The most important factor contributing to the the longevity, health and wealth of a person is early childhood education. There are a number of related social issues whose solutions are converging on the education of children and teenagers, and that have implications for the whole structure of society both east and west, north or south. Early childhood development and education is implicated in mental health disorders, careers, and chronic diseases. A recent report, Urban design turning kids off being active, not the first by far, pointed to our urban design and protectionists attitude, as reducing daily energy expenditures among children and therefore directly contributing to a physically weaker society with increasing health risk factors. If we consider with this the issues raised by Richard Louv regarding nature-experience deficiency, then we begin to see this picture developing of a society that is segregating its children and youth away from society, the streetscape, and the natural environment, into enclosed controlled environments that protect them from the natural world and the adult world, protect us from the teenage world, and keep them out of the way of ‘real life’, business, industry.
What is the point? What is the supposed end game of this structure? I propose that there is no end game. This structure of current human society, this capitalist enterprise, is nothing but a social mental health disorder, a failure of society to deal with its existence as anything more than a moment of biological stimulation. It is difficult to understand why many people even decide to have children. Some of the more honest in our modern society, indeed, decide not to have them. At even the most basic ethical attribution, surely we must realise that we are just bringing children into the world for no more reason than a biological whim, a selfishness, another thing to have, and then we provide them inadequate facility for a developing human mind. We imprison their bodies, and deprive their minds. We torture our children in this way because only by creating adults with some mental dysfunction can we convince us to maintain the industrial and consumer processes that we feed our lives to.
Can we say that even 50% of our efforts contribute to the development of the human being, the human mind or the human future. Even 25%?. Once we take titillation and guns out of the equation, what are we left with? We make our children strive to gain academic knowledge of quite a significant level, for no other purpose but to provide them a pecking order position so that they can contribute to the building of titillation and guns. And the heroes of the day, the doctors and the engineers, can heal us from the ills we caused to ourselves and them when we lock our children away, or build vast structures to enhance the adult capacity to build more titillation and guns. And most of the children will have careers that only require the information they learned in a couple of hours per day. The rest of the time they rail against the room they were secluded into or at best socialise with other children or teenagers.
It seems most people readily admit that society has reached a place of precariousness. Quite substantial change is required to give humanity a future.
I propose that a major change should be in the structure of our children and youth development vision. To wit, I propose that the educational aim should be that a 15 year old person shall be competent in: caring and assisting the education of children (0-10), assisting and communicating with aged persons (70 years plus), movement through the natural environment, basic trading skills, and basic manufacturing skills (technical and arts). Primary competencies in language, logics (including mathemats), and research should only be instructed to the extent they support these aims. In otherwords, I would expect that the child to 15 years spending no more than 2 – 3 hours in classroom settings, 2-3 hours in practical settings in the community working with adults, 2 – 3 hours of socialisation and rest, 2 – 3 hours of special skill training (spiritual, technical, physical, mental) and self research (answering questions raised by their experiences) and exploration (including nature).
After the age of 15, the youth should be given the realistic option of pursuing a medley of technical and academic skills. However, that this stage of education merges with a larger vision of lifelong learning, so that people of all ages can attend the institutions developed to provide a set of higher competencies in a very diverse array of technical and academic fields, that provide competencies for entry to even higher level training whether in technical or professional fields. This lifelong learning structure can also allow the building of a society with a very good broadbased general knowledge and competencies in the arts, sciences, and humanities.
The building of a learning society with children and adults interacting in an integrated manner on a daily basis, will ameliorate many of the social, economic, and health problems that currently besiege us. I don’t feel a need to begin to list them but would suggest to the reader to take just one of our soical ills and apply this concept and discover whether or not you will see it making a greater improvement. If you don’t, provide me an example and where you think it would fall down.