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cassie@mistymeadowsschool.co.za

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+27 83 749 1066

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Misty Meadows Farm, #14, D17, Dargle, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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PO Box 109, Dargle, 3265

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-29.470561, 30.075910

Term Dates 2019

TERM 1

Wed 16 January - Fri 15 March

TERM 2

Wed 3 April - Fri 14 June

Public Holidays:

Friday 19 April (Good Friday)

Monday 22 April (Family Day)

Mon 29 Apr - Wed 1 May (long weekend for Freedom Day and Workers Day)

TERM 3

Wed 10 July - Fri 20 September

Public Holidays:

Fri 9 Aug (Women's Day)

TERM 4

Tues 8 October - Fri 6 December

Designing Organic Future Schools

April 21, 2015

 

Based on my initial hypothesis that it is perfectly possible for our education system to function in such a way that it enables all children to thrive and reach their full potential, I defined our education system’s functional purpose as follows:

 

The purpose of this education system is TO ENABLE each and every child to acquire the skills and knowledge and develop the capacities necessary to reach his or her full potential as thriving adults in the twenty first century.

 

I have now clarified that the way in which the education system will enable children reach their full potential is by providing an enabling environment for children’s self-directed learning to flourish.

 

Because natural systems have to adapt constantly to variations in their environment, their blueprint (the growth pattern that they follow) needs to be flexible enough to allow continuous variation and mutation to occur in response to current events, so it cannot specify outcomes, it can only specify a pattern of behaviour (a process) that enables constant adaptation. Likewise the operating principles of enabling learning environments should specify a pattern that enables constant evolution and adaptation and not an end result. As with all fractal systems, this list of operating principles for an organic education system does not have to be complex in order for a rich and multifaceted result to emerge.

 

So, if an education system is a “collectively agreed structure and set of roles, methods, procedures and routines used to educate children” then an organic education system is a structure, set of roles, methods, procedures and routines that enables each child to develop its inherent potential to the full as the central agent in his or her learning process.

 

Key features of enabling learning environments

 

From all of the research that I described in my blog on how children learn and what constrains children’s ability to learn effectively, it is quite possible to extrapolate what some of the key features of an enabling learning environment should be. For example:

 

1. If children have multiple different types of intelligence and personalities and make sense of the world in many different ways, and the process of learning is not linear or predictable for every child, then an enabling environment for children to learn would be a flexible environment which accepts, understands, supports and encourages a wide variety of learning styles and personalities and does not attempt to be prescriptive about or standardise teaching or learning.

 

2. If children construct their own learning in ways that make sense to them then an enabling learning environment would not be prescriptive about what children should learn, but should rather provide a wide variety of building blocks (learning resources) with which children can construct their own learning in ways that make sense to them. I have already discussed the fact that quality learning cannot occur as effectively in a content vacuum and the richer the variety of learning resources a child has access to, the greater variety of learning constructions he will be able to build. I mentioned that unschooling would not be suitable for children without supportive adults, access to a rich learning environment, open access to learning resources and information and access to a wider community than just their family, so clearly an enabling learning environment needs to offer these things.

 

3. If children are more highly motivated by the desire to know something (intrinsic factors) than by rewards like good marks (extrinsic factors), an enabling learning environment should encourage and support children’s intrinsic desire to know and understand things. This includes children’s desire to know and understand themselves. If children are put off learning when they are forced to learn abstract information that they do not feel is relevant to their lives, clearly an enabling environment needs to help children to figure out who they are and what is relevant in their lives (develop the whole child and not just the brain).

 

4. If children perform better when trusted to perform rather than coerced to do so then an enabling learning environment should not be a coercive authoritarian environment, but should rather be an environment that trusts children to know what they want to know and simply supports them in the process of coming to know this. Similarly, if children are capable of learning things on their own without an expert teacher telling them how to learn it, an enabling environment should leave children to learn things on their own and rather than the teacher operating as an expert telling them how to learn, ‘teachers’ should function as supporters of the child’s own process – offering encouragement and being available as a sounding board, advisor or mentor when the child requests their support, but not forcing this support on the child.

