"The lost innocence of childhood most distinctively occurs when fantasy is replaced with “reality...”
Oh, those fuzzy memories of childhood, moments of laughter, heartache and the countless contrasts that helped form our beliefs, self pictures and impressions of the world. There are those faint glimpses of early times when our innocent fascination with nature was eclipsed only by the pure exuberance felt when, somehow, we knew we were great.
We were a vital part of a grander scheme, interconnected with the birds and the bugs and the stars that shone so brightly then. Somehow we knew who we were, though it began to fade quickly as the years flowed by, soon replaced with the competitive demands of modern times, countless churnings of the mass consciousness and the compounded impressions of life’s accumulated journey.
So, at what point does the memorization of facts replace a sense of inner knowing? It varies for each, but the basic timeframe is universal. The lost innocence of childhood most distinctively occurs when fantasy is replaced with “reality”, when creative, spontaneous thought is repressed by a critical mind that strives for dominance and control. But, truly, that righteous authority figure is lurking outside ourselves, though we eventually begin to mimic its commands. It is the voice of authority, the parent, the teacher, the government, the police, the corporations, the bill collector, the dog catcher. As children, this titanic archetype, through the guise of formal education, usurps the function of the right brain, rendering us less and less creative in how we view the world, solve problems, and interact in relationship.
Youthful frolic be damed, it’s time to buckle down, toe the line, sit still, stop talking and pay attention! Remember to stay seated at your desk while obeying each declaration, as if it were the last. And, for goddsakes, NO DAYDREAMING!
As a result of this mind altering control, it is reported that 98% of students graduating high school in our culture say they are not creative or artistic. Five year olds score very high in divergent thinking and then it’s downhill from there. Those high schoolers had long ago abandoned any sense of independent thought, replaced with a desire for praise based on performance.
To this end, the system has accomplished its mission of extracting conformity, perpetuating analytical thought while moving the populace away from a sense of unity consciousness and into a poised and defensive state of separation, competition and an ego orientation that prepares our children for real “life.” As a result, life becomes compartmentalized while that early sense of oneness is left behind like any worthwhile childhood fantasy.
Fortunately, there are some progressive, alternative educators hovering on the fringes of our system, offering a glimmer of heartfelt perspective and some tools for children to recapture some of their lost awareness. “Global Youth Service Days”, as organized by Earthcare, engages the children in preparing the soil, planting, growing and preparing food. The children are encouraged to think for themselves, become proactive in protecting the environment and to bring home knowledge and information that help the older generations understand sustainability, beginning in their own home environment. That youthful passion for making a difference, a sense of wanting and needing to change the world for the better, are idealistic aspects of young minds that are engaged. So, our children are not merely about inheriting the future, but can be encouraged to be spokespersons for change, with the passion and energy to rally a lethargic populace.
Dana Richards, with Earthworks Institute, provides young people with a hands on mentorship program that reconnects their minds and bodies with the Earth. He teaches his apprentices real world skills, how to work with their hands, sustainable building practices, renewable energy systems, land restoration and, most importantly, how to think for themselves.
When the mental grind of academia begins to extract all the fun out of growing up, there’s a technique for reconnecting to the Earth and our source of real sustenance. Engaging the senses and emotions through song and dance is the technique evolved by Paul and Melanie Zeir. Their in-school program, “Talking Hands, Talking Feet,” is designed to engage more of the faculties, the body and the emotions in the learning process. It provides a great way to get out of one’s head. Their philosophy is based on the premise that the more we can engage all of our faculties, bodies and feelings in the educational process, the more we get out of it. Then the left and right hemispheres of the brain can interact and allow an appropriate flow, and balance, of energy. With traditional learning, the information comes in, it’s a one way street. With this interactive, feeling approach the information actually comes from them, and stays with them far longer than merely relying on the traditional left brain, mental approach. Rather than just an idea, that piece of learning becomes a knowing through the experience of emotional connection. Music and lyrics are rich in information and content. The lyric, “Hear oh humanity, hear now our call, care for our Mother Earth, as our Mother cares for all,” when combined with their own handmade mask in an animal pow wow, provides the creative excitement and connection with the natural world.
We can reconnect with those innate, natural principals that resonate throughout nature. This inherent respect for all living things can drive a consensus for true peace and harmony, helping to bring about the awareness and evolving consciousness needed in this time of rapid decline and ultimate renewal.