When I lived on Capitol Hill, I volunteered at the high-powered Capital Hill Day School, where tuition was as much as a year in college. I observed that the kids there were run day-in and day-out by a program set by their well-meaning, caring (but unawake) parents. Many arrived at school before seven in the morning, dropped off by a parent on their way to work, and many of those kids were there at six in the evening, when they were finally picked up.
My job was to monitor their after-school study hall, help with their homework questions, and keep things running smoothly. I soon began to notice that when these kids finished their homework and had free time, they zoned out on computer games. I remember so well asking one young girl if there wasn’t something she liked to do that she could bring to school just in case she couldn’t get on the games. This child had nothing in her life that interested her—and she was always causing a problem because, I think, of her boredom.
Often, after school there were the usual activities of soccer, football, ballet, cheerleading etc., which meant to me that their lives were entirely driven from outside themselves!
There was another teacher there with whom I developed a rapport, and he told me about a school that he and some friends had established in nearby Maryland. The concept of the school totally intrigued me. I suppose it was like Summerhill that we all read about years ago, but before I’d only seen it as anti-establishment, a sort of thumbing of the nose from those who couldn’t make it in the system, just a bunch of hippies.
Now, maybe because I am awake, I understand it’s value. Briefly, here in an over-simplified way is how it works: When parents send there kids to this school, they are asked to buy into the idea that their children need to make the shift from an outer-directed life to an inner-directed life. They are asked to keep their hands off what is likely going to happen to their children as they make this shift. Typically, a child would arrive at the school and be astonished that there were no formal classes and no required learning. All they had to do was show up every day, and they could do whatever they wanted to do.
The result of this was a child who often didn’t know what to do with himself, and so was simply delighted to play day in and day out. Sometimes it was bike-riding, sometimes skate-boarding, sometimes reading—or even sleeping. Depending on the child, this could go on for some months. Gradually, however, boredom set in, and the child began to observe others around him and what they were doing. He began to ask questions, and perhaps one day he decided he himself wanted to do something, perhaps make something, or fix something, and that is when the teacher finally became more than a proctor. If the child wanted to do something that required certain math skills, this was pointed out—and more often than not, the child decided that in order to create his project if he needed those math skills, well, he would learn them. If he didn’t come around to that viewpoint immediately, well then, he didn’t learn about or create whatever it was that interested him. Eventually, if the adults permitted him the necessary time to figure things out for himself, the child usually came around.
Can you see how that situation could/would advance and multiply exponentially in a positive way if the adults in the child’s life could be helped to stifle their anxiety and stay out of the way—and let this special little creature begin to find out who exactly he is?
Teachers can also serve as instructors about the how-to skills necessary to getting along in life. They can offer basic tools to guide children and help them deal with the many situations that will arise for them later in life—as they show up in microcosm in their school life. Teachers can help children learn to be comfortable with establishing their own boundaries with their classmates, with dealing with put-downs from others without losing their own centers. Teachers can do a great job of helping children to learn what loving themselves is all about. Perhaps that is the most important lesson of all, because until that is understood it is impossible to really love another.
I have a Master’s in Music Education, and it means no more to mean than that I walked through the hoops of the system in order to increase my paycheck at my job. To begin with, I went into music because that’s all there was for me. I had never had the opportunity to explore what else was out there that might interest me. In the degree program, I learned very little that helped me, increased my skills, and made me a better teacher.
Later on in my life, however, when I decided I wanted to make lace, the old-fashioned original bobbin lace that we have all seen antique pieces of, I drove myself relentlessly until I reached a certain point of skill and knowledge. I found teachers whom I respected, I studied in Bruges, Belgium at the Kant Centrum, and I devoted many of my ‘free’ hours each week to learning this skill. Then, I began to teach others. The only reason I gave up lacemaking was that I accidentally discovered painting, and that opened doors for me that went far beyond what lacemaking was all about.
In lacemaking, though, I learned a lot about myself. I learned I love texture, and I delight in fine detail. I learned that I will stick with something until I get it—if it interests me. I learned to like myself better, because I understood that I really didn’t ‘fit’ the general world that my teacher-friends inhabited, and that there most definitely were other worlds out there to explore. I didn’t have to limit myself to the world of my then at-that-time friends.
What I am trying to illustrate here is that when we get passionately interested in something, we will go to great lengths to satisfy our longing to know about it. To all intents and purposes, we will educate ourselves. Teachers can then shift their role to function as wonderful resources in these sorts of schools, and the children they will teach will be filled with boundless enthusiasm and appreciation of their efforts.
As I worked on my own healing, I spent seventeen tough days—and they were only the beginning—at STAR, a retreat where we learned what our life had really been like. During the course of these days, we did a sandbox, and to my surprise I found myself saying, “I want a greater Weltanschauung, a German word that means a greater worldview. This was a word that had fascinated me when I studied in Salzburg, Austria in my junior year at college/conservatory. It was a word that I didn’t think of for many years; it was tucked down deep somewhere in my memory, and even when I spoke it in total surprise at STAR, I had no idea how important that word would later become.
As soon as I got my divorce settlement and realized I was totally on my own—without family or any real support system, I began studying the financial world in order to care for myself, and that was only the beginning. I read avidly for more than a half-dozen years, filling in huge gaps in my life and knowledge. While I don’t have a degree in ‘Weltanschauung’, I have knowledge that many people with degrees do not have. I have it because I hungered for it. I have that knowledge because I have a real passion ‘to know’, and my life has been driven by it.
Why should our children’s lives not be driven by the passion that should come with life? Why should that passion not be considered their ‘entitlement’? Each of us has a purpose here—an energetic purpose*, bequeathed as our birthright, and why, I must ask, should we not all be living it in as natural a way as getting out of bed each morning?
This is just a tiny view, a smidgen, of how I see our children’s education could develop in the new paradigm—if we even have education, as suxh! My goodness, at the next level things apparently are going to be very different from what they are here! Sometimes, I wish we would be able to stay right here and just spend our lives and the immortality that we are promised making this world right now, right here, a better one!
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*The study of enneagrams is not just a party game. It is a serious study of the nine energies that the ancient, monastic Sufis observed in people on our planet. The study of enneagrams sheds light on our own healing as we learn where our responses to trauma originate. More importantly, it is the study of and a guide to our spiritual path back to God/Source. From my own personal experience with them, I know they can cut healing time greatly, because we can more easily and very directly hone in and focus on our own, personal issues.
** The little handkerchief corner is a piece of Bedfordshire lace that I made some years ago.