 

5. If children’s interest in learning is constrained by having to learn content defined by others, then an enabling learning environment should not define the content that children must learn. An enabling learning environment should rather focus on supporting children to determine what content is relevant to their own lives. Learning should always feel personally relevant.

 

6. If children’s skills and abilities are multi-dimensional and standardised academic tests are incapable of measuring these skills and abilities, then an enabling learning environment should not undertake standardised academic tests to measure what children know. If parents or educators are interested in understanding what children are learning, and how, then this could be assessed far more accurately if children are encouraged to choose their own medium to share their learning (maybe they could keep a journal, write a story, paint a picture, cook a meal, make a piece of furniture, sew an outfit, build a house, make a movie, tell their story as a speech, or in whatever other way makes sense to them).

 

7. If children experience life horizontally (as a series of inter-connected, multi-disciplinary experiences) and therefore they find horizontal, multi-disciplinary learning processes more logical than the siloed vertical learning processes called subjects that they learn at the old version of school, then an enabling learning environment would encourage and support horizontal learning processes. Examples of horizontal learning processes include inquiry-based learning (for example: finding out the answer to a question) and project-based learning (for example: engaging in a project to design, make and sell a product). The most important feature of these processes is that they should be self-organised (built up from the bottom) by the children and not pre-determined by the learning environment. I have also already mentioned that process is more important than content, so clearly an enabling learning environment needs to be committed to enabling open-ended learning processes and to embrace anything as potential learning curricula rather than pre-determine the curriculum.

 

8. If an abundance of free time is necessary for creative thought, then an enabling learning environment should allow children an abundance of free time rather than structuring children’s time for maximum efficiency (fitting in as much as possible into the day).

 

9. If children learn better collaboratively than in isolation, then clearly an enabling learning environment needs to encourage and support collaborative learning.

 

From these key features of an enabling learning environment, I have defined a list of organic (fractal) operating principles for the creation and ongoing evolution of enabling learning environments or future schools. The difference between an operating principle and a key feature is that an operating principle is part of the design of a system, whereas the key features are the output of the system (what will emerge when these operating principles are put into practice). For this system to work at all levels and in all ways the operating principles that I define need to be fractal (create a simple pattern of behaviour that is unconstrained and can continue to unfold indefinitely without intervention at all scales).

 

Operating Principles for Enabling Learning Environments or Future Schools

 

I have defined fifteen operating principles for Enabling Learning Environments or Future Schools. These are the principles that I have used in the creation of Misty Meadows School.

 

CATEGORY 1: Founding philosophy

1. Acknowledge the rights and abilities of all children

2. The child is the central agent of his/her learning process

 

CATEGORY 2: Roles and responsibilities

3. Adults role is to facilitate learning and mentor learners (not to be experts)

4. Administration should only exist to enable the emergence of organic education (decentralised, non-hierarchical, experience sharing, etc)

5. Encourage a culture of personal accountability

 

CATEGORY 3: Features of the learning environment

6. Provide rich (multi-faceted) physical learning environments

7. Provide open access to information, expertise and learning resources

 

CATEGORY 4: Features of the learning approach and process

8. Everything is a potential learning resource

9. Focus on learning processes rather than learning outcomes and keep these horizontal (multidisciplinary) not siloed into subjects

10. Commit to cooperation and collaborative learning processes

11. Integrate children into real life and make learning relevant to real life

12. Focus on flexible assessment of learning

13. Allow for reflection time (not all time needs to be outwardly productive in order to be valuable)

14. Focus on supporting the development of the whole child and not just the brain

15. Encourage community participation

 

 

 

To describe each of these principles in more detail:

 
1. Acknowledge the rights and abilities of all children

 

Organic education starts with an acknowledgement of the rights and abilities of all children and the commitment to support and enhance these rights and abilities

  • Organic education starts from the assumption that all children are uniquely capable, intelligent and skilled in hundreds of different ways (it values their diversity, including different temperaments and learning styles).
  • All children deserve the opportunity to develop their capacities, whatever these might be.
  • All learning is equally valid, no matter what it is.
  • Understand that intelligence is not static and unchanging and comparing and ranking children is limiting. Always believe that children have the capacity to change and improve at something. Science has shown that brain function changes dramatically in response to what we think and feel (believe) (see Dr Bruce Lipton’s Biology of Belief).
  • Trust children (they learned how to walk and talk on their own, trust that they will learn how to read, write, do maths, etc on their own when it is relevant to them).
  • Support the development of free-range children: Free range children get treated as smart, young, capable individuals, not as invalids who need constant attention and help, like battery chickens who are unfit for the normal rigours of everyday life.

