The Paradigm and its Implementation.

The Paradigm

Old………..                                                                          

•• New..……                             

Children are empty vessels waiting to be filled with knowledge.                    

•• All humans are born with innate knowledge and wisdom.

Punishment is condoned.                                      

•• Responsibility, support, healing  and forgiveness are practiced.            

Some students have a higher intelligence than others.

•• Every child has gifts, talents and intelligence.   

Success is competitive.   Win – Lose.                                   

•• Success is individualistic / holistic / Win-win.

Learning is for knowledge.                                 

•• Learning is for wisdom.

   There are right and wrong solutions.                

•• Solutions are possibilities.   

Mistakes are discouraged and judged.            

•• Mistakes are acknowledged as a natural part of learning.  

Teachers know what is best for students.                                                                                                                      

•• Students have an innate  awareness of their needs and wants.                                                                               

   Learning is consecutive and linear.                 

•• Learning is random, chaotic and free.                    

   Learning is logical and rational.                      

•• Learning is creative , imaginative  and logical.

   Learning is homogeneous.                               

•• Learning is heterogeneous.     

   The teacher dominates and controls.             

•• Everyone is equal.   

   There are clear and defined limitations.                              

•• There is always CHOICE.        

   The teacher’s job is to teach.                           

•• The teacher’s job is to facilitate learning.

   We assess the end product.                            

•• We evaluate the process.

   There is an end product.                                  

•• The process is never ending….. macrocosm / microcosm.

Learning is difficult.                                          

•• Learning is FUN.

Marks tell us how good we are.                      

•• Evaluation and assessment give us feedback about our progress.

   Assessment is external.                                   

•• Evaluation by self and peers with support.

    Emotions are suppressed.

•• Emotions are integrated, valued and respected.

Time is set.                                                        

•• Time is relative and flexible.                          

    Change is disruptive.                                        

•• Change is integral to the process.                 

Learning is preparation for life.                       

•• Learning is a component of life.                    

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Here is Chapter 1. My exploration of the first paradigm shift.

All humans are born with innate knowledge and wisdom and a desire to know more:

There needs to be an element of faith to embracing this paradigm, a set of beliefs about human beings which go beyond what can be demonstrated scientifically.”        

 

Parenthood can start as early as 15 years of age and teachers can begin teaching as young as 22 years of age. Whether it is 15 or 50 years, why do we assume that being older is the right of passage to knowledge and wisdom? I am a parent, and my three sons have never ceased to amaze me with their wisdom. They have often been my teachers. We live with this egotistical theory that it is an adult’s job to mold a child.   Consider the perspective that the adult’s task is to care for and be responsible for a child until the child can care for and be responsible for themselves, a bit at a time rather than at any specific age.

Responsibility is its own learning process and starts at birth. A baby knows when it is hungry, tired, uncomfortable, lonely and satisfied. A child knows what food she likes and doesn’t like, which people she likes and doesn’t like, which clothes he likes and which toys are his favourites. A child also knows when he is too hot or too cold. A parent tells a child to put on a jumper when the parent feels cold. Often the child is quite comfortable. By assuming the child is ignorant and needs adults to make decisions for him/her, we inadvertently create doubt and lack of confidence in the mind of the child about their innate knowing, specifically about themselves. Then, later in life, we hear voluminous complaints that our teenagers won’t make decisions and won’t take responsibility for themselves. We have taught them that they are incapable of doing the very thing we want them to do. We teach them to be dependent on adults to tell them who they are, what is best for them, what they need and don’t need, when our task is to guide them to be independent to the extent that they can trust themselves to know what is best and act on it with confidence. Do we have it all upside down?

Innate means, inborn, belonging to the body or mind by nature. I am working with my own innate knowing by starting with this concept in the paradigm proposal. To leave it out just because it is difficult to confirm and validate would create a flaw in the working of the paradigm. Intuition is an aspect of ourselves, a function currently delegated to the right side of our brain, therefore a part of our natural intelligence.   Function with this innate knowing with students and allow space and time for them to tap into, trust and function with theirs. My personal beliefs include a belief in reincarnation. Coming from this perspective – that each child has experiences and intentions which are seeded in previous lives and are important dynamics in this lifetime, and hope to support them in their journey through this lifetime. The totality of their being is far richer to comprehend. They are indeed, sacred beings. This explanation may alienate some readers who do not accept the concept of reincarnation, however the concern is to be honest about the process being put forward. If you feel a resistance ,I ask you to keep your mind open rather than discount the whole process as a response.

