【Exploration in Education】Children's Self-Education

We adults have certain responsibilities to our children and the children of the world. Our responsibility is to create a safe, healthy and respectful environment for children in which they can develop. Our responsibilities include ensuring suitable food, fresh air, a non-toxic play environment, and plenty of opportunities to interact with people of all ages at will. We have a responsibility to lead by example and to demonstrate human dignity. However, there is one thing we need not worry about, and that is how to educate our children. Children can still learn without going through school When I say that education is children's responsibility and they are born to do it, I

The category:

Education to explore

We adults have certain responsibilities to our children and the children of the world. Our responsibility is to create a safe, healthy and respectful environment for children in which they can develop. Our responsibilities include ensuring suitable food, fresh air, a non-toxic play environment, and plenty of opportunities to interact with people of all ages at will. We have a responsibility to lead by example and to demonstrate human dignity. However, there is one thing we need not worry about, and that is how to educate our children.
Children can still complete their studies without going through school
When I say that education is children's responsibility and they are born to do it, I want you to believe it. In our present world, this truth is not as obvious as it once was. In our life, almost all children and teenagers are sent to school, and the beginning age is getting younger and the ending age is getting older, "school" has a standard meaning. We measure education by grades and successful progression. Naturally, we almost automatically think of education as a matter of experts in schools, all of whom are professionally trained to teach in the arts and sciences. Experts know how to turn a child's raw potential into a finished education every step of the way.
So here, I provide evidence for my argument. The most direct evidence comes from scenarios where children educate themselves without any school-like environment.
Before children go to school, a lot of education already happens.
The most obvious evidence of children's ability to educate themselves is that the first four or five years of children's lives are happening right before our eyes, and no one has ever attempted to teach them anything systematically. Think about what they learned during that time - they learned to walk, run, jump, crawl. They learn the physics of various objects within their reach and can manipulate them. They learn their native language, which is indeed the most complex cognitive task humans can master. They learn to understand the psychology of others at a basic level—how to please others, how to dislike them, how to get what they want from others. All of their learning was not taught to them by someone who set the course, but they themselves learned through free play, insatiable curiosity, and their attention to the behavior of others. We can't stop them from learning unless we lock them up in the kitchen.
In a hunter-gatherer culture, children did not need to go to school to become successful adults.
For the vast majority of human existence, we lived in small, nomadic, food-gathering teams. Our basic human nature—including our playfulness, curiosity, and our biological adaptation to learning—has evolved in such living environments. Some hunter-gatherer groups have retained their primitive culture to this day. Anthropologists studying such groups—in Africa, Asia, New Zealand, South America, and elsewhere—have found that they are surprisingly consistent in their attitudes toward children. In all these cultures, children and adolescents can play as they please, from morning to night, without adult intervention. The belief of these people is the accumulation of thousands of years of experience, they believe that young people will teach themselves through play and exploration, and when ready, will naturally apply what they have learned to serve the whole group. Through their own efforts, hunter-gatherer children acquire a broad set of skills and knowledge to grow into successful adults in their culture.
In some "non-school" schools, children do not experience traditional schooling and grow up successfully.
For many years, I have been watching the children and teens of the Thur Valley School in Massachusetts. The school was founded 40 years ago by people whose beliefs about education are strikingly similar to those of the hunter-gatherer era. The school's students age from 4 years old all the way to high school graduation, but it bears no resemblance to a typical school. It is first and foremost a democratic system in which children and adults have equal rights, and students' learning is entirely their own activities. Essentially, it is a safe environment where young people are free to play, explore, do their part, and communicate with people of all ages. There are no quizzes, no encouragement like Little Red Stars, no passing or repeating grades, no required courses or homework, no forced or induced learning, and school staff have no responsibility for the children's learning. So far, hundreds of young people have educated themselves in such an environment. Also, they didn't become hunter-gatherers. They became artisans, artists, chefs, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, lawyers, musicians, scientists, social workers, software designers. You can find them in all walks of life that our culture holds dear.
Children devote huge energy to self-directed learning
Have you ever stopped to think about how much children learn in the first few years of their lives, before they have been systematically educated by anyone? Their learning comes naturally, the result of their instinct to play, explore, and observe those around them. But it's natural, and it doesn't mean it doesn't require effort. Babies and young children put a huge amount of energy into learning. Their ability to sustain attention, both physically and mentally, and to overcome obstacles and setbacks, is extraordinary. The next time you have a chance to observe a child under five, sit and watch for a while. Try to imagine what a child is going through in his head when he is dealing with the world. If you allow yourself this luxury, you will be in for a great treat. This experience will make you look at education in a whole new light. This light comes from within the child, not on the child.
Hunter-gatherer children must learn a great deal to become successful adults.
