Conflict, wars, monopolies and environmental destruction are so prevalent because humans are infused with an atmosphere of authority and control in both obvious and subtle ways, and are therefore heavily conditioned. In response, our tendency is to follow or rebel, fight or flight, to become the dominator or the one being dominated. And as children grow they fall increasingly into one camp or another, hopping between them as incidents present themselves. As they grow, they continue to have relationships that evolve in this limited way. The emphasis is then rarely on connection and solutions to the bigger picture of working together towards a harmonious planet, because we are getting too lost in the daily details of winning and losing one’s personal battles, and thus teaching our young to do the same.
The school environment is more often than not infested with hierarchical structures, the pedestal of knowledge, and the accepted power of the adult. And because of a system in which large numbers of children are grouped together and shuffled from one set of tasks to another, while adults are managed to fit in and produce the expected results, there is little scope for creating a mind that approaches life very differently. In fact, these environments greatly contribute to a violent world in the way that they coerce through punishments and manipulative rewards, and instil the belief that people must be managed. To function differently as a school, firstly we need to remove hierarchical labels such as Director, Head, superior, leader, manager, etc., or clearly redefine them as ‘keepers’ of functional roles that also aim to support the spirit of working and learning together.
Objects, timetables, hazards and routines can be managed but not people. People need an atmosphere of care and affection, free of fear, to be able to non-judgmentally observe themselves and learn together. Authority is so powerful that it can convince people to kill or hurt another human being, or passively allow this to happen. Authority permits us to destroy the planet’s resources, and intimidates and divides us from one another within our own organisations, no matter how small. To raise the young to be free of these destructive effects of authority we need to raise them to be highly sensitive and aware of their own psychological movement and intentions. We need to provide a unique culture and safe atmosphere that allows them to question others motives while equally exploring their own. They need to be given the space to think things through independently, logically, compassionately, and be attentive to the tendency to comply or resist. They need the chance to observe themselves in the here-and- now so that insights can arise, resulting in right action rather than reaction, compassion rather than corruption.
Our role in these schools is to raise the mind of an individual that is capable of being a light unto itself.