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Education by Design, Not Default: How Brave Love Creates Fearless Learning Paperback – February 3, 2019
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Janet Newberry offers a solution. She suggests that we need education by design, not by default. In other words, we can’t keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result. If we want our children to mature well and learn well, we need to be deliberate in doing education differently.
This book is rich in ideas. Too many to mention here. But here are some of my favorites.
She stresses transformational rather than transactional relationships. Transactional interactions are business as usual today. If you do well, you will get… a good grade, a reward, a privilege. If you do poorly you will be shamed. And by the way, you need to do this on your own. Don’t look at another child’s paper. Don’t ask for help. Don’t help someone else. The result is competition, shame, and fear. Transformational relationships see the individual value of the child, liberally applying love. Learning is more important than test scores. Developing confidence is more important than what we call achievement. Working cooperatively with adults or other students is more important than test scores. Newberry says, “Children don’t have an inherent need to perform. We teach them that.”
She identifies cortisol as a hormone. Living in toxic stress, children experience learning problems and anxiety disorders, addictions and depression—and eventually physical illnesses. And when fear is the key ingredient in our daily fuel, maturity stalls—by design. Cortisol hijacks maturity.
She encourages allowing children to struggle well. At school, we behave as if struggle is unexpected, a cause for alarm, and a sign of a disorder instead of a sign of growth. We label children as being “ahead” or “behind” when the reality is they are where they are. They mature as they experience struggle, protected from fear and shame. This is the design for childhood.
Struggle has become synonymous as offensive, torturous, to-be-avoided-at-all-costs. If struggle is viewed as an enemy of learning, we have missed the point entirely. If we see struggle as one of life’s great negatives, we’ll call off marriages, pacify ourselves with activities, and self-medicate our pain. We’ll let the fear of struggle push us to distractions that neither solve the struggle or equip us to face it. We’ll let toxic relationships fester and hamstring our efforts to grow. Perhaps that’s why we believe “adulting” is bad. We believe growing up is something to be avoided, if at all possible.
Thus we have adolescence, which is characterized by immaturity. It’s the fruit of a childhood lived in the lies of default. “Prior to the 20th century, there is no record of the word ‘adolescence.’ Puberty and adolescence are not synonyms. Puberty is a physical stage of development—designed to be experienced with the maturity of a young adult, not an adolescent. Adolescence is a delay in natural development. Stagnation attracts lies. Historically, we began to believe the lies—about ourselves, about our children, about childhood, and about struggle. We forgot that childhood is a season of natural struggle—because it is a season of learning and growing.”
These is so much more in this book. For parents, teachers, grandparents. If each of us were to apply the principles in this book to the children in our lives, what would our nation look like? Could we have a nation of well-educated adults, secure in their identity? Let’s try.
We will be studying Janet's book this summer with our homeschool group - as we seek to incorporate more LOVE - more truth, beauty, and goodness into our children's lives.
What I most appreciate about this book is that it is very READABLE - it can be read nearly in one sitting, or it can be read sporadically in little chunks - but the impact is still the same. I found a lot of practical encouragement and know I will be returning to the book often in the next four years.
I'm thankful a friend placed this book in my hands a month ago. It has given me a renewed perspective on our homeschool journey.
(I also highly recommend Janet's podcast, Brave Love!)
We all know that definition.. but what are the implications when it comes to education and raising children??
This book is full and overflowing with the power of GRACE , LIFE and HOPE.... for you, your children, their education and your lives...
" What if we’re created to grow up in transformational relationships instead of transactional ones—even at school? What if love is a more powerful fuel than fear? What if education as we know it is upside down because children are designed to get because they need, instead of getting because they earn? What if struggle is a gift, by design—not default?" Author Janet Newberry
Top international reviews
There was a tipping point somewhere along the timeline of academia that has caused catastrophic confusion, stress and dissallusionment. England, steeped in generations of tradition, known worldwide for its exceptional academic prowess is buckling as well under the pressure of the performance driven environment described in these pages.
The beauty clearly articulated in this page turner of a book, of learning to "grow our children up" instead of "forcing them to measure up" makes perfect sense and equips me with hope. When love is the motivation, the "fuel of maturity" will lift our children in their individuality organically to new heights; desiring to learn, stretch into their potential, reach their destiny - thank you Janet, yes!