Maren Schmidt: Win-win education

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Our current educational system, as most of our society, is set up to reflect a culture that uses language and thinking based on competitive sports and combat.

This thinking puts us into two categories — winners or losers.

We use language such as: You’re up to bat. Hit a homerun. Score two points. Ball in the gutter. Strike. Foul. Touchdown. It’s the war on poverty, the war on illiteracy, the war on terrorism, the war on drugs.

Today in our educational system, we use the language of the factory system: Pass. Fail. Quality controls. Grades. Graduating students are the end product of the system.

Management systems work best when management is about the control of things and processes in a timely and efficient manner.

People, though, need leadership more than management. Leadership focuses on developing people, empowerment, doing the right things, direction and principles.

In our new education, success is not about win or lose, passing or failing, or time management.

It’s about self-management.

Our new education is where every student is a success story. Nobody has to lose for somebody else to win. Our new education is based on abundance. There is enough for all to have favorable outcomes in reaching their potential.

Win and lose thinking is replaced with collaborative thinking.

Being based on collaboration instead of competition does not weaken this new education. Collaboration invents a place for individual self-directed meaningful activity to flourish. But this is a tough world where personal choice and personal responsibility go hand in hand. Life not going the way you think it should? Change it.

It’s nobody’s job but your own.

Collaboration requires the interconnectedness of self-assured, self-motivated and self-directed individuals who work responsibly to build their own lives while contributing to the good of all.

Our educational system needs to create and protect knowledge and truth while serving the individuals it is designed to serve. Education should not be a game where some win and some lose.

Schools currently exist where learning is based on the needs of individuals and where each child and adult is treated with respect and kindness as they journey towards independence, mastery and purposeful work.

Einstein is quoted as saying “You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created.”

Perhaps Einstein would laugh and say “Jawohl!” or “Yes!” to my taking liberties with his famous equation to express the new education — E = mc2

E stands for exponential education.

M is for the intrinsic Motivation of each individual

c2 represents the child learning and working in his or her community and culture.

In other words, exponential education occurs when the intrinsic motivation of each individual is applied or multiplied by each child within his or her community or culture.

Exponential education will look different in each school as enlightened adults prepare environments to allow the development of intrinsic motivation through meaningful self-directed activities of children in their unique communities. Certain principles will serve as guidelines for action. Subject matter will be fluid, based on the changing needs and self-directed activities of children in our changing world.

We live in times of exponential change. We need exponential education to harness the exponential creativity and ability of every individual on our planet.

Take the challenge of creating win-win education.

Kids Talk TM deals with childhood development issues. Maren Schmidt founded a Montessori school and holds a Masters of Education from Loyola College in Maryland. She has over twenty-five years experience working with children and holds teaching credentials from the Association Montessori Internationale.

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