Sixteen Capabilities

On Sixteen Capabilities

If we enable communities to decide what they desire to see in their six- and seven-year-old children at the end of their playful early childhood years—and make a massive investment to build a better world for our children—we establish the next epoch in human evolution.

I invite you to imagine in your mind a six- or seven-year-old child, possibly one you have known, in the light of these Sixteen Capabilities.
Have you seen them…

  1. Participate as a member of an interdependent community
  2. Care for themselves, the others, and the community
  3. Treat others with love and compassion
  4. Cooperate with other children to accomplish group goals
  5. Celebrate group accomplishment
  6. Laugh and play with a tangible sense of joy
  7. Express human emotions in language and art
  8. Be inquisitive
  9. Initiate new ideas and invent solutions to problems
  10. Stick at difficult tasks or come back to them later in order to succeed
  11. Run, hit, catch, throw, kick and tumble
  12. Sing and dance with exuberance
  13. Paint, draw, sculpt, and construct objects of beauty
  14. Care for common spaces and materials toward cleanliness and order
  15. Greet guests with courtesy and charm
  16. Act in stewardship for the environment and one’s own health and well-being?

I invite you to imagine the experiences a child with these capabilities must have had. Imagine their moms. Imagine their communities. Imagine their experiences outside the family. Imagine how adults must have provided for them.

I invite you to imagine a world where the center of community life is the quest for creating conditions for these Sixteen Capabilities to flourish for all children in their early years.

I invite you to imagine being a member of a community where you contributed time and resources to ensure these Sixteen Capabilities were documented and celebrated for every child throughout the years from their birth to their seventh birthday.

Lastly, I invite you to imagine what changes would automatically occur in any subsequent school when all of the children who entered began with these natural, playful, expectant capabilities.

Beginning With the End in Mind

If a community shared this dream possibility and were linked to other communities with similar lists for their communities, the provisions for care and education for young children would probably be talked about in an entirely different way.

The spaces and opportunities provided for young children and their families would have

  • no reliance on method
  • no economic judgments or means testing
  • no racial, cultural, or gender bias
  • no external constraints, oversight, or fear
  • no developmental milestones
  • no disparagement of parents and families, or anyone, for that matter
  • no isolation of educators
  • no secrets
  • no exclusions

Instead of thinking about the early years in the current ways we do, we would be participating in a story of growth, nurturance, and evolutionary excellence. This new story would tell of years of common effort toward a beautiful dream, where a contribution from any person, young or old, would not be judged by status or power but by the contribution it could make toward the attainment of all sixteen capabilities by age seven.

How Can We Harmonize Our Existence?

Most children on this planet do not experience an optimal childhood, one that enables them as a trusted human being to become their best selves in life — acting with kindness and compassion, nourishing and maintaining health, and being stewards of the Earth. Children born in the decade of the 2020’s—especially those in less than adequate circumstances—must have the desire and ability to alter massive, entrenched forces, right economic wrongs, and bond with others in love and stewardship.

I suggest we commence a wide-ranging series of conversations in those communities about the capabilities they would like every child to acquire by the time they are six years old.

We Live in a Time of Transition

If we choose join forces on a challenging journey toward revised reinvestment, restitution, and revolution, we have to bond upon a foundation of our natural strengths and common aspirations. Foremost among our common strengths is a natural, altruistic desire to raise children in a way that improves their lives. Therefore, any successful step toward planetary welfare would have to include wise investments in enhancing the capabilities of young children.

This decade is the turning point. Our climate and ecology depends on enabling human beings to have the wherewithal to save the planet. Since all children, everywhere, are the center of a connected commons, a successful system transformation must include a specific plan for raising capable human beings.

Can we talk about that, put our heads together, anticipate the dire circumstances we are likely to face, and have a tested plan?

We Tell a Restorative Story

Out of the Wreckage, by George Monbiot gives us our challenge:

The old world, which once looked stable, even immutable, is collapsing. A new era has begun, loaded with hazard if we fail to respond, charged with promise if we seize the moment. Whether the systems that emerge from this rupture are better or worse than the current dispensation depends on our ability to tell a new story that learns from the past, places us in the present and guides the future.

In seeking to develop a restorative political story around which we can gather and mobilize, we should first identify the values and principles we want to champion. This is because the stories we tell propagate the beliefs around which they are built.

He names the new story The Politics of Belonging. Here it is, exactly in concert with the Sixteen Capabilities you will see below.

