Sandy Hook Tragedy: It’s Time For A NEW Model To Educate Our Young!

Many blogs and articles have already been written about different aspects of the human tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, and I have been tuned in and trying my best to listen to all sides without judgment. After some quiet time with myself, I am moved to write about what is closest to my heart in regard to this devastating unfolding—education.

It is my great hope that we can eliminate the root cause beneath the alarming depression, anger, disempowerment, despair and rage that underlies such tragedies by unearthing what remains hidden in the shadows of many individual human hearts. Our shadow—the deeply hidden aspects of ourselves around which we feel shame, fear, guilt and anger—is the psychic debris in our subconscious that is having dire effects on our society and world today.

For adults and older children, there is much back-end, inner work to be done to excavate and heal this psychic debris. But for our young, we must consider carefully the front-end work of parenting, spiritual development and education to lessen the shadow effect, and education is the primary focus of my offering today.

From my quiet stillness, the absolute, unequivocal belief that we must change the way in which we educate our beloved children by literally FLIPPING our current model of education has come to the forefront of my thinking, once again.

First of all, we must shift the financial resources for education from top-down to bottom-up. It is time that we recognize that the earliest years of a child’s life and education are THE MOST IMPORTANT. Study after study has shown us this. All parents intuitively understand this truth on some level. And yet, as a nation, we have refused to implement change. Teaching parents how to effectively parent and providing early education for our young must become the top-priority of our education monies. This doesn’t necessarily mean MORE money flowing into the system, but rather allotting less at the top (university and high school levels) and more at the bottom (pre-school/elementary levels and early parenting programs).

Second, and the crux of what I offer here today, we must revamp completely what we teach and how we teach in our schools; and therefore, re-evaluate what it means to be an “educated” world citizen. We must create an educational system that stresses AWARENESS and KNOWLEDGE. It will not be enough to continue teaching mere facts in the 21st Century. We must offer a path to wisdom.

Third, we must acknowledge that we are educating souls, not simply linear humans beings. We are teaching spiritual beings how to navigate a physical reality in the form of a human being. Schools must acknowledge this, too, through a curriculum based on this understanding. This “new” paradigm is not religious dogma that needs to be separated from public education. Our schools must be the place for a curriculum based on this truth or we have lost our primary vehicle for evolution—our schools, our young. YES, schools must become the place for a whole new type of teaching!

A new educational model would emphasize totally different things than our current one. The knowledge-base would not disappear, but rather would become secondary to the larger core pillars of wisdom that would underlie all teachings. Knowledge would be infused into these pillars and no longer be the near singular focus that it is today.

If we were to create an Awareness-based curriculum, pillars at all levels would invite both harmony with the collective whole AND encourage the emergence of unique, individual gifts. The following are simply ideas that could form the basis of a discussion on a new educational focus. I have many more, as do so many others. Due to blog space, there is limited room for explanation of each. That can come later, one by one. But for right now, TODAY, in the midst of a heart-wrenching tragedy, I am calling out for change. This is enough—HOPE—that there is a different way. It’s time…

The Pillars of a NEW Educational Model:

1) Oneness and Individuation

2) Soul to Soul vs. Role to Role

3) Self-Awareness and Self-Love

4) Accountability and Responsibility

5) Connectedness and Boundaries

6) Honesty and Transparency

7) Diversity and Sameness

8) Authenticity and JOY

9) The Shadow and Illumination

10) Perspective and Truth

11) The Intelligent Physical Body and Healing

12) Energy Is Everything

13) Emotions As Guideposts

14) True Power and Presence

15) Inner World and Outer World

16) Grow Is Me Rather Than Woe Is Me

17) And/Both and Either/Or Realities

18) Intuition via Red Light/Green Light Vibes

19) Conscious Relationships

20) Giving and Receiving

21) Gratitude as a Creative Force

22) Mother Earth and Grounding

23) Creating Reality and the Mind

24) Peace within the Paradoxes

25) LOVE

We must awaken. Our institutions must awaken. We are all one. There is only one of us here. There is only one law to focus upon. It is Uni-versal. It is ONENESS…

Bless you all. I LOVE each and every one of you, even those who are lost in the shadows. On this day, this is all that I know to offer.


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A modern bridge between the mainstream and the mystical, Annie Burnside, M.Ed. is a soul nurturer, award-winning author, and teacher specializing in parenting, conscious relationships, authentic living and spiritual development. Her book “Soul to Soul Parenting” won the 2011 Nautilus Silver Book Award.

  • Mo


  • susan

    Keep pushing this Annie, as a preschool art educator, I’m with ya!

