INVESTING IN THE BIOCENTRIC CHILD
The following speech was written by Dr Nicolene du Preez, Head of Green Studies, Bali. It was presented at SPARK 2019, a TED-style event featuring some of our inspiring educators.
Story to reality. I remember my mother used to say you do not hang your dirty washing in public. However, being in a school without walls one in always dirty and close to nature. Also, being in a wall-less school means things are always in public, unless you hide it in your suitcase. My story will be told in 3 parts today. The past, the present and the future.
I remember arriving at Green School – hoping, dreaming, discovering. Hoping to find the most progressive, state of the art, innovative and groundbreaking education system. I remember dreaming of leading global educational change, being a thought leader, a modern 21st century Montessori-Steiner-du Preez. I remember discovering the soil and landscape of this institution as not yet ready for my much needed transformation.
So after my first year ready to leave Green School, I stumbled upon the part of the Green Studies teacher. With a little bit of convincing and glitter on the top I was asked to create a much-needed, long awaited, state of the art, flagship, cornerstone Green Studies program. One that would define Green School as a sustainable change maker in education.
And so my journey started alongside the animals, trees, the dirt, bamboo, gardeners and other hidden thought leaders. I also discovered 300 unique, almost extinct individual species ranging from ages 3 to 12 years old. Learning alongside these 300 change leaders has changed my life forever. They have transformed my deepest implicit belief system about education, giving me my biggest lesson to date. Therefore leading me into the present.
Children are naturally egocentric, believing in only their view and perspective. Until we consciously invest in their coexistence they will stay egocentric, believing only in their own existence.
When we shape educational landscapes that represent healthy ecosystems we are creating environments for children to flourish and coexist. This naturally brings on change. This change is setting children up to move beyond the past and the present to create their own ethical world view.
So how do we invest in the biocentric child? We invest below the iceberg by using building blocks such as their curiosity, fears, experiences, attitudes, dreams and intentions to navigate the learning process from their world view. Once we invest in the individual we no longer only see the top of the iceberg, but we also become part of the deep process.
The question is how do we get from the present to the future? Well, you let go of the past, accept the present and create the future now! Every second in the now becomes the past in the blink of an eye.
There are three steps to follow to allow us to prepare for the future.
Step 1: Navigate the Noise
Navigate the noise of parents, management, teachers, government and even your own. Everyone has an idea, opinion, mandate, curriculum, agenda and sad story to tell. If we put all this noise together it can look like, feel like and sound like a sound with no meaning. Without action the future will stay the noise of the past.
Now that we are aware of navigating the noise, we can consciously proceed in doing what we do best. Investing in the biocentric child. But hang on, this is going to take more than just a well thought out lesson plan. It is calling for a community of courageous, conscious educators to step up and take real action filled with wonder and awe, action that will leave you breathless.
Step 2: Create Experiences & Take Action
Experience should leave you in a state of wonder and almost not knowing what just happened. It is like when you lean over to a friend in the mud pit and say who did you do that? Experiences are not bound by outcome, or measured by quantity, they cannot be packaged and sold. Experiences are unseen investments, where you would have to wait and see, because the children will tell you they will share the value with you.
Step 3: Adaptation of Thought
With adaptation of thought, we will need education as a conducive platform where our biocentric children can consciously coexist, and build authentic relationships. This is their once in a lifetime opportunity, we already had ours. It is their once in a lifetime opportunity to discover the world in all its magnificence, beauty and brilliance, but also allows them to see the brutality and terror when a snake catches a frog for dinner. When we allow these experience we create an inseparable balance.
With adaptation of thought we can only proceed into the future with urgency. So this is a last call to all of us to navigate the noise and create experience where children become the custodians of their own learning journey, they become the investors, not us. And when they invest the will consciously buy into the skills, values, excitement, the risks, the curiosity, and most of all they will buy into the love of being the leaders of their own learning.
In closing I am calling on the world including green School to take these 3 steps: navigate the noise, invest in experiences and adapt the way we are thinking about children as part of their own education.
The younger our children, the more likely they are to live in an anthropocentric world, primarily occupied with their needs and wants as human beings. Over time, they may become more biocentric, as they understand that they are one of many species sharing this world with each other.
While this may happen over time, what if we inculcated biocentricism in our children as early as possible? What if we extended the status of our young moral objects, from human beings to all living things in nature?
In our Green Studies program, we believe in nurturing biocentric ethics, which calls for a rethinking of the relationship between humans and nature.
Facilitating the conscious re-thinking of what it means to be human and nature, and integrating the two, opens effective learning spaces for children where they can grow their love for nature and nurture themselves at the same time. It influences both feelings and emotions as well as enhances knowledge and skills, going beyond classroom learning and ensuring that there is a higher level of inner and outer engagement.
Consciously integrating these two programs aims to deliver exceptional experiences over a traditional learning program.
Green Studies at Green School seeks to engage children with nature through various projects and activities led by experiential learning. We seek to actively develop their thinking, emotions, feelings and inner wellbeing while becoming one with nature.
We seek to achieve that inseparable balance between ourselves in nature and ourselves as nature.