“A society is playing with fire when it neglects the needs and desires of its young people; not only are natural talents wasted, but a sense of desperation grows in the shadows..Most people have heard the old African proverb that ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ Fewer know that the second part of the proverbial statement suggests that if young people are not fully invited into life they will burn the village down.”~ Michael Meade
Dear Springhouse Community,
I am feeling down these days. Last month I had a hard conversation with the parent of a teen whose child struggles with depression and substance abuse. I listened to a teen talk about the chaos in her family system and uncertainty about her future. This parent and this teen are not alone. Recent reports from the Pew Research Center (2019) confirm Meade’s quote above in many ways:
- 7 out of 10 teens report feeling depression and anxiety,
- Nearly 50% of teens report drug and alcohol abuse being a problem for their friends,
- 55% of teens report having a problem with bullying and cyberbullying,
- Nearly 20% of teens report living in poverty, with Black teens being more than twice as likely as white teens to live in households below the poverty level,
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death in young teens, and in a recent study out from Yale (2020),
- 75% of the students’ self-reported feelings related to school were negative.
Our young people are in pain, and unfortunately, many adults are too. When it comes to our educational system, the National Education Association (2022) reports that 55% of teachers are leaving the field earlier than planned. Worldwide, many adults report feeling lonely and isolated (2020). We need a new way of learning and living together; one that brings us all alive, and invites us to be the resilient, creative, compassionate people that we came here to be.
At Springhouse we know that this life is a gift, and we strive every day to live and learn in vital ways. Our teens say it best when they speak from experience about why and how redesigning education builds regenerative culture:
“Global problems come from a failure of education. If you design an education system that doesn’t address integrity, empathy, creative thinking, trust, and other lifegiving values, then young people will not reflect that.”
“When creating something new the best way to move forward is to experiment, and to be okay with mistakes and failure.”
“Technology surrounded me. My skin was pale and I looked unhealthy. I came to Springhouse and I left behind the self I have never been happy with.”
“After being at Springhouse, I realized how much learning in a public school had dulled my mind and body. Springhouse taught me to trust myself and showed me that other people are also trustworthy.”
“It is the little things that bring me alive at Springhouse: learning outdoors, playing soccer, being creative, going on trips, singing, dancing, and cultivating curiosity.”
We create culture through education where we pass down what we value to our youth. To live in a culture that brings us all alive, how we define and practice “education” must change. The world needs more love and vitality in all the infinite ways that we can share it. Springhouse is one example of what is possible and we are grateful you are a part of it.