A call back to the learning tree

Education, is it lost to the abyss of 2020? Or have we actually found it again and we don’t yet know it.

This is about a dream, maybe even an impossible daydream, that communities be enabled to educate themselves. An empowerment initiative to bring children and adults back under the learning tree.

As parents around the country scramble to figure out what they have to do, I wonder what greater opportunity there is. For everyone, especially for the children without tablets and uncapped wifi, and in many cases without safety or food.

I may agree with Jonathan Jansen that the system we have had up to this point is potentially gone, thrown out with the dishwater. But that is a lost system of learning, not lost learning.

We have a unique opportunity to start getting the basics right, again. But it would be bold. Bold not because it promises to take us into the future, yet, but rather it promises to get us out of the hole that is education for the impoverished and marginalised.

Opportunities to remake systems in this blink-of-an-eye moment come around less than once in a lifetime. As a country can we reach parents, grandparents and communities and appeal to more traditional schooling methods?

Can we reach into all of the corners of our beautiful country and raise everyone up? Now!

Our best lessons at our Learning Centre, the most successful lessons, are the ones held under the trees. Leaving fancy counters, desks and textbooks inside. Teaching instead by telling engaging stories that captivate young minds, from scientific exploration to folklore and mathematics.

Learning is a natural process and can be brought back to life again.

We can help communities to bring back the basics of education. Curiosity, storytelling, excitement and a love of knowledge. We can encourage them to connect with each other, turn their gaze back inward to their homes and families and towards the faces of their children.

Can we entice the children, once again, to the learning tree?

We have an opportunity to appeal to the gogo and grandfathers and the mothers and community leaders to slow down and sit for a while, under the tree, to teach their children and to share knowledge. They can role model patience and connection and wisdom.

Perhaps we can get the skilled community members to venture back home for a bit, to help disadvantaged children to gain their education back. If some 2019 matrics can offer tutoring online to this year’s matrics, can we get some of them to open informal, socially distanced, tutoring centres in townships and other disadvantaged or rural communities.

We are a country that prides itself in a mobilised youth. What if this passion and energy could save the school year and even extend schooling to those who have never been. We would secure a place in the case studies of the future. Imagine!

What if all is not lost, that it is just the beginning?

But how? Create the right narrative. We are a nation of storytellers. We can start a new story. Watch this space…

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Lauren Edmunds

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