you are doing what you are doing that creates your experience. You are a human being, not a human doing. Who are you being when you give to charity? What is the underlying motivation? This is all that matters.

I do not view myself as separate to anything outside of me. Everyone and everything is an extension of myself. I am alone (all-one) in my world. I see myself in the reflection of the starving child’s face. To you, she is separate, an object of pity. You do not experience any sense of responsibility for her suffering because you have not looked within. I am responsible. I am response able. In setting myself free of all suffering so do I free others from their own suffering.

Q: Were you responsible for the tsunami in Indonesia and the earthquake in Japan?

D: I am contributing to collective human consciousness so yes, I am 100% responsible for my contribution to such events. If I were not responsible, what were they doing in my reality? However, I did not attract much media coverage of either event into my personal reality. But then I have no need for the daily dose of fear, misery, drama, suffering and despair that appears to sustain others. The important question is, who do you choose to be in relation to such events?

Q: Now I am very confused. What has human consciousness got to do with a natural disaster?

D: Confusion is the first step towards clarity, my friend. Embrace your confusion. Your question comes from your notions of a world separate from yourself. You cannot see the interconnectedness of life from such a limited perspective. You have bought into a belief that your world existed before you were born. I am very clear that this is not the case. The world exists because I am.

Q: But this planet has a long history. Surely, you cannot deny that. You would have to have existed since the dawn of creation in order for your last statement to be true.

D: I don’t disagree with that. Now you are starting to see things from my perspective.

Q: No, I am not following at all. Are you claiming to be God now?

D: What specifically do you mean by God?

Q: The original hand of creation. The Big Man upstairs. The Higher Being who created Heaven and Earth.

D: These are all delusions. Creations of the human mind. Why are you attempting to personalise God? God is not a noun. God is a process. I am the process. You are the process. We are the process. The process of creation itself.

Q: Why are we having this conversation? What am I doing in your reality? Why are you creating this experience with me?

D: Are you wanting me to provide you with rational answers to these questions? Life has no inherent meaning save the meaning you ascribe it. You are not in my reality and I am not in yours. We are each interacting with our own creations of one another within the confines of our respective worlds. This conversation is happening because it is. I’m not concerned with why it is happening, only my response to it. That is my only responsibility.

Q: And how do you respond?

D: By expressing gratitude for the opportunity to share my perspective, for the opportunity to be and demonstrate the unconditional love that is who I really am.

Q: If we are alone – or all one – within our personal worlds, doesn’t this imply that others do not exist? If so, what is the purpose of relationships? Hell, what is the purpose of life at all?

D: From my perspective, there is only one relationship. That is the relationship between my physical self and my non-physical Self. All other relationships – with family, with friends, with animals, with trees and plants, with money, with possessions, with governments, with the economy, with global events – are reflections of this sacred relationship with Self.

I exist in my own reality. I am creating my own reality. Others (alternative perspectives) exist but there are no others “in” my reality. I interact with personally created simulations or versions of others. Thus, I am solely responsible for everything that happens in my reality, for I am the only one creating it.

I cannot change (directly) my relationships with others. I cannot change (directly) anything in my exterior world. To attempt to do so is as futile as standing before a mirror with a frown on my face and demanding that the reflection smile. I can only change my relationship with Self. Any change in my inner world is automatically reflected in my exterior world. The exterior world is nothing more than a projection from within; a compelling holographic illusion. Its purpose, including all the relationships that I imagine to exist within it, is to provide moment-to-moment feedback regarding the state of alignment between myself and my Self. I determine my experience of these relationships by virtue of the meaning I ascribe to the reflections.

At the same time, I have subscribed to participate in this consensus reality construct called Planet Earth. In that sense, I am co-creating life on this planet with others. In that sense, I am evolving with all of life on this planet. However, I am still creating my own experience, albeit within the framework of this wider consensus reality construct. Others exist. Others do not exist. Both statements are true at the same time. Paradox is as close as the rational mind can get to the Truth. Relinquish identification with the rational mind and this paradox is no longer a problem. Even in the sense that others do exist, they do not exist because ultimately all is one. It depends upon the level of awareness from which you are exploring the idea of relationship.

There are two choices in my world: align with Self, or do not. When I am aligned with Self, I am on purpose. When I am aligned with Self, I am the unconditional love that resides at the core of my being. When I am aligned with Self, I am in a state of supreme power and authenticity. When I choose not to align with Self, I am disconnected from the Source of all life; I am in a state of confusion. Thus, the purpose of life is to be my Self. I can’t put it any more succinctly than that.

Q: And how do I get to your place of awareness? Must I spend eight years wandering in the wilderness?

D: There is nowhere to get to. It is a case of opening your eyes and seeing yourself clearly for the first time. My world is a realisable state of being, not a destination. You must follow your own path and use the tools that present themselves to you along the way. Allow your life to unfold. The very fact that you are asking these questions is evidence enough that you are on the right track. Ultimately, only you know the answers to your questions. Go within and connect with the wisdom that waits to reveal itself to you. You are the teacher that you have been searching for. I can only direct you back to yourself. Cease your search for answers in your exterior world and look within. The same power that moves the mountains and orchestrates the orbit of the planets resides within you. Trust yourself and listen to the gentle guidance of your heart.

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