My number one source of inspiration in terms of educational thinking is Rabindranath Tagore, the Bengali poet and writer.

The school he founded at Santiniketnam in India – which includes among its alumnae Amartya Sen and Satyajit Ray – embraced a dynamic open model of education where children studied outdoors from a wide range of classics, both Eastern and Western. Exams were infrequent, and the teaching system analysed history and culture for the progress that had been made breaking down social and religious barriers, rather than in terms of wars won. Classes were held outdoors and students were encouraged to follow the life cycles of insects, birds and plants.

Many parents today are too afraid to “opt out” of the mainstream educational systems because they are afraid they will deprive their children of the tools and “competitive edge” that these institutions purportedly offer.

Bruno Bettelheim once said that the best education a child could hope for was to be in a school which espoused values which were in opposition to those of the family environment. Taking this one step further, I would argue that the only way to help students get ready for the future is to consciously cultivate experiences outside the school environment which are in some way counter-cultural or subversive to the reigning paradigms and value systems at school.

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