 

2. The child is the central agent of his/her learning process within an enabling learning environment

 

Organic education is child-centred, self-organised learning in a supportive, enabling ecosystem.

  • The child is the central agent in organic education and the system is there to support and enable the child and not to control or limit him/her. The child is the spider in the middle of a learning web and not at the bottom of a learning hierarchy.
  • Child-centred learning prioritises diversity, curiosity and creativity rather than conformity and testing. It uses the natural tendencies inherent within every child. Individualised learning is important.
  • Let go of one-size-fits-all, authoritarian, mechanistic education and understand that a child’s organic learning unfolds in similar ways to nature’s ecosystems: decentralised, self-regulating, cooperative, resourceful, diverse, always adapting and shifting in response to new information and changing conditions, active and always in motion, with built-in feedback mechanisms. This can be illustrated as a learning web with the child in the centre and the web as the supportive, enabling inter-connected learning environment.
  • Nobody has the authority to tell a child what or how to learn unless the child agrees to buy into a process voluntarily. The child always has the right to question the process and adapt it.
  • Each child will have different needs, abilities and interests and, as the central agent in their education, they should be supported and enabled to explore these needs, abilities and interests, whatever they may be.
3. Adults (Teachers) role is to facilitate learning and mentor learners (not to be experts)

 

The importance of good mentors as part of a child-centred learning process (good teachers to nurture the children’s processes and self-belief, as well as to provide ‘curiosity catalysts’ along the way) is paramount. Child-centred does not mean no adult involvement – rather it means far more thoughtful and flexible adult involvement. Instead of the adults pre-determining how and what children learn, they need to start from what the children are telling them and focus primarily on allowing the process to unfold, only steering it when and where necessary. I would use the analogy of a boat going down a river – the boat only really needs to be steered if it is about to hit rocks or if it is spinning around in an eddy and not moving forwards, otherwise the current will guide the boat with no need for external intervention. 

