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On September 20, 2019 four million people around the world marched for action on the climate crisis. 

Greta Thunberg was in the US for this Global Climate March and told Trevor Noah on the Stephen Colbert Show that the most important thing people can do to bring about change on the climate crisis is to educate themselves. Today’s youth deserve the chance to gain a basic understanding of our environmental crisis. 

The president of the student union of one of our local Eugene, Oregon high schools spoke at our local protest that day about the need for high school students to be educated about climate justice and other environmental issues. 

We are at a critical moment regarding the climate crisis; one we may look back upon and see as the turning point in moving toward real solutions, rather than merely business as usual. 

At this critical juncture, we all need to be educated about the environmental issues we face. Animari Education’s courses offer a stepping stone for this crucial education.

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Updated: Jun 4

Several years back, I read Tara Westover’s highly acclaimed memoir, Educated, about growing up in a survivalist family in rural Idaho with no connection to modern education, modern medicine, or any part of the modern world. Neither she nor any of her siblings had any formal education, yet Westover made her own way to Brigham Young University and eventually to Cambridge where she earned a PhD in history. Educated explores questions related to memory, family, medicine, culture, and education. If you haven’t read this remarkable book, I highly suggest it. She tells a compelling story that reads like fiction.

I heard Westover in conversation with Dave MIller of Oregon Public Radio’s, Think Out Loud, speaking at Oregon’s Literary Arts. []. Their conversation is rich and wide ranging. Miller asks Westover for her views on contemporary public education and homeschooling, as her brother Tyler, with whom she is very close, homeschools his kids. I was interested in Westover’s comments about public education and homeschooling and found that her opinions overlap with mine. She said she cares very much about education and would certainly offer her own children something different from her own lack of formal education growing up. But she also commented that she has many criticisms of contemporary public education, including that it is institutionalized, passive, and sclerotic with its main objective being to create good workers. She wants something more expansive for her own children if she chooses to have any. She wants them to learn to think, to love reading and to be lifelong learners.

Westover’s ideas about education resonate with my own. Courses at Animari Education are designed to cultivate critical thinking, develop solid writing skills and investigate our environmental problems. If you or your children are looking for an educational option in alternative education–one that values structure and learning but without the restrictions, limitations, or regimentation of public education, I hope you’ll explore Animari’s offerings. There may be something for you!

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I recently read Richard Power’s Pultizer Prize winning novel, The Overstory. I was captivated by the story’s majestic sweep and impressed by Power’s ability to paint a picture of our environmental crises through story instead of a cerebral delineation of facts. The various subplots illuminate our contemporary estrangement from the natural world and yet our underlying need and even longing for connection with it. Overstory gives the reader a sense of the grandeur of North America before the colonizers and settlers carved it up and felled the trees. Through Powers’s story, the reader gets glimmers of the vast transformation of North America in the last 300 years as well as the scale of difference between humans and trees—how small we are in relation to the forests. Overstory shows how forests are interconnected units that move, migrate, and respond together to pressures and crises. This novel puts the scope of human life in earth’s terms, rather than the other way around as we’re more used to framing this relationship. It calls our attention to the other voices and beings beyond the human ones we’re so centered on in our anthropocentric world.  

Overstory changed me and deepened my understanding of the history of this continent. It’s a book that I’ve added to my lifetime list of most important books. After reading Overstory, I concluded that everyone on earth should read it. Let’s start with all high school and college students.  

This is a story to change the world. It’s a story to change hearts, minds and our collective consciousness. Cerebral facts, lists, charts, and scientific findings may not be enough to inspire the necessary changes for us to derail ourselves from our collision course with the natural world. In the end, it might just be story that leads the way.

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