    • Annie

      I will, Susan, as this one is close to my heart as a former 4th and 5th grade teacher, a parent of three, and now a career as a soul nurturer:) Thank you for doing what YOU do! Much LOVE, Annie

  • Boscoe68

     “We are teaching spiritual beings how to navigate a physical reality in the form of a human being.”  Wow, just love that statement…that should be printed on the birth certificate when you take your child home from the hospital. 

    • Annie

      Boscoe68, what a GREAT idea:) Thanks, Warmth and LOVE! Annie

  • Thank you for sharing:)

    • Annie

      And, thank YOU for reading and commenting:) Happy Holidays! LOVE, Annie

  • Annie I love this post! I have been a relationship & marriage coach for the last 3 years. I have been getting a nudge from the universe to become a teacher for awhile now. So, last month, I decided to go back to college to get a BA/Elementary Teacher Licensure. I want my students, parents, and school to have what you pointed out in your post. I plan to create a curriculum based on a blend of what I have learned about healthy relationships, positive psychology, soul coaching and institutional education.

    • Annie

      Sherry! Yay! We sure do need YOU in the trenches, lovely one. What you share feels so similar to what I envision. We can DO this! WE can BE this! Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Your enthusiasm literally leapt off of the page. I hope that our paths cross again… Namaste, Annie

  • sls23

    Annie, you are my teacher soul sister.  I’ve been a teacher for over five years now and what you speak about has been at the core of my philosophy of education since before I entered my first education course in undergrad.  I have been trying to find a way to bridge the gap between families (particularly low income) and schools while using the ideas you mention above throughout my daily teaching.  I strongly believe that we have to educate the child to be a member of society, not just the facts as you said.  I am sure there are more of us out there that believe this and hopefully we can someday raise enough awareness and make a change in the school systems and communities everywhere.  Keep on keeping on, good luck, and please don’t ever give up!  Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Annie

      SLS23, I always have space for another soul sister and thrilled that you do, too:) Oh, I am ecstatic that YOU are in the classroom being YOU!!!!! It is a tough job, but such a sacred one. I remember my years teaching fourth and fifth grade so fondly. Here’s to raising AWARENESS! I feel that we will see great changes in the coming decades…
      Much JOY,

  • Perfect!

  • 2204Musik

    I couldn’t be more supportive in this initiative Annie. It has always been a mystery to me why we don’t address a more holistic view and approach to our students when it comes to education in total. Even in Denmark, where I come from, (The happiest people on earth) we are in lack of teachers and mentors who can inspire and help us youngsters in a spiritual way to evolve into grounded and healthy human beings, we don’t have any Oprah’s here, and we put our faith and  into a system under massive pressure of economic collapse because of people’s lack of personal responsibility. 40% of us come from broken homes of  alcoholics, abusers and addicts and the statistics speak for themselves. The majority of the victims living under such circumstances in childhood are also the ones who end up on welfare and without education (in DK). Therefore I think it is horrific that we don’t have lectures in personal growth, social skills and practice in emotional intelligence from an early age. Society let television and internet be the only “parenting” and continuing presence in young peoples lives, besides the family union. The culture today in the western society is fast and digital, and if we don’t pay attention or LEARN how to pay attention we loose touch with who we are, and each other. We don’t battle violence and crime actions with law and legislations, there we just try to cure the symptoms. Some people should not be parent’s I think, but there is no law that forbids that. Mentally unstable and emotionally sick people can create a family because it’s a human right. The problem is just that if the home or the school is not the place for kids to learn basic principles of love, friendship and compassion, then where do they go before it’s to late?- and who do we trust in helping our kids? – Jesus?. No, only miracles. All the best Cecilie (25) DK.     

    • Annie

      Cecilie, THANK YOU for this important share! I am so glad that you shed light on what is occurring in Denmark, as an example. I truly believe that societies are breaking down right now to break through! We ALL must be willing to voice publicly our truth on these topics even in the face of misunderstanding and disagreement. It has taken lots of inner fortitude on my part, but I have never felt so free. I am glad that our paths have crossed here, Cecilie. I am hoping that your generation (I am 42:) really gets on board. I know that my own children (16, 14 and 12) will be conscious participants in a new way and in their own way. Mucho LOVE, Annie

      • 2204Musik

        Hi again Annie. Thank you for your great respond, I will keep you updated from DK:). Looking forward to read your future blogs. I love you americans because of your courage to speak up for yourself and to take action. We are way to shy and introvert here in DK, and I have therefore made it my personal mission to speak my truth and educate myself with a critical yet loving approach. The world needs educated and critical minds with big hearts, wisdom and grounding in spirit. And of course love and curiosity for the people and the world surrounding them. I think:). Love to you! <3 Cecilie   

  • Jenfran

    I am the mother of a 6 year old, and I couldn’t agree with you more.  What can I — one individual parent — do to help manifest this?