By coming together to revive community life, we, the heroes of this story, can break the vicious circle. Through invoking the two great healing forces — togetherness  and belonging — we can rediscover the central facts of our humanity: our altruism and mutual aid.

We Involve Young Families

Minor tweaks won’t do. We have to build something entirely new that resonates strongly with the nature of human beings, across cultures, across the world. We can begin by creating togetherness and belonging by changing the ways we have been thinking about young children and young families. The story begins with our babies and moms in our neighborhoods. To make provable change, visible within a short period of time, by investing in young children and families and trusting them to raise their children in ways they discover and share, can be guided by a new story of liberation using belonging to maximize creative, altruistic human potential.

We Make Young Children our Community Center

Since we are interconnected as never before in human history, we see evidence everyday of current failures and distorted systems entrenching themselves and suppressing possible alternatives. Soon the day will come when the demand will force us to build anew. To build what?

Will we hear the wealthy and privileged call for minor fixes or tweaks or will we hear all of humanity call for starting anew based in what we know in our hearts and in our care?

Will a new way forward significantly alter the traditional structures of oppression and coercion?

Will the new way pursue moral and ethical choices?

Will we defer to authorities or will we listen to and learn from the children?

We know how to design systems that release the best of human aspirations and values, can we organize a way to do it around the world? Yes, if we start from what we know and agree to do.

A new approach, towards a restart of our thinking, begins by envisioning what we want the outcome to be: healthy, capable, confident children, not what they know but who they are as people.

We Define the Possibility

Sixteen Capabilities start from what we want to see young children do by age seven:

When children leave early childhood to enter common school they can:

  1. Participate as a member of an interdependent community
  2. Care for themselves, the others, and the community
  3. Treat others with love and compassion
  4. Cooperate with other children to accomplish group goals
  5. Celebrate group accomplishment
  6. Laugh and play with a tangible sense of joy
  7. Express human emotions in language and art
  8. Be inquisitive
  9. Initiate new ideas and invent solutions to problems
  10. Stick at difficult tasks or come back to them later in order to succeed
  11. Run, hit, catch, throw, kick and tumble
  12. Sing and dance with exuberance
  13. Paint, draw, sculpt, and construct objects of beauty
  14. Care for common spaces and materials toward cleanliness and order
  15. Greet guests with courtesy and charm
  16. Act in stewardship for the environment and one’s own health and well-being.

A list like Sixteen Capabilities offers the possibility of creating the conditions to step toward these capabilities for every child across the planet. PDF document: 16capabilities

We Listen and Hear

The Sixteen Capabilities begin with listening and learning. The challenge of constructing agreement about what each community desires for their children when phrased as categories of daily life actions gives our connection a new visibility. Since we can see capabilities occur naturally without the need for testing, we can regard today’s day, with our babies or toddlers or four-year-olds, and discuss what is improving and what needs a tweak for this child we know and love.

No theory or method has to guide us. Generalizations made elsewhere may not apply to this child or this community. No academy defines wisdom; no tradition is imposed. The only “right” is what a community can see in each child, through eyes of its own compassionate care, guided by obvious joy.

We can see it work

Over years of sharing with other communities on the same path, a list like Sixteen Capabilities challenges the continuous evolution of opportunities guided by what a community values. Humans make mistakes and fix mistakes as communities learn what seems successful for the children they know and love. Instances of the Sixteen Capabilities are visible and collectable in folders and files from birth to age seven. These folders provide an engaging opportunity for formal and informal discussion. Resources ensure participants are paid for having those discussions in regular, regional, cross-community sharing, which naturally lead towards more ideal opportunities to grow children to be the best they can be.

Imagine a six year extension of the nurturing womb.

We Can Begin Immediately

Could we gather a group of us to explore examining the capabilities we want for our young children—what any community anywhere regardless of their history or economic circumstance would desire?

The pandemic of COVID-19 has exposed systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, and systems of violence and militarism which has sustained this historical stratification. We are better able to see how capitalistic systems across the world have built coercive systems to maintain continuity of power. We can see how resources have been misspent to make the wealthy more wealthy and the exploited more exploited. Structures are failing, yet remain staunchly supported by media, by economic laws and policies, by a massive prison complex, by unchecked police, by border patrols and war, and, of course, by having a centrally-controlled public school system that regiments children as it hides the truth of the past.

We can see the interlocking web that keeps people divided, impoverished, and ignorant. The key to it all has always been restricting the opportunities of women and children. It is time to make a major investment in children and young families.

