Teaching and learning are timeless. Many rites of passage impart lessons and wisdom in synchronicity with the phases of a person’s development. Schools can be designed to do the same. Trust, respect, and integrity are the pillars of any institution. Education itself can learn to become less fearful and prescriptive, and much more inviting and inspiring. By continuing to apply age-old traditions of sharing wisdom, like storytelling, into standards for lesson-plans, schools can help maintain connections of cultural significance. By encouraging students to infuse their passions into learning, schools can create stronger bonds between students and teachers.
There will never be a one-size-fits-all model for education that works for everyone. As such, the more that education can increasingly reflect the different learning styles and interests of its students and teachers, the more effective the experience of education will become. Educational approaches that foster solidarity between students and teachers can help shape the future of continuous learning.
Sometimes it’s not a room at all. Classrooms of the future look a lot less like people getting lectured, and much more like people in conversation.
Over the past two centuries, education was tailored to reflect and accommodate the efficiencies of industry. But while factory precision is great for machines, it is much less suitable for humans. To improve on the rigidity of that type of curriculum, classrooms have begun changing to reflect new developments in educational methodology. While students used to line up in rows of desks in their classrooms, that desk organization has changed into groups of learners at tables. Beyond this kind of musical chairs approach how can we, as a species, develop more effective ways to learn altogether? What kind of contribution might integrating metaphysical studies into curriculums be?
There’s a move underway for unschooling, that is, for undoing the rigid structures of what it looks like to be a school-age kid in a learning environment. Families looking to give their children an alternative education might: follow a world-school curriculum, choose to homeschool, or pursue an educational system that allows for learning to be driven by the child. Families from all socioeconomic and racial backgrounds are now looking for a structure that accommodates their own journey instead of merely choosing to follow a road previously dictated from above.
Despite deep problems arising with a widening gap in resources between private and public education, we must maintain a steadfast resolve to give children everywhere every chance imaginable to learn. As education is a central pillar of any functioning society, there is no excuse for underfunding our schools. Our educational system must be able to provide all aspects of a core curriculum based on values of humanity and solidarity.
Today’s educational standards are improving to better cater to the fullness of what it means to be human. The mind, body, spirit, and environment in which we live and learn are all connected. Through this lens, science, technology, engineering, math, language, arts, music, and physical education can all be integrated through awareness of the correlations between each discipline. By taking a holistic perspective to learning, we can develop greater depth of knowledge.
In the city of Baltimore, the Holistic Life Foundation is working to address the entirety of students’ needs.19 Instructors within this organization provide techniques for: peaceful conflict resolution, improved focus and concentration, greater control and awareness of thoughts and emotions, improved self-regulation, better stress reduction, and practiced relaxation. In 60–90 minute classes, the Mindful Moment program teaches students emotional tools and life skills based on yoga, meditation, breathing, tai-chi, centering, and other mindfulness techniques.20 The program was introduced to Patterson Park High School, a public school in Baltimore, where a diverse student body includes undocumented students, students from conflict areas, and students from refugee sites. After the Holistic Life Foundation introduced its program at the high school, suspensions for fighting dropped by more than half, from 49 to 23. At the same time, the number of 9th graders moving up to 10th grade increased from 45% in to 64%, along with a general increase in the average GPA of those students involved in the program.21
An educational model accounting for the benefits of mindfulness, meditation, and yoga as a daily practice helps foster social and emotional growth. Educators and students from all backgrounds have the opportunity to leverage holistic approaches to improve educational environments. Children who are raised with the support of mindfulness techniques become better equipped to navigate the various challenges they encounter with focus and clarity.
For children—or rather anyone—to be prepared for uncertainty, they need ways to actively: connect to their surroundings, to find calm within themselves, to learn to embrace failure, and to practice empathy. Collaborative learning experiences encourage inquiry and creative problem solving to foster meaningful interaction between students. Education—based on the values of respect, responsibility, and solidarity—can be further improved with practices devoted to conscious awareness.
- The Power of Humility
- Healthy Habits
- Environmental Actors
- Economic Priorities
- Lessons Ahead