While I continue looking at this problem, there's several more factors feeding an unstoppable decline:
- - Declines in public education can increase the crime rate, the imprisonment rate to counteract the crime rate, which then takes away more from spending on public education to build even more prisons.
- - Declines in public education can weaken the ability of the electorate to choose its leaders insightfully, to reject divisive demagogues, to favor long range thinkers and to insist on collaborative solutions.
- - Declines in public education can shift the credibility for delivering useful education to the popular culture, provide role models from the entertainment and sports industries, reward a "get a fair deal" morality based on consuming goods and services, and replace literacy with oral/visual modes of communication that are readable by illiterates.
- - Declines in public education can shift discourse into cyberspace, fuel "Bowling Alone" isolationism, increase "in your face" intolerance during face-to-face encounters and escalate the frequency of "acting out" behaviors from the loss of self control that otherwise emerges from dealing with others' feelings.
In a world where compounding problems like this exist, there must also be compounding solutions. For the past decade I've been wondering if public education will decline into oblivion because it can only be part of the problem. It appears the decline is destiny as these problems compound. Education reforms have appeared as mere first order change since the Civil War ended. The premises of educating students with instructors remains unchanged.
While blogging for the past year on related topics, I've come to the following realizations about the nature of a compounding solution in education:
- When we assume each student has an inner teacher within their minds, we will stop interfering with the discovery, cultivation and trust building with that inner teacher. The inner teacher will come to the fore of the students learning experiences and and reconfigure how they picture learning occurring. Problems with a particular learning challenge or patterns of learning efforts will get worked out between the student and the inner teacher who already knows what the underlying problems are.
- When we hand over the learning to the students and their inner teachers, there is no more need for putting over-powering, controlling, authoritative and silencing instructors in the learners' faces. The learners can get on with the business of "intrinsic, informal, inner-directed, self motivated, learner centered, empowering, liberated" learning without instructors. Their curiosity will naturally lead the way to what is to be learned next. Their educational experiences will effect them in all the positive ways I explored last year.
- When learners feel empowered, validated and respected for "teaching themselves" what they comprehend, they will fall in love with learning. They will experience continually receiving gifts from their inner teacher. They will treasure new questions that arise from every learning endeavor for giving them more to explore. They will welcome new challenges knowing they have the full support of their inner teacher to get through them successfully.
- When devoted to what they learn in their reflective practice, the students will have none of the conventional problems with motivation, retention, loss of curiosity, lack of creativity or changing their minds. They will simply work with the results they get to change their approach they take with the insights offered by their inner teacher.
- When learning from inner teachers, everything that happens is a lesson. Every incident is showing us something to reconsider because it caught our attention. Whatever we don't appreciate will become something we relate to differently until we treat it with respect and gratitude. Instead of forgetting the facts that were supposed to be memorized, each learner will realize the value, benefit, choice, or freedom in different incidents. Each student will emerge from their ignorance, protective denials and partial comprehension at a perfect time customized to their own increasing readiness.
- When in the presence of "gifted students", these former "classroom instructors" will feel more gifted also. They will feel blessed to support the learning of students who do not need to be told what to think. They will relate to their own inner teachers and receive ways to nurture the other learners and themselves in the same process. Chronic problems with burnout and regrettable outbursts among teachers will disappear.
- Nurturers of each learner's inner teacher process will realize how each insight anyone receives is gift to be appreciated. They will set-up a gift economy to handle the supply and demand for these gifts among all the learners. Everyone will provide content, questions, challenges and experiments to each other. It will be obvious that everyone has something to give because they have become so good at receiving and making use of what they get out of experiences.
- When immersed in learning from everything that happens, people will appear very fascinating to each other. No two people will be the same and offer so much more to explore as their mysterious nature captivates other learners. The process of getting learned about by others-- will give each a feeling of being understood. A context of mutual respect, insight and acceptance will dramatically reduce the urge to get attention, get even or act out frustrations.
- When collaborating with others who's learning happens within, the ability to get along with others will occur naturally. Learning starts from the solid ground of being different in a good way. The advice from their own inner teacher will reveal ways to get along with others, learn about them and help them learn about themselves. Problems with pressuring learners to conform, obey, comply and cop-out will vanish.
- Job satisfaction for gifted facilitators of inner learning will soar. Each day will deliver new experiences to treasure. Each student will appear as a gift and as gifted. Each process unfolding with the inner teachers will be easy to respect, exciting to nurture and rewarding to facilitate.