Strong and vibrant communities are the bedrock of society. The actions of families, friends and neighbours during the Covid-19 pandemic have often demonstrated communities at their best. Sadly, however, for many people community breakdown is a fact of life, and its effects are perhaps more apparent than ever.
Any long-term strategy to build stronger communities must involve looking at what we are teaching children in school. Today, more than ever, we need to raise the profile of community education to ensure that our children have the knowledge, skills and values to contribute positively to community life — to the mutual benefit of both.
Vibrant communities nurture and enrich us as individual human beings. The website Reference captures this well:
Communities are important because they allow people to interact with each other, share experiences, develop valued relationships and work toward a common goal. Without communities, people would have to live isolated lives with minimal or no contact outside of their immediate circle. Getting to know new people is essential to the enrichment of a person’s life.Why Are Communities Important?, Reference
Conversely, community breakdown damages us and breaks us down as individual human beings. Consider this analysis from psychotherapist Dan L Edmunds:
One of the most destructive problems is the breakdown of community, and it is this breakdown that has often led to the breakdown of persons. Though we may put many around us, we are alone. Relationships have become superficial, there is no longer concern for the other, and we are pressed by societal and financial pressures to focus on our own survival. We do not concern ourselves much with the plight of others except a few we may call family or friends, and even then, our concern and attention is waning.Distress and the Breakdown of Community, Dan L Edmunds EdD, BCSA
Life-based learning raises the profile of community learning by treating it as one of nine equal themes through which all subject learning can be delivered.
Life-based learning organises learning to address the modern-day challenges we face. The Society area of life — how we interact with each other — is taught through the themes of Communication, Relationships and Community.
The Community learning theme aims to deal with our lack of social cohesion, with too many young people alienated, lacking a sense of purpose in their lives and contributing little to society in consequence.
Find out more about the Community learning theme
Learn more about what life-based learning involves
An Urgent Priority
Why we need a long-term strategy to tackle community breakdown
Image at the head of this article by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay.