I’m getting closer to that “Steve School” curriculum. The problem with education IMO is that there is no agreement on what it should accomplish. So I’m going to lay down my own thoughts on the subject.
- The system cannot survive if the students cannot pay back in taxes what it cost to educate them. So…that’s important. The creation of self-sustaining adults who can produce goods and services valued by their communities.
- In a democracy, those adults also need to be able to vote responsibly.
- The tribe cannot survive if its members cannot reproduce biologically, and raise those children to become self-sustaining adults. We don’t need everyone to have kids anymore, but at the very least they should be able to protect or nurture children indirectly…and never be a danger to them.
- The individual cannot survive without understanding how to care for physical and emotional health.
That’s one way to look at it. Another is the Chakras. The idea (roughly) is that you can start from Survival “up” or from the heart “Out” but NEVER from the top down (intellect or spirit)
- Sexuality (to be able to satisfy our sexual needs with integrity)
- Power (to be able to control our environments. Basic food, shelter, etc. at the minimum. Ideally, enough surplus to take care of two more people)
- Emotions. Self-love, and love of others.
- Communication. Reading, writing, speaking honestly. Creative expression.
- Intellect. A constantly refined map of reality.
- Spirit. Life in the context of death. A sense of the structure of the universe.
So..what are the most basic things, that if I taught someone those things, I believe they would have a foundation for everything else? Well…from the maps above, I only have to deal with the first four. The others will take care of themselves:
All of these come to someone with a healthy mind and body, healthy emotions and empathy for others, and so forth. While I personally would discourage anyone from having sex before they are self-supporting, the early stages of the mating dance are set very early.
So…after all the conversation, what are the most basic things? If you like the idea of six periods a day, then let’s look at the six classes which might be the best. Call them “PRIMARY” classes, the foundation for whatever follows. Here are my six, and my reasonings.
- Body/Mind. All learning begins and ends with the questions “who am I?” and “what is true?” Our bodies are our first tools of exploration and experimentation. We have not only sight, touch, smell, hearing, and taste, but also proprioception. Knowing how to connect mind and body is critical, and gives the greatest “bang” for the buck in terms of time and energy–two hours a week can make a massive difference. So we’ll start there, and set a foundation for a lifetime. Two parts: a basic, short-duration hyper-efficient exercise body-mind exercise system (Five Tibetans and FlowFit are examples of what I mean), but opening to larger, deeper and more complete systems like dance, gymnastics, yoga, and martial arts.
- Reading/Writing. Open the door to communication and learning for a lifetime. Anyone who cannot do these two things is basically not engaged with the world of ideas.
- Math. Basic to advanced. Theoretical to practical and applied. Readin’ , Writin’ and ‘Rithmatic make massive sense to me as the core mental skills.
- Success. There are a wide range of tools here: goal setting, value alignment, memory skills, brainstorming, modeling, speed reading, organization and more. Things that increase the efficiency and effectiveness of study time massively. And yes, rote memorization is a core to all learning. When you know WHAT you want, and WHY you want it, the rest is just details. You could simply rotate between these subjects to give students a taste, then have electives where they can specialize in Jr. High.
- Art/Music. A meld of craft, personal expression, and empathy. Valuable on many levels.
- Big History. And here is the last academic subject I’d include in the basics. “Big History” was a class first taught at San Diego State (I believe) pioneered by David Christian. An amazing class that starts with the Big Bang and travels through physics, chemistry, astronomy, geology, biology, primate biology, paleoanthropology, anthropology, to history until the present moment. Along the way, any human knowledge can be “slotted in” to the overall structure, which is laid out in several books, college courses and a 50-part lecture series from the Teaching Company. I could easily see covering one or two levels a week every semester, starting with first grade with light overview dipping into subjects kids find most fun, but going deeper and sideways on more important topics: but always relating to the overall structure of existence. “What is true”
Those would be primary. Secondary would begin in Jr. High (perhaps earlier) and consist of expansions on the earlier topics. Civics and Government makes good citizens. Critical thinking skills, rhetoric, speech and debate all grow out of the basics as well. Homemaking, which includes crafts and shop classes, cooking, personal finance and so forth would have to be addressed before leaving high school.
So that’s it. The “Primary” basics will give you the tools to live a high-energy, healthy lifestyle of constant learning and growing, and if you diversity in Jr. High and later (it is negotiable precisely when) but I would suggest that anything a person could want to learn or do is contained in seed form, as well as a structure for all human knowledge.