One that truly supports them, honors their wisdom, provides useful and practical skills and allows them to develop their gifts
These educational principles are based on three basic assumptions.
Children have a natural curiosity and desire to learn and they do so most efficiently and successfully when they can engage in the process in a largely self-directed and exploratory manner. Forcing learning/topics/curriculum on children who are not interested or engaged quashes curiosity and creates a dislike of learning.
Children have the innate ability to learn, develop and grow. Just like talking, crawling and walking come naturally, so too will most necessary life skills when surrounded by a rich environment and exposed to a variety of materials and experiences.
Children have an inborn desire to become functional members of the family and tribe. Given appropriate support and encouragement, children will desire to participate in the work and tasks that they see adults around them engaged in.
Starting from these assumptions, the necessary elements for a new kind of education would include the following:
1. Social/emotional intelligence Developing skills around emotional awareness, expression and regulation, interpersonal interactions, relationships and group dynamics. Also, teaching mindfulness and body practices that support groundedness, balance and well-being.
2. Creativity and intuition/ connection to source Supporting and encouraging creative thinking and expression, following intuition and being in the flow. Consciously working to avoid limited ways of thinking, encouraging imagination, and building a solid relationship with expansion and possibility.
3. Self-direction and co-creation Following inspiration, interests, and curiosity, using this to guide the learning experience. Being active agents in self-direction and co-creating the educational experience.
4. Connection to the earth/land and nature Spending a majority of structured and unstructured time in nature gaining knowledge around wilderness awareness and ecology, and developing practical skills related to things such as food production and preparation, natural building, handcrafts/ancestral skills and land stewardship. Fostering a knowledge base to empower resilience, self-care and survival.
5. Understanding the self Exploring different models for understanding one’s own design/blueprint and path for engaging with and relating to life. This could include things like astrology, human design, gene keys, learning styles, temperaments, etc. Discussing and recognizing different approaches to learning, life and preferences. Teaching self-understanding and self-acceptance while also valuing differences and honoring the perspective of others.
6. Skill sharing and apprenticeship opportunities Drawing on the expertise of the community, learning a variety of crafts, skills and handwork techniques. Developing relationships for apprenticeship opportunities for older kids.
7. Community connection, involvement and development Incorporating seasonal celebrations/events, initiations and rites of passage as part of the educational structure. Building community by involving a variety of people in educational experiences. Seeing this education as embedded within a context of people and place.
We are currently in development on this model!
To see where we are in this process and support our work, check out our website here. We are starting small, but with plans to grow! We hope to provide a development template for others wishing to create this type of education at some point in the near future.