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Educational Institutions in Systemically Sustainable Community DevelopmentsThe current, predominant educational system of teaching to the test has failed more than just the students. It has led to a devolution of growth and society as a whole and been detrimental to the entirety of the human species. The educational institutions within the Community Developments will be unique in many ways. Based on a variation of the Rudolf Steiner approach to education with a cloud-based infrastructure, students will no longer be bound to classrooms and will in fact, be free to study with like-minded individuals in real-world environments as often as possible. However, it should be noted right away that this variation of the Steiner/Waldorf approach does in fact, include a great deal more focus on relevant and “real-world” scholastic studies as well.

A special focus will also be placed on teaching the finer aspects of Problem Solving Skills and Critical Thinking Skills to ensure that the students are not only well-educated, but ready to tackle the challenges that they will face each and every day in the “real world” and to give them that extra advantage that they may need when faced with any exceptional challenges throughout the course of their lives. This is of utmost importance in this day and age, when a great many of the youth of today will be facing problems hitherto unknown to humanity, made even more prevalent through the introduction of automation into the workforce and the potential displacement of virtually all humankind.

The current educational system is one that is primarily established to “teach to the test” and is, in a very general and over-simplified sense, little more than rote memorization and recollection. There are precious few courses available that teach critical thinking skills and even less that teach viable means of problem solving. When large corporations put “weird questions” in their applications, it is a novelty and a source for internet memes and jokes. In reality, many of these questions are designed to explore how the individuals will be capable of going about solving problems that they have not faced beforei. The inner city schools routinely perform very poorly and the students are left (rightfully?) believing that most of their educational courses are merely to be endured until they can quit and get out into the real world.

Dreams are killed by Junior High School.” That may seem like a harsh and unfair claim, but it merits a closer inspection ... and a little bit of context. Dr. Michiu Kaku is one of the premier Theoretical Physicists in the world and was speaking at a High School about time travel and those who dared to dream that it may be possible. Even without delving into the Physics, his speech was very telling for those who listened, and spoke volumes about the schools and the educational system in the world today. In a portion of the speech he discussed how young kids question everything and their minds are allowed to open ... only to have their dreams crushed in Junior High School ... or what is considered High School in some countries.

Here are these kids who each have their own dreams and their own visions, and here they are, forced to work on a daily basis with a select few students who share their same interests and a massive peer group that includes a host of people who will ridicule and chastise them for daring to dream. At best, they may get an after school club and a mentor but little else can be expected. Even in the event that a field trip may be arranged in a location that is absolutely everything that they have ever dreamed of, they will be attending with a large body of students who care nothing about what they are doing, who will run around and play games while this one soul struggles to (re)capture even a piece of their dreams. The next day, or more likely, in a few short hours, they will return to the same, droll environment to continue numerous studies that do not hold any interest for them and do nothing to further their dreams. They are surrounded by their peers, but with people who have different dreams and desires and skill-sets, but who are all tossed together in a blanket solution system that ultimately, fails the entire student body and society as a whole.

What makes these observations and comments from Dr. Michiu Kaku particularly striking and telling, is that he is part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system, in the heart of New York City, that actually employs many of the methods of Rudolf Steinerii in portions of their school system and Steiner (and Waldorf) schools are prevalent, albeit certainly not predominant throughout New York City. Rudolf Steineriii was an Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect and esotericist who developed a system of education with an approach to combine spiritualityiv with science.

One of his greatest achievements from the perspective of the Community Developments was the establishment of the Waldorf Educational Approach, though this was only used as the foundation upon which an entire educational system could be built to better provide for each and every student individually within the community developments. If there is any major flaw in the Waldorf system, from an objective point of view, it is the lack of emphasis placed on more scholastic studies. The educational models established for the Community Developments place as much emphasis on more traditional scholastic studies as they do in other aspects of the education of the individual. However, the methods used for teaching and the learning environments in which the students will pursue their educations, will be wholly different and unique.

Like the Community Developments themselves, the educational system is, by necessity, integrated and adaptive in nature. There will be traditional classrooms but classes will also be taught in other locations, but certainly not in the same ways as have been approached in the past.

