Scuttle Those Deck Chairs. . .

There is an advertisement that just keeps coming back to me. It depicts the average school day for a student with specific learning needs. The student boards the bus and sits, bored, staring out the window. Then it shows other kids doing the same, as many of us well remember of long bus rides to school. The announcer uses the moment to suggest that time could be improved for kids. And out pops the new technology for helping make the trip more enjoyable with the students smiling instead of staring monotonously.

You have to give the company credit, they have the good intention of improving life for others. The product applies technology to real everyday situations in a clever way. And it is an attempt to redeem a rather dismal reality most people would prefer to have skipped, given the choice.

The problem is that there are other more effective and conservation-minded options which are realistically available to at least some of the students. That is, solutions which might correct overall systemic problems and not just make surface issues less odious. Why put a smiley bandage over consuming valuable time, as well as human and material resources on a bus ride only to arrive at school and participate in a process which is equally wasteful? Stop arranging the deck chairs, let the Titanic run its course. Don't take the bus ride in the first place.

A lot of people like the word sustainability. You see it all over on just about everything. A massive amount of effort is dumped into consuming less in mass education, or being more sustainable, as they might spin it. So there was probably no surprise that “sustainability” showed up in the LearningWilds mission statement. But you need to understand it is not used out of convenience here.

Sustainability has a very intentional purpose there where it is. Family learning holds a crucial key to regenerating our world. It offers the potential to reassert sustainability, and at the same time, critically depends upon sustainability.

Where there was once balance in our world of diversely distributed resources, we are beginning to have a landscape of processed depletion. Where creativity and variation of thinking once brought about vivid cultures, we are seeing the rise of an artificially striated apartheid.

Though I shy away from relying on phatic phrases, the old adage, "think globally, act locally" says a lot about the power homeschooling could wield against these challenges we face. If a suitable number of the younger generations can return to living and effectively learning with family again, it would change the world for the better.

In the past, when human knowledge was pretty much centralized, going to the source was an opportunity that almost made sense. But n a day when knowledge and information are distributed to every corner, the source has come to us. Being where we are and who we are could bring about environmental, social, and developmental sustainability that our ecosystem thirsts for.

As the video above infers, the core premises of mass education are hungry. Moving and housing people en masse involves a huge environmental footprint. Despite arguments that large organizations use resources efficiently, redundant and unnecessary consumption more than sufficiently negate any of those supposed gains. Simple quantification and logic alone are adequate to show this, while over-complicated statistics can conveniently shroud reality. A large mass of children simply using existing and available resources in their homes for learning, and therefore opting out of an economy of redundancy, could push our environmentally unfriendly system in the right direction. Further, resources managed by those who immediately use and pay for them will be far more purposeful than those requisitioned by distant administrators in opaque organizations which are easily manipulated by corporate influence.

The on-going functioning of society requires diversity. But our pathos of cocooning and specializing is magnified by shipping children off to a melting pot. The same institutions that are supposedly enforcing diversity are actually stripping it away. The "diversity" in education falls to a level of simple propaganda by teaching about others in a sterile environment while forcing children to interact almost strictly within their same age and experience. Instead of relating to adults, children are shaped to being taught by them. Outside of that box, family learning offers the opportunity for children to actually interact and empathize with people of differing ages and generations within as well as outside of the home.

Another important aspect of sustainability for this discussion is that of human development. Mass education conforms students to so many agendas that few get to university having enough knowledge about themselves to make more than a guess as to what direction to go in life. This, in addition to the misdirected view of what learning is that the majority of students receive, really works to stunt human development rather than producing the growth needed to be sustainable. Among other things, Making Way for Modern Ideas puts it this way:
    "If we do truly believe the world is changing, then it seems contingent upon us to stay relevant by keeping up with the modern ideas that are emerging at such a rapid rate. To do that we have to make way for them by letting go, subtracting, removing some of the legacy content that too many have held onto for too long."

Because of the structure of mass education, these changes are hardly likely to take place in a timely manner. The relative freedom afforded by learning at home in a situation that can be adjusted according to personal needs can provide the flexibility and speed needed to make adjustments in almost real time. There are numerous other ways, but they are too much for these and subsequent articles-- have a look at the Off Trail Learning podcast for more.

Part of the intention LearningWilds has in promoting family learning is that by nature, it is close to our sole option for a sustainable learning world. This is not just in terms of the environment, but also society and human development. The word "sustainable" is included in the LearningWilds mission statement with this rich meaning in mind. As mentioned early in this article, these points represent the first half of the picture. The second half, homeschooling's reliance on sustainability, will soon follow.

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