Education's Ecology


Decade of Dependent Development

Education's Ecology is about relationships and none are more important than those at the beginning of life; a period when schools are almost completely uninvolved.

D3 -- Is a recent concept which stands for Decade of Dependent Development. D3 begins with conception and ends at age 9. D3 explicitly recognizes neoteny (retention of child-like characteristics into adulthood as well as delayed physiological and sexual maturity of an organism) as a fundamental condition of human life. Parenting is so critical and crucial for this first decade that in its absence, survival is clearly impossible. Accordingly, it is incumbent upon society to establish a network of relationships that support parenting for every child.

Every child deserves a champion.

This means, intriguingly, that education is most significant, not for children, but for adults. It is adult knowledge of child development that enables success of the child in life. Schools become involved in the education of the child much too late in the child's life. Schools have turned a powerful social need into an ignorant enterprise that is insane and upside down. The insanity follows unexamined assumptions that are repeated slavishly, generation to generation, and across every segment of society with an expectation of better results.  Society has formulated schools to serve a population age 5-25 on the assumption that adulthood represents some collective wisdom that must be passed on to children so that they will become proficient, functioning adults. And, it assumes that every child is uniformly ready to begin that passage at about age five. A five-tear-old is "ready" to "learn." These assumptions lack important foundations including basic definitions and do not recognize that the years pre-zero to three are the most important time of developmental change in the life of the individual. The Brain is central to all that the child will become. Brain development begins in utero and continues following birth with the most significant changes to prepare the individual for life. We know this from conditions of childhood that go wrong; Autism, Attention Deficits, Hyperactivity disorders, failure to thrive with physical activity, lack of timely language development, and many other deficits of development. What is up-side-down is that parents must be prepared to take responsibility for the first decade of life and that they cannot know everything because no one knows everything.

Society itself -- undefined as that is -- does not know everything. Segments of society set in place institutions that are well intended but, unfortunately, rarely reexamined to assure their own excellent development. Central among these societal institutions are schools; a product of unexamined ignorance handcuffed to hubris. We are all ignorant and need to accept that condition soon and universally. When we recognize our ignorance, we are positioned through questioning and critical thinking to do something about it. Hubris, all the confidence that accompanies ignorance, can maximize mistaken rationale. Rectification requires research. Dissemination of what research is uncovering. With research we position ourselves to test ideas, concepts, principles, and even stories that circulate. Those ideas are conjectures about future conditions; hypotheses that must be tested and potentially falsified. When an idea is falsified, it is time to quit holding on to the idea and think through and articulate a better idea. That is science! The citadels of science are at our universities but they are also present with everyone of us a citizens and stakeholders in our future and the future of our children.

This means being fully engaged in the daily assessment of a child's development and seeking community support for the developmental progress of the child. Parental responsibility begins before conception and continues without interruption for at least ten years. Yet parental responsibility cannot be accomplished in the absence of support systems. These support systems are a societal responsibility. What society has in place is a system or systems of schooling. Schooling is fundamentally flawed. For D3, schools do not deal with the important years -- zero to three. Schooling is long overdue for dramatic revision. A first, dramatic, step would be to remove all children from schools until age nine. Early education,, pre-school, kindergarten are not enough.

What are the goals of education for a child before age 9?

Early Childhood  -- Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are critically important and represent a societal liability that cannot any longer be ignored. However, what is recognized to date may be only the tip of the iceberg. Poverty, before birth,  for a mother, and the inevitable stresses that accompany poverty, is now well recognized (citation?) as a damaging impact on the brain of the fetus in the second trimester of pregnancy. It seems almost inconceivable that much of what are recognized as "learning disabilities" are a consequence of  environmental insults occurring in a mother's womb. Stress on the mother induces important changes in the balance of hormones, many  of which can act through the placenta and the fetal circulation to alter normal brain development. Some of the resulting babies never have a chance of thriving in a school environment five or more years later in life. Yet, socially, we proceed with all the confidence that goes with ignorance—trusting pregnancy and neonatal development of the infant to chance. A new conception of early life is long overdue. Schools, by any contemporary conception, are not and cannot be engaged as part of a social program to assure the integrity of pregnancy and an equal start for every conceptus, embryo and fetus that will become a baby at birth, and grow through infancy to develop a robust capacity to thrive in a school environment. .

Society must assure itself that every prospective parent is equipped to support child development that is not ever toxic physically, emotionally or spiritually. The intellectual domain in the first decade is founded on passion, projects, peers and play that emerges from the natural human condition of prolonged immaturity, or neoteny. When parents do not get the conditions of the first decade right, society is the loser. Schools never adequately make up for the losses.

D3 is our title for continuing thought about education and how society may fill an important GAP that must be filled with worthwhile thoughts to fulfill an argument that society must support an evolutionary discontinuation of schools as a paradigm for public education within society. Discontinuation, in our view, will best begin by removing all children under nine years from our current system(s) of schooling. A big challenge is to propose a realistic alternative. That is daunting. However, a place to begin is with those parents who already disavow school for their children and the concept of the "un-school." Home School is also a potential foundation. Yet, it remains incumbent upon society to extend support services to parents, neighborhoods and communities to assure that the Decade of Dependent Development is as robust as we can make it. Everything that a child loses during D3 may never be recovered.

The novel virus COVID19 has created a condition across global society that demands new strategies for education. Schools are no longer safe places for students, their teachers and the support staff. There is a genuine struggle in society about what is best for education. This time of enormous societal disruption is an opportunity for innovation and setting in place systems for education that are self-innovating. There has never been one perfect way for child development to proceed. In this time of health and economic crisis, opportunity exists to rethink and discover alternatives that can better serve all of society. The framework for commerce and industry has been disabled along with schools. The workplace has undergone significant restructuring and it is becoming a common pattern of thought that it will never return to the way it once was. This may be true even if a vaccine and new therapies are quickly discovered, simply because firms have found that the cost of workspaces can be dramatically reduced while productivity remains high. Employee supervision is much less necessary than prior models of management seemed to demand.

Accordingly it now seems eminently possible to reorganize the school day and the entire school environment to make a much better mish with child development and the occupational obligations of parents. Parents can be flexible to meet the developmental needs of their children and to combine efforts with other families that are experiencing similar challenges of work-life balance.


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Last revised 4 October 2020