Education's Ecology


Decade of Dependent Development

Education's Ecology is about relationships and none are more important than those at the beginning of life; a period when schools are almost completely uninvolved.

D3 -- Is a recent concept which stands for Decade of Dependent Development. D3 begins with conception and ends at age 9. D3 explicitly recognizes neoteny (retention of child-like characteristics into adulthood as well as delayed physiological and sexual maturity of an organism) as a fundamental condition of human life. Parenting is so critical and crucial for this first decade that in its absence, survival is clearly impossible. Accordingly, it is incumbent upon society to establish a network of relationships that support parenting for every child.

Every child deserves a champion.

This means, intriguingly, that education is most significant, not for children, but for adults. It is adult knowledge of child development that enables success of the child in life. Schools become involved in the education of the child much too late in the child's life. Schools have turned a powerful social need into an ignorant enterprise that is insane and upside down. The insanity follows unexamined assumptions that are repeated slavishly, generation to generation, and across every segment of society with an expectation of better results.  Society has formulated schools to serve a population age 5-25 on the assumption that adulthood represents some collective wisdom that must be passed on to children so that they will become proficient, functioning adults. And, it assumes that every child is uniformly ready to begin that passage at about age five. A five-tear-old is "ready" to "learn." These assumptions lack important definitions and do not recognize that the years pre-zero to three are the most important time of developmental change in the life of the individual. The Brain is central to all that the child will become. Brain development begins in utero and continues following birth with the most significant changes to prepare the individual for life. We know this from conditions of childhood that go wrong; Autism, Attention Deficits, Hyperactivity disorders, failure to thrive with physical activity, lack of timely language development, and many other deficits of development. What is up-side-down is that parents must be prepared to take responsibility for the first decade of life and that they cannot know everything because no one knows everything.

Society itself -- undefined at that is -- does not know everything. We are all ignorant and need to accept that condition soon and universally. When we recognize our ignorance, we are positioned through questioning and critical thinking to do something about it. Through research and dissemination of what research is uncovering, we position ourselves to test ideas, concepts, principles, and even stories that circulate. Those are hypotheses and can be tested and potentially falsified. When an idea is falsified, it is time to quit holding on to the idea and think up a better idea. That is science! The citadels of science are at our universities but they are also present with everyone of us a citizens and stakeholders in our future and the future of our children.

This means being fully engaged in the daily assessment of a child's development and seeking community support for the developmental progress of the child. Parental responsibility begins before conception and continues without interruption for at least ten years. Yet parental responsibility cannot be accomplished in the absence of support systems. These support systems are a societal responsibility. What society has in place is a system or systems of schooling. Schooling is fundamentally flawed for D3 schools do not deal with the important years -- zero to three. Schooling is long overdue for dramatic revision. A first, dramatic, step would be to remove all children from schools until age nine. Early education,, pre-school, kindergarten are not enough.

Early Childhood  -- Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are critically important and represent a societal liability that cannot any longer be ignored. However, what is recognized to date may be only the tip of the iceberg. Before birth poverty for a mother, and the inevitable stresses that accompany poverty, is now well recognized as a damaging impact on the brain of the fetus in the second trimester of pregnancy. It seems almost inconceivable that much of what are recognized as "learning disabilities" are a consequence of an environmental insults occurring in a mother's womb. Stress on the mother induces important changes in the balance of many hormones, many  of which can act through the placenta and the fetal circulation to alter normal brain development. Some of the resulting babies never have a chance at thriving in a school environment five or more years later in life. Yet, socially, we proceed with all the confidence that goes with ignorance—trusting pregnancy and neonatal development of the infant to chance. A new conception of early life is long overdue. Schools, by any contemporary conception, are not and cannot be engaged.

Society must assure itself that every prospective parent is equipped to support child development that is not ever toxic physically, emotionally or spiritually. The intellectual domain in the first decade is founded on passion, projects, peers and play that emerges from the natural human condition of prolonged immaturity, or neoteny.

D3 is our title for continuing thought about education and how society may fill an important GAP that must be filled with worthwhile thoughts to fulfill an argument that society must support an evolutionary discontinuation of schools as a paradigm for public education within society. Discontinuation, in our view, will best begin by removing all children under nine years from our current system(s) of schooling. A big challenge is to propose a realistic alternative. That is daunting. However, a place to begin is with those parents who already disavow school for their children and the concept of the "un-school." Home School is also a potential foundation. Yet, it remains incumbent upon society to extend support services to parents, neighborhoods and communities to assure that the Decade of Dependent Development is as robust as we can make it. Everything that a child loses during D3 may never be recovered.


Substantial content for this page was previously published on the Web at

RETURN to Main Page