Taking the Jump
“Education is the sum of everything a person learns that enables that person to live a satisfying and meaningful life,” Alliance for Self-Directed Education (ASDE).
In the article “The School is Dead. Long Live the School.”, Josie Holford asserts that “Schools come and schools go. They grow, shrink, change shape, expand, splinter, merge, morph, move. And they die.”
Any product and service has a limited life-cycle. Either it is inherent in its design (planned obsolescence), or it renders itself irrelevant, as times and society evolve. Same applies to schools. (see Figure 1: Product Life-cycle chart)
Figure 1: Product Life-cycle chart
The last few months have revealed just how relevant or obsolete the current school system is. However, how many school ‘customers’ reached or will reach the conclusion that it is time for change? And if and when they do, how do they approach the search of a new school or merely… an education?
To make the distinction between school and education, one can attend school but get no education, whereas education requires no school. School is paid for, directly or indirectly through taxes, whereas education is beyond what it is paid for.
For any product and service that would need to serve, last and age well for a few good years, most people do their research – i.e. cars, property, etc. The more important to one’s life and expensive the good or service is perceived to be, the more rigorous the research. Eventually, people compare the available options and do a cost – benefit analysis to choose the one that meets all or most of the purchasing criteria.
Perhaps the same thorough evaluation process also applies for purchasing or pursuing an education. However, what are the education selection criteria? How deep, broad and forward do people think about what they want from an education when they consider the options? What happens when there are no acceptable ones? Would they replace the old with a hopefully better new, within the existing options? Would they settle for the next best thing or create their own, to suit their dreams, aspirations, needs and capabilities?
Farewells and change are painful for most. Shedding skins is not for everyone. Birth and rebirth could be excruciating. Or not. The choice is personal. It depends on the capability to accept the things for what they are and let go, after having learnt from an experience and era. A new perspective and path can form even before the old ones fade away. Science, philosophy, wise teachers, mentors, grandparents and parents all may share their own version of this transformation process. Should we listen to them or do the old ostrich stunt and hope for the best?
If science, philosophy and wise people are not a compass, what about innate intuition? ALL adults and parents still have innate intuition. It may be deeply buried or just not exercised often enough, but it sure can be resurfaced. Blinkist app alone shows 13 Blinks titles and another 20 audio books on intuition. Amazon may produce more finds on the same topic. So will YouTube, if one prefers video to reading.
In brief, evolutionary, mothers have been programmed with the intuition for species perpetuation. They not only ‘know’ how to give birth but to also nurture their young to become prolific adults and further perpetuate the species. The fathers have been ‘scheduled’ to be on guard and protect their partners and off-springs even in their sleep, or lack of it, as well as provide the necessities for the family, like safety, food and shelter. The father doesn’t sleep too well at times? Well, there is no coincidence there.
The gender roles may have reversed or become muddled up in recent times. Both partners may be losing sleep worrying about how to thrive in uncertain times. Why not let intuition and imagination help find the answers, especially if nothing else seems to work or work well enough, any longer?
Those who have already played the FUTURE GAME introduced in the previous article, may know by now what each of you and your children need to flourish in your respective desired futures. If you haven’t played it yet now it is a good time to do it. One cannot purposely and meaningfully educate for an un-imagined future. For instance, the processing and packaging of ketchup on the food industry conveyor belt requires very different academic and practical skills than growing tomatoes in depleted soil, with limited water supply, unpredictable weather patterns and overall changed climate conditions of the future.
Education being only one section of the future, let’s give future what belongs to future, and start with first things first: imagining the FUTURE!
For those who have already played the FUTURE GAME, developed or already had a FAMILY FUTURE PLAN with EDUCATION in it, it is a good opportunity to reflect upon, identity and fine-tune your own definition of the ideal education and on which criteria it should be either chosen or built on.
A few considerations for defining and fine-tuning the ideal EDUCATION for self and family:
1. Education is a personal life-long inner process of self-exploration and self-discovery. Before choosing or making changes to children’s education, find out what you need to educate yourself on first, to support your family in the education process. Agree with your spouse on a broad direction before involving children in the process. Involve children as early as possible, however, age appropriately.
2. Unless you and your children already pursue your and especially their dream education, and do not want anything better and/ or more for the future, prepare for a different level of involvement, commitment and conscientiousness from your part, irrespective of the form of education you may choose. Complete ‘outsourcing’ of children’s education to third parties has never really worked and would work even less from now on.
3. Take stock of all the available family resources to invest in education, such as the physical, emotional and intellectual availability and skills of parents, close relatives and friends (support system) as well as financial. It may come as a surprise, but many excellent education resources are free or based on a small donation or fee. Some of the best education resources available are developed by experts in their field who are passionate to give and share their knowledge for the greater good of the humanity. Yes, these people do exist! Curating education resources poses its challenges though. However, many parents have already done it and would be happy to share their findings. Ultimately, every child and family is different and must make their own research, choices and mistakes in order to learn anything.
4. As times and structures are currently changing very fast, courses/ curricula accreditation processes are likely to change as well, and multiple times until university application time comes for your children. The most progressive higher education providers in the world have already figured it out long ago, and changed their admission processes.
More changes are likely to take place in the near future. Make your choices based on what you can control and not on speculations on the future or third parties’ actions. Most importantly, choose from your allied minds and hearts, out of love and not fear of the unknown.
5. Lastly and not exhaustively, evaluate the current relationship with your children. Is there a genuine attachment relationship, whereas parents are the parents and children are the children, and not friends or ‘equals’ to their parents? Is there anything in the relationship you would like to develop? (For more on this very important topic, check “Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers” by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate MD.) If so, and you are not sure how to go about it, look for professional help.
Overwhelming? Let your thoughts and feelings sink in for a while. Just like everything else in life, education requires regular goal-setting, planning, execution and reflection, and appropriate help. Reach out for it. We are all in this together and can learn from each other. Most importantly, have the confidence that you will do your best for your children! You can do it!
The next article on education will cover more on how to decide on future education, develop the way forward and make the transition to it or optimize what you are already doing. Until then, continue imagining… taking the jump towards your ideal education, if you have not already done it!
More on Self-Directed Education
More on the life and death of schools
More on universities admission process
More on “Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers” by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate