By Marianne Knuth
During our recent Learning Festival we gathered in a World Cafe around Education. People explored together some of their strongest learning experiences, and what made those so powerful. Out of these conversations we gathered around our hopes for the Purpose of Education in a perfect world. The world is not perfect, but this does not mean settling for something which is so clearly sub-optimal, and so change begins with shifting our understanding of what the deeper and fuller purpose of education for our children should be, and from there beginning to look at how we can fulfill this. What made this conversation so powerful was that we were all there, rural women, young teenagers, the urban middle class, Zimbabweans and a few foreigners alike. And the sentiments were surprisingly similar – and also quite far from what the formal understanding of education is seen to be in Zimbabwe today.
There is a desire for change – and still a long way to go to move towards it. We are learning our way with others, through the New School that we are starting with Nyeredzi, which has 8 beautiful young children going every day for learning that is more focused on love, care, and nurturing their innate abilities; We are learning through the youth programme, where we oftentimes struggle to find the spark in young people who in the past 9-13 years of formal schooling have been taught not to question authority, and to simply learn or internalise what they are being presented with; we are learning through our work with children who have left primary school early, often due to poverty, what does and doesn’t work in terms of bringing them into a path of lifelong learning; and we are learning through our work with women and pre-school teachers who are exploring different ways of engaging the children in their care.
The conversation on the purpose of education was hugely inspiring to all of this work, and the continuation of conversation such as these and learning to follow their guidance is a part of our continued journey.
Below follows outputs from the various cafe groups:
The Purpose of education is:
- To develop the individual to become a master of their destiny
- To create a conducive environment that enables the individual to become their best so as to have sustainable living and become a community of learners
The Purpose of education is:
- Freedom to express oneself from the heart
- Following dreams
- Keeping curiosity and creativity alive
- Fostering unique gifts/talents
- Knowledge and history to serve mankind in a positive way
The purpose of education is:
- To create open spaces for learning, so children learn how to learn and discover what they love and love to do most, and what gifts they have, to be deeply healing, and foster a heart connection in addition to a clear mind, allow for learning in and from the body, embodied learning, that truly enables inspiration through space for dreams, encouraged and celebrated
The purpose of education is to allow you to open your mind to be open to discover things about yourself: Talents – things you do well and also Weaknesses – In order to identify the resources (people, etc.) around you that can help you to achieve these (excel)
Results: Trust in yourself, and courage
The purpose of education is to give opportunities for exploring self and the world
- To discover passions and talents
- Learning by doing related to life and
- Basic life skills, such as communication, conflict resolution, cooking, knitting, etc..
All of these to take place in an atmosphere of love, trust, freedom and guidance
We invite you to join us as we lean into how we may more fully contribute to enabling this ideal.