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Social Alienation, School Failure: an Indigenous Solution

The way Australian indigenous people educated their children for 65,000 years could help modern education out of the doldrums. From the time toddlers can speak, a number of assigned "aunts" will be teaching them perceptual skills. One aunty will teach them how to identify different plants by their smell. One aunty will teach them how to see things. One aunty will teach them how to listen and identify birds and animals by the sounds they make.

By the time indigenous Australians become adults, they know how to listen carefully to others before stating their opinions. They will have learned a great deal from listening carefully to the wisdom of their grandparents. Decision-making always involves the whole group. The concept of majority rules is anathema to indigenous Australians.

No child can learn for more than four hours a day. No adult can, either. Primary schools should run for no more than four hours in the mornings, and then the children should go home. Of course, in our society where family life is valued less than commercial success and both parents have jobs, it wouldn't work to have kids come home at lunch time.

So we would need neighbourhood safe houses staffed mainly by grandparent volunteers and a nurse, to supervise the children's afternoon activities. Sports, crafts, cooking, sewing, gardening, men's shed teaching of manual skills, or just sitting and talking.

These neighbourhood safe houses would run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in an indigenous education system. Safe places of refuge from dysfunctional and abusive households.

This structure would not cost taxpayers very much, and it might save a lot of teenage suffering.

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