Sunday, March 27, 2011

Look to Collaboration

All of nature is a giant integrated community that is based on a cooperation between species, an interdependent web of existence that allows for the natural world as a whole to march forward into the future. Just as a group of trees provide support to the community of which they are a part- by providing air to breathe, homes for animals, or sustenance to the soil from the leaves it sheds- we humans could use the example nature sets forth through the use of collaboration to solve many of the problems that plague us.

Under our current model of relating to one another, which is based on competition, we end up with a fractured network- rich and poor, well-fed and hungry, healthy and diseased - a community out of sync with the ways of nature and essentially doomed to continue on in the natural world. I will admit, there is competition in nature, but the broad based way nature operates is for the good of the whole system through collaboration. We humans on the other hand, are currently operating in a way that provides well for a few and neglects the rest, not giving much thought to how we are plundering the earth.

One way out of this mess is to start young and change our ways by switching to a new way of educating our children by using a collaborative method of teaching rather than a competitive one. To operate this way, education would get rid of the grading system and allow young people to explore learning based on their interests not those deemed important by the school system. Young people pursuing what truly interests them would make for more passionate and creative learners, paving the way for new ways of solving the world's problems. Young people would in turn learn how to support one another and each other's ideas, coming together to determine solutions for the problems they encounter, finding the power in using many minds over just one.

Already, this collaborative method of teaching our children has started in a few alternative educational settings, slowly beginning to turn the tide. It can be found mainly in educational centers with a strong sense of support toward the goals of collaboration, both in how they teach their young people and how they relate to one another in the community as a whole.

Another likely place to look for the seeds of collaboration would be in the homeschooling arena but they too find themselves plagued with many competitive factors as they fight with one another over methodology and who participates in the best form of homeschooling. There are the Christian vs. non-Christian camps and the "school-at-home" vs. unschooling camps, all acting much like their traditional school counterparts, steeped in fierce competition between one another. There is potential in individual homeschooling support groups to move toward collaboration if a group were to commit to it and formed a mission statement to that effect.

Unfortunately, starting young and changing the way we teach our young people will be hard. So many buy into our current way of education because they themselves have sat in a school desk and been taught to listen to authority and not question how we currently do things. But there are cracks in the veneer as our children slowly rebel and require a different way of learning. Listen to your children. Hear them say they hate school and don't want to go. They are saying that for a reason. It is miserable to be forced to learn things which you have no interest in and be taught things you won't remember. Set them free and you will be rewarded with a completely different child. One who smiles and loves life and laughs. One who may change the world for the better.

This natural form of learning, based in freedom and collaboration, is the answer I feel to moving away from what keeps us humans stymied in the current mire of world destruction we find ourselves in. We are no longer of nature, having stepped out of that giant integrated community long ago. We need to find our way back to the web of existence of which we are all a part and find our rightful place in the natural order of things.


Grampy said...

Enjoyed your thoughts on education. I recently wrote a blog on self-and continuing education. Not as well written as this but attempting to state that we must take it on ourselves to learn. Collaboration I failed to consider. Fine post. I too look to nature for understanding. A part of the equation for improvement. Thanks

Darcy said...

Hi Grampy,

I agree, the pursuit of knowledge comes from within oneself and when mixed with passion for a particular topic, spurs one on to learn incredible amounts of stuff. I like to refer to this as natural learning. Doing what comes naturally to us all but what gets mucked up in curriculum filled classrooms where people are told to learn things they have no interest in. Sounds like you are on the right track when you say we should all be responsible for our own learning. Enjoy the journey!