We Acknowledge our Strengths

People around the world are demonstrating to demand change, which is most assuredly coming, yet it is difficult to imagine what replacement systems would create a just and equal world. Although the way forward remains unclear, we have these certainties:

we have to revise existing economic power based in fossil fuels and environmental destruction in order to save the planet and many millions of lives of all species;

we have our natural human strengths of altruism and compassion;

we have a basic human wisdom that naturally enables us to tell when something is right or better;

we have our love for our children and constant desire generation after generation to make life better for our children;

we see in grandparent’s eyes an unconditional love for the unique potential of each child in the miracle of birth;

we have to invest in an ethical choice that causes no harm and brings the greatest good to the most people.

We Invite Others to Participate

I am asking us to begin today to go into communities we know have not been heard and listen to them. We can invite them to build, in concert with their community, a list, say sixteen items long, as a statement of possibility upon which they can reflect upon how to enhance the experiences for the children they know and love to fully actualize their genetic gifts.

We share these with each other and use them as a basis for a plan. As the climate heats and economies collapse major changes may happen quickly. When that time comes, it would be essential for those who care about children have a plan worked out, ready to implement, with proven effectiveness. People would have to see evidence of the benefit for an investment in revising the way we treat young children in the most important years of their lives.

…dismantle and re-imagine…

Sixteen Capabilities (listed again below) serve as a model for discussions to re-imagine investing in the lives of all children birth to six unfettered by the baggage of reform. It creates a clean break from traditional systems of power for people in less than ideal circumstances with a history of oppression to participate in a coordinated effort to re-imagine spaces and opportunities for their young children, in their own way, with their values and dreams.

With financial support for involvement and provisions for accessible spaces, all human beings could, for the first time in human history, make choices for their own children with clear, evolving values. The Values We Share page discusses the essential seven values upon which to evaluate the work: belonging, participation, well-being, joy, reciprocity, wholeness, and trust.

We Invest to Actually have a Future

This truly revolutionary possibility could attract major investment in resources for all children in order to repair the world. So many problems we have in societies across the world, poverty, mental health, aggression, exploitation, corruption, and ignorance, are addressed directly by establishing local communities of care in a liberating and honoring way with a common focus on making life better for our children.

We Can Require Local Co-construction

By looking at the cluster of performances we hope to see in children prior to common school, communities can work out the specific opportunities necessary, each in their own way. In addition to providing significant financial support for cooperatively creating their own spaces and opportunities support would continue over time, including free opportunities for regional meetings and conferences. Local creativity is enabled and through sharing documentation in order to evolve toward an aesthetic ideal.

We Know Seven-year-olds We Admire

Instead of fixing broken systems or building on past assumptions, we start the evolution by gathering communities—in a cooperative, democratic, and creative way—and enable them to start from where they are now and establish tentative agreement on the end result of an ideal early childhood experience. They create a list of sixteen capabilities, such as this one, by describing a boy and girl around the age of six whom they have known and admire. After sharing their experiences, local groups construct a list of their sixteen ideal capabilities achieved by common school age.

The lists, of course, will vary. Each cultural group or community can, from the very beginning act in concert, to select where they invest the considerable resources they are given in opportunities for all children. They begin with who they are today, trusted to make mistakes and evolve toward these visible capabilities, all of which can be documented, reflected upon, and refined over time directly from a community’s own experience.

Any revolutionary approach to early childhood, which must be world-wide,

could never exist without establishing a basis of common agreement on goals

would have guaranteed sustained financial support and trust in fixing mistakes for at least a generation of evolution

could not succeed if an approach were imposed

must be a rewarding choice for the people involved

has to naturally resonate with people wherever they live

have immediate, visible benefits for families and children

economically support participation, and

generate a sense of agency in a continuing evolution.

We Advantage Digital Interconnection

At this time of crisis and disruption, a ready, well-articulated plan for children could attract investment if it were worked through and visible. Examples and documentaries could communicate this simple, trusting, culturally honoring new pathway to address critical needs through capable children. We certainly have world-wide communication. We are gaining a better understanding of the natural altruism and compassion of human children when treated well from birth. We have seen the social benefit of cooperative, democratic potential that exists in neighborhoods. These pieces would be in place to enable every child in the world to have an early life enabling them to be the best they can be, if we start immediately.

We can create widely agreed-upon goals to unite us, in an open and honoring way, in a revolution in the way we raise and educate young children.

