As it has been noted many times before, often mentioned and discussed goals of education relate to ‘meeting our children’s needs’, ‘responsible citizenship’ and ‘equipping students for the future’. Yet, what do such goals mean in a practical sense? How much actual attention is given to a ‘futures dimension’ in the curriculum? How much consideration is given to the needs not only of this generation but future generations? How seriously do we value what young people are saying about the future? How might we enhance the quality of our responses to unmet student needs? How might we begin to contribute more effectively to building cultures of peace and sustainable futures?
To my mind, if education is truly going to contribute to building a better person and a better world, then, it must be values-led, meaningful, spiritual and above all in harmony with nature.
Some may say this is wishful thinking. Not possible. Schooling and education must be all about the world of work, technology, business, money, production and consumption, IT, and such like.
Perhaps, but, I beg to disagree.
Below, I have tried to show three examples of “different” schooling that have shown us it is possible and it is not wishful thinking to have values-led, meaningful, spiritual and above all an education that is in harmony with nature.
The first school, the Deep Green Bush School in New Zealand is the most recent one. The second one is the Sudbury Valley School in the US, a bit older, whilst the third one, A.S.Neill’s Summerhill School in UK, is the oldest one. It was founded in 1921, and has become an influential model for progressive, democratic education around the world.
The Deep Green Bush-School
The Deep Green Bush-School- inspired by the Sudbury Valley School, which in turn was inspired by A.S. Neill’s Summerhill School- is a democratic nature-immersion school for Years 1-13- based on thousands of years of indigenous wisdom and on how humans actually evolved to learn - in freedom. Our highest priority is the health and happiness of our children and future generations, and we will nurture a new generation of young visionaries who will rise to the challenge and help heal our world.
“Concerned that mainstream schools were not preparing children for the global problems of the future – such as climate change – Joey Moncarz, co-founder and head teacher at Deep Green Bush School- envisioned a radically different kind of education, rooted in the primal skills of hunting, gathering and survival.
Moncarz is an ex-mainstream teacher. After five, frustrating years in mainstream schools in New Zealand he quit to found Deep Green Bush school, which has a roll of eight, and no classroom walls, time-out chairs or tests.
“Our parents saw their kids were unhappy and stressed in mainstream education and they started questioning; is it normal or right for kids to come home stressed and unhappy? Having taught in a mainstream school, I’d say most kids are stressed and unhappy,” says Moncarz.
“Lots of people feel there is a disconnect with nature and the outdoors and people value that and are drawn to it.”
“In a modern society to be successful there are a range of skills to be developed and perhaps only some of those can be developed outside.”
Moncarz insists that the school isn’t an “experiment” in education, and is based on two millions years of evidence of how parents have raised their kids, at one with nature.
“We don’t want to be one of a kind, we want to replace mainstream schools,” Moncarz.
“We are using the same wisdom parents have used to teach their kids for millions of years. Locking kids in a classroom and forcing them to learn just causes a lot of problems.”
(Nurturing fearless intelligence and evolutionary instinct)
Sudbury Valley School-USA
Sudbury Valley School, since its founding in 1968, has been a place where children can enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as they grow up in the newly emerging world. From the beginning of their enrolment, no matter what their age, students are given the freedom to use their time as they wish, and the responsibility for designing their path to adulthood.
In our environment, students are able to develop traits that are key to achieving success: They are comfortable learning new things; confident enough to rely on their own judgment; and capable of pursuing their passions to a high level of competence. Children at Sudbury Valley are adaptable to rapid change, open to innovation and creative in solving new problems. Beyond that, they grow to be trustworthy and responsible individuals, and function as contributing members of a free society.
At Sudbury Valley, students from pre-school through high school age explore the world freely at their own pace and in their own unique ways. They develop the ability to direct their own lives, be accountable for their actions, set priorities, allocate resources, deal with complex ethical issues, and work with others in a vibrant community: Sudbury Valley School-USA
A.S Neill's Summerhill School-UK
Founded in 1921, it continues to be an influential model for progressive, democratic education around the world.
Summerhill is the oldest children's democracy in the world. It is probably the most famous alternative or 'free' school. The system that Summerhill employs is not only about education - it is also a different way of parenting which eliminates most of the friction and many of the problems experienced by modern families.
Summerhill is a real place, not a utopia. Living in a community of around 100 people is not always easy. Everybody is learning about themselves, and on a bleak January day, with the east wind blowing, things are sometimes not wonderful!
But Summerhill in summer time is lush, green and not unlike never-never land. It is more of a family or tribe than a school - full of companionship, laughter and real feelings: A.S Neill's Summerhill School-UK
And now this is my dream:
That one day, in my lifetime, there will be universities, everywhere, embodying the values of these schools.
Believe me; given the state of our world today, we need Deep Green Bush, Sudbury Valley, and A.S.Neil’s Summerhill Universities. Seize the day. Carpe diem.
To achieve this, we need to act with wisdom and the commitment to the common good.
How this might be possible?
By focusing on life’s bigger picture:
What is this life all about?
Why am I here? What’s my Life’s purpose? How can I make the most of my Life?
Please now read this beautiful message from a graduate of the university of nature, a source of inspiration to all of us, that the sources of a happy, meaningful and rewarding life is living a simple life in harmony with nature:
‘Light and simple life opens windows to beautiful places every morning’
Mohammad Tajeran. Photo: mehrnews.com
Mohammad Tajeran, 41, packed his life in a 60-liter rucksack 11 years ago and began cycling around the world aiming to promote the protection of environment-Cycling around the world in support of environmental stewardship
“Living a light and simple life is very important. It gives you an opportunity to be dynamic”: ‘Light and simple life opens windows to beautiful places every morning’