Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mornings at the school!

Children work at their own pace on different learning objectives.  Music in the background helps with focus and concentration. A beautiful learning environment!

Wisdom has a place in schools

Tell me, and I'll forget. 
Show me, and I may not remember. 
Involve me, and I'll understand. 
- Native American Proverb

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Play, curiosity, and learning go hand in hand

Will the next generation have a Steve Jobs?

The forecast doesn't look good. In an era of parental paranoia, lawsuit mania and testing frenzy, we are failing to inspire our children's curiosity, creativity, and imagination. We are denying them opportunities to tinker, discover, and explore -- in short, to play.

Click to read full article:  If We Don't Let Our Children Play, Who Will Be the Next Steve Jobs? 

...We are raising today's children in sterile, risk-averse and highly structured environments. In so doing, we are failing to cultivate artists, pioneers and entrepreneurs, and instead cultivating a generation of children who can follow the rules in organized sports games, sit for hours in front of screens and mark bubbles on standardized tests....

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The importance of play

One of our lovely parents forwarded this article to us! The full article, featured in The Atlantic, can be reached here:
"All Work and No Play: Why Your Kids Are More Anxious, Depressed"

When children are in charge of their own play, it provides a foundation for their future mental health as older children and adults. Gray mentions five main benefits:

1. Play gives children a chance to find and develop a connection to their own self-identified and self-guided interests.
As they choose the activities that make up free play, kids learn to direct themselves and pursue and elaborate on their interests in a way that can sustain them throughout life. Gray notes that: " school, children work for grades and praise and in adult-directed sports, they work for praise and trophies.... In free play, children do what they want to do, and the learning and psychological growth that results are byproducts, not conscious goals of the activity."

2. It is through play that children first learn how to make decisions, solve problems, exert self control, and follow rules.
As children direct their own free play and solve the problems that come up, they must exert control over themselves and must, at times, accept restrictions on their own behavior and follow the rules if they want to be accepted and successful in the game.
As children negotiate both their physical and social environments through play, they can gain a sense of mastery over their world, Gray contends. It is this aspect of play that offers enormous psychological benefits, helping to protect children from anxiety and depression.
"Children who do not have the opportunity to control their own actions, to make and follow through on their own decisions, to solve their own problems, and to learn how to follow rules in the course of play grow up feeling that they are not in control of their own lives and fate. They grow up feeling that they are dependent on luck and on the goodwill and whims of others...."
Anxiety and depression often occur when an individual feels a lack of control over his or her own life. "Those who believe that they master their own fate are much less likely to become anxious or depressed than those who believe that they are victims of circumstances beyond their control." Gray believes that the loss of playtime lessons about one's ability to exert control over some life circumstances set the scene for anxiety and depression.

3. Children learn to handle their emotions, including anger and fear, during play.
In free play, children put themselves into both physically and socially challenging situations and learn to control the emotions that arise from these stressors. They role play, swing, slide, and climb trees ... and "such activities are fun to the degree that they are moderately frightening ... nobody but the child himself or herself knows the right dose."
Gray suggests that the reduced ability to regulate emotions may be a key factor in the development of some anxiety disorders. "Individuals suffering from anxiety disorders describe losing emotional control as one of their greatest fears. They are afraid of their own fear, and therefore small degrees of fear generated by mildly threatening situations lead to high degrees of fear generated by the person's fear of losing control." Adults who did not have the opportunity to experience and cope with moderately challenging emotional situations during play are more at risk for feeling anxious and overwhelmed by emotion-provoking situations in adult life.

4. Play helps children make friends and learn to get along with each other as equals.
Social play is a natural means of making friends and learning to treat one another fairly. Since play is voluntary and playmates may abandon the game at any time if they feel uncomfortable, children learn to be aware of their playmates' needs and attempt to meet them in order to maintain the play.
Gray believes that "learning to get along and cooperate with others as equals may be the most crucial evolutionary function of human social play ... and that social play is nature's means of teaching young humans that they are not special. Even those who are more skilled at the game's actions ... must consider the needs and wishes of the others as equal to their own, or else the others will exclude them." Gray cites increasing social isolation as a potential precursor to psychopathology and notes that the decline in play may be "both a consequence and a cause of the increased social isolation and loneliness in the culture."

5. Most importantly, play is a source of happiness.
When children are asked about the activities that bring them happiness, they say they are happier when playing with friends than in any other situation. Perhaps you felt this way when remembering your own childhood play experiences at the beginning of this article.
Gray sees the loss of play time as a double whammy: we have not only taken away the joys of free play, we have replaced them with emotionally stressful activities. "[A]s a society, we have come to the conclusion that to protect children from danger and to educate them, we must deprive them of the very activity that makes them happiest and place them for ever more hours in settings where they are more or less continually directed and evaluated by adults, setting almost designed to produce anxiety and depression."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Free "telesummit" on empowering children

I came across a great resource: a Free Telesummit “What The Experts Know on Learning and Education”?  Although originally it was aired in July/August - due to an overwhelming response, Astrid Witt, host of this event, has decided to re-run the entire series!  So much valuable information was shared on what the current generation of children truly need and what conscious parents and teachers/guides can do. 