    Thank you for your wisdom. 

    • Annie

      Thanks Much, Jen, and a great question! I feel that individually we need to make conversations on these topics more of a priority and more public whether it be amongst other parents, at PTA meetings, school board meetings, dinner parties, etc. I say let’s BE more proud of a lived spirituality (consciousness) and really come out with it, everywhere:) Also, of course, offering it in our own homes and to our own children. I have a feeling that this conversation is actually lying deep in the hearts of many just waiting to be given permission to arise to the surface. I sure hope so! 
      Many Blessings to you and your family, 

  • Lizlaw217

    You are truly inspirational and I would love to send my children to the school you just described!  Light and Love.

    • Annie

      Oh, Thank YOU, Liz! I so enJOYed my time as a fourth and fifth grade teacher and I just may get back in there in that role someday, too. I appreciate you taking the time to read and hear me out:) Much JOY! Annie

  • Starboy2828

    It is unbelievable to me that in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy you would try to push thru your own personal agenda. What a selfish, uncaring woman you are.

    • Annie

      Starboy, it is not my intention to ever push through an agenda, and I apologize if my post felt that way to you. I do feel that in the wake of a tragedy such as this one it is okay to offer ideas that may help prevent future tragedies. I have posted other feelings on the tragedy, as well. It felt a bit harsh to categorize me as you did above after reading one post, but I do understand if it hit you in a way that did not feel good. We all approach things in different ways. Much Love, Annie

    • Tgynell

       Annie, is not selfish and Uncaring. She has a deep heart and soul full of love for people and especially children. I am saddened that you would attack her in this fashion.
      Many of the points she made in raising our children and changing the way we teach our kids and the funding we use to do so, are appropriate. I have been an educator for At Risk children from Kindergarten through high school; thus, I see where she is coming from and understand the need to change our teaching methods, etc.
      Just because we discuss such issues, does not mean we are trying to push our agenda … it is because we care so much and never want to see such tragedy occur over and over again in our society.  Something has to be done.
      Regards and Respect,

    • Seema Chandarana

      Starboy2828, you have much to learn… No worries; there is enough Love here for you to blow your psychic debris away too, if you allow Light in.

    • Back-at-cha

      Really?  Are you kidding?  What idiocy!!  Accusers tend to accuse those for the things to which they are guilty.  Shame, shame on you…boy…for your selfish and uncaring remark.  It’s YOU who’s unbelievable.  So think again…boy…

      It’s because Annie IS a mother and has been a teacher herself, that she cares, so unselfishly she’s given it a great deal of thought and time in sharing a plan.  She can relate in a way you obviously cannot.

      Horrific as the tragedy has been for many, it remains a wake up call heard ’round the world.  Problem solving is empowering.  Activity to seek a solution helps in the healing because of the hope it yields to the ones who share in the pain of those parents who are now without…

  • Babyblu60

    Beautifully said and 100% agree! Now how do we begin?  Thank you Bennett

    • Annie

      Thank you, babyblu60! And HOW to begin is indeed the million dollar question. I feel HEAL first and then move forward with new ideas in any way that we can… LOVE, Annie

  • Ognam1

    Very nice piece Annie. As a 34 year veteran in education, one who has seen the system from the inside out, what you suggest is going to be a tall order. Especially with a system which is now focused on outcomes well and above the “process.” A system that is trying to remove behavior from student grading, remove deadlines, not count homework as part of the grade, allowing retakes on tests, etc. As I said, outcome over process. I have been a stringent supporter of process over outcome, of effort over raw score, of what one is equipped with on the inside rather than what they demonstrate simply on a test. I am also in line with the idea of better, more thorough efforts at the younger levels. You build a house from the foundation up. The stronger the foundation, the stronger the house one can build. We are not any different, lives… are built…good ones, from the ground up. However, much of this development will need to come from parents and family. Without those foundations, no matter what you do with our schools, little will change. Schools, and the teachers within the system, are secondary (especially at the younger ages), when it comes to building the “right” foundations. The schools can only support and build upon what they are given. Ultimately, it is those early foundations that determine the course of one’s life. Not that that course cannot be improved on, changed or bettered. We all are individuals and our destinies are governed much by the choices we make, however, it is much easier to make solid, grounded choices when the foundations for doing such are laid early on. As a teacher, an educator, I am truly saddened by the events in Connecticut. I can see something like that happening in any school in the U.S., my H.S. included. My heart hurts for this Connecticut community, especially the parents of those who lost children in this terrible tragedy.

