A child is born. Immediately, the child begins to learn as is natural to human beings. The child begins by observing, exploring, imitating what s/he sees. As the child grows, s/he asks questions, seeks answers, and if there is an environment of freedom to learn, is encouraged to do so.
That environment of freedom offers lots of time to reflect, time to tinker, time to play. Time to rest. Time to do nothing. Time to give it your all--no interruptions. Time to exercise.
If that environment is nurturing, the child gains more access to the world around him/her.
The free learning environment has individuals that support the child wholeheartedly. People (or more even one person) who believe in the child unconditionally.
Can such a situation as described above be improved upon by features of the schooling world?
Let's see--school offers:
1. More adults (teachers) who care about the child's passion.
Not really. Teachers are themselves overworked and have to manage many other young people.
2.More time to develop your interests.
No. Everything is superficial as through the day you move from subject to subject in blocks of time.
3. Opportunities to think and reflect on the big questions of our era?
No. There is constant interruption and pressure to come up with quick answers.
4. Problem solving skills? Independent thinking?
Rather, a perfect set up for plagirism, lazy thinking, dependency on others cheating and so on because really, why bother? It's your interest, not mine.
5. Kids who are kindered spirits.
Yes. You can find friend but be warned, kids who follow their interests too passionately and vocally at school are often considered 'nerds' at school.
Humm. I am having a hard time coming up with anything that is worth borrowing from school except that (and this is not a merit of schooling, rather what happens as a result of institutionalizing learning) school is where the people, actual bodies are congregated. It is where human resources are locked up; where dollars are spent; where time is stolen; when dreams are made mockery of, where you learn to accept the status quo.
It seems to me the only redeeming element of school is people and many of them do not wish to me there at all.