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LEARNING AS WE GO, FROM EACH OTHER – LIKE LIFE

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Happiness is the measure of success at our learning center.

Not the flippant, short-lived happy moments of external gratifications and awards. The happiness referred to here is a deeper, inner experience of joy. It is a buzzy feeling we experience when we are living in the moment. It is when we are fully being who we are as unique and incomparable beings once allowed to be that unabridged human being without social editing and labels or expectations.

Happiness is having fun, all the while embracing the environment in and around us as a nurturing and infinitely resourceful place. Like raw clay, we may shape that environment – and be shaped by it – to create a beautiful life for ourselves, and for others.

Self-directed learning

Self-directed learning is a process of patience and gradual evolution.

The world is our text book, living is our syllabus and technology is the reference library.

There are no goals as such, more like wow-moments with no shortage of non-moments: times when things are happening like spring time bursting forth with blossoms and the resulting fruit, and times when seemingly nothing happens like autumn downing its tools to go into standby and recharge mode in winter… These are important stages, like the ebb and flow of the ocean.

Thus the path is process, and the goal ongoing.

Slowly is holy

Unlike “schools” where we have to continuously produce and deliver to mirror the corporate ratrace of grown-ups pushing to make more money and consume more goods towards some elusive goal for happiness, ours is a gentle albeit almost ineffable process of small steps. We take slowly as holy. We immerse ourselves in the miracle contained within each moment with no judgement as to what it looks like from outside.

So if there are no explicit score cards and spreadsheets with results, how do we support each other to be the best us that we can be as we fall, falter, fail, hurt and rejoice as we get up and go again on this path?

Perhaps through simplicity. By keeping it real. Kindness. Mutual support. Testing and checking in with each other. Informal processing as we interact and relate with each other in our myriad of organic activities, passions and games.

We trek along the natural way. We are the material we learn from. We include the diverse nature of resources available to us here and now: our feelings, our super fast wi-fi allowing us immediate access to contemporary tools such as technology on our handheld and desktop devices: Google and playing in the mud, set curricula and unschooling’s self-directed learning, blended together like a lip-smacking potjiekos.

As much as we let go and get covered in mud, we leggo and allow online and gaming time. Life is a game. Especially when we include all aspects of it, embrace it, balance it and integrate online and offline worlds so we grow as round, balanced, modern, now-beings.

We are not anti-establishment or anti-mainstream. We embrace all, conventions as well as alternatives, without hierarchies. We allow whatever life presents us to flow through our space. We play with it, we experiment with it. We utilise and recycle it.

Responsibility for choices and actions

Each choice a learner makes, sets off a chain reaction. Sometimes it causes chaos, hurts feelings. Through individual and group councilling, we reflect on our experiences and contain the allowances in a facilitated and self-directed way. This is the stuff of real life learning materials. For which we encourage responsibility and ownership. We make school rules together. I wash my dishes, I clean my workspace, I own my blames and shames and pains and gains.

These are the life skills that seed our souls’ flower beds. This is where we grow: as animals, as humans, as creatives – co-creatives – as one with creation. To purposefully participate in creating life, my unique life as part of a whole.

 

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NEW BEGINNINGS, OLD WISDOM

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free to learn, free to play

It seems fitting that the first blog for this new website about a dream come true for a mom and dad, both teachers with Utopian ideals for their own kids – and for All kids! – should be an extract from Peter Gray at www.freetolearnbook.com/ . It says it all, in a nutshell:

Free to Learn by Peter Gray

Our children spend their days being passively instructed, and made to sit still and take tests—often against their will. We call this imprisonment schooling, yet wonder why kids become bored and misbehave. Even outside of school children today seldom play and explore without adult supervision, and are afforded few opportunities to control their own lives. The result: anxious, unfocused children who see schooling—and life—as a series of hoops to struggle through.

In Free to Learn, developmental psychologist Peter Gray argues that our children, if free to pursue their own interests through play, will not only learn all they need to know, but will do so with energy and passion. Children come into this world burning to learn, equipped with the curiosity, playfulness, and sociability to direct their own education. Yet we have squelched such instincts in a school model originally developed to indoctrinate, not to promote intellectual growth.

To foster children who will thrive in today’s constantly changing world, we must entrust them to steer their own learning and development. Drawing on evidence from anthropology, psychology, and history, Gray demonstrates that free play is the primary means by which children learn to control their lives, solve problems, get along with peers, and become emotionally resilient. This capacity to learn through play evolved long ago, in hunter-gatherer bands where children acquired the skills of the culture through their own initiatives. And these instincts still operate remarkably well today, as studies at alternative, democratically administered schools show. When children are in charge of their own education, they learn better—and at lower cost than the traditional model of coercive schooling.

A brave, counter intuitive proposal for freeing our children from the shackles of the curiosity-killing institution we call school, Free to Learn suggests that it’s time to stop asking what’s wrong with our children, and start asking what’s wrong with the system. It shows how we can act—both as parents and as members of society—to improve children’s lives and promote their happiness and learning.

May your children embrace this freedom to learn, in these times, now, in this world, in this place.

To our future. Today.

With love and respect

Niko and Simóne