school transformation (1)

New School Movement Cares About Role of Fear

It is rare for me to find a transformative school, or school movement that seems like it really is what it advertises itself to be when looked at closer. It is rare when I get surprised there is a movement, I have never heard of (i.e., in North America) that is encouraging beyond the surface. I am aware of the great strides of progressive schools in Finland and how that model is taking off around the world, but right here in American there's EL Schools based on the Outward Bound design principles, brought into regular schools and transforms them. I think these are worth looking at seriously for anyone involved in curriculum development for the 21st century, and, I'm sure these schools are not "perfect" and I would have a lot of things to add, or would any other astute critic of educational practices. I am also not saying this is a radical school movement like I would like... but it seems, upon my reading the website that it is impressive nonetheless for what it is. The 10 principles are pretty great (albeit, I don't see enough Indigenous Education aspects up-front-and-center as Four Arrows would recommend [1]. Yet, a few things impress me, and that begins in Principle 1, I have included it below... and, you can guess why I like it so much. The second, is that Natural World is put out so prominently (principle 8) with also Solitude & Reflection (principle 9)

The foregrounding of the role of fear as the greatest barrier to human potential is not an entirely new idea at all, it is just rare to see it foregrounded in any school movement. I had never even heard of EL schools, although, I am somewhat familiar with the Outward Bound philosophy and programs going back into the 1970s as part of the Outdoor and Environmental Education movement. So, it is great to see this new adaptation into regular schools in the system and it is producing great results.

The area of my critique, of course, would be on what the quality is behind their conception of "fear" and most likely it is pretty shallow and individual and psychological--not an integral perspective. This is where I would bring forward the work of Four Arrows and myself to supplement such a "primary task" to ensure it is done the best possible [2]. I would encourage such EL Schools to join the Fearlessness Movement first off the bat. Then study these movements, and have their students study them, for starters. Why limit the imaginary to merely "overcome their fears" but rather put this into an evolutionary, historical, sociopolitical, liberational context. "Fears" is not the most important, but understanding the nature and role of fear itself is deeper and richer for critical consciousness... and, then, there are a few more steps along the spectrum of maturity that are required... all the way to fearlessness and on and on...

End Notes:

1. See, Four Arrows (Jacobs, D. T.) (with England-Aytes, K., Cajete, G., Fisher, R. M., Mann, B. A., McGaa, E. and Sorensen, M.) (2013). Teaching truly: A curriculum to Indigenize mainstream education. NY: Peter Lang.

2. in Four Arrows et. al (2013), see Chapter 13, "From Fear to Fearlessness"; also, in Four Arrows (2016), see Chapter 2, "Courage and Fearlessness." Four Arrows (2016). Point of departure: Returning to a more authentic worldview for education and survival. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

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