Attraction instead of pressure – learning is a natural process of life which happens by itself.
Within the conditions of trust and mutual respect, learning follows life’s natural energy flows. Children and adolescents all have big questions: “Why doesn’t the moon fall out of the sky?”, “Why are there wars?” If they are allowed to ask these questions and find truthful answers they will develop confidence and find their own motivation to learn – with great joy and competence.
Learning at school is often confused with memorizing facts but learning is a more active process of making connections between our inner and outer worlds. According to Jean Piaget, “…the learner needs the environment as the stimulus and matrix of his development but the main impetus comes from himself because he actively investigates that which causes him a problem in his environment, bringing forth knowledge and understanding through solving the problem.”
Learning is a natural life-process which happens by itself because life itself is aligned to continuous development and improvement. Learning is not linear but moves in oscillations along a line of tension; an irresistible draw which we call interest, curiosity or intrinsic motivation. An efficient learning system is guided by these motions of life, which the brilliant scientist Viktor Schauberger explored through his observations of nature and his explorations of water as a ‘living being’ in the last century.
“Nature, the cosmos, planets, stars, atoms, molecules, water, waves, wind, (especially hurricanes), clouds, blood, plant juices follow the concentric-helical ‘movements of implosion’. This has an absorbent, pulling character and is almost frictionless. On the other hand if there are pressure forces at work, large friction losses are produced.” (Victor Schauberger, 2006)
Friction, resistance and pain arise if learning happens under the pressure of external obligation. If learning takes place in an environment free from coercion, where students are allowed to follow the pull of an inner question with passion, we can study and support their natural process. This can take place in an alternative system of learning within school where the priority isn’t the instructive lesson and which offers students more freedom for their individual and intrinsically motivated learning processes.
In the Escola da Esperança the ‘open learning space’, inspired by the experiences of the pedagogue Falko Peschel and the brilliant physician and educational reformist Maria Montessori, offers an environment for this learning. In attractive rooms, arranged according to topics and grade-levels, students find stimulating instruction material (e.g. Montessori material). The wide range allows children to develop along the lines of their own interests and thus to optimally educate themselves.
We consider a culture of positivity and trust to be another of the foundations for learning. Both the trust of adults in the spiritual greatness of the children and in their capacity for independent learning and the confidence of children in adults because they feel seen and understood.