We Practice Sustainable “Agriculture”

I suggest Sixteen Capabilities as healthy veggies for a healthy childhood. Just as we don’t “make” carrots grow, we don’t “make” children grow. They grow as they do; we tend to the characteristics of the growing environment to become better farmers with richer soil improving year after year. We provide the sun, water and nutrients and keep the toxins away. Just as we can hold and taste carrots to determine genetic fruition, we gather performance events selected by our common aspirations for the early years of human beings.

We Deconstruct Assumptions

Contrary to common discourse, this list of outcomes is not academic: it is not built upon subject matter, such as numbers, letters and school readiness.
The list is not developmentally described: it is not age specific nor does it imply that a step in age is an improvement over what the child was before.
This list does not privilege a few white people or advocate a specific cultural approach that narrows choices for others out of fear of losing an existing privilege.
This list does not view children as individuals apart from their communities: children and young families remain included in their historical communities of care.

This list draws attention to what we DO want, revising the ways we have thought about common provisions for children we know and love; it brings our natural wisdom and compassion to the world stage.

This list trusts positive evolution will occur over time built upon a widening awareness of the common aspirations all people share for every human child. We naturally seek a rich childhood for our children and each other’s children by broadening opportunities, by altering our approaches continually, and by ensuring participation and sense of belonging for everyone. This is simply doing good work.

If we speak with one voice, offer a clear, common goal, and demand the resources we need, we can gather with bankers, politicians, and community leaders across the globe toward maximizing human potential. We can do this. We can gather with our friends to begin the discussion of a new way forward for our children, now, in this time of disruption.

We Keep it Simple

Prior to Common School Age, Children Can

  1. Participate as a member of an interdependent community
  2. Care for themselves, the others, and the community
  3. Treat others with love and compassion
  4. Cooperate with other children to accomplish group goals
  5. Celebrate group accomplishment
  6. Laugh and play with a tangible sense of joy
  7. Express human emotions in language and art
  8. Be inquisitive
  9. Initiate new ideas and invent solutions to problems
  10. Stick at difficult tasks or come back to them later in order to succeed
  11. Run, hit, catch, throw, kick and tumble
  12. Sing and dance with exuberance
  13. Paint, draw, sculpt, and construct objects of beauty
  14. Care for common spaces and materials toward cleanliness and order
  15. Greet guests with courtesy and charm
  16. Act in stewardship for the environment and one’s own health and well-being.

We Look at Daily Life

A listing this brief challenges us to fight for full funding without compromise. We know the survival of the planet depends upon the creation of spaces where a spectrum of capabilities grow in diverse places with diverse participants within diverse cultures. 

Sixteen Capabilities are more than lofty aspirations: they are observable. Each can be photographed, videotaped, or described. Each record of an event that illustrates a capability could reside in a portfolio gathered from ages 1 to 6, where everyone can see evidence of how each human uniquely becomes who they are.

We Seek Out Those Most Harmed

Any list of capabilities desired for six- or seven-year-old children has to be viewed in its cultural context. A world full of places and histories surely would generate different lists, which could challenge the perspectives of everyone.

My list of Sixteen Capabilities came from my culture—participants in my classes in early eduction at my college. In one of my courses, over many years, I asked students to think of two children they knew, one boy and one girl, age 5 or 6, who seemed to really have their act together. I called them hot kids.

Participants wrote their names down, then wrote for 5 to 10 minutes about what it was that brought these particular children to mind. What was it that they did or could do that was so memorable? They then shared what they wrote with others in a small discussion group.

After some time, I led them in compiling a list of capabilities and accomplishments on the board, which we edited and clarified together. The list here combines the work of about 300 people of many cultures and backgrounds who were able to come to my college to study. Year after year the ideas evolved with everyone’s input.

It’s a model of a community agreement on possibility evolving over time. It’s an example of what can happen when we look at the end of the early childhood years without slicing and dicing children in to ages and domains.

To pursue this further we have to ensure our biases and privileges remain behind. We have to start elsewhere. I suggest we first turn to communities we know who have been most harmed. We’d have to create the conditions for them to lead from where they are today. We could consider this an investment that is long overdue.

We Build Upon Differences and Dialogue

By starting with the end possibility we can avoid many of the structural constraints upon creativity while still providing a common focus and direct financial support. Communities generate their own lists based in their culture and history based upon the six or seven-year-old children they admire. Each community’s construction serves as a resource for other communities to review in constructing their own lists. A video documentary of discussions that happened elsewhere could validate unique approaches and see how democratic discussions can be structured to actually work.

