Natural Learning - Rosemont American International School
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Natural Learning

Peter Miller in his book, The Smart Swarm, describes the awesome power that ants demonstrate through coordination and a combination of the individual ants’ efforts.  He continues to describe, … “such abilities, managed though a sophisticated communication system based on chemicals, has enabled ant colonies to raise their behaviors as a group to a level far above that of individual ants.” Miller stresses that this behavior is not unique to ants.  Many groups of animals engage in activities including communication and problem solving without taking directions from leaders.  Scientists name this phenomenon, self-organization-the first principle of the smart swarm.

This article challenges society including teachers, parents and students to connect the wealth of lessons we can learn from nature to the understanding and practices of shared responsibility, interdependence, creativity and empowerment.  R.I.C.E.©

Peter Miller in his book, The Smart Swarm, describes the awesome power that ants demonstrate through coordination and a combination of the individual ants’ efforts.  He continues to describe, … “such abilities, managed though a sophisticated communication system based on chemicals, has enabled ant colonies to raise their behaviors as a group to a level far above that of individual ants.” Miller stresses that this behavior is not unique to ants.  Many groups of animals engage in activities including communication and problem solving without taking directions from leaders.  Scientists name this phenomenon, self-organization-the first principle of the smart swarm.

Self-organization principles explain various natural systems such as formation of sand dunes to understanding the intricate structure of wasp nests, and the way swarms of bees, flocks of birds, and schools of fish coordinate their actions.

What these phenomena have in common is that the behaviors and systems emerge on their own without a “top down” master plan.  In regard to the ant colony, when an ant does something, it affects other ants, and what they do still affects others, and that impacts the colony.  In other words, the interactions of many parts result in a system change.  Researchers have identified three basic mechanisms by which self-organization works: Decentralized control, distributed problem solving, and multiple actions.

Let us apply this information to the classroom. The typical learning environment is organized for the natural learnings to occur.  Borrowing from the world of nature, consider how children can learn to be responsible by “doing their part”; learn to be interdependent by “being a team player,”; learn to be creative “by solving problems”; and learn to be empowered “by gaining new skills”.  Children have the capacity and the imagination to learn through doing, learn through being, and learn through modeling these critical values identified in the natural world.

The values of the R.I.C.E. Process © are inherent in the world of nature.  It is an authentic process, aligned with the natural processes of sharing responsibility, working as a team, solving problems and learning to adapt, becoming empowered.  These values are pronounced in every learning environment at Rosemont American International School where are teachers embrace these values, encouraging our young children to be responsible, interdependent, creative and empowered learners for life.

 

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