One of the most relevant issues is identifying the particular aptitude of the individual student. This is accomplished by a very refined and proven aptitude battery that will identify areas of interest and abilityv. From the results of the aptitude batteries, the students will be given options from areas of study wherein they will have a better chance of being successful. This process will start from the very first moment in school and continue throughout the educational system from start to finish so as to allow for variations in interest and skills as the students grow, mature and develop.

Once the selection process has been completed, the curriculum will be built around the needs of each particular studentvi. While it is inevitable that there will be some overlapping within the curricula, the needs of the individual student will still be fully addressed and their curriculum built around their needs and desires. The scholastic educational curricula will be cloud-based and available on laptops which will be issued to all of the students. This laptop will be restricted to some degree and set up so that it can be restored without the loss of data and other modifications to make it more suitable for the educational purposes for which they are intended.

Inside the classroom environments, the students will learn with other children as is common in most schools today, though the system of teachers will be somewhat different. While it will be beneficial to have teachers that are exceptionally skilled in certain areas, the online setup, the cloud system and an online support system will allow for even a basic tutor to manage (rather than actually having to teach) an entire class. Teachers will be utilized wherever possible, with at least basic skills in all of the areas being taught but, experts will be available online twenty-four hours a day to provide more advanced assistance as it is needed in the necessary languages and/or dialects. Meanwhile, the students will not be restricted to learning only in the classrooms and will be more free to expand their horizons at the same time that they increase their opportunities for education and experience.

Students will of course, spend time in classrooms. It is important that the students learn to work in a structured and controlled environment. The classroom is also generally a more beneficial environment for pursuing scholastic studies and for being able to review, study and learn constructs and ideas before putting them into practice. Unlike the current, prevailing educational systems however, the students will not be restricted to the classrooms. Rather, they will learn in a multitude of environments including learning about issues of sustainability and even in real-world environments based on their aptitude results and selected areas of interest.

In the early, more formative years of education, the educational system for the children will be such that they are focused on both scholastic studies and exposed to a wide range of options, again, based on their aptitude battery results and their expressed areas of interestvii. Among the many key differences will be the constructs of “field trips” that are currently limited to a few hours among people that may or may not have any real interest in the subjects being pursued in the field.

In the educational system as it has been established for the Community Developments, the students will be able to spend weeks in different fields of study ... as long as they keep their scholastic pursuits and results within such parameters as shall have been defined based on their individual options, as being necessary for their selected fields of interestviii.

This experience will be further enhanced by the fact that all of those students studying in such environments will be studying with other students from other walks of life who all share a similar interest. Social Growth and Development is especially important for youth if they are to be free to shed the prejudice and bigotry that is still prevalent … or at the very least, present in society today.

The current educational system in regards to social development is contradictory in this regards. “Social Justice Warriors” want everyone to win a trophy, yet any time there is any interaction between schools, competition and division are encouraged. Interaction is not only limited but restrictive in nature. There will inevitably be a system of intramural activities for the students, and their natural competitive behavior should be fostered, nurtured and encouraged, but not used as a means to divide and separate. Life is full of winners and losers, and to raise students without an understanding and comprehension of this reality, is to raise a group of students wholly unprepared for life in the world in which they will soon be entering.

The educational system as developed for the Community Developments is established to bring together children based on their interests and based on their dreams, and not to socially divide them or classify them based on their color or creed or any other limiting factor. All of the students within the community developments will be encouraged to come together as allies and friends and to establish common ground and work together, not only for the benefit of each other, but for society as a wholeix.

There will very likely always be personal differences, but diversity really is one of the many things that make life as wonderful as it is challenging. If the human race can learn to seek out its common ground and to work together, no matter where the place of birth is or what color someone’s skin may be or wherever they may happen to live, then there is, at the end of the day, at least some hope left for humanity. All of this however, will not work unless the students learn how to think things through and how to overcome the obstacles that they face ... and will continue to face throughout their entire lives. This however, will also mean that the students must be able to learn to examine everything objectively, even if their initial (and natural) reaction is to look at everything personally and subjectively.

