In early summer 2019 Mihaela and Laura invited me to offer a workshop as part of her alternative schooling project in the village of Valenii de Munte, one and a half hours far from Bucharest.
To raise a child, it takes a whole villageafrican saying
Mihaela Stinghe (mother of 2 children, located in Bucharest) is doing homeschooling since more than 5 years and she developed several strategies to improve the outcome of her desire of an alternative and valuable education for her children. On one side she invites as much as possible other youth to join her activities and in summer 2019 she organised a little summer camp in her countryside mansion. On the other she invites other mothers like Laura to join the educative part and to expand the possibilities for the kids to develop relations to various adults.
With my invitation she went a step further. She challenged herself and the group to interact with a foreigner by using a foreign language and to share leadership in the design of daily activities.
In a first step the kids had to move hundred of old bricks from an neighbors garden to the right location, to select broken once, to pile them under different criteria.
They washed the bricks by using water from a river nearby and the tagged the wooden construction by drawing the outline of their hands and adding their names.
The youth measured the basement, cutted some roofing felt and calculated the amount of bricks we would need to create the basement of the oven. Then they started to fill the gaps between the stones with mortar.
Like baking a cake they tried to follow again and again the right recipe to mix the mortar and to finish the foundation (6 and + 2 cal + 2 cement + water). They also figured out how to center the iron barrel to define the fire chamber location on top of the basement.
The fire chamber under the iron barrel will heat up the inside of the barrel and therefor it has to carry the barrel. The engaged brick layer is discovering a suitable strategy to put bricks in place as well as not to loose the shape of the design of the chamber.
With creating the fire chamber we finished the first day of the workshop. The four stones at the top corners will support the iron barrel.
In the second day the youth continued the work to clean bricks, to select right dimensions, to mix mortar and to add them in a stable way to the construction. The preliminary end is shown on the left photo.
Organic education is a way to implement a social space for self orientated learning of youth in a natural environment. Some ingredients have to take place to improve alternative education.
Adults are initiating an activity and they are explaining goal, milestones, reason and motivation to do it. They advertise for help. They give up control in any step soon as possible and don’t try to push the outcome nor the daily results. They don’t judge about the individual contributions to the group result. They accept a different progress for all individuals. They even accept errors and failures as much as possible and if these mistakes need to be fixed they used them to offer the youth to develop strategies to fix it or to find workarounds.
They also accept all limitations of a given situation (technical or logistical problems or economic challenges). They explain their motives for any kind of interventions.
Homeschooling can be part of organic education if it leads to these habits of guidance. The isolation of one teacher in a classical school class is not a good foundation of sustainable learning, therefor also the single mother at home might be not a good idea.
Informal education is based on the social space in with a individual kid can decide about subject, teacher and time. In this workshop my subject was defined but it was so open and weak that below every youth could find a suitable activity (calculating, moving bricks, brick laying, mixing mortar, cleaning bricks or even playing basket ball, cooking, serving lunch or dinner).
More and more the Romanian society is suffering from loosing well-educated youth to other European countries. The only way throughout this might be to redesign education and to support initiatives like Mihaelas and to explore and develop alternative ways.
We have to realize that homeschooling might not be a solution for all youth in a society, because not all parents are capable to deliver this. Organic education is a way of education more than a quality of classical or alternative environments. It could take place in both, and it could lead to a future in which it might be a link between classical and alternative education, to gather the best of both ways.
Thanks to Mihaela, Laura, Pic and Serban for the opportunity to enjoy this experience. Thanks to Familiafeliz and my social network to cover costs and to support this workshops.