Adults and those younger, in my current perception, deserve respect enough to appreciate that human beings are far more complex than most of us can comprehend. We are not simple to decipher and categorize, as we might want to believe. To treat our youngest as blank sheets or empty vessels is an insult and an egocentric standpoint. This is an important ingredient for shifting the paradigm, the conscious effort always to be open to hearing or seeing the manifestation of wisdom and knowledge from any students at any time. It requires patience and the ability to listen and observe any and every moment as a potential for excitement and awe. Too often the focus is on the mistakes and the indiscretions, the inattention and the laziness. Mistrust of students and looking to get precisely what is expected in order to validate distrust. If students are not to be seen as sacred beings, the evidence of their innate knowledge and wisdom remains obscured. By looking from this new perspective a whole new vision greets the senses.

In implementing this acceptance of innate knowing and wisdom own the fact that, having been brought up predominantly with old conditioning, the young know nothing except that which an adult has told them Students have adapted in order to survive and have learned through the process of adaptation to deny and distrust the knowledge within themselves, to deny and distrust their sacredness. To allow this intuitive knowing to resurface and be present in students, some work on trust needs to be put in place, some groundwork to facilitate the change. Children learn survival strategies to fit in with parents, teachers and authority figures that deny their innate knowing. To open up to expressing their own unique, personal ideas and thoughts to an adult in authority can be fearful and threatening.   To facilitate and form a new attitude within students takes time and experience. They need to trust that it is safe to broach new or controversial topics and areas of thought in the class environment. For example, if a teacher suggesting the topic of ‘death’ to a class, it is very different than if a student asks to talk about ‘death’. When the teacher puts forward the topic the student tries to respond to what they think the teacher expects. On the other hand, when a student brings up the topic, there is a need to be heard and understood from the child’s perspective, which is the new side of the paradigm. What does the child want to know? The adult may judge the topic as being inappropriate. If it is student motivated from a natural inquisitiveness rather than teacher focussed, how can it be inappropriate? Students need to feel comfortable disagreeing with teachers.

The term Student Centred Learning, says just that. The student is at the centre of the learning process. The “Teacher Centred Learning” process eradicates not just the idea of student centred learning , but the terminology itself. The teacher will let students be the centre of the learning when they feel they have learned enough to accept the responsibility of that centre. That time never comes, so, by default, they are no longer the students by the time they are allowed to be the centre. The old paradigm continues even into our universities. They have now graduated to be the teacher. And the cycle continues. Unless we break the cycle we are on a never ending merry-go-round or “Catch 22” situation.

Destructive behaviour patterns in children can be interpreted as a sign of frustration and anger with the adult, in their lives, who have contributed to the denial and suppression of the child’s innate wisdom. They find themselves in a prison of adaptive behaviour trying to fit in and survive. But it is an unnatural way of being and the desire to rebel and break free is stronger as the child grows. Much of what we perceive as “learning” is really about pleasing teachers and parents to gain a sense of security and acceptance. Comments like, ‘won’t your parents be pleased’, or ‘the school is proud of you’ confirm this. Having a system that rewards being right and alienates being wrong   encourages children to develop adaptive     behaviours and respond the best way they know how, to be accepted.

As humans when we are sure of survival we feel safe. When we don’t feel safe, we change our behaviour to handle the fears that surface. Those so called “good” children are not necessarily learning better. They have found that by doing the right thing, they get the security of acceptance from authority figures, which makes them feel safe. For example, many, “high achievers”, have difficulty expressing their creativity. In creativity, there are no right answers, which can elicit deep insecurities in them at a survival level. Ask a group of teachers to do something artistic or specifically creative and listen to the reactions. This may be because high academic achievers are traditionally discouraged from doing Art or Drama. They have fewer opportunities for developing strategies for dealing with learning that doesn’t have logical solutions. They have fewer strategies for being a non achiever. It has become unsafe working in these areas. High achievers are sometimes confronted in creative areas, by peers who they think of as dumb or stupid. These “low achievers” in the logical subjects, can often do really well in the creative areas and the high achievers are often confused with that.

On the other hand it is very common in our system to give lower achievers more of the creative subjects. I know, that students of Art and Drama require intelligence to be successful, a different kind of intelligence than say in Maths. Because I believe all students are intelligent in a variety of definitions, I don’t worry about labeling. I find ways to facilitate students feeling safe and trusting themselves to move into productive enjoyable learning. They know that their innate knowledge and wisdom are being validated. It is when it is being invalidated that the problems arise.

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