Community is created by individuals who share common values. Conscious community means that the well-being of the consciousness of all constituents is the highest priority. Implied is that nourishing consciousness leads to the best possible outcomes of all community members.
What do most educators know about a child’s consciousness? Given my 30 years of engagement in the field I confidently assert: not much, and certainly not enough. And as long as that ignorance pervades then, no matter how well intentioned, programs and curricula with have minimal impact. Inversely, were the consciousness of children the primary consideration, education would become vivacious, relevant, and a locus of growth and learning for all. Education would be potent.
If past experience holds, protests to this position will be many. I heard some at the AERO conference during the workshop I led on social justice. Why was I emphasizing the qualities of the consciousness of children of different ages instead of talking about programs that could end prejudice or promote sustainability? My answer: hurt children make hurtful decisions as adults; healthy children make healthful decisions as adults. Nourishing a child’s consciousness insures optimal well-being. Hence, the quickest way to social justice is well-being in children. Attention there trumps all other endeavors.
Specifically, once the child’s consciousness is known, it becomes obvious that children of all ages make significant contributions to social justice. They don’t have to be taught social justice. That is old paradigm, top-down teaching. Nourishing the child’s consciousness effortlessly includes the development of their social justice contribution and, synchronously, their knowledge of themselves as connected, meaningful participants in their world. It is a natural process. Two immediate benefits ensue. Social justice is the norm. Social injustice is recognized and responded to. In other words, empathy, that most important quality of consciousness for social justice, awakens and develops.
What does it mean to participate in the consciousness of children? Simply, it means know how children of different ages organize their world. Specifically, it means a comprehensive knowledge that includes children’s perception of time, space, identity, respect, community, love, aesthetic, death, sex, and values. We have to know how children make meaning so that our interactions are meaningful for them.
Moreover, appreciation of the child’s consciousness extends to knowing their effect upon us. What happens to teachers and parents when they participate in relationships that nourish the well-being of children?
After much consideration and many experiences in intentional communities that range from a 12 person collective building a loft in Soho for performance art to leading a residential meditation community of 25 to being the Executive Director of a learning center for children and families with a staff of 28 I have come to see that only in participatory, emergent consciousness community can our goals be realized. And I wonder: Can social media be the way the self selected members of a conscious education community connect? This question amplifies the importance of social media for me.
Meanwhile, we, Josette and I, and the folks at Summa Institute, continually bring the consciousness of children to light in all that we do. Natural Learning Relationships is a recasting of child development that places their consciousness at the core, describes how they organize and make meaning of their world, and suggest relationships that bring optimal well-being. Josette has specifically addressed how providing these relationships stimulate the wisdom of the adult. Summa Institute, now searching for a building in Portland OR will provide a physical home for conscious education and parenting community.