If you think education is not a big deal for hunter-gatherers because they don't need to learn anything, you'd be wrong. In fact, they have to learn a lot.
To be effective hunters, boys must learn the habits of the two or three hundred species of beasts that the tribe often hunts, must be able to track prey from the most hidden clues, and must be able to make perfect hunting tools, such as bows and arrows, air guns, wool, snares, nets, and use these tools with high skill.
To be an efficient forager, girls must learn to recognize a wide variety of edible, nutritious roots, nuts, seeds, fruits and leaves, know where to find them in what season, how to dig, and how Take the edible parts and sometimes know what to do with them to make them edible or more nutritious. These abilities also include physical skills developed over many years, as well as the ability to memorize, add, and modify information about ingredients transmitted by a large number of oral cultures in order to make use of them.
In addition to this, hunter-gatherer children had to learn to navigate their vast gathering areas, build fur huts, help with childbirth, care for babies, play music, and perform various dances and cultural rituals. Because there is no division of labor in the tribe, at most men hunt and women gather, and everyone must master most of the knowledge and skills of their own culture.
Children are self-taught. While hunter-gatherer children have to learn a lot, hunter-gatherers don't have schools.
Adults also don't set lessons, or try to encourage kids, or teach them lessons, or monitor their progress. When asked how children learn what they need, the adults' response is generally: "They teach themselves through observation, play, and exploration." Occasionally adults may offer a bit of advice, or demonstrate Find out how to do it better, like how to make arrows, but only when the kids explicitly ask for it. Adults do not organize, lead, or interfere in children's activities. They have no worries about children's education. Thousands of years of experience have proved that children are experts in educating themselves.
Children spend a lot of time playing and exploring.
Hunter-gatherer children spend nearly all of their time playing every day.
- Children are free to play at any time and they do not have to do any work until the age of 15.
——Both boys and girls play freely all day long almost every day.
- Boys can play freely until they are 15 to 17 years old; girls, sometimes do chores, or watch the children, and other than that, it is all play.
- Children play from morning till night.
Children of hunter-gatherers have such wide freedom to pursue their interests in large part because adults fully understand that these pursuits are the surest path to education. Another part of the reason is the spirit of equal autonomy that prevailed in hunter-gatherer cultures, both for adults and children. Hunter-gatherers see children as full adults, with equal rights. They assume that once children develop enough to contribute to the tribal group, children will do it voluntarily, and there is no need to force children, or anyone else, to do things they don't want to do. Alas, our instincts to learn and to contribute to our own team have evolved in a world where we trust our instincts.
Children observe the activities of adults and imitate them in their own play.
Hunter-gatherer children were never isolated from the activities of adults. They directly observe everything that happens in the camp: preparation for migration, construction of thatched huts, making and repairing tools and supplies, preparing and cooking food, caring for babies, guarding against predators and disease, gossip and discussions, arguments and politics, dancing and festivals . Sometimes they go with the adults to gather, and boys over the age of 10 sometimes go hunting with the men.
Children not only observe all activities, but also imitate them in play and become more and more skillful through play. As they get older, their play gets closer to actual activity. There is not a big gap between playful participation and real participation in the activities that the child group loves.
Children often imitate activities that are important to adults: digging roots of plants, fishing, smoking thorn tails out of burrows, cooking, babysitting, climbing trees, weaving rattan ladders, using knives and other tools, making tools, Carrying heavy things, making rafts, building fires, defending against predators, imitating animals (a means of identifying animals and learning their habits), playing music, dancing, telling stories, arguing. Because children of different ages always play together, the little ones can learn from the older ones.
There is no need for anyone to order or encourage the children to do this. They all do it naturally, because just like kids everywhere, all they want is to grow up to be as successful as the adults they've seen. The desire to grow up is a powerful motivator that, paired with the drive to play and explore, ensures that when given the opportunity, children continue to practice techniques and become effective adults.
The Secrets of the Thur Valley School: Children educate themselves
Of course, our current culture is far from hunter-gatherer culture. You would naturally wonder whether the lessons learned about education from hunter-gatherer culture can be effectively adopted in our culture today. First, hunter-gatherers do not need to read, write, or count, and perhaps a natural, self-directed approach to learning does not apply to these three basic skills. In our culture, unlike hunter-gatherer culture, we have countless different ways of making a living, countless different skills and knowledge, and it is impossible for children to observe all activities in their daily lives, children are most of the time Separated from the work environment of adults, this makes it difficult for them to have the opportunity to imitate adults in play.
