Holistic Education: A better way


By Jesse and Johanna Boudreau

There is a revolution in education taking place here in America. After years of frustration with state-run schools, standardized tests, immunizations, prison style slop in the student cafeterias, fluorescent lit classrooms with uncomfortable seating, not enough physical activity and  stressful overfilled schedules; kids and parents are moved to take education back into our own sovereign hands.

More and more people are turning to alternative modes of education in the form of Montessori schools, Waldorf schools, Charter schools, un-schooling and homeschooling.  The reasons why are seemingly obvious. Though it was once a community endeavor, the education of our youth has taken on the mantle of the corporate global culture. In a typical classroom, only fluoridated water and sugar filled drinks are available to the students to drink, government subsidized low-fat milk and cafeteria slop or fast food is provided for lunch, the students have to sit in uncomfortable classrooms that are poorly lit, and if they are “deserving” they might be allowed 15 minutes of recess (hopefully outdoors). Teachers are overwhelmed by large classrooms full of distracted and poorly nourished students. The teachers themselves, though under paid, are expected to attend meetings before and after school, hold everything together in the classroom, and bring paperwork home with them.

Many studies have been done showing the adverse affects of exposure to these conditions. Poor nutrition has been linked to ADD and autism spectrum disorders and a child’s need for exercise and sunshine can no longer be ignored. Boys particularly need a certain amount of physical activity or they simply cannot concentrate.  Similarly, state mandated immunizations carrying heavy metals are given to the children and have also been linked to ADD and autism. As for light: full spectrum sun light stimulates the rods and cones in our eyes to process stress chemicals in the brain. Fluoride in the water has many harmful effects including the calcification of the pineal gland which is a gland in the brain responsible for synchronization to circadian rhythms,  as well as dreams. Fluoride was developed by the Nazi’s to make the imprisoned Jewish population more docile and controllable. Spending time at school in front of computers and time at home in front of the television further contributes to the calcification and atrophy of the pineal gland. The pineal gland is considered by religious traditions the world over as the spiritual third eye of awakening. physical activity and full spectrum sunlight stimulates the decalcification of the pineal gland and decreases stress.

These states of stress and over excitement are leading to ever declining test scores and an ever-increasing drop out rate. Kids are intuitive  and they know what is good for them and what is not. In a classroom with forty  students, a teacher  can only really reach out to the few students to whom the information comes easily and therefore the students who have difficultly in the subject tend to fall through the cracks. Moreover, everyone has different leaning styles, wishes, dreams, and talents. The public school system seeks to pigeon hole kids into places where they often do not fit. Some people are more inclined and naturally skilled at art while others may excel at mathematics. Both professions are culturally valuable and yet kids have to learn to do it all and often spread themselves too thin to focus on their strengths.

The stress starts at the beginning of the day. Children are roused to wakefulness by an alarm and are scurried off to school  (usually with a scant breakfast). They go all day long, perhaps attend soccer practice, track,  or band after school. For dinner fast food or prepackaged food takes the place of a home-made family meal. This hurried overly filled schedule entrains children to stress,poor eating habits and disconnection from family at a young age. This helps them  be practiced at handling a life full of stress. Now, stress exists and is a beneficial part of living, but entraining to nothing but stress is deleterious to both mind and body. Through our current school system we are simultaneously entraining them to fit cultural institutions, corporate culture, disconnection from the earth, and dog eat dog capitalism.  It is a scientific fact that the neurons that fire together wire together, so perhaps we ought to be mindful of the states to which we entrain ourselves and our children.

For our family homeschooling made a lot of sense. We live in the country and have a home based business. This allows both parents to work as well as connect with and take part in the education of our children . The children have to do reading, writing, and math but then they are free to explore their interests in-depth. My oldest practices the drums and reads at his level for often hours at a time, my middle one who is interested in art and design will draw for extended periods, and my youngest will dabble with things like origami and gardening. Being avid naturalists and gardeners means we spend a lot of time outside playing. We go snowboarding in winter and gardening, wildcrafting, hiking and camping fill our spring, summer, and fall. In this manner education never ends and it teaches the children to trust and understand their selves and nature.

Often people feel that there are no other choices: both parents have to work , there is only one school nearby, not enough money to pay for a private school, etc. However, where there is a will there is a way. Options do exist. Some communities are forming homeschooling cooperatives, trading time teaching kids and working. Charter based Montessori schools are cropping up. In our case we decided it was better to invest our time, energy, and focus on our kids rather than making a little more money. When homeschooling, the amount of time taken working on school work is far less because there are only a handful of kids at most with the teacher (this also makes parent teacher conferences irrelevant because you know the state of your child’s education.) Also, there is not the distraction and hubbub that occurs in a public school. Focus is easier to attain. This means there is often time to work in the garden to augment food bills, to work from home, to catch up with chores, or to simply enjoy time together. Kids can work on exercises, practice music, or clean up after themselves while parents may deal with phone calls, lunches and dishes. Furthermore this also allows time for the children to explore their interest in greater detail and at their own speed. Perhaps the greatest difficulty with homeschooling is finding time for socialization. However many homeschooling play groups exist and there are always afternoons and weekends to play with friends who attend school.

We imagine the world as a learning environment that honors and respects the child, the earth, the parents, and the culture. We imagine a world in which children are entrained to peace, to the understanding of their own minds, to have respect for all, to have integrity, to realized their sovereignty and their creative power… and more than that: to realize their dreams.