Including children in the work we do is a lot of trouble. Isn’t it? Dish washing and dusting take twice as long with a four year old involved. Even taking a walk is a long drawn out event with many stops and deviations necessary to keep all walkers involved engaged and happy

Yet, most parents wouldn’t give this inclusion up for the world! Gems abound while working with children. They say darling things and sing songs while they work – invented songs with lyrics from the activity (e.g., “Oh, doing the dishes, washing the cups, forks are dancing through the suds, as I pick them up”).

The children imitate our stance, our techniques, even our inner mood as the work proceeds. It’s one of those things to which we must surrender to avoid being endlessly frustrated. “The bottom line” has nothing to do with a child’s interest in doing chores. The process is everything. Being included is the source of all joy!

When a colleague showed me the current government/corporate dream of the future of education, it was a jolting shock to see lego-children linking with wires to dozens of electronic devices and to read about each child wearing a digital wrist band to enable data collection from the moment the child enters school, the elimination of teachers as we know them, and to understand that skin temperature, heart rate, eye tracking, mental activity, breathing, and who knows what other nuances of human reactions will be tracked on every child every day of the child’s school life. An “artificial intelligence mentor” will be assigned to every child. (Ask a grown up you love? Nah! Plug in and “Google it,” “Google yourself to get a read out.” Narcissus comes to mind here!)

While we can certainly marvel at the ingenuity of the technology industry for inventing new ways to sell their innovative products as “necessary” to learning, with the plan to double their bottom line in a couple of years through this mapping of the future of education using artificial children (so much less troublesome) and artificial intelligence, something is amiss in this approach! It leaves the human being out and ignores the reality of a little child – or even a bigger child!

Perhaps we can declare that the $8 billion dollar technology industry that fuels the current education reform (or “deform” as another colleague coined the more descriptive term for it) and the despair, blaming, and chaos that surrounds it, enough, sufficient, adequate, and hardly worth doubling. Technology has failed us. It is a useful tool as far as it goes, but it has carried in its wake a wide wave of illness, ADHD, sensory integration issues, ocular damage, auditory processing issues, and plain old stress. The only research that demonstrates that electronic devices help children to learn are those funded by groups and companies that are invested in technology as “the answer” for education. Hmmm.

Here we offer an alternative map. This one has at its center human beings, children who live, grow and become and are not fixed in a cute plastic lego form. This one acknowledges that decency and socializing, learning to get along with others, learning how to think of others and play actively with others are essential elements in a good education. It is important to check on not only one’s own progress but on the progress of your classmates, too. This is not to compete but to develop interest in others, compassion and a capacity for openness. If this sounds un-American, perhaps it has become so. However, it would be good to get these qualities back again as core to a healthy culture!

Help us follow along this map and imagine how good life can be – how human life can be!2016-05-02 00.16.48-1

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