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Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Aug 31, 2008

Originally posted on Half an Hour, August 31, 2008.

Responding to Clark Aldrich.

I have often written, the best place to learn about forestry is in a forest, the best place to learn about law is in a courtroom.

This is no doubt influenced by my own childhood, as I spent what added up to months in summer camps.

What I learned there has nothing to do with tests or academics. But I learned to sail a boat, paddle a canoe, build a fire, find food in the wilderness, sing (badly) at a campfire, and so much more.

I also learned attitudes of self-reliance and independence, camaraderie, ceremony, attentiveness, and appreciation for wild spaces. I would not be the person I am without that experience.

I wonder, why can't childhood be a series of adventures - two months at a camp, a month in a courtroom, two months traveling with police officers, three weeks at the fire station, and more?

What I want most of out an education, I think, is to spark a dream in a child's eye, a dream born out of authentic experience in a real world, and nurtured with the best care and support a society can provide.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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