Our design for a brand new system of learning depends rather heavily upon retired men (and women) stepping up to the plate to share their talents, experience and expertise with those who wish to truly acquire real knowledge.  They will be “masters” who demonstrate actual work in a glass laboratory setting and take on young apprentices.

Sometimes people say  “But wherever are you going to find enough such people to do this?”

I say they are everywhere, nearly bored to tears, feeling under-valued and put out to pasture, but brimming with creative genius and amazing skills. Have a look at this:





Here are some shocking statistics:

*Total percentage of U. S. adults who are unable to read an 8th grade level book:  50%

*Total percentage of U. S. high school graduates who will never read a book after high school:  33%

*Total percentage of college students who will never read another book after they graduate:  42%

*Total percentage of adults that have not been in a bookstore in the past 5 years: 70%

*Total number of U. S. inmates that are literate:  15% *

What is going on here?  What is the root cause?  Are there dots to be connected?

Schools are trying to help children LEARN to read.

What if instead, schools were helping children LOVE to read.

It is great fun to see the light in a child’s eyes, to laugh together and share the joy of discovery, surprise, cleverness, imagination, drama and humor to be found between the covers of a good children’s book.

The love of reading is caught, not taught.

These statistics lead me to think that a tragic number of kids learn to detest reading, or at any rate come to believe it is something to be avoided.

Most tragic of all is the statistic about prison inmates.  Connect these dots:  Lovers of books are never bored or lonely.  Non-readers are often terribly bored and painfully lonely.   They take to the streets for a little action and comradeship.  We all know what happens next.

Hamilton Learning Foundation has plans to simply and delightfully help all children, every single one of them, LOVE to read.

“Statistically, more American children suffer long-term life-harm from the process of learning to read than from parental abuse, accidents and all other childhood disorders combined.  In purely economic terms, reading related difficulties cost our nation more than the war on terrorism, crime and drugs combined.” – – Susan O’hanian

“If you want your children to be bright, read them fairy tales.  If you want them to be brilliant read them even more fairy tales.”  – – Albert Einstein








If Your Soul Needs Healing

His name is “Cape.”  He comes on Tuesday afternoons to be tutored in reading and writing.  Spending quality one-on-one time with this precious seven-year-old child has become my most happily anticipated and delightful time of the entire week.

In he walks, with his enthusiasm, curiosity, optimism, eagerness, exuberance, creativity, imagination and innocence.  For me it is like seeing the healthiest and most sacred aspect of mankind – – the way we are all supposed to be.

His fresh, excited and still joyful love of learning gives me hope and eager expectation for humanity’s forward evolution.  And after our hour together,  I always feel simply and completely happy.

“The soul is healed by being with children.”  said Fyodor Dostoevsky  (And it’s really true!)


Perhaps Anne Sullivan could be considered to be the finest teacher in the history of the world.  Without her, Helen Keller might have lived out her days as a grownup version of the wild, raging, stubborn six-year-old, existing in the equivalent of a dark, silent cave – – legally an “idiot.”  But aside from all Anne did to bring Helen’s brilliance to the world through love and intentionality, more importantly, she discovered and demonstrated great truths about children and learning.

It is affirming to me to see that her philosophy of “education” so perfectly matches my own insights.  Clear and simple, her words ring like a crystal bell in clean, fresh air:

“I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education.  They seem to me to be built up on the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think. Children require guidance and sympathy far more than instruction…they will educate themselves under right conditions.”

She believed that children should have freedom of movement, while touching real objects to add to their understandings for themselves instead of following instructions  by teachers.

Maria Montessori, speaking on a stage in San Francisco with Helen and Anne Sullivan, said, as she pointed to Anne, “I have been called a pioneer, but there is your pioneer.”

Someday, and hopefully someday soon, we will totally transform the landscape of “education,” as children and adults alike go about educating themselves in a rich environment of carefully selected objects and activities in the presence of sympathetic and respectful guides.  And oh, how the world will begin to change for the better!


A new calendar lies on my desk, offering within its 365 blocks, approximately 5800 hours of “awake time” for 2014.  In this world of solid matter, time is the invisible and abstract commodity we are all given in equal portions each day, to spend as we wish in our interactions on this material plane.

After the hectic holiday season, I am always grateful for cold, quiet January so I can hibernate, dream, rest, restore, repair, reorient, reboot and then crystallize plans before the seasons of blooming (IF I am wise enough to use it for these things). Once I am able to be still, the turbid waters of my mind turn clear again.

Clarity of mind in January has much to do with the achievements, disappointments,  joys or regrets of the rest of the year, still shrouded by that mysterious veil of time.

“Time is the coin of your life,” said Carl Sandburg. “It is the only coin you have and only you can determine how it will be spent.  Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”

I needed this reminder.  Thank you, Mr. Sandburg.