Synchronicity Magazine Issue 99 - Passionate Living : Page 22

Living from the Inside Out By Jennifer Engracio “When we adults think of children, there is a simple truth which we ignore: childhood is not preparation for life; childhood is life. A child isn’t getting ready to live; a child is living. How much heartache we would save ourselves if we would recognize the child as a partner with adults in the process of living, rather than always viewing him as an apprentice. How much we would teach each other… adults with the experience and children with the freshness. How full both our lives could be. A little child may not lead us, but at least we ought to discuss the trip with him, for after all, life is his journey too.” - Professor T. Ripaldi M y vision as a teacher has changed since I started in the British Columbia public school system a decade ago. Originally, my education philosophy centered around a concern for children’s self-esteem and a questioning of the efficacy of our current education system. I worked for several years attempting to make a difference from inside the current system before I finally decided to leave and work instead with home learning families. My philosophy has morphed throughout the years into a different focus: collaborating with kids (with the support of their families) in order to help them design their learning around goals that are meaningful and important to them. It has been my privilege over the past five years to work with children and families who are home learning as a Learning Consultant. I work alongside children to create their learning goals for the year, I help them find resources and mentors so that they can accomplish their goals, I validate their way of learning and I help them to “see” their learning and assess it in a new way. I teach from the knowing that we are each born with unique gifts. I believe our work in this lifetime is to use those gifts in creative ways to add to the beauty of the world and to find workable and sustainable solutions to the world’s challenges. In my observation, North American mainstream culture, can at times, dull the innate desire to learn. As a public school teacher, I became disillusioned watching that bright spark, so naturally present in most five year olds, slowly wane as time stretched on. Years of being told what to do, when to do it, and even how to do it takes its toll on the creativity necessary for responsive and responsible living in human beings. Watching children learn and grow is intensely fascinating to me. No one directly teaches them to speak, to walk, or to crawl. These three things, according to neuroscience, are some 22 February / March 2010 of the most neurologically complex skills we humans ever learn in our lifetimes and kids learn these with virtually no instruction! Children’s first few years are a big adventure of discovery and learning about what they can do in and with their incredible body-mind. The state of wonder that is available to them because they live in the present moment is beautiful to witness as an observer. It reminds me what is “off” about the way we adults do life - hurrying along while living in the past or the future but rarely in the moment as it is unfolding in all its magic. “You don’t depend on life. Life depends on you.” -Emma Age 7 Kids know how to play with life. When a sense of play and experimentation is encouraged by the adults around them, most kids seem to know how to use their creativity to make their goals a reality and they tend to not give up on their dreams as easily as many adults do. They haven’t yet learned to say NO to life and to rule out possibilities. My personal philosophy is now centered around a belief that we are each naturally equipped to learn everything we desire to. After all, we wouldn’t have survived as a species without this natural ability to learn and adapt. Although some of us may experience challenges in some areas, there is often a way to work through a steep learning curve and this sometimes requires specific

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