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Thinking Outside the Box


I've been thinking about education. There's a phrase we often use - without thinking about what it means... "Thinking outside the box."

The box. We kind of know what it means, but it's a slippery expression.

I believe that the "box" is finished. Whatever we mean by the Box inside of which we usually think (and talk, and do stuff) — it's over. Not right now, but in terms of its usefulness, its effectiveness, even its relevance — its time is over. It's brought us to a point at which we are destroying our planetary home. We've lost our way. The walls of the box we have built around ourselves, around our civilization, are destined, I believe, to crumble.

If this is true — and of course I have no way of proving it — then what does this have to do with education? Pretty well all the world's educational systems are training children, teaching students, to think and learn and work, inside the box. "Socialization" we call it. (See Doris Lessing). But if the days of the box are numbered then this is a waste of time. It's worse than a waste of time.

If what I'm saying is true, then, when the walls of the box begin to crumble, when "things fall apart, the center cannot hold" we will desperately need human beings who have learned to live, to work, to feel, to relate to one another and to the planet . . . . OUTSIDE THE BOX.

How do we do this?

The only way we can do this is to create and run schools which are themselves OUTSIDE THE BOX. This means that the curriculum is, to the extent that is possible, is a blend of what we believe to be truly worth working on - our High Human culture - and activities that are chosen (for want of a better word) by the children themselves. Children are not yet inside the box. We are. So we have to create environments in which they are free and able to follow their inner impulses or guidance. In this way they will learn everything they will need, both inwardly and outwardly. This is not a fantasy. It's been done. It's not hard to set up such a school.

This is some of what I've been thinking. What do you think?


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