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  • Anna Brix Thomsen

Momentary Reflections on Education

I regularly publish momentary reflections to my Facebook wall; reflections that emerge in moments of inspiration and often in passing while visiting a school or during late night philosophizing. I will start sharing them here so as to gather a body of reflections aimed at sparking discussion and inspiration when it comes to education.

Here are a few of my reflections from 2015:

We each have our own Superpower

“I am certain that all plants have their own unique ‘medicinal’ or ‘extraordinary’ qualities. For some plants this quality is located in the root, for others it is in the flower or in the seed. With some plants you can only extract this ‘extraordinary’ quality by cooking the plant, whereas others must be ingested raw. Some only work on animals, others only on other plants. Some work best when they remain in the ground. That is where they best express their unique quality. It is the same with human beings. We all have an ‘extraordinary’ unique quality, our own ‘superpower’ if you will, but this can only be discovered and ‘extracted’ in the right environment where it is nurtured and supported to grow and develop. This is why education must be individualized and suited to each person’s unique talents and skills. Some learn faster, others slow. Some prefer physical work, others are great with numbers. With a one-size-fits-all school system, we miss out on these ‘superpowers’ and we prevent the world from becoming what it can become; a place that is best for all. We call it ‘equality’ but it is not. It is the idea that everyone should be the same. But we are not. Real equality is to see and nurture each person’s individual expression as equally valuable.”

Working with Passion

“If you are able to make your passion your source of income, go for it. If there’s a possibility of turning it into a source of income in the future, go for it. If you can’t, do it whenever you have time. However – there is also something to be said about the fact that most of us do work that does not allow our full potential, our passion to come into fruition. So let’s also contribute, in whatever way we can, each at our best, to changing the system so that we may create a world where work and income is not tied together – where work is about sharing, contributing, expressing your passion and your potential. This is why I support a Living Income Guaranteed by Equal Life Foundation”

School as a ‘House of Horrors’

“Japan has suicide rates 60 % higher than other countries and among these numbers, many are students. When our school systems are so mentally and physically straining due to the pressure and brutality it consists of, that young people would rather kill themselves than continue on studying – isn’t it about time we ask ourselves what the purpose with schooling really is? Is it such a daunting idea to consider that maybe, just maybe there is another way to educate our young, to not send them through the same ‘house of horrors’ that we’ve been through during our schooling years? Isn’t it possible that maybe they will turn out different from us – more adept at handling a world in peril? Are we really so scared of admitting that what the school system has taught us wasn’t all that fantastic and didn’t turn us into all that we could be?”

When a Phoenix Rises from the Ashes

“There is nothing I enjoy more than working with someone who is struggling and perhaps feeling a lack of confidence and wanting to give up, who then rises like a phoenix from the ashes and pulls through, bursting through the walls of limitation that they’ve set up for themselves, out on the other side, laughing as they surprise themselves in realizing that they were capable of doing so much more than they thought they were capable of.”

Harnessing Your Unique Potential

“There are so many people in this world that knows how to do something really well, either naturally or through practice; things that they can do for hours on end, that they enjoy perfecting simply because they enjoy the process of creating something and seeing it manifest, things that others rarely see or even know about. Often these things are looked down upon by others or by society at large; the farmer that has perfected his skills of making butter, a grandmother that knits, a young man that plays computer games as though he was conducting a symphony. What all of these people share is passion; the passion to create, to contribute, to share. If all of us got to contribute to this world with that we are most passionate about, if we supported one another in developing these passions and valued each other, imagine what an amazing world we could create; a world full of wonder, a world with perfectly crafted tools and ornaments, crafted from passion. That is a world I would like to live in. What is your passion? What passions have you considered to be ‘too small’, ‘too meaningless’ for others to value? What can you do to grow and develop it?”

It is not about ‘getting it right’

“The most supportive adults to a child are those who listen and embrace the child unconditionally. These are adults who facilitate a dynamic space for mutual learning rather than enforcing a static one. That is where learning can happen exponentially, because the focus is on learning itself, not on ‘getting it right’ or ‘NOT getting it wrong.’ The same can be said when it comes to self-change.”

The Imperative of Deschooling

“It is a travesty when we as parents mistake spite, ridicule and abuse for education. But is that not what the system has taught us in how we were raised ourselves? #Deschooling is an imperative process for all prospecting parents if we are serious about leaving a different world behind for our children than the one we came into. #guerrillateacher #UnschoolingTheSchoolSystem

A Discussion about Education

“Today I talked to an older teacher who has decided to quit teaching all together. She is an amazing teacher but honestly admitted that she’s had enough. There are too many students in the classroom, too much bureaucracy – she can’t do the job she loves. At another school the new young teachers were nervous because they don’t know if they have a job next term. This is how it is every year. And the students? They have to get used to new teachers yet again, sometimes several times per term as well as being taught regularly by temps without teaching certificates. This is an unsustainable and unacceptable situation and I encourage more teachers to stand up and speak up – not just to ‘improve the situation’ but to start a discussion about what education and teaching is, and should be to be optimal and expansive for everyone involved. ”

Say Sorry

“We teach kids to ‘say sorry’, we scold them so that they will feel bad about what they have done and identify themselves as ‘being bad’ in situations where they make mistakes or deliberately act out in self-interest or harm others. We do not teach them to understand cause and effect, to understand the sequence of events (inside and out) that lead up to the point of making the mistake or doing something deliberate that caused harm to another. What do they learn from this? Certainly not how to take responsibility for themselves or their actions.”

The Voice Within

“Inside of all of us there is a voice of sorts, not a strange or alien voice but a voice of truth, of depth, of sound. You could say it is the sound of our being. This voice is what comes through when we stand up for our integrity in moments where we risk ridicule or rejection. It is the voice that comes through when we dare to be fully honest with ourselves and admit the things about ourselves that we’d preferred to keep hidden. At first it may be like a whisper, barely audible. We’re not even sure if it is there or if it is even a part of us. As we strengthen it, for example through writing and through connecting with our bodies, it gains more substance, more depth and we start being able to at first hear it more and recognize that it is there. Ultimately the sound of our being that at first seemed detached from us, is the voice of our being. It is not something magical, religious or even spiritual. It is simply what was Here all along, as the potential of who we are and can become underneath the static noise of the mind. And when we speak with the voice of our being, others are able to hear as well. There is a fundamental recognition of substance in hearing another speak from the depths of their being – whether still muffled or slightly out of tune; it is undeniably Here.”

Learning from A Child

“It is interesting because it is as though we expect so much more from children than what we do from ourselves. We want them to be respectful, honest, open, corporative, generous and empathic, as though that is the standard of the principles upon which this world functions. But we all know that this is not so. And by teaching children that it is so, we are feeding them a lie. We are teaching them to live on a lie and in an illusion. It is no wonder that the world is in the state it is in when this is the example that we set forth, ambiguous at best and at worst, outright deceptive.”

The Pattern Breaker

“We have an expression in Danish that, translated to English means “Pattern Breaker”. Pattern-breakers are people who, for example come from Illiterate families and who against all odds have been able to break through the glass ceiling of their social class and go to college. Studies have shown that in most pattern-breakers lives there has been one or two significant adults who in their childhood believed in them and their potential – who supported them to break out of their predetermined life-path of social inequality. Imagine if every child had the support of such an adult. Imagine the potential that goes unnoticed and that is wasted because we do not see the potential that is within every child. Imagine how different the world would be if we would all break the patterns of our past and start living our true potential. #unschoolingtheschoolsystem #Guerillateacher

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