  • Any adult who supports a child’s learning is a teacher.
  • By virtue of the fact that adults have been on the planet longer than children they have a richer memory bank of experience from which to draw in any situation. For this reason adults have the potential to be excellent mentors and guides to children in their own learning processes. The most important thing for adults to know is that they do not necessarily know what the right answer is for a specific child in a given situation, but they can nonetheless share their own experience where appropriate, as well as provide a safe and nurturing environment for that child to figure out the right answer for him or herself in the current circumstance.
  • Ivan Illich talks about children needing people who serve as models for skills and values as well as elders who challenge them – this is the role of adults in education.
  • Teachers should therefore function as facilitators, mentors, guides and co-learners rather than experts within the system, unless requested to advise a child in an expert capacity.
  • The role of the teacher is to encourage children to think, not teach them what to think.
  • Teachers should keep away from fixed A-Z lesson plans – rather define themes and offer ‘curiosity catalysts’ (ask questions) and guidance, but allow lessons to evolve based on how the children approach a subject. The guiding role can be more pronounced for adults working with younger children, but always allow the process to unfold according to the children (adults should lead from the back).
  • Teachers should focus on providing encouragement and/or direction for children when requested to do so or when they see that a learning process has stalled.
  • Teachers need to understand the concept of the neuroplasticity of our brains. Science has shown that what we believe affects how our brains function (see Dr Bruce Lipton’s Biology of Belief). Knowing that performance can change when one’s mind is changed, instead of telling a child ‘You are not good at maths’, say ‘How can we improve your maths skills?’
  • Teachers should acknowledge the importance of being good role models. Health for the whole of life depends on how adults conduct themselves in the presence of a child. Children imitate adults, so it is up to adults to become worthy of this imitation. Don’t preach morals –show children the behaviour you would like them to emulate. Joseph Chilton-Pearce, the author of several books on children including Magical Child says “We must be who we want our children to become” (quoted from Touch the Future website, www.ttfuture.org).
  • Teachers should have the self-awareness to be able to guide and mentor children without their own personalities and/or personal perceptions getting in the way.
  • Our methods of discipline should model our values and not contradict them. We cannot separate discipline from education – children are learning from us through how we deal with them in every moment. Discipline (from the word ‘disciple’ or follower) implies teaching or guiding and leading by example. It is motivation-based, and done with love and respect (from Discipline for Peace). The best way to discipline children is to model the sort of behaviour that we would like them to emulate. Don’t hit, swear, shout, or do anything you are telling them not to do.  The best way to teach children to lead is to be good leaders, etcetera. All through history children have looked to adults to learn how to behave – often they were apprenticed to a master (whether spiritual or practical) in order to learn from someone who had accomplished mastery in a given practice.
  • Teachers should be conscious of their role in providing emotional security for children (children need to feel loved and supported by adults)
  • Teachers should listen to children: ‘listen to the small things because they might be big things for the child’.
  • Teachers should know each child that they interact with well and therefore should not be expected to interact with hundreds of different children every day.
  • This is negotiable, but I believe that children benefit from being exposed to more than one teacher at a time – different teachers often have different perspectives on the same child and the same process – more than one perspective is bound to be better.

This principle points to the encouragement of a different set of skills and personalities into the teaching profession.

 

4. Administration should only exist to enable the emergence of learning webs

 

All participants in an organic education system are there as an ecosystem to enable and support the emergence of child-centred, self-organised learning

  • The term ‘school’ includes a physical or virtual learning environment and all the stakeholders working in that environment to support children to learn (this would include the children, teachers, administrators and parents). Even home schools are ‘schools’ in this definition.
  • The role of the school is to create and support an enabling physical, social and emotional environment for learning to occur, both collectively and individually.
  • Schools do not have to all look the same or operate in exactly the same way. Schools should be free to choose an organisational framework (if any) that works for them. For example, dividing children into classes/learning groups and assigning teachers to groups. However this does not necessarily have to be standardised by grade, or size of class. This should be up for discussion in the establishment of the school, and should be reconsidered regularly and revised if thought necessary by all the stakeholders in the school.
  • All stakeholders in the school should individually and collectively define learning outcomes and processes and commit to supporting children develop the skills relevant to life in the twenty first century. These should be reconsidered regularly as part of a constant feedback loop.
  • The role of school is to help children to access what they need in order to learn, without prescribing what it is or how they must use it.
  • The school is responsible for developing and maintaining a sustainable financial management plan to continue functioning for the benefit of the children who attend the school.
  • The school is responsible for appointing teachers who are able to fill the role of teachers as defined above.
  • School administration should be limited to enabling the school to flourish organically, with no unnecessary bureaucracy and no coercive authority over children. 
  • The school is responsible for collectively ensuring democracy and equal rights flourish.
  • There should be an ongoing process of experience sharing between schools within the system as a whole for mutual benefit.
  • Centralised EDUCATION ADMINISTRATION exists only to enhance the interconnectedness of the learning ecosystem.
  • Children are the central agent in an organic education system, not the administration as in a mechanistic system.
  • The administration should not set detailed centralised rules and standards and ensure compliance to those rules and standards. Rather its role is to support and enable children’s learning to emerge.
  • The main role for a collective education body in an organic education system is to enable learning to flourish unlimitedly in the system by supporting broad and narrow processes of experience sharing between children, teachers, schools and parents.
  • Administration should be based on self-accountability – no tests, no inspectorate – trusting people to be accountable for themselves
  • A collective administration body could possibly define a list of broad learning outcomes in order to support teachers, but teachers should interpret these in their own ways depending on the needs of the children they teach.
  • Children, together with their parents, should choose their preferred education methods (including whether they want to go to a school or do homeschooling). The education administration should provide a supporting role in enabling these decisions, including helping children figure out what would be the most appropriate learning environment for them. This does not mean that children should be coerced to go to school based on judgements about their home situation. 
  •  School Districts and Education Departments should be lean and streamlined and should be allowed to operate in a de-centralised, self-regulating, cooperative, resourceful way – mainly for experience-sharing purposes.
5. Encourage a culture of personal accountability

