Sparking a Revolutionary Approach to Education

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by Marianne Franzese, MA, MS

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an increasing number of children have been prescribed anxiety and depression medications due to school-related issues and feelings of inadequacy. In recent years, there has been a 200 percent increase in the suicide rate among school-age children. The number of students diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has skyrocketed 43 percent. The ability to communicate with empathy is on a rapid decline.

At this year’s World Economic Conference, leaders in business made the case that 21st century student goals must include creativity, empathetic communication, strong literacy, and work ethic. These are the skills that are necessary to preserve humanity. All children are creative, empathetic beings, and developing those inherent resources must become the primary function of elementary school.

Elementary school is the place to create a culture that can teach our children the practices of healthy, happy embodiment so that they can become experts on how to live an inspired life. We need to engage a creative process in all content areas and actively support the empathetic call for social change. It is our responsibility to teach our children well.

As I see it, the work of education is to nurture the individual spark, the true nature of the child, and ignite the light that illuminates the highest, most truthful expression of their humanness.

It is this broad view of education, liberated from the mindset of standardized instruction and awakened to the mission of holistic inspiration, that set into motion the creation of Spark Elementary.

After seven years of creative curriculum development and holistic intervention strategies, our revolutionary approach to education was born. Spark Elementary is rooted in the education of the mind, body and soul of the child. We are all organic creatures and there are conditions under which children thrive and bloom. When the conditions of education are right, the seeds of possibility are activated and growth is inevitable.

Marianne Franzese, MA, MS, has been working in the field of child development for more than 35 years. As a creative arts therapist and teacher, Franzese is the co-founder of Kid Esteem Inc.  and principal of Spark Elementary. Her book The Sacred Weave of Mothering (Aslan Publishing, 2002) continues to provide comfort and inspiration for mothers and caregivers. Marianne Franzese can be reached at

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