As the environmental bell rings ever louder, we realize that it is a time for bridge-building as never before. The multiplicity of environmental and social crises call upon us to understand that we cannot continue to turn a blind eye without consequence. At the tipping point, it becomes a question of the continuation of life itself. We are forced to grapple with the question of just what will it take to preserve sustainable life upon our planet. How to bridge to our inner Selves, one another, and to Nature in the process of making meaningful change becomes a paramount question.
Education becomes of paramount importance in the process of preparing children for a future we yet do not even understand, but must address. It becomes essential that we are to prepare our youth mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually, rooted in their sense of personal power to be able to make a difference. This is addressed within the Whole Child Model of Education that has now been espoused by the ASCD for ten years. (See the Whole Child reference).
Real world service-learning is embraced within the Whole Child Model. Service learning brings the vitality of Youth together with Soul-ful teachers that yearn to step beyond the bounds of their classroom alone. It connects ideas to real situations, to real people, making relationships in the process. Relationships help us to feel the truth of our interconnection in this world, and attunes us to the joy available within those connections.
But what of the Barriers to this change that we are all too likely to encounter? What barriers do we speak of, and why are they there? What issues do we address:
—Not knowing or understanding the value of the Whole Child Model
—Too much technology in use that may affect critical thinking skills
—The question of what curriculum barriers are inherent in the systemic issues of education.
—Excessive necessity to focus on the test, administrative issues, or feeling lack of money.
—A sense of overburdening already maxed out teachers with “one more thing.”
—How to present such a mindset as attractive to educators and giving them the opportunity to be trained and explore in new realms.
— Hierarchy can be part of the problem. There may be fear of the Principal, and a sense of what difference can only a single teacher make.
What might answers to these issues be?
—Empowering students with a sense of Agency, the need for their voice and energy in the matters at hand.
—Re-envisioning Pedagogy: paying attention to the models that are working to inspire and empower meaningful change.
—Understand that the role of teaching is to build Creators, not just Consumers.
—Orient towards other targets than profit alone
—Cultivate project-based learning in real world matters.
—Have teachers and Administrators come together and plan their approach to tie in with the Whole Child Approach model, including the community aspect it is based within.
— Understand it is the job of the principals and directors to be concerned for touching the heart and soul of the institution and instigating a shared sense of Leadership that invites in individual inspiration.
Fundamentally, we need to understand that education needs now to truly move into a prioritization of over all well-being. We can no longer follow the factory-based model in which we’re just turning out “work-force ready” students. Instead, we must have self-reflective, empowered, world-citizens, ready to add the positive difference they can make into the world.
Now is a time of intense urgency in this process in which the Leaders of the school are called to activate this force. The Whole Child Approach is critical in this process. There is much research and work that can be aligned with if we only take the energy to do so.
Students, Teachers and the Community at large must be impressed with a collective sense of Shared Stewardship for our Future. The national tendencies must be able to reach beyond to a Global perspective. There are many professional organizations that can partner with schools in this process. One such example is www.EarthCharter.Org. Here there is an ethical framework with the well-being of all, and a Vision of Hope that we can align with. www.H2OforLife,com is another example of people making a profound difference through many small steps. Many other examples abound.
We are alive with Spirit within! When you choose to breath into it and feel its pulse within, you can start to ask and get clear about your unique part in the Brilliant Awakening that is taking place. Listen to the small quiet voice within and it guides you wisely…. inviting you into the inner promptings of the Soul, and its expressions that bring you to Transformation. Welcome the new and larger life.