The result is a place to start. Imagine a community, outside of the mainstream, constructed a list of sixteen items. No matter what was on the list, a change happened. Those who participated in the discussion had their experience validated and had a chance to be heard. The list is only what it is, but it has a life as a starting agreement on what they want to see their children—the ones they know and love—be able to do. When a list is stated as capabilities, it becomes possible to find and share instances of those events in children’s lives. Each example, shared with others, stimulates further discussion and refinement. With nothing set in stone, the content and validity is built from watching and listening to children—the source for a common understanding. Gradually, over a period of five or six years through discussions within and between communities, an energized intention for the early years of childhood would begin to become a clear intention.

Action research takes time to work. We would have to expect messy disagreement and begin with low turnout. Support for participation in stipends and transportation would have to continue over a number of years of semi-chaos. Like all signifiant change, it would evolve in conditions of trust.

We Trust The Audiences Who Care

The audiences who care document events in the daily life of a child, such as spontaneously providing what another child needs or arranging stones in some intentional way. If organized by categories, like the Sixteen Capabilities, a collection of photos and descriptions can create a picture of each unique child from infancy. The collection would be a treasure. As families and friends share the events, usually with enthusiasm and awe, they come to understand how children are so very different and how they benefit from certain kinds of opportunities. They might be motivated to expand and invest in the most beneficial experiences and support the professionalization of expertise in those that care for them. The audiences that care about their own children become motivated to keep evolving better ways for the next waves of children. They are not subservient; they are the source of wisdom, energy, and creativity.

In most places in the world we have the opposite. Communities are not trusted; they are prevented from managing their own resources and cooperating with other communities to share and discuss the ends and the means. Too often they find themselves coerced by the strings attached to money.

External Audiences

A perverse externally mandated assessment, imposed, not by research but by neoliberal dogma, forces educators around the world to meet imposed criteria that few read or care about. That dominant discourse distorts the aims of early education as “readiness” for common school—a short, acceptable justification for imposing constraints upon the resource poor. Strings attached to the public’s own treasury force acquiescence to centralized control, ensure educators remain poor, and “train them” so they have few choices. These policies, which seem widely accepted and are visibly anti-democratic, serve to maintain white supremacy.

If we truly value acquiring wisdom by careful assessment, we have to first answer the most essential questions: Who is the audience? In what form do we communicate the results? Who will use the information? Who are the decision makers who can tell if something needs fixing? Who then makes the changes?

Is that the legislators? Is it the parent-student-teacher association? Is it the local golf club? We can’t make decisions about forms and methods of assessment without first deciding who cares, who makes meaning, and who corrects where necessary.

Internal Audiences

We all know who cares about what is happening for young children.

The people who care—who can make meaning of the information and who can do something about it—are the child, the family, and the educators. 

The child cares about themself, obviously. The child’s family cares. The educators care, and the staff and administration care. Therefore, all assessment of provisions for children and childhood ought to be directed to these audiences in a form they understand. These are internal audiences. These audiences are the only people who can evaluate the worthiness of the information and the only people who can alter and improve those provisions.

We Change How We Talk and Think

When we describe our intentions for early education, I invite you to speak out about these Sixteen Capabilities and to ensure the evaluators are the children, the families, and the staff who know the children. A new political discourse becomes revolutionary discourse when it derives from trust and love of children and families.

We must keep the focus clearly on the child through the eyes of the audiences who care.

We must enable participation from all who care.

We must establish methods that are logical, transparent, and somewhat indefinite.

We must invest in the opportunities we decide are best right now, based on an evolving understanding of the common good.

This photograph shows an unusual sky field in the Milky Way band. It is centred on one of the classical, dark globules, known as Barnard 68 (B68) after the American astronomer, Edward E. Barnard (1857 - 1923), who included it in a list of such objects, published in 1919. It appears as a compact, opaque and rather sharply defined object against a rich, background star field. Even on this image that registers many faint stars in the area, not a single foreground star is observed. This is a clear sign that this globule must be relatively nearby. Interstellar clouds consist of gas and dust, including many molecules, some of which contain carbon atoms (i.e. organic). For a long time considered to be "holes in the sky", molecular clouds are now known to be among the coolest objects in the Universe (the temperature is approx. 10 K, or -263 °C). Moreover, and most importantly, they are nurseries of stars and planets. It still remains a mystery how a dark cloud like Barnard 68 at some moment begins to contract and subsequently transforms itself into hydrogen-burning stars. However, deep images of these clouds, such as this one obtained by FORS1 on VLT ANTU, may provide important clues. This small cloud seems to be in its very earliest phase of collapse. It has a diameter of only 7 light-months (approx. 0.2 pc) and it is located at a distance of about 500 light-years (160 pc) towards the southern constellation Ophiuchus (The Serpent-holder). This three-colour composite was reproduced from one blue (B), one green-yellow (V) and one near-infrared (I) exposure that were obtained with VLT ANTU and FORS1 in the early morning of March 27, 1999. The field measures 6.8x6.8 arcmin 2. The image consists of 2048x2048 pixels, each measuring 0.20 arcsec; the "Full Resolution" version of the photo shows all of these. North is up and East is to the left. (See also ESO Press Release eso0102.)