 

Education environments should create and maintain a culture of accountability, respect, trust and responsibility

  • Acknowledge that, as the central agent in their education, children need to be accountable for their behaviour.
  • Children who are aware of, and can manage, their emotions, demonstrate caring and concerns for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and handle challenging social situations constructively.
  • Encourage supportive relationships between teachers and children and among children that encourage open communication and positive ways to resolve problems and conflicts.
  • Develop good working relationships between schools and families to foster two-way communication about student growth/development
  • Develop school norms, values and policies that emphasise respect for others and appreciation of differences.
  • Allow school to function as a democratic system where everyone has equal say in how the school operates – everyone knows their rights and knows and agrees the process whereby their rights and the rights of others are maintained.
  • Establish some basic limiting conditions for behaviour at school:
    • Do no harm to people, places or things
    • Equal rights for all (nobody should flourish at the expense of someone else, A.S. Neill’s Summerhill school calls this ‘freedom, not licence’)
    • Take personal responsibility for your own learning experience and life – if you don’t like what you are experiencing, first change yourself (Change the mirror and not the reflection).
  • School should encourage self-management and personal responsibility – a culture of engagement, excellence and mastery. Willingness to persevere, do over if necessary. RESILIENCE

 

6. Provide rich (multi-faceted) physical learning environments

 

Education environments should be rich physical environments that are conducive to learning

  • Children require a physical environment that is rich in learning potentials and conducive to learning. This includes a wide variety of physical spaces (indoors, outdoors, libraries, museums, etcetera).
  • Children should have access to a wide variety of physical learning materials in their environment (for example: paints, clay, construction materials, creative materials, musical instruments, gardens, trees to climb, etcetera)
  • Prepared physical environments act as catalysts for self-organised learning to emerge.
  • Learning spaces should be flexible and not rigid – children need to be able to customise their learning spaces to the processes they are engaged in.
  • All schools need to be beautiful, not just the expensive ones. Beauty does not have to cost a lot of money - children and their communities can work together to make sure that their environment is beautiful to them and personalised.
  • Exposure to the natural world is vitally important for children to flourish and natural elements should be incorporated into children’s learning environments wherever and however possible.
7. Provide open access to information, expertise and learning resources

 

Education environments should provide children with open access to information and expertise

  • Acknowledge that information abundance is a key ingredient for organic learning to occur.
  • Provide open access to information via the Internet or “the global brain” (with some adult supervision to ensure appropriateness of content if concerned).
  • Acknowledge that, whilst technology is a wonderful tool for good education, but not a substitute for the personal skills necessary to guide and mentor learners.
  • Provide open access to books or any other sources of information that would function as learning catalysts for children.
  • Provide open access to adult expertise. Access to real life human experience or expertise could enable children to learn and practice certain skills, for example martial arts or cooking or language or carpentry or music. Children should be able to ask for expert help, for example if they want to learn how to build something they should ask a builder to show them, or a mathematician if they are trying to solve a math’s problem.
  • A collective learning environment (school) would be a more cost-effective model for accessing the information, expertise and learning resources necessary to enable quality learning. In this case there is logic in economies of scale, although bigger is not always better.
8. Everything is a potential learning resource

 

Acknowledge that absolutely anything physical, mental, emotional or spiritual is a potential learning catalyst for children.

