BRINGING CHILDREN BACK TO BEING THEMSELVES
Public schools in Japan are abundant. They offer children a variety of learning opportunities, yet much like the rest of the world, the school system was designed for the industrial revolution. This was a time when we could basically predict the demands of the world for a stable period of time. The industrial revolution is over. We have new problems in the world; new challenges that require creative and innovative approaches to solve; aging populations; declining populations; social withdrawal; death from overwork. Yet, schools still believe that math and language should be constantly tested. They still 'box' children into age groups and make sure they are measured against 'standards'. This has forced many parents to ensure their child reaches the standards projected upon them by sometimes enrolling them into additional after school activities in order to bridge the gaps, or enforcing homework in ways that make the child realize that life is about achieving greatness in standards, rather than in themselves.
In many cases, parents overdo their genuine concern through lack of their own questioning, leading to many cases of social withdrawal (hikkikomori) and in some cases, suicide. In fact, youth suicide is at its highest right after the summer vacation break. Why? Schools deliver insurmountable amounts of homework during holiday periods where children's minds need the creative break of playing outside, with friends and doing things they don't normally have a chance to do instead wrapping their minds into rote learning and information feeding. This is the time when children need to embark on life and learn about real world situations; be encouraged to express ideas; be encouraged to explore alternate paths; be encouraged to stay true to their spirit.
You see, most of us learn to quit on our dreams when our parents or teachers tell us that what we love to do when we grow up won't amount to a good salary and of course we learn that not enough money will make us unhappy.
Where is the connection? Though they are genuinely concerned, we teach kids very early in life to chase money, rather than life.
Though the concept of alternative schools is not new, I believe that we need more options for children and parents to understand that the world has changed and education needs have changed. In Japan, parents and children need alternative schools. There are always private schools and international schools, yet many of them are expensive and still focus on the unknown world of 'tomorrow' instead of solving for "today".
Points to ponder:
Education is supposed to take us into the future. Yet, none of the experts can agree on what the future holds in 5 years-time.
ALL Children have extraordinary capacities yet we shape them to be like 100 years ago. They all need to be the same age, the same "level", pass the same tests. Why do we only really test for national language and math? What about the beauty of art and craft?
Too many kids are frightened of being wrong.
Too many kids are afraid of disappointing their parents who push them to achieve high "scores", homework, and correcting every little fault they see.
Parents still believe going to a top university will guarantee life happiness and thus ensuring that kids get high grades is essential for their future.
The thing that is essential is to model for kids how to live life with love, self-love, and love of learning.
ASK THE QUESTION:
What can we do to grow the child's talent? What can make an extraordinary world is to teach kids to thrive in childhood. To guide and nurture them to find their "niche". If all we do is feed them tests and homework, then we squash their amazing abilities to create. It's no wonder why I spend much of my adult life "undoing" the done in adults.
Devote more time to reach each child's heart, guide them to stay in touch with their true selves.
Create programs that children express interest in.
No emphasis on grades and homework (until later years or when they express the need for them).
More emphasis on relationships and expressing emotions.
More emphasis on community building and reaching an "outer" world
Interaction, not instruction.
More focus on growing the child's passion that might become a gift in the world.
HOW SOCIETY KILLS CREATIVITY
It's amazing how much of our lives are influenced by our society imposing "rules" that no longer make sense in our times; parents imposing their own beliefs and ideas the sometimes are misleading (through no fault of theirs of course!); the media instilling fear and directing our thoughts. As parents, we often believe we are doing the 'right thing' yet, we often fail to question our own ways. Here's a great video of raising awareness about how the public school system fails to celebrate creativity, arts, and humanities.
We are not exactly sure yet where this project will lead; how many families will be interested. What we do know is that we need more alternative schools in Japan. We do know that many children don't fit in the system for various reasons; some become hikkikomori; others are bullied; some simply have other beautiful points about themselves, such as art; dance; music that are simply seen as secondary "subjects" rather than subjects worth developing.
We know the world is screaming for more innovation and creativity; that is the direction of graduates we'd like to think will come.
We have a target to start an alternative school in the area of Tsukuba, Japan by 2020 Olympics. If you contract with us, we will donate a percentage of profits towards funding the project.
Alternatively, if you'd like to contribute on your own and donate towards the fund, please contact us.
Also, feel free to check back and see our progress on this page! We will be setting-up funding targets; news about land; companies who donate towards the cause.
INTERESTED FAMILIES IN TSUKUBA/SURROUNDING AREAS
Please contact us to have a chat! We'd love to see if our ideas resonate, or how we could grow this initiative towards your future child's needs.