Tuesday, December 30, 2008

cro-magnon education system

My favorite books are a series of historical fiction novels called the Earths Children. Clan of the Cave Bear was the first and is the most widely known of the series.

The story would have taken place around 28,000 years ago in Europe, where it explores the possibility of Neanderthals and early humans (Cro-Magnon) interacting and intermixing. The story was so interesting because it examines the various aspects of the differences between the two branches of humanity, and considers the possible reasons for the demise of the Neanderthals. Jean Auel did a great deal of archaeological and paleontological research for this book. It is said that she based her description of the Neanderthal characters on a burial cave site found in Iraq called Shanidar .

What I like about these books, aside from admiring the heroine of the story, is how clearly the different human societies were presumed to be set up, how they were run, what was important, what were their values, how did they pray, who did they pray to, who or what did they honor, what were their rituals, how did they practise medicine, etc.

In so far as the group dynamics, its interesting the similarities to todays modern societies. Everyone had their place in the group. Leader/and or Head Woman, Holy Man, Medicine Woman, Shaman, Hunter chief, Hunters, Caregivers, Artisans, Craftsmen, Cooks, Weavers, Gatherers, Speakers, etc, Elders, Children, they all did their thing and they all contributed their part.

I like the way they are presumed to have educated their children. It perfectly reflects that old saying, it takes a village to raise a child. They didn't stick the kids in a room and give them all the same tests. No, they taught each child according to where he was most gifted, and they gave the children real practical experience to learn from.

If a young boy showed a talent for carving, he would apprentice with the carver, if he were a strong athlete, he would go train with the elder hunters, if she were a cook, she would help with the cooking and be sent to gather food and berries, if she had the gift of foresight as well as insight, she may be sent to train with the Medicine Woman. The kids worked/helped all day long, and actually applied the skills they were learning.

Too bad we can't do that for children and youths today. Specialized schools that approach ALL the various types of intelligence traits, abilities, and personal tendencies would be the bomb. Get those wild boys out of the classroom and teach them some useful skills, maybe introduce them to the trades. Teach them to build a treehouse, or paint fence surrounding a non-profit facility somewhere. You can still teach skills they will need to know, get them to factor in what they will have to do to complete the job, estimates, budgeting, doing taxes, filling out forms and applying for permits.Let them see the results of their actions in some way. I think it would be more impactful on a young mind, to have to divide and then saw a board into five equal pieces, than it would be to sit at a desk and divide 1 by 5 a hundred times onto a piece of paper that will eventually be discarded.

Why not have a hefty round of gym classes and sports for young athletic boys to get all that rambunctiousness out. Why not make some use out of the energy, put em to work in the community. Kids can do these things, that's what my Grandma did on the farm, her brothers and sisters as kids, were put to work to help the farm operate. Cleaning barns, collecting eggs, painting fences. Man, the kids in my grandmas era sure didn't have any Mommy entertaining them all day, those kids explored freely, figured things out, and they took the knocks as they came. And Mom, while loving, never apologized for being busy, and she didn't worry if you liked her or not. (Theres something to be said for that but that's another topic).

You could go on and on with this education idea, for artistic kids for instance, why are there not more schools for younger people, like the school in the old TV show fame? What about an all tech school for the kids that are interested in technology, computers, graphics, why not save them the horrors of drama class.

I know, I know the logistics of applying such a system would be monstrous, I realize that its just a silly dream. Besides, the moment we got such a thing up and running, some bleeding heart busybody complainer would feel sorry for his kid having to work hard, would find a problem with something, foresee an accident, lodge a complaint and clog up every system by asking for more laws, rules, bans, restrictions, etc .......all those complainers ever manage to do is put up more red tape for the rest of us to deal with.

By the way, accidents are going to happen, special interactive school or not, I will never forget sitting in the lunchroom of my (normal) school, and witnessing a boy blast his way right through a glass door, because he was being a doofus on a skateboard. And, yes I do realize there are inherent safety issues sometimes, yes, a kid in a construction school, could saw off his finger, but................ he can also learn how NOT to saw off his finger.



Randy Thornton said...

You are a natural teacher - between your thoughts in this post and watching you singing along with your daughter (in the vid with the pajamas), it's obvious to me that you are one -- the classroom (where I used to teach) is so artificial.

Humans handed down their knowledge to each other in story, song and dance for hundreds of thousands of years before the factory classroom came along -- when we lived in tribes, we had no problem teaching or learning!

I wonder if you have ever read the works of Dan Quinn - the Ishmael books (Ishmael and My Ishmael being the first two). If you like Auel, I think you will like Quinn's books - they aren't historical novels really, but more novels about our myth of our history. I think you would like them...

Best & thanks for sharing...


rachael said...

Randy, thank you for that, I appreciate that you took the time to read it.

I'm open to look Dan Quinn up, thanks for the tip.

Over the years I was so thirsty for more to read like Jean Auel's books, I just kept trying other similar storylines, but none ever compared as far as detail or depth of story.

Eventually though, I finally found another decent series, based on the earliest North Americans.

Titles such as, People of the Wolf, People of the River, People of the Raven, etc. etc. There are several of them, they are so, so intersting and very researched it appears.

cheers, Rachael