45 Years and Still Learning …
Help Take the Next Step in EFL
It has been 45 years since the launching of the first EFL school and the journey towards transforming education along the lines developed by Paramhansa Yogananda at the Ranchi school in India. Below*, I’ve listed some of the key insights that have helped bring our schools to their current levels of success. Still, with all that we’ve accomplished, we have yet to fully embrace one of the most intriguing, if challenging, concepts that J. Donald Walters saved for the final section of Education for Life – the curriculum categories**.
Readin’, ‘Ritin’, & ‘Rithmetic, or in more refined circles, Mathematics, Science, Language, and History, have proven to be so deeply embedded in the definition of education that it has been difficult to shift our perspective to the new EFL categories. Our Earth – Our Universe, Understanding People, Personal Development, Self-Expression and Communication, Cooperation, and Wholeness offer tremendous vistas for educational exploration, but the pressure to reassure parents, colleges, and others, has often caused us to give reduced attention to this vital aspect of EFL and slip back into the old mindset.
A current article on the internet available at this link, describes the commitment of Finland’s educational system to replace the traditional subjects with “phenomenon-based” learning. Their reasons for implementing this change echo the ideas expressed in Education for Life: first, to reverse the tide of increasing fragmentation of learning, and second, to relate education to the student’s immediate experience of life.
As an aid to exploring the EFL categories, I’ve attached/prepared a collection of activities and resources that show how Our Earth – Our Universe lends itself to an in-depth study of the different Life Skill Action Charts. Hopefully, these examples can stimulate the creativity of many teachers. If you have ideas, suggested resources, or would like to be part of an online working group on this topic, let us know.
You might also find it interesting to hear one of the original discussions on revising the curriculum from an archived recording of a meeting between J. Donald Walters and teachers in the first EFL School in 1982 (http://edforlife.org/efl-audio).
*Here are the key insights mentioned in the first paragraph.
- Preparing for life through self-understanding; not just accumulating facts in order to pass tests or get a job
- Balanced development of the body, feelings, will, and intellect (Tools and Stages of Maturity)
- Overall goal of Maturity: “the ability to relate appropriately to other realities than one’s own”
- Learning should be experiential
Students learn directly through interacting with the natural laws of life
Motivation from avoiding pain/pursuing happiness
- Humanizing the curriculum
Child-oriented, focusing on individual needs and interests
- Progressive Development and expansion of consciousness
Character development & Life Skills
**”…there is much to be gained from learning to approach any new subject as it were from within—From its core, rather than from its periphery. And one way to accomplish this feat is for the student to be involved totally in whatever subject he or she is given to study…Indeed, it is partly in the rigid compartmentalizing of subjects that formal education loses so much of its potential relevance.” JDW