A New World Needs new Schools

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June 1st is International Children’s Day. A day for the children of the world, a day for the future of our Earth. Children will carry the new culture. A letter to the students of the Terra Nova School.

We greet you all over the world. Today, Sunday, June 1st is International Children’s Day. A day for the children of the world, a day for the future of our Earth. Children will carry the new culture.

“Escola da Esperança” is the name of the first international school in the Portuguese Alentejo region, which we intend to officially inaugurate this autumn in Tamera. Escola da Esperança is the ‘School of Hope.’ It holds an important aspect of the emerging first Healing Biotope in Tamera by showing a new model for the education of children and adolescents. The school supports the direct authentic peace power of children and helps to further develop it. It offers them a future-knowledge that is not oriented towards formal curricula, but follows the questions and the natural empathy of young human beings. We invite you to study and get to know the concept of Escola da Esperança. It is not only the concept of a single school in Portugal, but embodies basic thoughts for a new form of education in general. For more information, look at their website: www.escola-da-esperanca.org, and watch this 12-minute documentary film: Escola da Esperança – Vision for a School of Hope (Tamera / Portugal).

A new world needs new schools. “School,” in the generally known and still currently practiced form, emerged from the educational notions of the 19th century; its structure derived from the military. Their methods are often little useful for developing responsible, independently thinking, loving human beings. It is not so much a space of learning, but rather an institution for the reproduction of the existing societal order – and all children are obliged to participate in it. Within eight, ten or thirteen years, the school transforms openhearted and curious young human beings into righteous citizens, indifferent consumers and “competitive” participants on the job market. This is the general dynamic, even though there are exceptions of course. Without seeing the mechanisms of the school system (fear of punishment, pressure to perform, monotonous rhythm, memorizing alienated content, grades, etc.) it is hard to understand why people would voluntarily submit themselves to the rules and customs of a society that neither serves their needs nor follows humane principles. The suppression of the natural drive for learning, curiosity and joy of discovery in the child is – in addition to the suppression of his drives for movement and sexuality – one of the most elementary conditions for the governability of the adult.

In his groundbreaking book “Deschooling Society” (1971), Ivan Illich writes,

“In fact, learning is the human activity which least needs manipulation by others. Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful setting. Most people learn best by being “with it,” yet school makes them identify their personal, cognitive growth with elaborate planning and manipulation. Once a man or woman has accepted the need for school, he or she is easy prey for other institutions. Once young people have allowed their imaginations to be formed by curricular instruction, they are conditioned to institutional planning of every sort. “Instruction” smothers the horizon of their imaginations. (…)

People who submit to the standard of others for the measure of their own personal growth soon apply the same ruler to themselves. They no longer have to be put in their place, but put themselves into their assigned slots, squeeze themselves into the niche which they have been taught to seek, and, in the very process, put their fellows into their places, too, until everybody and everything fits.

People who have been schooled down to size let unmeasured experience slip out of their hands. To them, what cannot be measured becomes secondary, threatening. They do not have to be robbed of their creativity. Under instruction, they have unlearned to “do” their thing or “be” themselves.”

How does a school look that is oriented towards the development of the individual child and supports his/her drive for learning – instead of replacing it by socially imposed functionality?

Here is an excerpt from the school concept of the Escola da Esperança: “Learning is a natural life-process which happens by itself because life itself is aligned to continuous development and improvement. Learning is not linear but moves in oscillations along a line of tension; an irresistible draw which we call interest, curiosity or intrinsic motivation. An efficient learning system is guided by these motions of life.”

The Escola da Esperança is based on more than ten years of preparation and research at the “Place of Children” in Tamera. An essential aspect of the education in the school consists of theater work and political journeys. The children and youth have used theater to express their feelings and stance in relation to the situation in the world. They use this medium to make their voice of compassion heard and to convey it to the world. It is this original kind of empathy for the fate of animals and human beings, which we find in children that is able to again open the closed heart of adults. Here you will find a moving video clip from a theater performance of the youth of Tamera and the peace community San José de Apartadó in the Colombian capital Bogotá in 2010: s//www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3gVAsov9KA

The Escola da Esperança will become a place of learning for the children from the region, for the children of the Tamera community and for children and youth from all over the world. Last year the application for the official recognition of the school was handed over to the Portuguese authorities. We pray and hope that the motion will be accepted as soon as possible so that the first pupils can start attending this school already in September. For this to succeed, the Escola da Esperança needs – in addition to the approval of the authorities – also financial support for setting up the necessary buildings, to employ personnel and to buy materials. Every financial contribution is welcome! We ask you to spread the information about the Escola da Esperança in your networks so that many people will get to know about it and so that the project will receive the support needed for its manifestation.

To conclude we would like to extend a heartfelt invitation to all of you: The 20th International Summer University will take place in Tamera, Portugal from August 1-10, 2014. Under the title “Terra Nova – Global Alliance for the Healing of the Earth” we invite activists, decision makers, journalists, musicians, artists and researchers from all over the world to Tamera. We especially invite all participants of the Terra Nova School to meet here, connect with each other and strengthen themselves. We invite you to co-create a global alliance for a future without war.

The ten-day Summer University is an intense community experience and a space for strategic planning and creative work. In a variety of different groups, we want to develop answers to questions like:

How could a new awakening movement carry through despite the overpowering systems of violence?
How do we direct money flow into the implementation of new models for the future?
How do we spread new information? How do we use media and the Internet? What role does music, art and theater play in this?

What are the ethical guidelines needed for a humane revolution?
How does a worldwide network of model and education centers for a new culture arise? How do we create trust and healing in love?
How will the Terra Nova School turn into a global movement?

For more information, read the full invitation here: //www.tamera.org/what-is-tamera/ visitors3/events/su-2014/. We are looking forward to your participation!

We wish you an inspiring study month and are looking forward to your feedback and questions.

In the name of the children.
In the name of love for all creatures. For Terra Nova.

Martin Winiecki

 

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