  • Nazanin

    As a mother of six year old ,I can tell you it has been always my question that why not spend more time ,energy and money to educate younger ones so that later donot have to deal with depression ,anxiety and panic disorders.I think the idea is great.You must just start sharing it and give people the information

    • Annie

      Thank you, Nazanin! I think that most parents out there would agree with you. We can do a lot ourselves, but to have schools on board would be terrific:) I appreciate you reading and sharing your thoughts. Lots of LOVE, Annie

  • Nikki

    There is a model available right now that is alignment with this post…check out Conscious Discipline by Dr. Becky Bailey.

    • Annie

      Will do! Thank you, Nikki! 

  • Cosmical Dreamer

    Annie, I love your ideas and hope they become manifested in our lifetime! I would love to become part of this movement. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Annie

      Cosmical Dreamer, THANK you, and I do hope that all of us begin to speak UP and OUT at the possibility to rebirth the education of our young. I love your name btw:) LOVE, Annie

  • Chrissyjane

    The Clueberry Book (read reviews on or
    FB: Clueberry World for student testimonials
    I created the curriculum over 7 years in my middle school classroom.
    It works.
    anyone who can help get this work in kids hands email [email protected]
    Jason Wachob called it “Louise Hay for kids”
    Marianne Williamson the Candyland ACIM
    I was invited to teach at Agape Youth ministry and Dr Beckwith told me my work was brilliant.
    But…I am a single mom of 3 little kids. I want more kids to have access to CW but I’m busy and need help.

    • Annie

      Chrissyjane, GREAT stuff, dear one! Keep sharing word of your resource everywhere that you can and ask the Uni-Verse for help. The time is near… THANK you! Annie

  • Jessicah

    I really like this model of education and think it’s an important one for all ages. Awareness based curriculum in my mind fits in with knowledge because knowledge isn’t just facts, it’s awareness! If you look at physics, algebra, literature etc, they’re not fundamentally about memorizing places/names/numbers but teaching us how to understand the world around us.  I think if history was integrated with subjects instead of being a different course altogether that would help. After I discovered da Vinci, Galileo, Eratosthenes, etc. and how they explored facts and integrated them with their environment, it revolutionized education for me. How many of us understand the practical application of special relativity and how to test it ourselves?   Awareness is holistic and using a holistic approach to education isn’t simply sitting down and tracing our chakras (as some ppl think), it’s utilizing knowledge.

    My only point of contention is that I don’t  agree with the bottom-up approach.I felt like I had a pretty grounded and well-rounded elementary experience but once I hit high school, we were left completely on our own.  This is when a lot of mental illnesses start showing up: bipolar disorder, chronic depression, eating disorders, etc and there just isn’t a good way to handle issues like these in schools yet. During my time in high school (I went to several) several teenagers committed suicide.  When I look around at after-school programs, art programs, classes etc, in my area all are aimed at young children.  Adults often don’t want to deal with teenagers who even on their best days can be difficult because they’re transitioning.  I think love, lessons, compassion, skills need to be built on and developed throughout a lifetime.  It’s through continuous action that we grow, mature, and evolve. That’s why I like the TDL community, everyday we discuss what’s going on in the world, are exposed to new minds, are reminded why we’re trying to be on a new path or journey.  I see a lot of teens who feel abandoned by society during the most difficult time they’ve had in their lives.  So I agree with you Annie that we need a new educational model but I’d like that model to extend everywhere: to adults, to children, to teenagers because it’s never too late to become a positive influence in society.

    • Annie

      Hi Jessicah! Boy, do I appreciate your thoughtful response. I agree with all that you said about teens today. They need MUCH support, and my intention is definitely for the Awareness Model to be part of ALL levels of education right on up through University. The point of flipping the model to very early education and parenting education is actually for the exact reasons that you mention above so that in the FUTURE we will have many more whole and free teens and adults who know who they really are without so much psychic debris embedded into their subconscious and conscious mind. Hope this makes sense. Today, we have much back-end work to do with our adults and teens and there will be a time of transition, but I long for the day when the work is front-end at an early age so that we can all be up and running offering our natural, unique gifts to the world as early as possible. A big cyber HUG to you, Jessicah, for this heartfelt share! xx Annie

  • Joy

    What an amazing education model.  I look forward to the time when spiritual development is seen as the priority it is. Thanks so much for sharing.