Free Public Education
Yurts at Poncha Pass - Colorado Yurt Rentals and Sustainable Building Workshops - Photo of Chris in ground of Earthship

Written by Chris

July 21, 2009

            

Pucusana Bay with local school children and US high school students

Pucusana Bay with local school children and US high school students

A week ago I found myself sitting in a boat tied to 5 other boats. Within the boats were both 6 high school students from the US as well as around 20 5-6 year olds from the local school in Pucusana. As the boats rose and fell in the waves, we handed around intertidal organisms including star fish, urchins and crabs, carefully teaching them the different parts and habitats of each of the animals as well as how to show the animals respect. This would be an example of teaching at its finest. Cross country and cultural barriers with the means for hands on practice.

            But is there another type of teaching, one that we don’t see before our very own eyes on a daily basis? Spending the week with these 6 tourist/students, it became apparent to me that there is indeed another form of teaching. It comes over coffee with a friend in the early morning, on the corner of a sidewalk in the late afternoon, starting up a conversation with a fellow bus passenger or disposing of your trash properly in front of others.

Humans are naturally very perceptive and we communicate through vision, touch, and mostly sight, but to what end? We converse to buy tickets, food, express emotion, and suddenly we see how this list quickly becomes infinite. But learning has become largely institutionalized. We go to school to learn and if we’re not in school or in an active mode of learning, we often take what knowledge we have at the time as fact and use it to deal with the tasks at hand. When we return to school or our job, we may seek to learn new things once again as if returning to our place in a book.

But what if we actively sought out learning on the bus, with a friend over coffee, or a stranger on the street. The world is so specialized; you are almost guaranteed to know something different, if not completely different from the person next to you. What if we did not only keep an open mind throughout the day and seek the effort of learning, but also exchanged that of teaching at the same time? Not all people get the chance to go to school, but as long as they have someone to talk to they are given the chance to learn what they can and teach what they know.

We have so much to learn from each other, so much to teach. I encourage the philosophical debate, the friendly questioning of friends ideas, and reaching out to show someone how to recycle their cup on the corner. Perhaps Education should be redefined and taken to the streets.

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