"Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire".
This quote from Yeats reminds us of another, by Michel Eyquem de Montaine: ("A child is not a bottle to fill, but a fire to stir up "). In fact, both are versions of a much older quote, ("The brain is not a cup to fill, but a lamp to light.") from the Greek, historian Plutarch ( 46-120dC.)
Our schools are in need of a deep transformation today. As professor Sir Ken Robinson, clearly explains, the current education system was designed in the XIX century to serve the needs of the industrial revolution: classes separated by sex and age, subjects, and social class. In those times the intention was to shape workers to be specialized in specific areas, working in a line, doing repetitive tasks, with no time for reflection.
As the Industrial era comes to an end, obviously, the need for this type of education does too. Dissatisfaction has begun to surfaces through the pores of the system resulting in unmotivated and bored children, who are forced to tidily sit in classrooms for years, a real against-nature manifesto, as soon as you think about it. Another result is that educators, who are besieged by public administrations and social change, have the highest depression rate of all professions. At national level, the PISA report is conclusive: While Spain may not exactly have the lead within the ranking of countries; the Baleares does in fact compete for first place in school failure.
However there are alternative solutions offered from many sources to this educational dilemma: Plato, Rousseau, Rudolf Steiner and Waldorf School, A.S.Neill and Summerhill, Montessori, Paulo Freire, Homeschooling, Unschooling and so forth. Some of us think that we have to bring back an education model that has proven successful over thousands of years, the tribe: a place where adults and children live together without age discrimination, learning and caring for each other.
Lateral thinking searches to solve problems by an indirect approach, using unconventional forms of reasoning, and developing ideas that would not be generated using conventional thinking. This is easier said than done, since we have been taught to think in a certain way, and thus we are prisoners of our mental frameworks. The challenge is to be aware that we may try to find the solution in “the wrong room”. Intelligence or culture are therefore not the main concern: what we need to do is reorientation our sight.
Creativity is currently absent in the classrooms. Yet, creativity, improvisation and adaptability to new circumstances are some of the characteristics that best define humans. "May inspiration catches you while working", Picasso said, and Edison's definition of genius was “ 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration". The word "creator" or "artist" usually relates with others like " inconventional","original" or "different". Meanwhile, we expect that our children be creative, while immersed in a grey and restrictive atmosphere. Is this reaching for the moon?
Alternative educational options propose an education in contact with nature and society, receiving stimulus from different sources and allowing the children to develop their intuition. Etymologically "intuition" means ”look inside", a direct perception of reality, where reason and deduction do not participate.
Ours is an experimental education program in which we make use of a system that has proven efficient for adults, from Anglo-Saxon and Spanish university graduates to uneducated individuals. We have developed a method we named MMI to distinguish it from conventional systems. Now we are using it for children and parents, and, once more,we find it works.
Artifex is a project devoted to the recovery and innovation of the building arts. The word “Arts” evoke a vanishing world, in which artisans had a vital space for the development of their creativity. A world where, besides construction, you could find decoration, ornamentation or sculpture. Our current reductionism has a consequence: at a contemporary work site, workers neither create beauty nor they are surrounded by it.
The method served us well in the past, so it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel. To remember, all we need to do is rewind. As Eugene Fromentin said, "Only the frequence of beautiful things help us to perceive beauty". We need to surround children with beauty, culture, music and smart games, create an ecosystem design to foster their potential. We do it with what we know, building and cultivating, but for sure there must be other paths too. What are we waiting for?