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From Life Learning Magazine, November/December 2011
core of permaculture is design. Design is a connection between things …
It’s the very opposite of what we are taught in school. Education takes
everything and pulls it apart and makes no connections at all.
Permaculture makes the connection ...” Bill Mollison
“We can think of ourselves not as teachers but as gardeners. A gardener does not ‘grow’ flowers; he tries to give them what he thinks they need and they grow by themselves.” John Holt
I love gardening, and I love my children. I love watching things grow. But all too often confusing messages that have filtered down through generations of well-meaning adults get in the way of plain old common sense. I find myself trying to bend the plants and the children to suit my needs, often distorting their natural shape, twisting and bending them, destroying the very essence of liveliness within them....
Luckily I found John Holt and Bill Mollison, two wise mentors who dared to challenge the status quo and founded sustainable alternative movements: Mollison permaculture and Holt unschooling. On the surface, they appear to be talking about two different things, however, both talk about and celebrate the nature of learning, and the importance of relationships, connections, and patterns.
Education no longer serves the noble cause of enabling and empowering individuals, neither does it truly recognize their intrinsic intelligence and worth. As a self-serving bureaucracy, it focuses primarily on its own survival, refusing to accept accountability for the results imposed on young people.
Home education was in its infancy here in Australia in 1985. Hesitant and uncertain that I had the right to “experiment” on my children and unsure that teaching them from home would be successful, I made the decision to liberate them from the tired, broken-down education system and set them free. Nature always finds a way: Soon I connected with other “weeds” daring to grow in the otherwise carefully restrained and cultivated educational garden bed!
Drawing strength from the observations I made about my own and other children’s progress and from the wisdom of Holt, Mollison, and other authors who demonstrate respect for children as young people, I gradually developed a confidence in allowing my children to learn naturally.
Families are where a child’s first connections, vital to his or her survival, are made. They are social connections which happen naturally. A baby learns to walk and talk because . . .
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Beverley Paine began home educating her children, now young adults, in 1985. She’s an active member of the Australian home education movement. As an author she’s published several homeschooling books and writes fiction for children and young adults. Her other passions include permaculture, alternative technology, and web design. Visit her Homeschool Australia website at www.homeschoolaustralia.com.
The term life learning refers to a form of homeschooling that trusts children and avoids the trappings of school. It is sometimes called unschooling, radical unschooling, or natural learning. Life learning children live and learn naturally, with the support of their families, based on their own interests and their own timetables, and without curriculum, tests, or grades. Go here, here and here for a more comprehensive explanation.