Two vital skills that seem to be tragically lacking from the current educational system are Critical Thinking Skillsx and Problem Solving Skillsxi. The esteemed halls of Academia are wholly reversed from the real world in one very critical construct. In school, the student receives the lesson and then gets tested. In the real world, the individual will endure the test (or trial) before the lesson will be imparted or can be learned.

When anyone enters the work force, there is not going to be some long lesson about each and every variable that is going to arise. The individual needs to have the ability or the critical thinking skills necessary to define the facts, analyze the facts and draw a viable or likely conclusion no matter what the problem may be. It is very likely, and in some cases even desirable, for different individuals to examine the same set of facts and draw different conclusions. However, rather than being used to divide these people, the two can look at the common ground and form the basis for the commencement of an active dialog. In a controlled or managed environment, such as a school for example, these parties with opposing views based on the same set of facts, can engage in an exchange of ideas that opens up possibilities rather than creating a division between the students.

It is imperative that these people with opposing viewpoints learn at an early age that, just because someone has different ideas regarding a conclusion, it does not equate to a personal affront or an attack on the other. No matter what the thoughts, beliefs or conclusions may be, only by engaging people of differing views can their set of beliefs be peacefully (if not always cordially) challenged ... which is equally necessary for their education and personal social growth and development.

It is perfectly natural for people to look at everything from a personal standpoint at first glance, but every effort must be made to look at every situation as objectively as possible in addition to the personal (and subjective) views. It is equally imperative, wherever possible, to find the common ground to begin “discussing without the cussing”, different issues or viewpoints. When the system of beliefs of an individual is challenged, the current, most common response, seems to be an emotionally-based, vitriolic diatribe. Such a scenario in a more regulated and controlled atmosphere, can be utilized to instigate introspection and an objective view of personal beliefs in addition to being exposed to opposing viewpoints, some of which, when looked at in a truly objective manner, may help to persuade or even generate new views based on collective experiences and interpretations of the facts.

Life is going to be full of scenarios where people have differing viewpoints and where those believing differently are not necessarily wrong just because they have interpreted the facts and/or the data differently. Both Objective and Critical Thinking are absolutely necessary for the evolution of the human species and the ability to move beyond our petty differences to seek common ground for the betterment of all humanity. That will require Problem-Solving Skills as well.

Problem-Solving Skills are not always quite so rigid as mathematics, insofar as they do not always involve a search for a definitive answer. Rather, they provide the ability to discern different methods for solving problems, even when there are numerous (or even all) unknown variables in the equation itself. As was mentioned earlier in this section, some employers ask questions during job interviews or on applications that may, at first glance, seem to be wholly ludicrous in nature. Most of them are based on information so trivial, that the possibility for anyone even being able to figure out a correct answer (much less already knowing it) are statistically impossible … not impossible, but so unlikely that it is safe to presume they will not. While there will be a correct answer to these problems, being able to come up with the correct answer is not so important as being able to demonstrate how the problem was approached and what a viable method to determine a solution would be.

The current educational system does not provide much in the way of teaching actual Problem-Solving Skills or even methods. Even in the more advanced courses in logic, it is generally little more than a chapter in a book. Courses in both Philosophy and Reason likely place a greater emphasis on this field than other disciplines do but a comprehensive introduction to and study of Problem-Solving Skills should be mandatory for every student, no matter what their individual skills may bexii. While not every student will become a master, every student should greatly benefit from such skills. Skills though, need to be tested, which brings up the subject of tests and testing.

Testing will not be conducted in the traditional sense. Just as the curricula will be tailored to meet the needs of the students, the students will be tested at such a time as they feel that they are prepared to take the testsxiii. Testing Centers will be made readily available to all of the students that are prepared to test. These Testing Centers will be highly controlled environments, with the system wherein the students will be tested, generally disconnected and isolated to reduce the ability of any students to cheat during testing. All of the tests will be created, overseen, graded and managed by the educational division as shall be established within the Community Developments individually.

