This is King. King is my brother’s horse. My brother loves horses, the mountains, a good single malt scotch, most people…..and kids.
There are a few groundbreaking schools that put horses together with people to build inter-species relationships and to nurture a multifaceted sense of place, (where is my body in space, where can I go for comfort and consistency,what and who can I depend on no matter what).
For a while, my brother was working with an organization that saw the benefit of relationship building between multi spectrum autistic or socially/emotionally troubled youth and horses. They also worked with PTSD suffering Military Veterans. He has not continued his work there, but he often dreams of opening a new school of his own. I love his dream. I think we need groundbreaking little schools like that.
People continue to ask me what the best school I have found so far is. Heck..Horse School can change the world for people who have not been able to integrate into the society or culture in ways we are used to or that are considered usual. Some people are not emotionally able to meet the world with automatic grace. Some people are incredibly traumatized and need time to heal. Horse School may be the best school for them for a while.
Some people need a different kind of school. They need a school to be a place where they can find shelter from the elements and protection from human predators because they have no adults to care for them or show them how to be a productive adult. They need a place that protects, encourages and lays out expectations. There’s a school like that in Missoula, Montana.
Others may thrive in enriched classrooms where many gather and go about posing and finding answers to big questions together. And then there are some who would thrive with less social interaction than that, yet could be part of the community for shorter periods of the day.
One thing I know for sure about great schools is that they are places where people are encouraged to be brave learners. Brave learners try out new ideas and do not lose heart when mistakes are made. Confronting failure is part of a vibrant questioning and problem solving process. Failure is an integral aspect of creativity and an ultimate aspect of the success of invention.
Great schools also embrace and do not punish conflict. Great schools are places where all manner of intellectual or socio-cognitive issues get examined, analyzed and understanding is built around cause and effect. Alternative perspectives are honored, and disagreements can become the building blocks that new knowledge is built upon.
Great schools are places where resilience and “grit” are born and honed.
And…great schools can be in a myriad of places. They can be in the city, in the forest, by the sea or alongside a river. They can be in a horse barn. They can be technologically assisted in receptive and expressive communication. They can be a computer located in a hole in the wall in one of the world’s largest slums. Good schools foster a sense of place..a sense of agency…no matter their physical location.