Public Education

I remember that I loved school.  I remember making the connection that I would have to “go to school” for 12 years of my life and that I may as well make the most of it and enjoy it!  What’s not to enjoy though – really?  Hanging out with your peers, making new neural connections in your brain to enable you to see the world around you a different way, a sense  of achievement and wonder when you master a new task/ skill/ process and problem solving.  Truth be told – school was easy for me.  I picked everything up in the right time and had my parent’s support for my times tables, spelling, reading, etc.  I guess it’s not so much fun for a student that struggles to keep up with the fast paced curriculum.  I know for sure that all children are smart and capable of learning.  I’ve seen it.  So, I have to come to the conclusion that maybe we need to work on delivery.

It seems to me the new National Curriculum is a good idea.  It will allow families to move more freely around Australia and standardise the learning stages of young people in a meaningful way.  We now know so much more than we did 50 years ago… or 30 years ago when I was at school.  Our children will know so much more in their lifetime with their unprecedented access to the Internet.  And how fast they are capable of processing new information with the correct delivery!  Wow.  Check out this vsauce content for amazing “train of thought” processing!

Creative learning and thinking is brought about by child-centred versus system-centred learning. A true-believer-friend of ours recommended Ken Robinson’s TED talk – worth watching start to finish if you’re at all interested in the education of our young people.  See you when you get back…. I really enjoyed the bit where he relays the story of a young girl who was distracted in class and couldn’t sit still.  His observation of the young girl’s story was challenging on so many levels.  It brings about a lot of BIG STATEMENTS for me like:

– Our individual expertise is valued equally – no matter whether we end up contributing to society as a Postie or a Teacher or a Politician or a Farmer or a [enter vocation].

– We must be passionate about the things  we do in our lives to be fulfilled and happy and to positively affect those around us

– Our cultures / societies have a responsibility to us (their citizens) to provide a safe and nurturing environment for all world citizens to be the best they can be and fulfill their life’s work – whatever that looks like  (because of course this is different for everyone – as it goes).

– I just read a  quote from another TED talk that said: “Babies and young children are like the R&D division of the human species,” says psychologist Alison Gopnik.  Link here for that talk.

I like that.  It’s true.  Each generation we have new ideas about everything from the meaning of life to commerce to education to food production and the list goes on.  We have the benefit of our stored history, our brilliant and creative human brain and a fresh palette on which to paint our future. Providing a safe and nurturing learning environment to bring the creativity back to our children and to encourage and guide them to imagine and create the future is our responsibility as middle and older generations.  We offer the structures under which they will conduct their lives and have influence in that regard.  We all operate within the structures of our cultures / societies, for example the banking system, government system, education system, real estate system, legal system, media system, etc.  Unfortunately there is now so much corruption in our systems, where corruption means that the act / action / system is no longer helping the people.

Just because it is… doesn’t mean that it must continue to be. Change is practical and possible when systems become dysfunctional.  In fact – change is inevitable.  Afterall, systems are made by of a bunch of humans making decisions. Everyday decisions in all walks of life.  They are the managers of corporations and businesses, the caretakers of the people (non-popularist politicians / government), code writers of the next generation of software, the documentary makers exploring the truth of our world, etc.  Systems are, and of themselves, fluid and changeable.  They are merely ideas about the world the we have been attracted to because it serves us.  If we take that to be true, then this must also be true:  when the system no longer serves us we can change it.

Public Education in my mind is one of the most vital components in our societies.  Education must be free and as good as we can make it.  It must be heavily resourced with people who are passionate about teaching young people and encouraging them to find their place in the world.  And to creatively solve the problems in our world in this generation and the others that will follow.

Footnote: this is another brilliant talk from Ken Robinson in a most digestible style.


It’s about the children

You know, I always come back to this… always.  Our precious children are our future.  I watch the birds (both the mothers and the fathers :- ) year on year in our yard take such good care of their children it seems hard to believe that there are 34,000 human children dying each day in our world from preventable causes, ie. disease, starvation and malnutrition (or is that the same as starvation?).  I sit here with tears for each child that dies and each family that must nurse them to their death.  I saw a photo once that someone had posted somewhere online and Google images had picked it up.  It was a picture of a woman with their child – I saw our own daughter in my arms – emaciated they were.  The child dying… the bones in the child’s thighs were visible under the skin.  We were there.  That was us.  We are parents and I really can’t imagine how terrible life would be to watch our children die from simple things that in some parts of the world are absolutely not an issue.  We have constructed our first world culture with such a lack of compassion.  I imagine how let down I would feel if our neighbours let our children starve – when they had food they could share.