Creative Community as an Alternative to traditional education

Here’s an excerpt from a paper I wrote in October 2015 on Alternative Education:

This idea is still a work-in-progress, but the key points here are that it [my model for alternative education] must be grounded in a creative community that will shape and support it (mentally, financially, psychologically, and spiritually). The school will exist for and because of the community, and will be made up of people from the community itself. Both teachers and learners —adult learners and children alike— are active members of the community, and so are their respective families. Traditional labels of learning will be blurred as the learning environment itself is blurred: not confined to a physical classroom, the whole community becomes the learning space. The classroom becomes so flexible and interchangeable with home, workplace, outdoors. We will see less or zero compartmentalization into subjects and more integrated lessons, such as nature walks on rice fields with farmers to discuss natural science, math, language. Technical knowhow will be nurtured in a more controlled environment, but still in an integrated manner, perhaps through apprenticeships.

For my dream learning community, the whole community itself will be a school.

In this integrated, intentionally educational community, what will the adults be doing? They will be busy doing their own creative tinkering—whether as professionals, entrepreneurs, techno geeks, artists, architects, etc.—and at the same time, just by being living examples, they are already manifesting the desired learning outcomes for the children. Education will be two-pronged—for children and for adults. Adults also need to learn how to be artists again, to trust intuition and allow an atmosphere of creativity to come alive in the community. One of the gifts, for example, of a Waldorf education is that it is a healing education for the whole family. Many of my Waldorf parent friends enjoy the re-learning they go through by being involved in the schooling of their children in the Waldorf method. This kind of openness of the adults to re-learn is just as critical to cultivate as educating the children.

Free from the pressure of grades and requirements, students (and teachers) are given a safe and vibrant space to decide what they need to learn, and apply it to the canvas right away. The same format can be studied for a technology-driven League, an entrepreneurship-driven League, all co-existing and co-sharing the space within a community, and in time, influencing the greater community around it.