The current status of the book is perhaps more accurately considered as a series of related essays. The printout runs to about 240 pages. The essays grew out of a weekly writing effort that extended every Friday for over 10 years as a newsletter called TGIF - Taking Great Ideas Forward. Those essays were related at the intersection of education, environment and economics. The book-length effort is under review and editing is moving forward however progress is halting and uneven. It is a rather constant process of discovering new and important elements -- what I call GAPS -- to add.
Education's Ecology is about relationships and none are more important than those at the beginning of life; a period when schools are almost completely uninvolved. Education is a social function that extends both before and beyond the school years. Education cannot continue to stand apart from social equity and social justice, ecological systems and thinking, economics as a social subsidiary of the environment, ethics extending across all human relationships, energy for all essential and non-essential life processes, and evolution as a fact of life at all levels of organization. Yet schools, as they are presently and perhaps irrevocably framed, are increasingly inadequate to continue taking on social burdens. More money for schools is not the answer. Throwing more and more money at schools and expecting better outcomes is defensibly characterized as social insanity. Chartered schools and vouchers for schools are at best only early evolutionary steps toward a non-school-based paradigm for education.
The book’s main arguments:
support an evolutionary discontinuation of schools as a paradigm for public education within society;
revise the role of teachers to facilitate community scholarship and leadership VS classroom management;
emphasize that our biology is fundamental, including behavior, reproduction and parenting, development, consciousness, evolution, and the growing importance of neuroscience;
establish a bona fide role for spirituality (as distinct from religion)
place testing, textbooks and technology in a new perspective;
recognize education as a place for practice of systems science;
insist that only integration of a planetary perspective will support human survival.
A tentative title was: Education Ecology: Why Teaching, Testing, Textbooks and Technology are Not Enough. My recent inclination has been to continue pursuit of this title but to make it a first book in a series. All books would be titled Education's Ecology but would carry different subtitles. Some tentative subtitles are: (coming soon ... My list of titles is sitting in a document buried in my messy collection of hard drive folders. I'll find that document and add copy here .... Sorry for the tease, but you will have to drop back, and I hope you will ... ) At the suggestion of a potential publisher, I have considered revising the title to focus on the important role of parents in education and how parents and caregivers may benefit from the content of the book. Accordingly a new possible title is Education's Ecology; How Sustainable Relationships Begin With Parenting.
Early Childhood -- Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are critically important and represent a societal liability that cannot any longer be ignored. When I became aware of this scourge on society, I became enmeshed in how it relates to our schools and the egregious criticism that seem present almost everywhere. Since the first publication in 1999 establishing the impacts of ACEs on long-term human health, a body of literature has grown large and impressive. However, what is recognized to date may be only the tip of the iceberg. Before birth, poverty for a mother, and the inevitable stresses that accompany poverty, is now well recognized as an a damaging impact on the brain of the fetus in the second trimester of pregnancy. It seems almost inconceivable that what are recognized as "learning disabilities" are a consequence of an environment provided by a mother's womb. Stress on the mother induces important changes in the balance of many hormones, many of which can act through the placenta and the fetal circulation to alter normal brain development. Some of the resulting babies never have a chance at thriving in a school environment five or more years later in life. Yet, socially, we proceed with all the confidence that goes with ignorance trusting pregnancy and neonatal development of the infant to chance. A new conception of early life is long overdue. Schools by any contemporary conception are not and cannot be engaged.
D3 -- Is a recent concept which stands for Decade of Dependent Development. D3 begins with conception and ends at age 9. D3 explicitly recognizes neoteny (retention of child-like characteristics into adulthood as well as delayed physiological and sexual maturity of an organism) as a fundamental condition of human life. Parenting is so critical and crucial for this first decade that in its absence, survival is clearly impossible. Accordingly, it is incumbent upon society to establish a network of relationships that support parenting for every child.
Every child deserves a champion.
This means, intriguingly, that education is most significant, not for children, but for adults. It is adult knowledge of child development that enables success of the child in life. Schools become involved in the education of the child much too late in the child's life. Schools have turned a powerful social need into an ignorant enterprise that is insane and upside down. The insanity follows unexamined assumptions that are repeated slavishly, generation to generation, and across every segment of society with an expectation of better results. Society has formulated schools to serve a population age 5-25 on the assumption that adulthood represents some collective wisdom that must be passed on to children so that they will become proficient, functioning adults. And, it assumes that every child is uniformly ready to begin that passage at about age five. A five-tear-old is "ready" to "learn." These assumptions lack important definitions and do not recognize that the years pre-zero to three are the most important time of developmental change in the life of the individual. The Brain is central to all that the child will become. Brain development begins in utero and continues following birth with the most significant changes to prepare the individual for life. We know this from conditions of childhood that go wrong; Autism, Attention Deficits, Hyperactivity disorders, failure to thrive with physical activity, lack of timely language development, and many other deficits of development. What is up-side-down is that parents must be prepared to take responsibility for the first decade of life and that they cannot know everything because no one knows everything.
