Hi, I'm Justus Frank. I was born in Germany yet mostly raised in New Zealand. My educational path was not anything particularly extraordinary. I went to kindergarten, then to a public primary school, a public high school and then after that I studied music at Otago University and got myself a BA.
I didn't have much direction in my life after finishing my degree and I first tried studying for secondary school teaching but gave it up halfway through my diploma. I then did a variety of jobs including dairy farming and house renovating until I found myself as a Children's Worker at the Salvation Army. Enjoying my time with children and now having quite a number of nieces and nephews, I decided to give teaching another go. After completing my diploma I worked as a school teacher for four-and-a-half years in integrated and private schools in Mid and South Canterbury, New Zealand. At this time I also started swing dancing at Swingkatz Timaru. I took to swing dancing like a duck to water. This may have had something to do with the fact that I grew up playing in a jazz band. I soon began both performing choreographed dance routines and teaching swing classes.
As my years of school teaching went by my reservations and concerns about teaching and schools in general, grew steadily throughout this time. I eventually realised that I couldn't go on in a system that didn't seem to be working for the best interests of children. Furthermore, I became aware of the negative impacts teaching was having on me. The constant need for "classroom management" (which to be honest often comes down to teachers trying to find ways to control children using bribery or threats) left me feeling like I didn't like the person I was becoming. So I left teaching hoping to make a new start in life.
And so I moved to Europe where I spent much of my time upskilling myself in swing dancing by learning from many of the best swing dancers currently in the world. In travelling through Europe I also began to think about the school education system more and more. I was curious and then very concerned; what was the “end product” of the education system really?
After deeply reflecting on my own lack of life direction and spending time discussing purpose with many other people, I came to the realisation that the current systems of doing education often do more harm than good in helping people discover direction and a purpose to their lives.
But then how do we actually learn? And learn in a way that is meaningful to person and gives them a sense of direction? These questions began to fascinate me more and more and so I started my journey through research, observations, conversations, and experiments. I came back to New Zealand and began working at a school and as a tutor just to see if these new ideas I was learning about in my research could be implemented there. While there was some success, ultimately it opened my eyes to the very foundational problems of society's current view of education. I also realised that given all the research that is out there regarding the way humans actually learn things of value, the current paradigm in our society is still strongly at odds with this research.
More and more I was finding underlying principles in how humans learn which, when we are made aware of them, allow learning to become far more effective and interesting than the current models. I started applying these principles to my own life first and saw myself change in many positive ways.
Then I began applying these principles to my relationships with the children around me and observed how their learning grew. Once you begin to see it happen before your eyes, it's fascinating to see.
And so that's when I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to share and discuss those principles with others and help others to have more meaningful interactions when helping our children learn. What if we could allow children to live purposeful lives in the here and now, instead of “preparing” them, for sometimes over 20 years, before they can start adding real value to themselves and others?
So now I try to align everything I do and help others do through this website with the three purposes of:
- Freedom. To not be controlled nor to control others but rather respect a person's individuality.
- Connection. Build more meaningful and deeper relationships with others.
- Learning. To continue to grow and change, opening up new possibilities in life.