In trying to define and practice a more centered way of thinking about pedagogy and provisions for our littlest humans, I always feel like I am speaking into darkness. There appears to be a mysterious disconnect between the people who love and care for children and those in charge of deciding and administering public resources for early education. I understand that all public education funding is political, and surely, provisions for social justice for children and families is political, but my colleagues and students complain to me of a stone wall of a distorted discourse that hides what most people actually believe is humane, compassionate, just, and beneficial for all. It feels like a dark force is present that no one addresses; something is blocking out the stars we know are there.

Despite the overwhelming evidence of the economic, social, and happiness benefits that accrue from an investment early childhood education and despite the research describing 13-fold returns, a public investment in young children and young families happens rarely, and when it does, it has always been chained by tight controls.

In the dominant discourse of policy for young children, educators and families are not allowed to generate what they think would be best; instead they must comply.

  • The common language suggests teachers and care-givers are deficient.
  • The education offered to them is usually called “training” as if pedagogy consisted of standard procedures that need proper implementation.
  • Families are poor, broken, helpless, and ignorant.
  • Corporate foundations are beneficent in offering models and demonstrations, at best, that magically need to be “scaled up.”
  • News and special features pluck our heartstrings with stories of foundation beneficence and volunteerism, “a thousand points of light.”
  • Meanwhile, the disaster for most children living in exploited and underemployed families goes on.

We Acknowledge Our Responsibility

We must act together, this year, out of our deep moral convictions, with deep love, but also with deep truth. We must reconsider the dearth of resources and lack of attention to the young children in poor and low-wealth circumstances.

Why are educators and care-givers (who know the children and dedicate themselves to them) not given a decent return for doing what they care about, know about, and brings benefits for everyone? Most people who work in settings for young children live in poverty without a voice in making our political system invest in human beings where and when it matters the most.

We Seek Long-term Results

I can imagine we all agreed we want all children to demonstrate these Sixteen Capabilities, and we took action to evolve spaces and opportunities for each to emerge. We could then watch the children we love grow in the unpredictable way they do. Of course, days are not smooth; days are filled with tears and disappointment as well as joy. School is a place for mistakes to happen and get worked through. Eventually, after years of practice, those children move into common school with all Sixteen Capabilities well underway. What then would life be like?

Can you imagine being a Kindergarten educator and having all of your September children enter with these Sixteen Capabilities? You would have a dream class. There would be no behavior problems. These children would be responsive to adult leadership, have a disposition to care for each other, and expect to learn. You could get right to work, listening to the children’s interests and finding out what aspect of the world they wanted to explore. If the interest were spiders, rocks or a broken bone, children would be eager to examine, write about, read about, draw, create poetry, music, scientific displays, research, count, and mathematically represent.

The community of the classroom would expect to share a love of learning and being together and far exceed the academic standards and curriculum prescriptions anyone could imagine.

The experience of full participation in a culture of a learning community is true “readiness” for school, because all the children view themselves as capable and competent and members of a community.

The Sixteen Capabilities are durable. Next year the 1st grade teacher would inherit those same children, eager and happy to be at school. It is up to everyone who considers himself or herself a contributor to the early experience of children to examine and demand what we really want. If we have broad, international agreement, we can be ready for the transformation ahead.

We Have to Start Now

I invite you to send friends the link to this page, take a copy with you to meetings, and maybe even post a copy on the wall. If the Sixteen Capabilities were a common understanding, educators could reflect upon the qualities of life they lived each day as they cared for each child and the child’s family over time. Everyone could look at children around the world as ours, with common intentions energizing and evolving over time. It’s simply natural and human to see our children though our love, together.

All children can achieve these Sixteen Capabilities. If they do, they can transform our society, reduce poverty, and make our towns, forests, cities, homes and climate better for life.



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