In our desire to make the educational process uniform in this country, I think we have almost forgotten the true aims of education, especially with our youngest citizens. Education, at least in my mind, should entice, delight, intrigue and ignite a desire to know more, understand more and accomplish more—not numb or destroy in the desire to have the answer to a teacher’s question and to be someone peers will admire. The educational method also needs to foster and encourage the cultivation of socially, intellectually and emotionally enriched and aware human beings.
To accomplish this there needs to be a greater emphasis on learning to interact with the self and relate to the world from a deep sense of self. In this process the child can learn the most important thing of all– who they are, how their own mind functions best and what really and truly fascinates them. These insights are the seeds from which true success can spring.
The idea of helping young children learn by interaction with themselves and by expression through their own hands, in response to their environment is not a new idea, but one that needs to be profoundly woven into our existing curriculum. In comparison, workbooks and mechanical learning are largely a waste of children’s time. More important, boring, unimaginative and non-engaging activities are teaching our youngest citizens that school is a dull and boring place that has very little in common with real life. It is not accidental that many children’s zest for “going to school” at 5 years is replaced at age 8 or 10 with boredom, lack of interest in learning, negative attitudes and eventually rebellion.
We need to be engaging and challenging their imagination.
A more progressive approach to education is more exciting and challenging because the teacher’s mind has to be engaged along with the students’ minds. The outcomes of collaborative learning are unpredictable and therefore the process is inherently more attractive to young minds since their minds seek novelty. Ultimately there is no better way to grow or learn. Instead we repeatedly offer activities that don’t engage the whole being and then we add on so many rules and instructions that we stifle the exploratory factor, which is necessary in whole brain learning.
Recently I spoke with a young man who had just graduated from a top university in this country. He was horrified by the fact that many of his classmates were stifled by the fear of making a mistake and did not know how to think for themselves. Instead they were still operating from the mindset that was laid down in elementary school, “…just tell me what to do and the expected outcome and I will do it…”
This is not learning!
True learning is about fascination, the desire to explore, try new things, problem solving, and discovery. There seems to be an illusion that when children graduate and go away to college they will learn to think for themselves and carve their own path. Some do, but many don’t because they haven’t discovered the intoxication of learning. Instead they are perpetually stuck, because they have not been given adequate opportunities to cultivate the art of exploring and fall in love with learning. This behavior needs to be learned, reinforced and encouraged both in the home and in the school.
But how can parents who have never learned how to engage and delight their own mind, or teachers who are shackled by an antiquated curriculum and literally have no time to accomplish all they are expected to do achieve this?
Consolidate and simplify.
When you understand how the mind works, and how stress compromises the learning process it becomes easy to prune and convert existing curriculum into something that is more alive and animated.
Begin by getting to know your audience. So take the time to find out what really turns them on and what they think is boring. Then try and incorporate your findings into your teaching style and breathe some fresh air into the curriculum. Remember: if you want your students or children to learn something new their conscious mind needs to be activated. This means the learning process needs to ignite their curiosity, creativity and at the same time keep their body in a relaxed and open state.
The I Create What I Believe! program offers a variety of ideas and simple activities you can weave into your curriculum to enable this process. Since ultimately you want your children and students to discover their own way, encourage the adaptation of all activities. This approach will equip them with the ability to think and learn for themselves––no matter what the topic or situation, which also means they will have the capacity to continue learning their whole life.
For more information about the I Create What I Believe! program: