A New Earth Learning Community
"SCHOOL VISION .... We are looking for cohorts to unfold a new endeavor in the San Francisco Bay Area"
New Earth Learning Community holds a unique philosophy based on oneness. It offers an alternative education which includes the social-emotional and inner-spiritual development of children with a strong emphasis on environmental and global community awareness in addition to academics. It invites all children seeking an alternative education and in particular, children identified as Indigo or Crystal, as well as children who have not succeeded within the mainstream educational systems, including GLBT youth.
We will offer a dynamic and constantly-evolving program which provides diverse offerings where children aged 7-22 can be enrolled as:
- Full time K-12 students
- Independent study program students for academics only K-12
- Home-School support students partaking as little or as much as they want in the curricular offerings
- After School enrichment class participants in art, music, drama, environment, social-emotional, or spiritual/inner development areas (i.e.: they attend another school and take one or more classes/ workshops as desired with New Earth Learning Community)
New Earth Learning Community has been founded to provide a unique learning opportunity that goes beyond academic education to focus on the social-emotional and the spiritual or inner development of our young people. Schools have typically steered clear of the emotional and spiritual development areas and left these to parents, church, and psychologists or therapists. We want to clarify that spirituality is not to be confused with religion; we are not espousing any particular religious path. We respect all religions and support the individual’s choice to follow their own path. We view spirituality as the inter-relatedness of all things and seek to develop a respect for that oneness by supporting a deep inner relationship with one’s self and all creation. We feel that the social-emotional arena is also something that needs to be in the “classroom”, day to day, rather than only being addressed by a specialist when a problem situation arises.
The studies on emotional intelligence have confirmed the need for developing our emotional skills and finding tools and supports to increase our awareness of and ability to navigate this territory as individuals. This must start at an early age. If we are educating for wholeness, citizenship, and leadership, then spiritual and emotional development must be part of the curriculum. New Earth Learning Community will address these aspects of individual development.
In addition to the social-emotional and spiritual or inner development of children, New Earth Learning Community prepares children to be stewards of the earth and future leaders of a peaceful world by offering a strong focus on environmental and global community awareness and skills. It provides an opportunity to experience a learning community that offers a deep connection between participants of all ages. In this way the school itself becomes a real life lesson in communicating and relating to peers, adults and diverse others while teaching the skills to support this interaction.
New Earth Learning Community was created because the founder experienced a huge gap between what she saw children needing and what they were getting regardless of the diversity of educational environments she worked in, be it public, private, charter, independent study, on-line or the new “small” schools. The current educational system and even alternative schools do not seem to address the emotional and spiritual aspects of children with real focus and intent. It is quite common in most school settings for children’s inner and psychic gifts to go unrecognized, be misunderstood and become negatively impacted along with their self esteem. They also do not receive the support needed to develop relationship skills, emotional skills or to experience deep connection to themselves and others. A large percentage of children feel that the academic curriculum is boring, unrelated to skills they will need in real life and disconnected from their hearts and passion. It is the founder’s belief that these things are key to creating a compassionate and peaceful future world and New Earth Learning Community's intention is to address these gaps and issues.
New Earth Learning Community (NELC) is an independent school created to support the new children so that a world that is spiritually evolved, peaceful, loving and in harmony with Mother Earth can be birthed. It offers an alternative education which focuses primarily on the inner development of children with equal emphasis on personal, social, environmental, spiritual and academic development.
Through the school curriculum, Students will come to understand and respect their own inner being, the lives of others, the earth and their ability to positively impact the world. They will develop respect for all, regardless of culture, religion, race, nationality, or gender. They will be given the opportunity to do meaningful and transformative community service and will engage in environmental learning that connects them to mother earth and the knowledge of permaculture. Each student will be empowered to find their own gifts, inner resources and to confidently express these to effect positive change in the world.
Guiding Principles of New Earth Learning Community (NELC)
- ONENESS – NELC teaches and supports the fundamental belief in the Oneness and interconnectedness of all living things. It develops respect, love and caring for the earth, all people, all creatures, the environment. It is non-sectarian and respects the truth at the heart of all spiritual paths.
- All individuals are connected to a higher source and can gain access to this inside themselves. This source provides guidance, wisdom, peace and love which can assist the individual in all ways. Establishing and nurturing this inner relationship is an essential element of this school.
