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Freedom for Growth

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And How do you discover who discovered America?. As Dewey explains: “Once you start a man thinking there is no telling where he will go”. For the second question is open ended, and can lead anywhere. Unlike in a fixed syllabus that has a clear sequence of skills and information to be learned.  In the inquiry environment we are proposing, learning is “episodic, fitful, an explosive collage of happenings” (T as a S A). There is no denying that learning has a certain logic to it as a process, but it is a process whose rules, spirals and wiggles are established by “living, squirming, questioning, perceiving, fearing, loving and languaging nervous systems” (“)! In other words, good learners. What is a good learner? Good learners are above all flexible, happy to shift perspectives, confident they can learn, they enjoy solving problems, and like to rely on their own judgment not on second hand authorities, they have inbuilt crap detectors, and know what is relevant to survival and what is not (don’t try to tell them what it is “good for them” to learn). They respect facts and ask meaningful questions and are not fast answerers. They realise some problems do not have a clear resolution. If one were to be asked was this year a success, with the majority of students coming out good learners as outlined above, I would say a resounding success, for success really means behavioural changes in the students, or the ability to challenge and ask questions, rather than a passive accumulation of book knowledge spouted in some written test. For these students would be in a position to develop and internalize concepts that will help them survive in the rapidly changing world we are in. This brings me full circle to the Tagore/Elmhirst essays on freedom to grow. Without using the phrase, they were strongly opposed to the cult of trivia and non relevant knowledge. They placed Nature at the heart of the learning environment: “Nature herself is the best schoolmaster and rewards the student according to his capacity and powers of observation…The schoolmaster here is an anachronism. He can no longer tower over his pupils from his rostrum and threaten them with his power to grant or withhold marks and certificates” (Oh yes he can, in 2015, still!). There is no room, he says, for Nature Study as a “subject: “Nature study is transformed into the study of Nature in relation to life and the daily experiences of life

Discipline and freedom: How to find the minimum of discipline needed for the preservation of the maximum of liberty?. This calls for a delicate balance. Many teachers fear anarchy and chaos if they allow space for their students’ creative imagination. Certain rules are of necessity needed, if one is to perform the tasks of everyday for self preservation: each task has a method to it, even sweeping, or making chapattis. Children have enough common sense to see the need for such discipline. But what is really needed in a new kind of schooling is freedom FROM superimposed restriction. Craftsmanship, for example, supplies its own discipline. The child MUST have a chance to make his own discoveries, to achieve freedom through experience.  But “to encourage the children to set their own bounds and to reason out their own discipline, needs a real faith in their capacity and a real courage..to stand by and watch mistakes being made without constantly interfering to set everything right”. (L.K.E)

Education for life not for career: Preparing a child for life is not about getting him or her into some suitable and lucrative (of course) career. The loss of values implied by such an aim (shared by a majority of schools) has far reaching implications. The future is crying out for aware people to opt for sustainable living in intelligent ways and to contribute to alleviating the suffering and starving as well as furthering the appropriate use of any resources left to us. The future will

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