The educational division of management or governance (for lack of a better term) is established on the local level to provide primarily a curriculum that is best suited to the needs of the local, general population. While it will be possible for students to travel to obtain an education in any location they so desire, (at least within whatever restrictions may be put in place by their familiesxiv) the educational system will be established on a local level. Like so much of the Community Developments, the Educational System will, by necessity, be adaptive and integrated in naturexv. The Educational System will vary by location, primarily in the areas of vocational and technical training, but also at the individual level. The ability to fully customize the curriculum for each student ensures a beneficial education for every student.

Given the unique needs of each location, each Community Development will have a governing body established locally to provide for international standards in addition to local educational needs. This is especially of concern in regards to vocational and technical training where local needs may vary greatly even if closely connected geographically. While scholastic skills and testing will remain fairly consistent across the globe, vocational and technical course loads will share many commonalities but also provide for many wholly unique needs and opportunities in terms of education. In such areas where there are specific needs within a community, it has been deemed in the best interests to leave such training and education to the experts in the locality in question, even in cases wherein additional or different skills and training may be necessary for the same trade when conducted in other locations.

The cost of establishing such a system is expensive in some areas, though the more expensive portions are generally “one-off” and once completed, cost very little for upkeep or maintenancexvi. Establishing the courses and the testing will also be expensive but again, after all of this has been completed, the actual costs will be very low and will be offset in the same manner as the programs for health and medical care and treatment. In this manner, it will be possible for each and every individual within the community developments to further their education at no cost to themxvii.

There is some discussion about limiting the ability to enroll based on age restrictions and other factors but these hardly seem reasonable or logical. It is very likely best to separate the adult educational system from the educational system for the children but there is certainly no viable reason for restricting access to education for anyone who is seeking to improve their lives. In fact, with the provision of financial rewards, there is no reason that someone could not raise a family while attending school, though it may not be very profitable. It is firmly believed by most that education should be made readily accessible for all of the people. This does however, bring up an important point regarding indigenous and aboriginal cultures in many areas wherein “traditional” modern education is often forsaken due to tribal beliefs and/or cultural differences.

Currently, the designers of the Integrated and Adaptive Community Development are working with two national groups and one international leadership council for the indigenous people of the world. Many of the current locations for construction of the Community Developments are already populated by some of the indigenous people. Some of these locations are specifically and officially recorded as indigenous lands and some are not. Regardless of the current status of the land, many negotiations and talks have taken place to ensure the ability to build schools and educational institutions that not only provide contemporary lessons for all of the students, but also additional course loads to teach and preserve the indigenous traditions, culture and history. At present, many of the tribes reject the modern educational system due to its inability to adapt to the native and indigenous cultural belief system.

Through a series of negotiations with tribal leaders, national leaders and international representatives, plans have been put in place to provide for a new type of educational system, based not only on the skills and the potential of the students, but with an added course load to teach the history, culture and traditions of the local and global indigenous peoples. The more scholastic pursuits will be optional in these educational institutions as will the vocational and technical training related to the modern world. However, given that the current educational system has been all but forsaken among these people with the probable exception of reading and writing in the local languages and some basic math skills, this is seen as a vastly superior means for the cultural and historical preservation of the indigenous peoples globally, and a means to introduce a viable, modern educational system to the indigenous peoples.

i Questions such as “How many gas stations are in such and such a country” or “why are manhole covers round” may seem irrelevant but are specifically designed to determine whether or not an individual can adequately face unknown challenges and shows how their mind works in resolving these issues. Despite some popular myths, they were not included for the sake of creating internet memes or just to be cute.

ii Steiner education or Waldorf education, is based on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy. Its pedagogy emphasizes the role of imagination in learning, striving to integrate holistically the intellectual, practical, and artistic development of pupils. The educational system as has been/is being established for within the Community Developments is a variant of the Steiner Models with some very striking and very relevant differences in approach.

iii Rudolf Steiner advocated a form of ethical individualism, to which he later brought a more explicitly spiritual approach. He based his epistemology on Johann Wolfgang Goethe's world view, in which "Thinking… is no more and no less an organ of perception than the eye or ear. Just as the eye perceives colours and the ear sounds, so thinking perceives ideas." A consistent thread that runs from his earliest philosophical phase through his later spiritual orientation is the goal of demonstrating that there are no essential limits to human knowledge.

