FLOURISH, a learning field. update feb 2021
In the spring of 2020, during the Covid-19 lockdown, we experimented with a project called 'Your School'. If you'd wanted a school, for a special topic, what would it be about? This led to a small series of online workshops upon request about extraordinary subjects, most notably about the 'Magic of Life'. Out of this experience, Flourish a new kind of education is born: the learning field. This is the 2nd iteration of the dream.
"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." ~ Einstein
Our world feels more and more in chaos and disarray. Many things are deeply connected, so one simple shift can affect many others, as we saw with the Corona Virus, and see with the increase of Climate Change effects around the world. We shouldn't educate people to fit into a system that is both rapidly changing and in need of change. Then what should we educate?
- Start with these two questions: What do you see as a big issue you want help to solve? What is your unique talent where flow, gift, and joy come together? And what do you need to learn to find where they meet? How and where this best may serve your community, society, and the planet. The basic attitude here is: Follow your bliss (Ikigai).
- Everything you need to learn to prepare for life as a whole. Normal schools mostly prepare you for a job life. Life and personal fulfillment demand so much more. Think aspects like daring to fail, connect to and respect for nature, prepare for life by facing the regrets of the dying, basic entrepreneurship, large-scale systems understanding, mindsets, courage, and (mental) resilience. The basic attitude here is: Prepare for life as a whole.
- Learning as a collective. The incredible focus on personal development ignores how our society shapes us, and we can only shape society from a sense of and being part of a community. Investment in the community and eco-systems is investing in self. Resilience based on strong networks and a healthy environment is much stronger than an individual approach. The basic attitude here is: Make each other shine!
- Wonder to wisdom. We learn most from exploring, experience, real-world application, teaching others, and storytelling. Short loops between theory and practice make turn knowledge into insight and make it meaningful. And through wondering about the possibilities and understanding how actions have consequences we become mature and at the same time can evolve beyond what teachers thought possible. The basic attitude here is: Play to understand.
To bring unity and improve collaboration on major issues we need to return to wonder. In order to move forward, we need to raise questions most educations avoid. What more is possible? What hasn't been tried or explored yet? What can we do to help, ourselves, our community, and our world? What difference can I make? How can I learn to make it? What other questions should be asked? All open questions without any expected answers. Big questions that give meaning, direction, and can make a difference. In the School of Wonder, we start with those.
Floris, Head Wizard* of the Learning Space.
We are currently developing the concept. No applying for a job here, we've got a crew in mind. Showing interest as a potential student is totally fine. Offering help and funding will be hugely appreciated. Currently, our main focus is on framing and growing the project. We hope to see you soon. This project is also born in loving memory of Gaella Grace, the Knowmads creative business school, and the 2016 course "You are a Movement" and will seek some helpful connections to such initiatives.
All who enter here will come out changed. Our starting point is what great geniuses have said and should be listened to:
Einstein: "Play is the highest form of research." and "Imagination is more important than knowledge."
Richard Feynman: "Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible." and "The highest forms of understanding we can achieve are laughter and human compassion."
Nicola Tesla: "All that was great in the past was ridiculed, condemned, combated, suppressed - only to emerge all the more powerfully, all the more triumphantly from the struggle." and "It's not the love you make. It's the love you give."
For who is this school?
This school is for all ages, 10 and above, who is curious, who wants to learn and find out things together with others. It is for everyone who has or had trouble with normal education. Here are some desires you have, wished were possible in education: You want to mix subjects, that don't seem to belong together. You want to explore questions no school is asking. You want to learn to make things happen in your society that makes things better. You want to play around with inspiring people, without strict program. You want to be a future maker, process alchemist, wonder artist or something you invent. You want to see yourself and other shine with excitement about their unfolding talents and discoveries.
NOTE: If we want wonders to happen, some magical people should be welcome as well. We want every year some awesome talents, that have no money, but who bring light into rooms to join as well.
We will develop online programs, separate 2 week programs on location and work towards an online community.
This is currently in development.
TREE OF QUESTIONS
A special tool of the school is the tree of questions. Each student, and or project has its own tree. On this tree questions can be added, moved, expanded upon, also by others. Links to where answers may be added by people in the know. This can be online or in the school. Others can also mark questions that they also hold or deem essential. Questions with a lot of marks lead to sessions.
Spaces in the Learning Field
The school is a lab, a stage, a garden, a room to play.
