Utne Reader Project 6/98

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Utne Reader Project June 1998

-- Anonymous, November 11, 1998


Learning in the Key of Life by Jon Spayde, June 1998, pages 45-49

Using the World as a Classroom

In this article the question of what it means to be educated in our competitive, multicultural, corporate dominated society was reflected upon from the more interesting view of what should it mean to be educated.

Because education gives a person power to access tools, people, and ideas that make life easier; we stress that everyone needs to learn technology and specialized, highly competitive skills. We are caught up in a world of fast knowledge but the power that comes from education should give us the foundation for thinking and learning to reflect on the world. We need to believe that education does take place outside the four walls of a classroom. We need to create a world citizen who can learn to be generous and decent; a learner who is alert to the world around him and reflects on the patterns that give social and spiritual meaning to life. I agree that there are many ways to become educated and when we fall short of our goals, we need to continue the struggle.

Recently I discussed with several teachers how the idea of bringing in community members to share real life experiences that involve our students in questioning techniques and hands on experiences has fostered understanding and helped to build relationships. One idea we have discussed is developing an intergenerational community garden. We want our children to develop relationships with the elders of our community. We believe that the richness that can come out of generations working together to produce something for the welfare of our entire community will go a long way in helping our students realize that the whole world is a classroom.

Teaching all children to think and to argue ethically while balancing tradition with the undisciplined and unpredictable world today, is indeed a formidable challenge for us as educators. We are caught in a high tech, fast paced world, but the frustations that I feel in my classroom today stem not from a lack of skills but from a lack of empathy and understanding for each other as human beings. I strongly agree with David Orr when he says. Culturally, we just are slow learners, no matter how fast individuals can process raw data. Theres a long time gap between original insights and the cultural practices that come from them. You can figure out what you can do pretty quickly, but the ethical understanding of what you ought to do comes very slowly.

-- Anonymous, November 12, 1998

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