We are a non-profit organization whose mission is to change the culture of education so that it allows for innovative learning practices and creative outcomes fit for the 21st century.
We envision natural learning becoming common again, relieving much of the unnecessary stresses that so many in the current educational system experience. We see a world in which communities support children in playing and learning naturally. We see a world in which creative expression continues to expand and is supported by more freedom and democracy in education for both children and adults.
What We Care About
We care about parents and children. When a parent has an intuitive feeling that the formal educational system is not working for his/her child, he/she may need to step out of the traditional education system and design a new track. When this happens, as it has happened to thousands of parents before, they need some support. We hope to be that support based on our collective years of home-educating experience. We care about WHAT MATTERS to the child and to the parent. When we ask ourselves, What is learning?” and “What is education?” we look to answer the fundamental question, “What matters?”
What We Do
We host community Think-Tanks to facilitate investigation into the current educational system and to cultivate ideas about new and creative environments for learning. In addition, we offer “Trust ‘em” training and consultations for parents of young children. Our goals in these sessions are to guide parents to observe and trust their children’s natural learning patterns and to learn about the importance of free play in a child’s developmental process. Our long-term goals are to open technologically-advanced community centers for independent learning and to offer community support for all.
“Modern educators working in traditional cultures often try to address the problem of cultural erosion by including more of the traditional culture in the classroom – traditional songs, dances, stories, religious instruction, visits to the school from grandparents, etc. But Marshall McLuhan’s famous remark, “the medium is the message” suggests that even more important than the content of the message is the mode by which it is communicated. We tend to forget that school itself is a cultural construct which alters traditional life in profound ways. Some of these ways include:
– The separation of children from nature.
– The separation of children from family and community.
– The enforcement of a sedentary lifestyle.
– The fragmentation of knowledge into “subjects.”
– An emphasis on text-based rather than experience-based learning.
– An emphasis on competition and ranking, which inevitably leads to some children being labeled as “failures.”
I would suggest that these are all features not of learning but of institutional schooling, and that it would be a good alternative for people to feel that specific desirable skills — literacy, practical math — could be acquired without the radical shift in the structure of community life that occurs with the institutionalization of children.”
(Helen Norberg Hodge)