There will be a greenhouse. Gardening is a great start to learn to understand nature. Forest explorations are very possible too. How to grow up without ever climbing a tree?
Other spaces will be for music, for sports, for tinkering, for chemistry, etc. Even the kitchen will be a learning space.
NOTE: Dangerous spaces can only be visited under guidance.
Also won't we allow online gaming as escapist fun. However when there's a true drive to discover something behind we will allow it. But we assume all our students don't come to game. Enough other places for that.
There will be a workplace to build stuff. Some stuff may still have to be arranged, yet that too is learning. Here things can be made to be tested and further developed.
There will be relaxed dialogues among learners. Like ancient Greek philosophers they can mingle, questions, discuss and wonder together.
NOTE: We can't predict the development of Corona measures around the world. We do believe that for our education personal nearness is essential. We are biological beings after all.
Why isn't there a focus on knowledge?
All the information you are looking for, can already be found online. So information isn't what we provide. We rather provide you with humans who believe in you, who enjoy your questions, who challenge, question, support and inspire your next steps. And even better may join your journey of discovery. Our teaching is based on love for humans and their search for meaning. It all starts with what questions people bring, not with what knowledge we feel they need. There's enough of that.
Yeah, but isn't there a danger of fake science and questionable theories going rampant?
Well, we believe a good question tree always leads to science, hard facts. Also do we promote and stimulate critical thinking. We hope that traditional education will be in more trouble when our students have developed a mind of their own, and in some cases developed beyond their teacher. ;) And it might be, they're not here for knowledge, but to start a life and projects of their own. Mindset, courage, social skills, inner leadership, empathy are values we work from, and expect to develop in our students as well.
So students develop their own learning path and set their own goals. Isn't it much slower learning, when students may reinvent the wheel time and again?
No, because they learn to invent. They'll learn to check. They'll learn problem solving and overcoming obstacles while reinventing the wheel. And then, they may invent a new kind of wheel, nobody thought of before. And the more they learn to think for themselves, highly motivated by their own interests, the faster they acquire new stuff they're truly curious about. And we just know, they'll often surpass levels, they weren't even expected to reach yet, while doing so. It is not only the result that counts, it's the learning to journey in and with a community.
As a potential student, what can I expect to learn?
You'll learn that you can shape your own destiny. That you can create meaning for yourself and others. That the biggest power lies not in offering more of the same, but in adding something new; a new question, a new project or a new idea. Because that is what you truly learn, how to ignite yourself and others through questions, projects, collaborations, research and experimentation. You learn how to learn; how you learn and can advance to the level best fitting you, not where outside norms put you.
You'll learn to see what gifts you bring, gifts most schools are too often blind to (except for great teachers who really care and look. Lucky there are many of those too). You'll learn what attitudes most help projects move forward and how you may influence others just with your presence.
What kind of projects are we talking about, that I can do?
Anything. Build a rocket, make a feature length movie, build eco houses for the homeless, write a book, find out why corruption is rampant across the planet. But, realize, what is started may not be finished. We don't see this a failure, but as essential learning. Perhaps your ideas are great, but your collaboration skills may need to be improved. Perhaps you discover another project is even more wonderful and has much better chances to succeed. Because if you start a project, you're responsible for its development, not us, unless we join you. And when you let it go, well, that's fine too. We're a playground, not a factory with targets, unless you set them for yourself.
What do I learn and benefit from failing or dropping projects? Should we learn to not give up?
Not giving up you learn at sports and so many other places. Many students are way too pushed around as it is. Depression often happens when you're always expected to achieve more all the time. Failing has a place too. Through experimentation and finding out what works and doesn't work for you, you learn to make better choices. You learn your capabilities and your limitations better. You learn that you can start things, won't die from failure (unless things go boom, which should not happen, as that's where we draw the line.) and you learn you have gifts and options. You'll find using them comes with a price and a responsibility. You'll also discover the difference between what you think you want and what you'd really want. And hey, you may play around with more different things, if you like.
So the students can ask their own 'big' questions. What if the big questions aren't the right big questions, or aren't big enough?
On the one hand who are we to judge? On the other, any real question leads to big questions. See our question tree. Any real interest has big questions behind it. Sometimes a very small question can lead to big answers. And, mind you, we're there for a reason. To get people self started. That they start to shape their own life. That they develop the power to live without regrets, develop meaningful projects that help others, that they'll dream up new possibilities that offer hope, humanity and solutions. That sounds big enough to us. ;)