If the economy comes crumbling down, it is likely that the educational system will too. But that doesn’t mean we should be educating children to support an economy that relies on exponential growth when the Earth’s resources are dwindling (which is essentially this is what we are doing when we agree to rigid assessments and emphasize productivity over individual and collective well-being).
While there is plenty of evidence that public and private school administrators and teachers are becoming more progressive, we don’t have to – and shouldn’t simply – wait for an educational reform. We certainly can’t wait for the system to crumble.
Fortunately, many haven’t been waiting for others to make the change. Here are examples of groups of learners who envisioned and committed to evolutionary ways of learning and living:
Natural Learning Community Children’s School (homeschooling group)
keywords: Reggio inspired; equality, respect and eco-conscious; exploration, observation, listening, interaction and active participation; enriching and stimulating; whole child; comfort, love and peace
With a program based upon mutual respect for each other, oneself, materials, the space, and those around them, as well as the knowledge and understanding of the child as a competent being, parents will be equipped with the knowledge and comfort that their children will be learning through exploration in a hands-on environment that is tailored to the children’s specific interests and inquisitions.
Self-Design (online and in-person mentoring)
keywords: self-directed, self-paced, self-awareness; support from mentor; relationships and connection to community
At SelfDesign, we believe that every child, youth, and adult brings a unique contribution to the world. We ensure the learning environment becomes the vehicle rather than the obstacle in making those contributions come to life.
Enki Education (resource development and teacher training)
keywords: integration of body, heart and mind; confidence, competence and commitment to environment and community; all academics taught through the arts; multicultural; interwoven, ecosystems of education
Our outlook weaves together many diverse elements in order to support our fundamental premise: the central task of both parenting and education, whether in the home, the classroom, or the homeschool, is the integration of body, heart, and mind within each child and parent. The result is the cultivation of an independent and flexible confidence – one that leads to competence, compassion and delight.
The Whole School (an elementary school)
keywords: curiosity, imagination, enthusiasm and confidence; experience based; multi-aged and non-competitive; freedom and inclusion; parent and community involvement
The Whole School aims to foster the social, emotional, spiritual, physical and intellectual growth of every child. The full potential of learners is nurtured in a safe, non-competitive, inspiring environment thereby promoting a life long love of learning. Emphasis is placed on artistic expression, environmental stewardship, experiential learning and social justice. Parents collaborate with teachers, are active volunteers and key to the nurturing social climate.
If you would like qualitative evidence that learners are thriving in a variety of different educational settings (Waldorf, Montessori, Gandhi, Yoganada, Krishnamurti, and more), you may want to read Anne Adam’s dissertation on Systemic and Integral Education.
Some may see this model as an attempt to create a ‘perfect’ system, which could be rigid and full of compliance measures. Nothing could be further from the vision. Integral education cannot be forced and it does not fit a specific formula. It is an approach that necessitates engagement from everyone and an implementation that addresses multiple intelligences, styles of learning and integral philosophy and practices.
Homeschooling is no longer only for religious families. Alternative education is no longer only for kids who won’t stay in their desks. More and more families and communities of learners are choosing (or at least considering) holistic approaches to education.
The landscape of learning is shifting.