Covers topics such as:
  • What you need to succeed in life, but schools don't teach
  • How to empower your child (The results will truly surprise you)
  • How innovative schools create happy, self empowered kids 
  • Why traditional labels put on your child can become
    self-fulfilling prophecies 
  • Simple ways to change confrontation into cooperation 
  • Why fear blocks our ability to perform - and what to do about it 
  • How to cope with ADHD without drugs
  • A radical change in perception on autism         
Click Here! 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Exploring old ideas in BRAVE new ways

I attended this amazing (to say the least) conference this past weekend!

Rethinking Everything

To get a gist on how inspired and passionate these folks are, here's a quote by Barb - the organizer of the conference.

"In my decades of rethinking everything, welcoming change and creating a haven for freedom and self-design for my children, I have come to believe that there is nothing more important or worthwhile than the unconditional nurturing of children.  If we can face our psychological baggage, let go of all we have been conditioned to believe is true about how the world works, and move toward trusting the drive present in each of us, no matter what age, that guides us to a fully alive, fully engaged state of being, then we are powerfully transforming not only ourselves but those we love and, in fact, that great big world out there - which is desperately in need of fresh ideas from those who have grown up under the life-sustaining umbrella of free-to-be, unconditional love and support..."

Time to start rethinking education... and our lives!


co-founder and change agent 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

23 acres of farm land!

Namaste Whole Education School students now has access to 23 acres of farm land which will have chickens, goats, cows, and horses! And let's not forget the crops! Students will have opportunities to integrate hands-on learning with nature... pictures coming soon. :-)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What do parents want for their children?

Excerpt, "Teaching Well-being in Schools" from pioneer in Positive Psychology, Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, full article can be read here.

First, a quiz:
Question one: in one or two words, what do you most want for your children?
If you are like the thousands of parents I’ve polled you responded, “Happiness,” “Confidence,” “Contentment,” “Fulfillment,” “Balance,” “Good stuff,” “Kindness,” “Health,” “Satisfaction,” “Love,” “Being civilized,” “Meaning,” and the like. In short, well-being is your topmost priority for your children.
Question two: in one or two words, what do schools teach?
If you are like other parents, you responded, “Achievement,” “Thinking skills,” “Success,” “Conformity,” “Literacy,” “Math,” “Work,” “Test taking,” “Discipline,” and the like. In short, what schools teach is how to succeed in the workplace.
Notice that there is almost no overlap between the two lists.

The schooling of children has, for more than a century, paved the boulevard toward adult work. I am all for success, literacy, perseverance, and discipline, but I want you to imagine that schools could, without compromising either, teach both the skills of well-being and the skills of achievement. I want you to imagine positive education...

- - - - -
Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman is head of the Positive Psychology Center at U Penn. Positive Psychology is the "scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive..this field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play."

His work takes him into the field of Positive Education. Where he concludes that skills of well-being (positive emotion, engagement with what one is doing, a sense of accomplishment, and good relationships) are necessary to include in education.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Service learning projects - project based learning taken further

Great article detailing the specifics and benefits of service learning projects from blog, Education Transformation.

Service Learning Projects - Project Based Learning Taken Further

"Authentic learning is about engaging with the material, grappling with tough questions, reflection and the ability to apply knowledge in a given situation and assesses the outcomes of the application. Service learning projects, provide students with these experiences in a very real way, in a way that they just cannot get from text books, lecture or test preparation..."

 "When service learning projects are implemented as part of the curriculum not only do students begin to think about the world and their place in it, teachers and  administrators do as well. When students engage in service learning projects they tend to have a more positive self - image, greater social awareness; gain social skills, feel a sense of independence and empowerment, and reflect upon their humanity and the humanity of others..."

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Changing to a curriculum that matters

Excerpt from What's Worth Learning by Marion Brady.

"Even schools considered models and pointed to with pride - upscale, beautiful, well-staffed, shipping high percentages of their graduates off to the Ivy League - send most students on their ways with talents and abilities unidentified or undeveloped. Few graduate with their natural love of learning enhanced or even intact..."

"...American education isn't suffering from a "people problem" but from a system problem - the "core curriculum" put in place in 1893 and still in near-universal use. America's schools and colleges, preoccupied with covering the material in school subjects and courses, have lost sight of the bottom-line reason for educating: helping learners make more sense of experience..."

Full article with book excerpt can be accessed here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Short video worth checking out by Sir Ken Robinson.

Watch this video:
"Changing Education Paradigms"


...Who is Sir Ken Robinson? One of the coolest guys out there!

Sir Ken Robinson, PhD is an internationally recognized leader in the development of education, creativity and innovation.  He is also one of the world’s leading speakers with a profound impact on audiences everywhere.  The videos of his famous 2006 and 2010 talks to the prestigious TED Conference have been seen by an estimated 200 million people in over 150 countries.

You can find out more at his website: