Wondertree Learning Systems

Old Paradigm Definitions

New Paradigm Definitions

student  someone who learns at the direction of another usually in the context of a directed course and defined curriculum learner someone who learns through the process of living, realizing that life is about learning through noticing what is happening in experience and making improvements and changes to increase the quality of one's life in relationship with others
teacher an adult that is assigned to "teach" a student a given course or curriculum, usually within a classroom context learning consultant an individual who is chosen by a learner to enter into a mutually agreed relationship focused on a learning process that is meaningful to both
mentor an individual who is chosen by a learner to enter into a learning relationship whereby the mentor demonstrates excellence in some field that the mentor is willing to have the learner model
school a building where students are assigned to classrooms, teachers and courses and where teachers are hired by the government to deliver to the students a government prescribed curriculum

the model for modern schooling an industrial metaphor using the assembly-line for efficiency of production

learning community

ultimately both a global and an experiential context that is not defined by time and space as much as it is defined by the quality of interaction between people

a context of intimate friendly interactions facilitating mutual learning and growth

learning relationship is a mutually chosen and mutually beneficial relationship between any two or more people that can take place face to face or occur over various communication and information media
curriculum a course, usually a written text that is followed from beginning to end within a defined timeframe curriculum a process of ongoing and lifelong living, where the experience of an individual is one's curriculum
learning a formal task of remembering rote information based on a taught curriculum prescribed by a government 


learning an informal heuristic process that emerges from living and the natural desire of an individual to engage with and understand oneself in the world
evaluation external measurement through the testing of one's ability to memorize the facts and content from course material evaluation a subjective and interpretive analysis of a comprehensive set of results relevant to the kind of skills and tasks learned o a documented conversation between learner and mentor whereby the understanding of the learner is evaluated in comparison to the stated goal or plan relevant to comprehensive criteria of excellence in the field
success a set of grades based on an arbitrary criteria of comparative success of entire group in achieving passing marks on a given set of tests success an agreement between mentor and learner that the goal of a chosen task, as defined and understood by both, has been achieved to a standard of proficiency appropriate for the task



Public Schooling 

Natural Learning

(Old Paradigm) 

(New Paradigm)

factory and worker (industrial)  family, community (traditional)
Scale large, with 20 to 40 children in each classroom and from 300 to 3000 in each building

parents are only occasionally involved in a local process that is controlled by a centralized government bureaucracy 

small with 10 to 12 children in a group in a building (house)

community of 20 to 24 parents, 1 learning consultant and up to 12 mentors per group

high school equivalent program up to 144 students (12 x 12) integrated, networked groups 

Learning Mode teacher directed

subject based

children learn facts and are tested in memorization and ability to represent details 

enthusiasm based Natural Learning, project-based tasks,

entrepreneurial, local relevance

children imitate experts directly through modeling

Expression  paper and pencil, auditory experiential, interpersonal, electronic, relational
Basic Peer Relationship competitive (win / lose) cooperative (win / win)
Learner/Educator Relationship  teacher, who has subject knowledge, transmit details to students in classroom setting  learning consultant is a mentor to learners in community setting

acts as an advisor to learner in designing an optimum, personally relevant, lifelong learning process

Rewards and Motivation  extrinsic - grades are assigned to measurable behaviors that are managed by educators to maintain motivation collectively and incrementally intrinsic - integrated with realization of self-generated goals relevant to interests associated with curiosity and a need to know and understand
Learning Objectives government controlled with performance reduced to measurable criteria (test scores) created by children in consultation with the Learning Consultant, with guidance from parents and mentors

objectives are self-expressed, generated and evaluated

Educator Skills  subject specialist

classroom management skills

lecturing skills

information delivery and testing 

thinking process specialist

cooperative communication skills

subject generalist

skills in modeling the learning process and in managing family and group process

point of view flexibility skills

entrepreneur and management skills

Organization hierarchy emphasizing authority horizontal emphasizing equality

ungraded,  8 to 12 year long term relationship with Learning Consultant

Purpose to transfer values and beliefs of the culture to the students

to ensure a homogenous knowledge base

to establish respect for authority and order

to support the natural development of individual potential

to provide models of excellence and congruence for children to emulate

to provide students with insight into human process and provide a comprehensive and positive model towards global harmony

Ethic rights of majority and authority determine right, and conformity brings opportunity for advancement enfranchise the child with equal rights of choice

provide a positive context for individual excellence

Curriculum subject based, predetermined by educational experts intending to provide basic skills and information experiential, emerging, and generated by enthusiasm to understand by students and mentors in consultation
Goal future potential of job security, economic achievement and citizenship fulfillment moment by moment

optimizing the present and living from one's balance

Underlying Assumptions learning needs to be managed and directed towards social ends

children are lacking knowledge and therefore cannot make informed educational decisions about their own learning process

learning is a natural process

the human unconscious is a wealth of information about being human

natural learning is an unfolding on infinite resources in balance with acquiring information as needed

human creativity and love can generate solutions that sustain or create a sense of fulfillment

Orientation closed, limited and directed predetermined outcomes open opportunity for enhancement through negotiation and mutual discovery



Old Paradigm

New Paradigm


(generalizations include exceptions)

metaphor Industrial - factory model
production / profit
machine / mechanical
absolutist / Newtonian
institution - organization
focus on external world - things
Informational - networking model
growth / proportional
organism / biological
relativistic / Einstein
community - family
context of internal world - process
educational instructional
prescribed and tested
authoritarian / hierarchy
culturally determined / citizenship
bureaucratic / management
emerging and evaluated
democracy / consensus
self-actualization / individuation
heuristic / discovery
psychological behavioral
rational / linear
cause and effect
fear based / doubt 
negative language / don't forget
separate / objective / fragmented
conscious / colonial / dominating
eidetic / holographic
trust based / love
positive language / remember
inclusive / subjective / holistic
unconscious / ancient / holistic
relationship frame adult > child (rights)
dominance / authority
other-deferring / other controlled
adult = child (rights)
ecological / balance
self reliant / self design
time frame - 
process frame
future oriented
outside - towards, not including inside
about the world
present oriented
inside - towards and including outside
in the world / of the world
learning process expectation driven
content / facts and memorization
extrinsic motivation
artifacts of behavior
coercive learning / reward - punishment
nurturing context
process / events and understanding
intrinsic motivation
natural learning / enthusiasm

Brent Cameron M.A.
Wondertree Foundation for Natural Learning
Box 38083, Vancouver, BC, V0B 2C0, Canada
 office (604) 224-3663 cell (604) 831-5200 home (250) 866-5341