- The Earth is a living being and we are only one of her many inhabitants. We must respect and re-connect with her in order to regain balance of the earth’s ecosystems. Reclaiming and nurturing this connection and gaining knowledge and skills in permaculture, the environment and indigenous wisdom holds a significant focus in our curriculum.
- Each child has innate wisdom and gifts that are to be nurtured and expressed. To allow these to unfold and be embraced it is essential that the child be respected as creative, resourceful, capable and wise.
- Teachers, Trustees and Staff will all share a personal belief in the mission and guiding principles and will be actively engaged in a spiritual path with practices that support their higher unfoldment.
- Passion – Doing what you love. Teachers will teach in areas they are truly interested in – their area of passion and expertise.
- Children’s learning will be primarily inquiry based, self-directed, hands-on, and will take place in small ungraded groups and will include cross-age and peer teaching. Learning will be documented by student portfolios.
- Non-Judgment - New Earth Learning Community exists for children of all cultural, religious and social backgrounds and specializes in Indigo and Crystal Children, as well as those who are not thriving in the normal educational environment. We also welcome GLBT teens.
- Sustainable Living
- Organic Community Gardening
- Environmental Activism
- Service Learning in conjunction with local initiatives
World Cultures, Values, Communication and Global Awareness
- Cross-Cultural Values and Ethics
- Non-Violent Communication
- Mediation and Conflict Resolution
- Unlearning Prejudice
- Mystical and Indigenous Traditions
- History of Non-Violent Movements
- Cross-Cultural Service Learning
Inner development - Self-Exploration - Personal Growth - Spirituality
- Contemplative Practices: Meditation, Yoga,
- Emotional Growth Curriculum
- Introduction to the Healing Arts
- Virtues Program
- Sitting in Council/Speaking Circle
- Vision Quests
- Leadership Exploration
- Passage to Adulthood
- Painting, drawing, sculpting
- Creative Writing – Poetry, Stories, Essays
Academics Reading, Writing, Math, Science, Social Studies
Students will be supported in completing an academic curriculum of their choice via independent study with daily tutoring, one-on-one meetings with their assigned teacher, specific academic support classes, as required and weekly coaching sessions.
Classes will be taught with an experiential and interdisciplinary approach to learning. Students will be empowered to explore their passions and interests, sustained by the guidance of their teachers, peers, and the New Earth Learning Community.
SPIRITUAL/ INNER DEVELOPMENT
Students will develop a connection and relationship with their inner being, understanding it is a resource of strength, wisdom, guidance, calming center, and an inner compass.
- Develop an understanding of oneself, one’s gifts and one’s opportunities for growth.
- Create a personal meditation practice and write, tell about its benefits in daily life.
- Learn and demonstrate centering techniques for multiple situations – teach them to peers – write/tell/teach how they aid in various scenarios.
- Learn several inner question/answer and journaling processes to gain their own wisdom, insight and guidance. Write/tell/teach their own variations of this.
- Develop their intuition, empathy and inner voice by practicing and noting outcomes (what does it mean to be true to yourself, your voice, your own heart… what happens when you ignore it.. how does it speak to you? ) Write/tell/teach their own variations of this.
- Develop an inner trust and strength which shows in their self esteem, character, actions, confidence, and thinking. (noted in posture, self-talk, response to situations and people.) They will write/tell about how it has changed, developed, benefited them.
- Students will learn about vision, intention, and the power of thought and speech to effect their life. (self-talk, positive and negative speech, taking responsibility for their experience and reactions by gaining the power of choice in any given moment to create happiness and positive life experience.
Students will become aware of their learning styles, strengths, weaknesses and know how they learn best. They will develop skill in all the basics of reading, writing, and math so they are free to pursue their own learning through self direction, passion, and interest. They will know what suggested age/grade curriculum guidelines are as well as how to seek their own learning material, information, and curriculum via a multitude of learning portals which they can access as they desire. They will also know how to gain additional support, guidance, teaching as needed as well as become peer teachers in areas they have gained mastery in.
ENVIRONMENT/ MOTHER EARTH
Students will become aware of Mother Earth as a living being; gaining a respect and honoring of all her parts and all her inhabitants. They will learn indigenous wisdom and practices that support this awareness. They will also learn about permaculture, recycling, planting and growing their own food, and all aspects of environmental awareness.
- Students will participate in creating a food garden utilizing spiritual permaculture.
- Students will learn about Community Gardens and at a future date, will assist in the development of a community garden in Ojai, CA.
- Students will learn about carbon footprints, permaculture, ecology, recycling, and will participate in hands on projects in conjunction with local initiatives in these areas.
- Students will choose passion projects in an area of environmental interest and will teach peers about this area using various reporting and media techniques.
- Students will explore their relationship with nature and develop a personal relationship to Mother earth.
- Students will investigate what it means to be a caretaker of the earth.
- Students will learn the principles of permaculture and what it means to live green.
In a supportive environment we use Art as a tool for Self exploration and creative expression. It is the process of creativity not the product that is important. We learn to listen to our authentic inner voice, our intuition, and develop our own images. We experience confidence in who we are and in our abilities, and learn to trust and respect ourselves and one another. Creativity is a process that connects us to ourselves and it’s joyous! Students will gain freedom of expression via art in a multitude of forms.
Students will gain awareness of world culture in a way that develops the perspective of oneness ~ “One world, one people, one sacred earth”. They will learn about service and will participate in service opportunities of their choice. They will communicate with peers globally to learn varied perspectives, cultural practices, daily realities, and seek to gain understanding and develop relationships which will bridge the differences and create common ground for a joint creation of a new world.
This area will also provide a venue to examine values, history (the truth - not what is contained in edited and conscripted school textbooks), spiritual beliefs, social norms, gender relations, norms for communication across generations and other beliefs and values. Findings from these meetings can be our lens for examining our own personal values and beliefs to see if they are true or something we have been told, unconsciously derived, or forced upon us. These will shape future interactions and communication to ensure any initiative is culturally sensitive and respectful.
- Students will identify and investigate leadership and personal life values.
- Students will learn valuable communication skills such as non-violent communication, mediation, designing alliances, sitting in council, consensus building etc.
- Students will pursue units in world cultural awareness, become familiar with world maps, income levels, educational differences, customs, and will choose one country to delve deeply into creating a report which will serve as a teaching unit for peers.
- Students will explore indigenous cultures (aboriginal, shaman, American Indian, etc.) to derive the wisdom, practices and beliefs that can support a positive future earth.
- Students will learn about alternative communities (spiritual, ecological, etc.) and will define their own ideal community elements including vision, governing principles, ideology, goals, etc.
- Students will develop the ability to see things from multiple perspectives.
- Students will learn how to think critically and empathetically.
- Students will explore what it means to be a member of a community and the responsibility each individual holds in effecting that community.
- Students will identify their own gifts, talents and become aware of the life purpose they have come to fulfill.
- Students will take personal responsibility for their role in creating a new world of peace, harmony, love and light.
Each month the community will focus on a specific virtue. Topics, such as ‘Courage’, ‘Non-Judgment’ or ‘Compassion’ will be covered. Children do artwork, role-plays, journaling and participate in brainstorming and discussions to fully integrate the qualities of each virtue.
Community Speaking Circle/ Sitting In Council
Each day will begin with the community joining together in circle or council. In this circle all voices are equal and respected and a sense of belonging, trust, connection and love are nurtured to support a true sense of community. The opportunity of sitting in council is available throughout the entire curriculum, making it a rich avenue of caring interaction which becomes a lifelong tool for students and staff.
Appreciation of Indigenous Culture
New Earth Learning Community honors and respects the wisdom and knowledge of Indigenous Cultures. We have been educated to believe that indigenous cultures are archaic and obsolete however, many of the world’s Indigenous cultures hold an ancient higher wisdom that has protected our earth and enabled our survival. Our goal is to assist children in exploring these wise cultures to regain respect, knowledge and practices that will be carried forward to effect positive future change.
Relevant and Tangible Service Learning
Service Learning projects in conjunction with local social and environmental initiatives will be vehicles for instruction on many levels. Participation will encourage students to become active and responsible members of the local community and the society at large. For example, participation in (local) permaculture initiatives are used to teach fundamental science, biology, agriculture, chemistry, etc. as well as to promote an awareness of local ecology and the broader ecological realization of the interrelatedness of all things, and to encourage respect and care for all living beings.
A belief in the innate divinity within every person and the basic morals and values that derive from this understanding are taught directly and by example. Skills and practices of careful listening, understanding multiple perspectives, seeing the world beyond oneself, developing habits of justice, fairness, empathy, and respect for all people are explained and interwoven into the learning environment, school etiquette, processes and behavioral expectations. Similarly, values of compassion, teamwork, non-violence, gender equality, social action and civic responsibility, and respect for all living things are taught, modeled and practiced both specifically and whenever teachable moments arise throughout the school day.
