watch this

Posted by Dario Polito on Saturday, October 11, 2014

One Size Fits All?

This morning, I had the privilege of watching the attached video.  Yes, it was a rather appalling PRIVILEGE!  Yet again, I am inspired by today’s generation raising awareness of the dysfunction in our educational systems and institutions.
When exactly did we lose sight of our children, youth, adults, students being individuals?  In the name of “healthy competition” and “accountability,” we have raised the value of benchmarks and scores on standardized tests higher then the WORTH of the individual being tested.
I fully accept that our approach to education (we are selfdesigners who are learner directed) is still considered countercultural, a bit weird and airy fairy to those who reside in the mainstream of pedagogy.  I have heard about every argument one could imagine about not “preparing” our daughter adequately for life!
It might be beneficial for you to understand that I have come from a very traditional background in education.  I conformed and performed to expectations.  I graduated in the top of my high school class and continued on with a BA in Sociology–concentrating in Social Work.  Fortunately, I had the ability to fit in the existing model of school.  However, I honestly can’t recall most of what I learned (or better yet, crammed for) in my undergraduate coursework.
Equally of note, I have an older sister who has intellectual disability and I was very aware how ludicrous the institutions were when she attended.  In the name of “integration,” she was well into her late teens put into a self-contained classroom in the corner of a middle school where she was given colouring sheets to pass time.  I suppose the administration felt quite successful with integration when her class “mingled” with the other students at lunch time (sitting in the far corner of the cafeteria at a table by themselves) and at assemblies (again in a removed section from the rest of the student body).  My point is, I was aware of learning differences from a young age.
 Later in life, I identified the various learning struggles of my children.  It wasn’t until our youngest came home in grade four and loudly stated, “I hate school!” that we did anything to change the system.
Grade five started our journey of schooling at home (that is exactly how it sounds) which was an epic fail.  If that approach didn’t work for our daughter in school, why on earth would I think we would be successful at home?  Shortly after we failed at that approach, we were introduced to a revolutionizing approach to education.
Can you imagine how amazing it would have been if you’d been given the opportunity to choose what you wanted to learn (maybe you’re one of the few lucky ones who were given that gift)?  No more wasted time memorizing facts that had absolutely no relevance to your adult life.  You would immerse yourself deep and wide into subjects that captivated you.  The only requirements for learning were to engage in the world around you, to be present, and to observe for your own learning (your reflections).
I can hear the skeptics now.  “That’s just a fairy tale land.  No one could succeed in life with those ‘loose’ requirements.”  Depending on your measurements of success, you may be absolutely correct!  Depending n the vocation that an individual desires to embrace, I agree there are certain core subjects and understanding one must participate in.  However, if individuals were given the freedom to explore and inquire from the beginning…then, I would assert that they would learn the necessities surrounding their desired vocations.
I am one who measures success by love, trust, and engagement.  Learning’s roots are deeply grounded there…
Our story is that our daughter is now 14 years old and continues to direct her learning.  She is a trained doula (birth assistant), working on her certification as a birth and postpartum doula.  She is going to start her American Red Cross Lifeguard training within the year.  Next year we will enrol her in Holy Yoga trainer certification (225 hour training program).  She’s bought a VW diesel van (last fall) and is fixing it up with her dad to be prepared to drive it when she’s old enough.  She works part time for both of our businesses (learning entrepreneurial skills, marketing, public relations, book keeping, social media presence, and much more).  In the future, she desires to travel the world and take her skills with her so she can either work or volunteer giving back to community.  Does self directed learning prepare someone for life?  If we must put perimeters around what life is…yes, I believe so!
However, I believe my daughter is living her life to the fullest and she is learning every moment.  I don’t think life for her is only in the future.  She is a contributing citizen in our community.  She is compassionate and loving.  She gives of herself time and time again.  She is present, she is living, she is learning!
Please take a few short minutes to view the video that riled me up, re-inspired me to question status quo, and to share with you today!




Deb Martens

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