iv While this may initially seem to be a contradiction, it is not, though this document is not the place for a complete philosophical discussion on the merits of his many theories or practices of Rudolf Steiner. His approach was under the presumption that, his variation of spiritualism ... also known as “Ethical Individualism” through “Spiritual Science” ... as opposed to the more mystic variety of spiritualism wherein people claim (or can?) speak with the dead or transcendentalist approaches, that, depending on the speaker, does provide the direct conflict between spiritualism and science.

v One of the issues of concern is the translation of the Aptitude Batteries into the more limited languages and dialects where, testing indicates it is not as accurate as it is in languages that are broader and allow for more nuanced communication.

vi This process is still proprietary in nature but the Aptitude Batteries themselves in addition to the logistics required for the individual tailoring of the educational curriculum specifically for each student individually, were originally established for a very well-known international corporation and are being employed with the full cooperation of the developer of this technique.

vii Smaller children are generally open to more areas of interest and the idea is to open their minds and to encourage their dreams. Rather than spending a couple of hours in a zoo or at a robotics factory or other area, the students will be allowed to attend their classes there for what is currently slated to be anywhere from a week to a month. A portion of the child’s day will be spent in scholastic pursuits, with expectation levels established based on their individual skills and abilities, and as long as those levels are maintained, they will be able to spend the rest of the time in “real-world” environments and enjoy more hands-on encouragement and added incentives to pursue their dreams.

viii As children grow older, most of their interests will begin to narrow down to some degree, but it is still believed that it is better to offer them too many opportunities rather than too few. The idea of bringing different children from different areas together helps them to develop socially, and it puts them together with like-minded individuals, all of whom will be expressing an interest in the selected field. Some students will question everything and some will not, but together in such an environment, the students will work together and learn together and ideally, will develop at least some lasting friendships and expand their social skills in addition to their minds and their dreams. In many cases,

ix Even students who share a love of sports and enjoy other intramural activities from chess to debate clubs and will be competing against each other would greatly benefit from these types of environments wherein they can get to know each other and again, learn to seek out common ground even if they will always be competitive types of individuals.

x Critical Thinking – the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.

xi Problem Solvingthe process of finding solutions to difficult or complex issues.

xii There will inevitably be some people who would not enjoy any benefit from such a course. This may be due to being mentally incapacitated and/or handicapped in some fashion or simply because of a totally different manner of cognitive thought processing skills and ability. Still, every student needs at least an introductory level course in such a study and it should be continued wherever possible throughout the educational process.

xiii There are numerous educational models that provide for such testing, though the developers of the educational system for the Community Developments wish to keep their exact plans proprietary until such a time as the programs can be implemented. A review of any of the publicly available models should address any concerns about whether or not the method is viable but it is deemed to be a substantially more efficient and beneficial to the students than the current models practicing a “teaching to the test” method.

xiv Students within the Educational System of the Community Developments will be eligible for free educational opportunities in any of the educational institutions within the community developments. However, for those students as are underage, parental guidance and permission must be granted to allow them to move. In some cases, dormitory housing may be made available and in some cases, the entire family may decide to move and in some cases, the parents may deny permission altogether. Such matters are best left for the family to decide based on their own beliefs and circumstances.

xv There will be global standards for scholastic education and for most of the aspects of vocational and technical training. The vocational and technical training will be established at the local level based on the needs of the local community development. As an example; a coastal development that relies heavily on the oceans will have some of the same needs as other Community Developments but many educational needs based on the local economy that are unique to the coastal areas and even to that Community Development in particular.

xvi Building a custom cloud network is going to be expensive, but the costs will also be absorbed by all of those corporate entities that utilize the cloud-based networking system. The actual upkeep and maintenance, even including a minimum triple redundancy in regards to systems, services and even data storage, is relatively ... or at least comparatively inexpensive. The same holds true for the educational facilities. While the initial construction is expensive, the upkeep and maintenance are not a major expense.

xvii There is some talk of charging a fee of one to two percent of the actual cost per student but to date, there has been no reasonable explanation as to why this would be necessary and/or beneficial to the leadership group. Still, it is a possibility to consider as it will be open to discussion at a later date once funding is released.

 

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