At that event I brought forward a sampling of some of the very remarkable contributions I feel Brent made to the body of knowledge that generally accrues to ‘education’.
Here they are:
• We are all designed elegantly as learning organisms, and from the time of our birth we enthusiastically and naturally learn; what we learn, and how, is significantly influenced through acts of volition and/or violation.
• Our natural learning is optimized when it arises out of passion and enthusiasm (etym: en theos = God within); it is constrained and constricted when it arises out of duress and coercion.
• Through our “awareness of awareness” we gain insight into “who we really are” which can greatly help us and guide us in the choices we make that influence our learning and our relationships.
• The quality and nature of our (close) relationships greatly influences our emotional states and thus our learning; supportive parenting and mentoring positively influences our emotional states leading to more expansive, “deeper” learning and enhanced wellness.
• Languaging acts to command and direct our subconscious processes; languaging thus significantly influences attitudes, actions and ultimately whether learning is optimally expansive in nature or constrained by fear and anxiety.
• “Mapping” the significant events of one’s life journey – instantiated in the SelfDesign ‘LifeSpiral’ developed by Brent – is of significant benefit in helping enhance one’s awareness of events influencing one’s life, and future directions.
• Biology and Ecology provide far more appropriate design conceptions to guide and optimize learning and human development than technocratic or mechanistic conceptions.
• Learning that is supported by freedom of will and choice – i.e. reflecting ‘authentic’ democracy – supports volitional learning; restricting freedom of choice through coercion and manipulation is violational in nature, however subtle.
Brent’s contributions are most elegantly described in the book he co-authored with River Meyer, “SelfDesign: Nurturing Genius Through Natural Learning” (available through www.selfdesign.org) and his insights continue to be confirmed by leading-edge research into neurobiology, psychology and sociology.
I am certain that one day Brent’s original ideas will be recognized for their paradigmatic contributions to progressive educational theory and practice, and stand alongside those of Lev Vygotsky, Jean Piaget, Herbert Kohl, Seymour Papert, Maria Montessori, Rudolph Steiner and other luminaries who preceded him.