  • Something does not have to be found in a textbook in order for it to be a valuable learning resource.
  • It is necessary to be creative and inspired in finding and/or applying learning resources to suit the interests of each different child.
  • Everything is a potential learning resource – there is a lot of open source online material that could be accessed, or teachers could create their own materials as required – guided by the child’s interest.
9. Focus on learning processes rather than outcomes and keep these horizontal (multidisciplinary and not siloed into subjects)

 

Organic learning processes are child-centred, personalised, multidisciplinary, collaborative, self-organised, relevant to real life, participatory, non-linear, CONSTANTLY EVOLVING and engage the whole child (not just the brain).

Design and encourage child-centred and personalised learning processes

  • Acknowledge that each child is unique and learns uniquely
  • Design learning processes that can be personalised by the child, or allow children to design their own. Include built-in feedback loops.
  • Keep away from fixed lesson plans –allow lessons to evolve based on how the children approach a subject
  • Allow intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivation for learning (I want to know this, not I have to learn this so that I can pass a test)

 Design and encourage horizontal (multidisciplinary) learning processes

  • Acknowledge that organic learning is non-linear, multidisciplinary and continuously evolving
  • Move away from fragmented vertical subject silos to exploring integrated/interconnected concepts across multiple disciplines.
  • Realise that learning is not static but continuously evolving – allow learning processes to unfold towards a natural conclusion.
  • Develop fluid intelligence – ability to see patterns and solve novel problems without prior information or knowledge by having capacity to manipulate information and having a good attention span.
  • Encourage constructivist learning: education beginning with the curiosity of the learner, who then constructs meaning from building up information from numerous sources and pulls it all together.
  • Accept that the process of learning assumes equal weight as an outcome. Make thinking visible!
  • Design learning journeys using one of the methods for horizontal learning:
    • Inquiry-based learning (centred on answering a question)
    • Project-based learning (centred on achieving a specific goal)
    • Design-based learning (centred on designing a product or process) Design thinking using authentic/real life contexts – teach children to think like designers. Art and design thinking permeates the adult workplace these days. It takes imaginative thinking to design a better widget.

Encourage and support self-organised learning

  • Acknowledge that teachers do not always know the best path a learning journey should take
  • Allow and encourage self-directed or self-organised (non-linear) learning to emerge, both in groups and individually

Encourage exploration of and experimentation with new methods of teaching and learning

  • Acknowledge that our society is evolving at an increasingly rapid rate and that new methods of teaching and learning are emerging continuously – some of which might radically improve education.
  • Schools and teachers should always be open to trying new approaches and adapting old approaches when necessary.
  • Teachers must have the freedom to try new methods and approaches without constant intervention.
  • Teachers should report back on their classroom experiences to the rest of the school (and beyond) so that all teachers benefit from a rapid feedback loop.
  • Teachers need to commit to continuous professional development and lifelong learning to continue to evolve as society evolves.
 
10. Commit to cooperation and collaborative learning

 

Design and support collaborative learning processes

  • The need for children to learn how to cooperate and collaborate to solve humanities problems is far greater than the need to beat others in warlike games (competition), no matter how much fun they are to play. Competition and the desire to win are natural human instincts, but increasingly in the ‘real world’ they are being replaced by attitudes of cooperation and collaboration for the mutual benefit of all (globalisation versus nationalism).
  • Acknowledge that peer learning is the most natural learning process and extremely effective. Collaborative learning offers instant feedback loops and therefore faster evolution of ideas.
  • Teach the values and language of teams: accountability, commitment, collaborative communication, shared observation.
  • Design learning processes centred on collaborative learning
  • Encourage cooperative learning in groups
  • Allow multi-age learning groups to emerge.

 

11. Integrate children into real life and make learning relevant to real life

 

Provide authentic contexts and relevant content for learning (relevance to real life)

  • Acknowledge that children learn more and better when the context of what they are learning is authentic and not artificially created.
  • Experiential learning through visits to real life contexts are excellent
  • Problem-based learning should focus on real life situations (for example: use case studies, or ask questions about real life problems)
  • Children should feel that ‘school is life’ and not isolated from life – they do not have to leave their real selves at home in order to fit in to an artificial environment that does not acknowledge their authentic selves.
  • Where teachers are offering content it needs to be relevant to children’s lives, or something that children are actually interested in (for example, look at the poetry (or lack thereof) in popular songs).

