Rethinking Education at the Time of Coronavirus Crisis: The Time is Now to Explore the Benefits of Nature-Based Education in Our Teaching Models
- Kamran Mofid
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Photo: Sheeba Magazine
‘Coronavirus shows us it’s time to rethink everything. Let's start with education.The pandemic is a tough lesson in the workings of the natural world – and proves how vital a knowledge of ecology really is.’- George Monbiot (More on this a bit later)
First a bit of Nota bene!
‘In all my academic life, spanning over four decades, I have been dismayed, frustrated and overwhelmed with pain to notice that our education model has not embraced the beauty and the wisdom of our mother nature and our sacred earth, corporating them into the teaching curriculum.
This, to my mind, has seriously deprived the students, our future leaders, or indeed, our current leaders, to get a wholesome, values-led education, and thus, has prevented them, to vision and implement policies to heal our world, to better our lives.’- Kamran Mofid
When there is no Mother Nature Present- There is no Balanced, Values-led Education
A Time to Rethink What is Valuable, What We Teach, What We Learn, and How We Live
Learning from wise Mother Nature
‘More than parent and student communities, the teaching fraternity needs to understand that the essential purpose of education is not to enable students to earn a living, but to learn how to live life. As the primal teacher, Mother Nature teaches both the secret of life, which is to respect all life, and also how to live one’s own life in harmony and balance with all creation, exemplified by the manner in which various species of the natural world live in peaceful co-existence.’
‘Picture a school where the natural environment becomes the classroom and Nature becomes one of the teachers. Even students who don't exhibit "nature smarts" will become more attuned and connected to the world around them. And as many wise people have said, we can't save something we don't love, and we can't love something we don't know. Don't we owe it to our students to help them develop their naturalist intelligence?’
'Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.'- Aristotle
'We live in a world with many complex problems, at all levels, local, regional and global. It is said that education is the key that opens the door to a more harmonious world. The pertinent question is: What kind of education and learning would help us address these challenges and create a sustainable world and a better life for all?
T.S. Eliot posed the question: "Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?"
Reflecting on the questions above, we are going to need an education system that respects planetary boundaries, that recognises the dependence of human well-being on social relations and fairness, and that the ultimate goal is human well-being and ecological sustainability, not merely growth of material consumption.
The new education model recognises that the economy is embedded in a society and culture that are themselves embedded in an ecological life-support system, and that the economy can't grow forever on this finite planet.
In short, we need to listen to our hearts, re-learn what we think we know, and encourage our children to think and behave differently, to live more in sync with Nature.
If we do this successfully we can become wiser as a species, more “eco-logical.” We and the planet that gave birth to us can be happier and healthier, healed and transformed.'...Our Emotional Inheritance and the need for Emotional Education
All said and done, although, all of us, in our daily lives are facing major crises, uncertainties and challenges, nonetheless, yet, at the same time, we’ve never had a broader canvas on which to sketch big ideas, and try to answer timely and big questions of life and living. With so much of our world turned upside down - from the ways we work, to the things we buy, to the people and experiences we value - we have an opportunity to rethink how our society is organised, and consider how we might wish to do things differently in the future. In this moment, we may find our minds turning to one of the largest questions of all: how we can build a better world for everyone.
In my mind, one of our biggest challenges is to find the proper path of healing, to empower us to discover how we may find the tools we need to build that better world that we are all imagining and hoping for.
I am proud and so happy that in this regard our GCGI has been at the forefront of this path of finding, providing possible answers, solutions to these timely questions and challenges, amongst them, and most importantly, on the role of education to build a better world.
I will highlight more of these a bit later. For now I wish to share a bit from a recent article by George Monbiot with you, very telling and inspiring.
Coronavirus shows us it’s time to rethink everything. Let's start with education
‘The pandemic is a tough lesson in the workings of the natural world – and proves how vital a knowledge of ecology really is.’
‘Imagine mentioning William Shakespeare to a university graduate and discovering they had never heard of him. You would be incredulous. But it’s common and acceptable not to know what an arthropod is, or a vertebrate, or to be unable to explain the difference between an insect and spider. No one is embarrassed when a “well-educated” person cannot provide even a rough explanation of the greenhouse effect, the carbon cycle or the water cycle, or of how soils form.
All this is knowledge as basic as being aware that Shakespeare was a playwright. Yet ignorance of such earthy matters sometimes seems to be worn as a badge of sophistication. I love Shakespeare, and I believe the world would be a poorer and a sadder place without him. But we would survive. The issues about which most people live in ignorance are, by contrast, matters of life and death.
I don’t blame anyone for not knowing. This is a collective failure: a crashing lapse in education, that is designed for a world in which we no longer live. The way we are taught misleads us about who we are and where we stand. In mainstream economics, for example, humankind is at the centre of the universe, and the constraints of the natural world are either invisible or marginal to the models.
In an age in which we urgently need to cooperate, we are educated for individual success in competition with others. Governments tell us that the purpose of education is to get ahead of other people or, collectively, of other nations. The success of universities is measured partly by the starting salaries of their graduates. But nobody wins the human race. What we are encouraged to see as economic success ultimately means planetary ruin.
Large numbers of people now reject this approach to learning – and to life. A survey reported this week suggests that six out of 10 people in the UK want the government to prioritise health and wellbeing ahead of growth when we emerge from the pandemic. This is one of the most hopeful results I have seen in years.
I believe that education should work outwards from our principal challenges and aims. This doesn’t mean we should forget Shakespeare, or the other wonders of art and culture, but that the matters crucial to our continued survival are given the weight they deserve. During the lockdown, I’ve been doing something I’ve long dreamed about: experimenting with an ecological education...
...There’s nothing radical about the things we’re learning: it’s a matter of emphasis more than content – of centralising what is most important. Now, perhaps, we have an opportunity to rethink the entire basis of education. As local authorities in Scotland point out, outdoor learning could be the best means of getting children back to school, as it permits physical distancing. It lends itself to re-engagement with the living world. But, despite years of research demonstrating its many benefits, the funding for outdoor education and adventure learning has been cut to almost nothing.
This is the time for a Great Reset. Let’s use it to change the way we see ourselves and our place on Earth. The conservationist Aldo Leopold once wrote that “one of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen.” But if everyone has an ecological education, we will not live alone, and it will not be a world of wounds.’- Read the original article HERE
A Selection of related and inspiring articles from the GCGI Archives: