Elementary Education: Educating with the Elements
Schooling: From leisure time to wasted time.
At the moment of its conception, school was meant to be fun. The word itself comes from Greek and simply means “Leisure Time”. Across the ages, this concept mutated and transformed until it became the exact opposite. It became strict and mandatory. But ask yourself this: how can “Leisure Time” be strict and mandatory? Truth is, it can’t! Learning is not something that someone can impose on another. It’s something that happens as you live your life and create your own experiences. Almost every kid in the world, when asked about school, will categorically answer that they hate it. Think about your own learning experiences. How many times have you been in class for the whole day and still learned nothing? I can personally say that I’ve lost count…over and over again. Most of the stuff I really learned was after I graduated. And I don’t mean that I learned it in the university, no, I learned it when I needed it. Only one thing is in common between our modern concept of “Leisure Time” and schooling and it’s that they are both a waste of time.
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The Schooling Dilemma
Who ever said that kids should be at school from 7:30 AM till 3:00 PM? No one, it’s just that finishing the curriculum by the end of the year entails that we need that many hours of education per day in order to be on top of things. The problem with our lives today is that we cling too much to safety. Whatever we plan, we look for safety first. Many parents would rather have their kids play video games all day instead of playing out in the forest because it’s safer. The kids won’t be prone to falling and getting their bones broken, they won’t catch any diseases, they won’t get themselves dirty, and they won’t cause parents any headaches. Armed with this mentality, kids grow up wanting only to be safe and secure. They tolerate school so that they can safely get to college where they think they can learn to be what they want. Then they tolerate college because it’s the only way for them to get a piece of paper telling them that they can practice certain jobs safely. If they don’t get that piece of paper called a degree, then they can’t get into the syndicate which will make sure they are safe and have insurance and a retirement fund. In summary, most people decide on the safe route with the least headaches, regardless of whether it makes them happy or not.
On the other hand, people who just drop out of school and join the workforce early on are perceived as being less stable. Since they didn’t graduate from school, they can’t get to the university. Without university, they can still get a job, but they can’t join syndicates and they can’t get promoted faster. In many cases, their salaries will remain mediocre and they are perceived as just less than people who tolerated school. The whole system is tailored around keeping people who leave school early in the bottom. Sure, there is the whole concept of technical school, but school is school regardless. In some countries around the world, homeschooling is becoming more widely accepted as long as these children will eventually sit for the nationwide exams and make it to college. But again, if they don’t get to college, they get stuck and can’t practice any well paying work. That is unless they eventually discover a passion and start their own business around it.
Going back to the invention of schooling and the system in general, who said that it’s actually right? We just assumed it was because it was convenient and safe. Schooling keeps kids safe for half the day and keeps them busy the other half with homework and stuff. Moreover, more homework is given during vacation to keep them busy and safe even then. But who said that a safe kid is a happy and successful kid? A kid who never got hurt never learned the meaning of pain. A kid who never got bored, never got creative. A kid who never got sick, never gained immunity. Truth is, we shouldn’t be teaching our kids information, we should simply be equipping them with the tools of being happy and let them do whatever they want then. We should help them discover themselves and their relations to the world. We should teach them to have the guts to stand up for their beliefs and to peacefully fight for them. We should also teach them that it’s ok to be wrong but that it’s not ok to remain so. We should teach them to laugh at themselves because that is the healthiest habit there is. Most of all, we should teach them how to love themselves because only then can they connect with those around them and fall in love.
Ken Robinson: Changing Education Paradigms
Elementary Education: Educating with the Elements in Mind
To make it easy for those who cannot think outside the box of schooling, I’ve devised this strategy for Elementary Education. However, Elementary here is not related to conventional elementary school; it’s derived from the word Element, meaning the four elements of Earth, Water, Wind and Fire. These elements are not only found in nature, but in human personalities. Moreover, with the correct combination, these four elements allow the appearance of the Spirit element, which is the highest and noblest form of humanity.
Briefly, Earth persons are those who excel in philosophy and literature. They dwell mainly in the realm of the mind. Water persons are those who are good in time consuming tasks, they enjoy repetitiveness and clarity of tasks. Wind people are very social and enjoy the company of others. They are great in diplomacy and entertainment. As for fire people, they enjoy creativity and innovation. They are the people who change the world and are born to lead.
On the other hand, each of these personalities has its drawbacks. Earth people can be very negative and unhappy, water people can be boring and fear taking risks, wind people change partners, friends and moods as quickly as a bee jumping from flower to flower and fire people can become bossy and intolerant. However, by encouraging and teaching the positive habits of each of the four elements and weed out the negative aspects of each, we can help our children to grow into the Spirit persons of tomorrow who are deep as Earth, patient as Water, fun and social as Wind and innovative as Fire. Who wouldn’t want their kids to be so?
The question that I get asked most here is whether this would affect their schooling or not. If you are asking this question now, reread from the beginning and keep doing so until you find your answer. When you do, feel free to move on and learn about the true Elementary Education!
For kids, there is no particular sequence as to how and when to develop each personality trait. All you have to do is follow the child’s flow and it will guide you. It will tell you when they child is ready to learn which trait and how. There are as many ways to help kids explore their personalities as there are kids. You just have to be aware and mindful of them as they grow and learn and know when a personality is just getting too much.
Charbel Tadros: Awakening the Spirit Element in Students
How to start it:
To enhance the Earth personality in your children, let them play in nature as much as they can. Let them explore what’s under the rocks and even smell the stench of bird poo. It might be disgusting but children actually learn more than you can imagine from such adventures. Later on, when they watch a movie and you hear them talking about it a lot, encourage them to explore it more and to become part of it. When their curiosity is peaked, they will want to learn more and more and then they will be encouraged to read the book. This will open for them a humungous world of ideas and concepts. Then, one thing will lead to another and you will be surprised at the span of information that your kid will want to share. When the information in their heads becomes too much, kids naturally want to produce with it. Not only will this encourage the development of the fire personality, it will also allow them to go deeper into the world of philosophy and ideas. Moreover, unconsciously, they will be learning language in all its aspects, which is what English teachers have been trying to accomplish since the beginning of schooling.
When to pull the brakes on Earth Education:
When your children get too obsessed with one thing that they will not talk about anything else with anyone and this has been for a period of over two months since they have watched the movie, you can start pulling the brakes and start introducing another Elementary Experience. It is healthy to let the kids go deep into a certain concept, but it stops being healthy when they stop doing other things instead of this.
How to start it:
At a young age, children are always interested in building things and making things with their hands. Many want to build tree-houses or raise pets. However, after a short while, they get bored and leave things half-done. That’s when you step in. When you see that they are getting bored or frustrated of something, go help them and give them a boost. When they see that you are interested, their energy will be renewed and they will want to continue it till the end. This will teach them patience, which is an extremely valuable skill along the road.
When to pull the brakes on Water Education:
As with Earth Education, you pull the brakes when it becomes obsessive. When your kid refuses to stop working on their tree-house or are still making improvements for a couple of months after the task has been done, it’s time to interfere and help him stop. If you don’t, then there is a chance that this develops into a sense of dissatisfaction which may then turn into a form of OCD.
How to start it:
To a child, friendship is one of the most valuable assets. And childhood is the best time to develop friendships which, in many cases, end up as friendships for life. For some kids, making friends in the neighborhood is hard because there are no peers for him close by. That’s when parents need to make sure that their child has many opportunities for meeting kids his age and to encourage these friendships by making sure that he goes to as many birthday parties as possible and to go for sleepovers and host sleepovers often. That’s how a child can learn to develop the social aspect of his life. Later on, in their teen years, encourage your children to join various clubs, especially those who do community service. This will teach them compassion and empathy.
When to pull the brakes on Wind Education:
It’s not a bad thing for your child to have a lot of friends. Many of them will not stay long and will move on for college or work. However, regardless of the number of children your child hangs out with, make sure you try and get to know them and their parents if possible. Moreover, even if you find your child hanging out with the wrong crowd, never try to force him to stop hanging with them because that will make him cling harder. Just be mindful of it and talk to him. Tell him why you don’t like them and why he shouldn’t hang out with them, but never force him to stop hanging with them. Keep a close eye on them but don’t interfere. In time, he will grow out of them.
How to start it:
Fire education is one of the hardest to start and easiest to lose control of. That’s why you need to be very watchful. The best way to help kids develop this trait is by encouraging them to make choices. Always ask for their opinion and make sure they feel it’s valuable and meaningful. Moreover, when they make a choice, have them stick to it most of the time, but not all the time. Sometimes, allow them to change their minds and alter their choices, but make sure that they face the natural consequences of their choices. This will help them understand their limits as well as have the wise courage to pursue their dreams.
When to pull the brakes on Fire Education:
You need to always be mindful of your child’s behavior and attitudes, especially with other people. It is great to be assertive, but make sure it doesn’t cross to rudeness or impoliteness. When it does, make sure your child knows that and warn him about it the first time but not in front of others. If he repeats it, make sure to point it out immediately but nicely, but don’t engage in talkbacks. In the end, if you do not handle it at a young age, you will be the one who has to suffer through it most when your child is older.
Ken Robinson: How Schools Kill Creativity
Elementary Education: A road to self education
If you develop all these skills at a younger age, your child will automatically start integrating them together. In time, his healthy Spirit will emerge and this will help him become a successful and happy person later on. Moreover, your child will then be able to educate himself even more. It will take you time and effort, but that is what parenting should really be about. Even if your kids don't get the latest Play Station or the best shoes in the world, having you spend time with them and helping them find their way in life will mean immensely more to them later on. Every child will forget almost all the toys his parents got him, but will never forget the great learning moments spent together.