For the past 40 years, the best kept secret in the American education system is the Symphony Valley School, the vast majority of education students have never heard of it, and the teachers of the education department ignore it, not out of malice, but because they don't. Ways to include it in the framework of their pre-existing educational thinking. The educational model of the Seir Valley School is not a variation of the standard education, it is not a progressive version of the traditional school, it is not a Montessori school, it is not a Dewey school, it is not even a Piaget school of construction. To understand this school, you have to completely abandon the current way of thinking in mainstream educational thinking. You have to start with the idea that adults cannot control the education of children, children educate themselves. But now the secret has been leaked, mostly by students and people who have experienced Sergu School firsthand. I expect that 50 years from now, the vast majority of educators will see today's methods of education as barbaric remnants of the past. One wonders why the world has taken so long to understand this simple and self-evident truth, which is the founding principle of the Seir Valley School: Children educate themselves, we don't need us to educate them. Let's talk about some of the different ways the school operates.
School Democracy
Church Valley School is first and foremost a community where children and youth experience firsthand the rights and responsibilities of democratic governance. The main administrative body of the school is the school assembly, which consists of all students and adult staff. The school assembly, once a week, formulates all laws and regulations of the school with one person, one vote, makes decisions about school purchases, establishes committees to manage the day-to-day affairs of the school, and decides to hire or dismiss school staff. Four-year-olds have the same voting rights as all other students and staff at the school.
The school does not have tenure-track staff, and all are on one-year contracts that must be renewed each year by secret ballot. Because the student-to-staff vote is 20:1, staff who survive the process and are re-elected are particularly well-liked by students. They are all very kind, moral, and capable individuals who make a significant contribution to the overall school environment, and they are role models that some students feel they can learn from.
The school's statutes are enforced by the Judicial Council, whose membership changes periodically, but always includes an adult staff member representing students of different ages in the school. When a student or staff member is sued for a violation by another member of the school, the plaintiff and defendant must face the Judicial Committee, accept the decision of the committee and, if found guilty, accept appropriate punishment. In all of this, staff and students are treated equally, and no one is above the law.
The school does not interfere with the activities of the students
Every day, students are free to do whatever they want, as long as they don't break the rules of the school. These rules were established by the school assembly to protect the school and the opportunity for students to pursue their interests and hobbies without being hindered by others. Members of the school must remain quiet in a special quiet room, and may not damage equipment or not return it, paint graffiti on school property, use drugs on campus, or violate others. These acts are dealt with by the Judicial Committee.
All regulations have nothing to do with learning. The school does not conduct any examinations and does not assess the progress of students. The school has no curriculum and does not try to encourage students to learn. Classes only take place when students spontaneously organize, and classes stop once students no longer need them. Many students have never attended a class and the school will not see this as a problem. School staff do not consider themselves teachers, they consider themselves adult members of the school providing a wide range of services to the school, one of which is teaching. The vast majority of their teaching activities are everyday human activities: answering questions and giving advice in honest conversation.
School is a rich environment for play and exploration
At Church Valley School, learning is entirely accidental, a by-product of students' autonomous play and exploration. The school is a great place to play and explore, it is the place and time for these activities, it also provides many facilities, including computers, fully equipped kitchens, wood workshops, art rooms, playgrounds, etc. A wide range of toys, play equipment and of course a lot of books. The campus also has a pond, as well as sports fields and forests for outdoor play and exploration. Some people develop special hobbies and need special equipment, and they need to persuade the school assembly to spend a sum of money, or sell biscuits themselves to raise money.
For the vast majority of students, the most important resource a school provides is its students, who have an extremely wide range of interests and talents. Because the school is mixed age, children are often exposed to the activities or ideas of older or younger children. Mixed-age play gives the little ones the opportunity to learn from the older ones. For example, many students learn to recognize words because they like to play games (including video games) that require recognition of words with students who already recognize words, and they learn to recognize words unknowingly.
A lot of exploration at school by students, especially teenagers, is mostly through conversation. Students talk to each other, or to school staff, and through these conversations they are exposed to a wide range of ideas and arguments. Since the school has no official authority, all the words in the conversation are treated as opinions to think about rather than correct answers to rote for exams. Talking is quite different from rote memorization for exams, because talking stimulates the intellect. Long ago, the great Russian psychologist Liv Vygotsky argued that talk is the basis of higher intelligence, and my observations of the students of the Sergu School convinced me that he was right. Thinking is internalized talk.
Hundreds of graduates attest to the effectiveness of school education
Church Valley School graduates can be found in all walks of life that are respected in our society. They are highly skilled artisans, entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, scientists, social workers, nurses, doctors and more. All students who choose higher education enter the university without any difficulty. Graduates who do not go to college also have successful careers. More importantly, the graduates are satisfied with their lives. They unanimously agreed that they were glad to have attended the Seychelles Valley School and felt that the school had helped them face the realities of adult society better than traditional schools. To a large extent they maintain a playful (focused, intense and happy) attitude towards their career and life, which they have developed and carried forward at the Cirque Valley School.