Head in the clouds. Hands in the dirt.
Authentic Learning aims to restore a natural interaction between life and learning, in which children are engaged in ongoing cycles of inquiry and discovery, interest and expression, within the context of family and community.
What is Authentic Learning?
Authentic Learning is an approach to education that is interest-led, relevant, ongoing, and highly interactive. In this method, learning is as natural as breathing and as exhilarating as flying - it's the way we are designed to learn: through real life, real interests, real problems, and real community.
HOME EDUCATION IN OUR FAMILY
Why we pursue Authentic Learning
Ages before having children of my own, I was passionate about school reform and alternative education models. So, it's no surprise that we incorporate an alternative style of homeschooling in our own family. Like most parents, our goal is the best education for our children. But what does that even mean? The answer is different for every family, even every child. Authentic Learning begins with the parents setting the vision and goals and is followed by years of real-life, hands-on, relevant learning experiences in pursuit of those goals.
So, go on... start dreaming!
"To stimulate life - leaving it then free to develop, to unfold - herein lies the first task of the educator."
AUTHENTIC = FULLY INTEGRATED
Education in the context of family and community
Authentic Learning is student-led, family-oriented, and community-integrated. While the student has a significant voice in his/her own educational journey, the needs and wants of all family members are taken into consideration. And while the home may be the center of the student’s educational environment, Authentic Learning always includes meaningful interaction with people, events, and institutions in the greater community.
DESIGNED FOR JOY
Change is scary. For most people, at most times, that is. Particularly when there is significant skin in the game. We prefer what is comfortable and normalized to that which is uncomfortable and new. For the majority of Westerners, the concept of school - complete with teachers, students, grade levels, textbooks, and tests - is normal and comfortable. Anything that calls itself education outside of that arena is uncomfortable, even threatening.
Yet, it seems the further we dig our heels into the current education system, the more we see it failing our children. Literacy rates haven't budged in ten years, while the socio-economic gap has widened and the prevalence of depression and anxiety in elementary school students has skyrocketed. Despite the many theories and debates over what is the best way to educate a child, or a nation, there are very few who begin with the question, “How are we designed to learn?” In other words, what is our natural relationship to learning?
There’s no doubt that humans are wired to learn. All it takes is half an hour with a nine-month-old child to see that there is an innate drive to learn new skills and try new things that is insatiable, unstoppable, and completely biological. It is only after children have spent time in an educational institution, like our current public schools, that they begin to rebel against the idea of learning.
We should ask ourselves, then, is education supposed to be a long, dreary, competitive process with very little direct relevance to a child’s life? Or is education meant to be exciting, self-directed, fully relevant, and incredibly fun?
Perhaps finding the best educational method, if such a thing exists, means pulling away everything that hinders our natural drive and desire to learn and thriving in the simplicity that remains. Authentic Learning seeks to do just that. Although the journey to return to our roots may seem scary and uncomfortable, it is every bit worth it to rediscover the way we were designed to learn: with great capacity and great joy.