“What a person learns in a classroom is how to be a person in a classroom.” – Clark Aldrich
It is tragic how many of us have been—and still are—duped into believing that classroom learning is absolutely necessary and helpful for everyone. In most “developed” or “first world” countries, there is a strong belief in the power of education that goes hand-in-hand with the absolute necessity of traditional schooling.
But is it?
Just because countless generations, including our own, have gone through traditional schools, whether public or private, does that mean that all future generations should too?
My own experience as a student wasn’t horrible. The system put me on the honor roll, gave me a National Hispanic Scholarship and helped me become a diligent student and academic achiever—a winner. It did not, however, prepare me for adult life and autonomy. When my 17 years in the school system were over, my safety net of classes and grades, projects, papers and syllabi disappeared. As a result, I suffered for several years battling depression, anxiety and mania.
We all know that the system is broken and the attempts at reform are akin to using band-aids to treat someone who is bleeding to death.
There has to be another way. It is time for a new model of more personalized, meaningful education. We need to uproot the old system and start anew. We need to reconnect to our enthusiasm and passions as our impetus for learning. We need to collaborate, to innovate and to give up constantly competing. We need to drop out of the race to nowhere and learn to be free. Here are some ideas of how:
3. Natural Learning Communities. (Montessori, Waldorf and similar models)
4. Summer camp.
5. Public libraries.
6. Internships and apprenticeships.
7. Running errands.
8. Taking family trips.
9. Self-study. (Mindfulness and meditation)
10. Learning to play a musical instrument.
11. Taking a music or art class.
12. Exploring a museum.
13. Participating in (and watching) community theatre and improv.
14. Joining a book club.
15. Joining a writing group.
16. Starting up a garage band.
17. Making home movies.
18. Starting a small business.
21. Playing chess, checkers and other strategic games.
22. Taking yoga classes.
23. Doing guided visualizations.
24. Playing team sports.
25. Developing and maintaining an exercise routine.
26. Learning to cook.
27. Learning to sew, knit, crochet, quilt, etc.
29. Going on a meditation retreat.
30. Planning, budgeting and executing an event or trip.
31. Having a conversation with an interesting expert about their experience.
32. Having a conversation with an elderly person about their life.
33. Reading whatever literature you want to—as opposed to textbooks, forced classics and Cliff’s Notes.
This is just a beginning, a budding brainstorm.
What other ways of learning would you add to the list?