Who Will Lead A New Learning Culture?

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As a Dad in a committed relationship, I frequently contemplate the future. I feel it prudent to be thinking long term in a holistic manner.  I think about the world my 18-month-old son will live in.  I think about five, ten years out and farther.  I think about him when he is a Dad, his feelings about being a Dad and the challenges his generation will face.  I know I can’t be absent as I am his primary male role model.  Science corroborates my intuition; fathers are critically important in the healthy development of a child’s psyche.1

Both he and our wounded planet are top priorities.  This means I must balance between being present with him and the family and planning for the future.  I must also keep the past in mind while working a full-time job.  This is not easy.


Jacob Buller and his son.

In 5 years, my boy will be school age.  What sort of preschool do I want my son to attend?  I wonder why in Kindergarten cooperation is taught, but twelve years later we are taught the opposite.  Isn’t this cognitive dissonance? I view the highly competitive system that is modern public schooling with suspicion.

In his book “Weapons of Mass Instruction,” John Taylor Gatto notes public schools were modeled after the Prussian military in the early 1900s and that it yields workers and compliance2.  While sufficient for some, I’m not convinced my boy needs that, or that those qualities have long-term relevance. Education makes a difference, but what results and values emerge?  Aren’t empathy and creativity more important?  Today, this secular institution conditions habits that have less to do with enlightenment and more with greed, power, and fear.

I’m not sure that the school environment I envision exists yet.  Permaculture is an important element, but it’s principles are not well known or integrated into the established school system.  Healing of the self and others is a given.  Also important, an emergent curriculum (a feature of both Montessori and Waldorf schools) that lets him script his own educational path based on his interests.  These schools generate a gentle, cooperative culture of learning that enlivens the inner essence, the spirit, which is dear to me.  Their beautiful culture is essential in an increasingly complex world.

I wish these schools were more common for then they would be more affordable.  People like Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, Will Wright, the creator of Sim games and Jimmy Wales, the creator of Wikipedia attended Montessori schools in their youth.  Yielding creators like these, more emergent education is needed to serve this planet.

In 2025, my boy will be eleven.  I think about what I will tell him regarding the past ten years, what was on my mind, why I did what I did when he was young, how my actions might be seen through the collective lens of his generation, and it turns a light on inside me.

I will need to feel good about his unfolding adolescence. I want his teenage years to be happy and joyful.  I want him to enjoy interactions with communicative peers and tutors who embody self-respect and integrity.  At eleven, I want him to be creative, to believe in magic and to nurture his childhood empathy.  I want him to have principles, to be studying sciences that help him understand the macrocosm, and doesn’t subdivide the microcosm at the expense of spirit.

Yet the very people influencing our future the most toil the most and receive the least compensation.  If anything, to shift consciousness, we need to place significant importance on teachers, tutors, mentors and daycare workers who guide.  They tend open hearts and clear minds and are compensated in coal.

A shift in education can be ignited with a collective vision of a co-creative society committed to learning.  Can we do it in ten years?  It is being birthed with dreams funded on Kickstarter, Instructables, and IndieGoGo.  It just takes creative vision, synthesis, direction, and collaboration.

I want the best hearts tutoring my son as he grows, but I’m not about to be selfish.  Just as I can’t shape his future without a strong relationship with my partner, we can’t puzzle out a shared vision of the future if we can’t agree on the priorities of common life elements.  Quality, non-institutional education and cultivated attitudes of healing are baselines to me.

Together we dream collective dreams that guide our desires, our yearnings, and the future of our sons and daughters.  Our planet asks us to wake up, to put our values where our vision is, to take action towards what we want to see.  The time is ripe.  What future do we envision for our little ones?  I’ve got an idea of what I want.  What do you want?


jacob_port-10H. Jacob Buller is a freelance journalist, writer and dad.  He adventures with his family to Earthships, ecovillages and intentional communities and blogs about it at cohesivecreations.com.


1.      Phares, Vicky, and Bruce Compas. “The Role of Fathers in Child and Adolescent Psychopathology: Make Room for Daddy.Psychological Bulletin. American Psychological Association, 1992. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.

2.     Gatto, John Taylor. “Introduction.” Weapons of Mass Instruction. Gabriola Island: New Society, 2009. 214. Print.

FEATURE PICTURE:  Image capture from the movie Serenity, 2005.


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