Society itself -- undefined as that is -- does not know everything. We are all ignorant and need to accept that condition soon and universally. When we recognize our ignorance, we are positioned through questioning and critical thinking to do something about it. Through research and dissemination of what research is uncovering, we position ourselves to test ideas, concepts, principles, and even stories that circulate. Those are hypotheses and can be tested and potentially falsified. When an idea is falsified, it is time to quit holding on to the idea and think up a better idea. That is science! The citadels of science are at our universities but they are also present with everyone of us a citizens and stakeholders in our future and the future of our children.
This means being fully engaged in the daily assessment of a child's development and seeking community support for the developmental progress of the child. Parental responsibility begins before conception and continues without interruption for at least ten years. Yet parental responsibility cannot be accomplished in the absence of support systems. These support systems are a societal responsibility. What society has in place is a system or systems of schooling. Schooling is fundamentally flawed for D3 schools do not deal with the important years -- zero to three. Schooling is long overdue for dramatic revision. A first, dramatic, step would be to remove all children from schools until age nine. Early education,, pre-school, kindergarten are not enough.
Society must assure itself that every prospective parent is equipped to support child development that is not ever toxic physically, emotionally or spiritually. The intellectual domain in the first decade is founded on passion, projects, peers and play that emerges from the natural human condition of prolonged immaturity, or neoteny.
D3 is my title for continuing thought about education and how society may fill an important GAP. I'm not likely to fulfill the promise of this book until this GAP is filled with worthwhile thoughts to fulfill the first argument (above) that society must support an evolutionary discontinuation of schools as a paradigm for public education within society. Discontinuation, in my view, will best begin by removing all children under nine years from our current system(s) of schooling. My big challenge is to propose a realistic alternative. That is daunting. However, a place to begin is with those parents who already disavow school for their children and the concept of the "un-school." Home School is also a foundation. Alternatives such Montessori and Waldorf may also have much to contribute.
MORE to FOLLOW to fill gaps in gaps. For instance, the above has a significant gap in not addressing the evolutionary legacy from the period of human development and evolution -- evo-devo -- that preceded that agricultural age. Certainly the advent of the industrial age and the anthropocene dramatically fueled new demands for education and the response of schooling for vocational advancement.
Linking - Public Participation in Science. PPS can take many forms. Citizen Science, STEM, STEaM, PBL & Adult Education are related labels. The National Science Foundation has initiated programs that take the label "Public Participation in Scientific (STEM) Research." When we make truth an aspiration for society, science becomes an element for obtaining truth and differentiating what is true from what is not true, false, or what remains unknown or unknowable.
Science is a way of knowing. It is evidence-based and a critically important process of differentiating what is true from what is not true. Any chance humanity has for preservation of the only home we have -- planet earth -- will depend upon a majority of humanity understanding how our earth fits into the cosmos and how human evolutionary development has dramatically altered the ecology of the planet. As author Tom Friedman put it, we are Hot, Flat and Crowded. Science is in conflict with religions, nearly all of them. Some misguided thinkers and orators have even taken the absurd path asserting that science is (a) religion.
Teacher Training for Education's Ecology and Community Supporting Scholarship. Every community needs intellectual leadership based on scholarship that is open and democratic. This means that leadership is distributed. No one individual is accorded the title of "leader" because everyone is deeply, fundamentally, believed to possess inherent worth and is accorded a full measure of dignity. Teachers in a New World Paradigm for Education, will assume a place in community life in which they positively contribute to human development though the example of their lives. They are, themselves, educated in how to live as members of an open society. That is, they have acquired the attributes of citizen. THIS MEANS more than I can articulate but intend to write to find what it means. My guide has been, and will likely continue to be, the philosopher Karl Popper, as well as his worthy interpreter for education, Robert Bailey.
Parenting -- Engagement & Leadership
Community / Grassroots Engagement
(Role in higher education)
(Unionization & Education)
And many more ...
*This page is under development. However, as it develops I will occasionally post items of related interest. What follows is archival material that was previously posted on my home page.
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Last revised 17 March 2020