 

12. Focus on flexible assessment of learning

 

Engage in flexible assessment

  • Acknowledge that all children cannot be measured according to the same (arbitrary) standards
    • There is no need to benchmark children’s abilities relative to their peers (we do not know what each child really needs to know, and not all children need to know the same things in the same way at the same age – some will get there more slowly or via a different route)
    • Support a process of self-assessment through documentation of the process of the child’s learning. Let the children keep a record (written, audio, digital, multimedia, artistic) of their learning process. They should discuss this with adults on an ongoing basis (either formally or informally) to illustrate their personal progress
    • Allow intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivation for learning (I want to know this, not I have to learn this so that I can pass a test)
    • Accept that the process of learning assumes equal weight as the outcome, therefore it is important for children to make their thinking visible and be able to describe how they came to their outcome.

 

13. Allow for reflection time (not all time has to appear outwardly productive to be valuable)

 

 Include time for reflection into the school day

  • Acknowledge that children need time to reflect on their learning and their life and this might not always appear to be productive time.
  • Because learning is not always linear or predictable - some ideas, especially original ones, need time to incubate whilst children play, or relax, or chat to friends.
  • Accept that all problems are not solved linearly in 50 minute periods – sometimes SLOW is actually FASTER.
  • Incorporate reflection time into the school day – this can be guided and/or alone time.
  • Let children decide when they need time out – only interfere when they become disruptive of others as per the conditions specified in point 3 above.

 

14. Focus on supporting the development of the whole child and not just the brain

 

Focus on developing the whole child and not just the brain

           
  • Acknowledge that the education system should be focused on supporting the development of the whole child and not just the intellect.
  • Any activities that include an element of creativity (art, music, dance, movement, architecture, landscaping, cooking), mind-body connection (yoga, martial arts), or life skills (woodwork, gardening, cooking), or self-mastery (archery, tightrope walking) are examples of whole child learning.
  • Incorporate body, mind and spirit in learning.
  • Encourage and support children’s search for meaning – integrating heart and brain.
  • Provide multisensory learning experiences, eg. Awareness Through the Body
  • Provide access to a variety of creative outlets including such things as music, art, drama, crafts, dance, cooking, and give these activities equal importance to academic pursuits.
  • Provide access to a variety of physical outlets including sport and any activities that enhance body awareness and control (for example, gym, martial arts, dance, yoga, juggling, slack-lining)
  • Encourage children to use their intuition: Intuition inevitably encourages individualism, a new way of looking at things and the courage to try new things. Living an intuitive life will give a child a greater responsibility for the self. It encourages them to understand that they are connected, and therefore they need to give consideration to others when it comes to taking action or making choices. As children move deeper into their intuitive selves their behaviour will reflect values of kindness, compassion and personal accountability.

 

15. Encourage community participation

 

Today children have very little exposure to any adults outside of their immediate family and school teachers, and almost no exposure to their community ‘elders’. This separation from extended community is tragic for us

Encourage community participation

  • Acknowledge that children are part of a community and separating them from that community is not beneficial. In most of our past as a species humans have lived in extended family groups, with the children having unlimited access to adults of all ages, and vice versa. Children learned how to do things by watching adults, and learned about their culture and morals often from the elders of their community. As a social species our children should have access to the collective knowledge and wisdom of their ancestors, as shared through community connection.
  • Invite parents and other community members to come to participate in school activities whenever and however possible.
  • Invite parents and other community members to share their expertise with the school, either through visiting the school, or inviting children to visit their workplace or home.
  • Children should be encouraged to participate in their community’s social or environmental welfare projects (clean ups, visits to retirement homes, fundraising for shelters, etcetera)
Conclusion

 

I believe that following these fractal operating principles FUTURE SCHOOLS will develop, evolve and flourish in a multitude of different ways and at a wide variety of scales across the planet. However, this variety should not frighten people away as being unsystematic because as I have now explained, organic education is not chaotic and unstructured, rather it is highly systematic, but following a simple non-linear fractal (organic) pattern.

 

 

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