Qualities to be developed and nurtured in Students:This is taken from the book “Positive Discipline” by Jane Nelson which is a suggested source book and guide for creating this school environment. (www.positivediscipline.com)
- Positive self-concept
- Objective thinking skills
- Respect for self and others
- Acceptance of self and others
- Interest in learning
- Honesty/ authenticity
- Sense of humor
- Concern for others
- Problem-solving skills
- Inner wisdom
- Enthusiasm for life
“The Significant Seven” - perceptions and skills necessary for developing capable individuals.
(From: Raising Self-Reliant children in a Self-Indulgent World by H. Stephen Glenn & Jane Nelsen)
- Strong perceptions of personal capabilities (“I am capable”)
- Strong perceptions of significance in primary relationships (‘I contribute in meaningful ways and I am genuinely needed.:)
- Strong perceptions of personal power or influence over life (“I can influence what happens to me.”)
- Strong intrapersonal skills – the ability to understand personal emotions and to use that understanding to develop self-discipline and self-control.
- Strong interpersonal skills – the ability to work with others and develop friendships through communication, cooperation, negotiation, sharing, empathizing, and listening.
- Strong systemic skills – the ability to respond to the limits and consequences of everyday life with responsibility, adaptability, flexibility, and integrity.
- Strong judgment skills – the ability to use wisdom and to evaluate situations according to the appropriate values.
The term “learning community” is preferred over “school” as we consider all NES program participants - teachers, students, and staff to be both learners and teachers. The inquiry process is an important part of learning.
The inquiry process begins when a person discovers something puzzling, surprising, or interesting that perhaps raises questions or challenges his or her current understanding of the world. As a result of this discovery, the learner takes action, develops investigations or hypotheses, pursues new information, and collects and records data.
Though the learner creates his or her own paths of examination, he or she will also draw on existing reference information. In the end, a period of reflection, comparison, and interpretation of data enables the learner to integrate his or her previous views and newly acquired knowledge to form a current understanding of the topic.
- The learners in the program are given the support to develop their own questions and pursue answers to them.
- The learners actively engaged in, excited by their explorations.
- Project-based learning experiences are offered.
- Teachers and students together form a community of learners.
To make sense of any inquiry process, the learner must take time to reflect on observations, compare data with the findings of others, and finally articulate the new viewpoint or understanding that has been constructed as a result of the inquiry experience. It is key to remember to ask the students themselves what they have absorbed from a lesson or experience.
Without a thoughtful plan for reflection, learning may be assumed, but not achieved. Even more important, reflection is essential not only as a means of assessing learning, but also as a tool for life.
Having teenagers teach can be effective and efficient. Young children respond well to older children as teachers, and a team of student teachers enables younger students to be divided into small work groups with low student-to-teacher ratios. Teens experience positive changes in their attitudes toward teachers and develop self-confidence, teamwork and other skills to help in multiple areas of their lives.
5-E Instructional Model
The 5-E instructional model fits well with the natural cycle of inquiry. The 5-E Instructional Model is as follows:
- Engage. The learner engages in the concept and prepares to learn something new.
- Explore. The learner explores various dimensions of the concept.
- Explain. The learner develops an explanation of the concept.
- Elaborate. The learner elaborates the concept, building on understanding and increasing
breadth and depth.
- Evaluate. The learner evaluates his or her understanding of the concept, demonstrates it to
others and continues the cycle back to Step 1 with either a challenge to his or her current
understanding of concept or a new concept related to previous study.
Student Centered Instruction
All instruction is by its nature student centered. For example, in the scientific and cultural context, learning is accomplished through hands on experiences,
individual and team projects, and field trips where children are allowed to become very familiar with what they are learning. Students create tangible evidence of learning that is kept a portfolio, or they demonstrate their new knowledge and skills through dynamic presentations for others to observe. These can take the form of dramatic plays, artistic expressions, presentations, readings of creative writing, and written reports. The freedom and courage to be fully and freely creative and to allow one’s inner and unique voice to come forward is emphasized.
New Earth Learning Community will offer classes to the wider community on Wednesday’s so that children who attend other schools can sign up for a class in a topic of interest. Experts will offer their knowledge to children on these days in a variety of topics consistent with the philosophy o f the school. In addition we will offer classes, film showings, workshops and other events for parents and community.