Natural learning

Natural learning

Children are the next generation and form the society of tomorrow. Truly creative thinking and innovative creative power is a necessity for our planet. Children bring a potential that goes far beyond what we can imagine.

We use the term “natural learning” if we refer to emergent learning, thus a learning “from within”. Children have a strong drive to become “bigger” and more independent, to discover themselves and the world and become active in this world. Gordon Neufeld describes emergence as one of overall three important maturation processes. The emergence process enables the child to become capable of acting independently and to develop a sense of self-efficacy. Naturally learning children in the sense of emergence are eager for knowledge and full of scientific curiosity. They want to think for themselves, learn of their own accord and feel responsible for what they do. They recognize possibilities and have an open and inquisitive mind.

Naturally learning children follow their potential automatically. The potential or soul potential becomes visible through the inner motivation and excitement of a person. Regardless of whether the (learning) inspiration comes from the outside or inside, what is essential is if the organism wants to take the information in and has the possibility to deepen it, deal with it and digest it in its own rhythm.

It is necessary for natural learning to have the capacity to deal with frustration. Gordon Neufeld calls this maturation process adaptation. Adaptation can be translated with the capacity to learn from mistakes. If a child experiences frustration, i.e. something doesn’t work as he/she would want it to, he/she can look for new ways out of this experience or feel the futility emotionally. The tears of futility or the releasing crying soften the heart of the child again. They learn from mistakes and setbacks, can persevere discomfort and are resourceful. 

Also the capacity for so called integrative thinking and feeling starting from the maturation boost between 5 - 7 years is a condition for children to learn naturally. For this children need to have discovered in what they are unique and what distinguishes them from others. They need enough protection and time to be able to play and be alone with themself and on a small scale. Only then are they in a position to do something with others without losing themself. Children with integration capacity don’t just adopt any given instruction but comprehend various inconsistencies.

Natural learning is indeed the most natural thing human beings do. It is however very fragile. Here we come in contact with the basic societal problem of the highly unnatural separation of “education and upbringing”, upbringing in the sense of attachment and relationship. Oftentimes in current public as well as alternative school forms there is not enough emphasis on the essential importance of attachment. A warm attachment which supports the maturation and learning of children enables children to feel secure, safe and dependent. Historically children have never been separated from their attachment figures as early and as long as today. They spend many many hours with peers in an environment with too few empathic and constant adults, they are under great pressure and oftentimes in an environment that is remote from life and doesn’t align with their natural needs. Particularly in the first 6 - 7 years, a time of emotional and social immaturity, these inadequate life conditions mean a lot of stress for children. This stress leads to alarming physical and emotional symptoms with long term consequences. 

In the public school system the better part of the training of teachers consists of learning strategies to motivate children and adolescents for predefined content and trying to control the learning processes. This is very stressful for everyone involved. We apparently work against the flow of life. In addition teachers are confronted with managing possible attachment problems of the children without a constructive discussion together with the parents. They have to cope with this in a setting where building reliable attachment relationships is fairly difficult and which is strongly peer-oriented. We understand peer-orientation as the phenomenon where children meet their attachment needs through a peer group, if an appropriate relationship offer from adults is not or not sufficiently available.  

Many children show the impact which results from lack of knowledge and developmental trauma of parents (indicators of stressed children). Children who e.g. show symptoms of a child-centristic parenting style are often difficult to lead and ask for a lot of attention. The smallest frustrations can trigger a lot of aggression and a state of alarm. According to our observation children are more busy with relationship topics than with curiously and emergently discovering life. Teachers feel exhausted and burned out over the course of the years. In so called free schools children may not experience pressure and are not or at least less extrinsically motivated to learn. However the described symptoms of stressed children oftentimes become more apparent. We see the reason for this in the denial of leadership which is often part of the concept.

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