Listening to the Ancestors

Listening to the Ancestors

A traditional approach to modern learning

In the heart of the Swedish countryside, my wife Solveig and I, Pierre-Emil, are embarking on a journey that many of you might find familiar: as parents, our shared concern for the state of modern education has united us in a quest for something better, something transformative, for our chlildren. This quest led us to the roots of learning and ultimately, to the creation of Family Time.

Our exploration began with the Montessori method, an approach that resonated deeply with us due to its emphasis on the child's natural psychological development. Yet, we noticed a glaring issue. While there were thousands of great teaching aids out there, none were integrated with each other. Everything was separate, and learnings from one area were not developed in another. This lack of integration led to a disjointed understanding of the world, reducing education to rote memorization rather than fostering a deep, interconnected understanding of subjects.

A profound realization dawned upon us when we stumbled upon "The Memory Code" by Lynne Kelly. It unveiled the rich tapestry of ancestral education, a system where everything is connected and every piece of knowledge is part of a larger whole. This resonated with our vision for an integrated and holistic approach to education, one where the learner's understanding continuously deepens as they journey through different subjects.

Drawing inspiration from these ancestral methods of education, both present and historical, we created Family Time. It is more than just a time management system; it is a memory palace designed to hold and organize a vast body of interconnected knowledge. It is our answer to the modern school system's limitations and our contribution towards a richer, deeper, and more engaging learning experience.

Our journey has been guided by our core values of Mastery, Knowledge, Participation, Tradition & Innovation. These are not just abstract concepts for us. They are lived values, evident in every aspect of our lives and work. Our products, including Family Time, are a testament to these values.

But what exactly is ancestral education, and how does it compare to modern schooling? Let's dive deeper.

Ancestral Education vs Modern Schooling

Ancestral education and modern schooling indeed represent two distinct paradigms, each with its unique strengths and methodologies. However, both aim to equip the learner with knowledge and skills necessary for navigating their world.

In ancestral societies, learning was an immersive process embedded in every aspect of life. For instance, a child learning to build a shelter was not just gaining construction skills. They were learning about the local environment, the properties of different materials, social cooperation, and even stories and customs attached to their people's architectural techniques. This multi-dimensional, contextual learning resulted in a deep, embodied understanding of the world. In contrast, modern education often separates subjects, which could lead to compartmentalized understanding.

Ancestral education also thrived on mentorship. Knowledge was not just passed from elders to younger generations; it was a shared experience where the learner actively participated in the knowledge creation process. Today's schooling system, though increasingly collaborative, is primarily a top-down approach where information flows from the teacher to the student.

What is being taught: Ancestral Education vs Modern Schooling

Ancestral education was heavily tailored to the local environment and culture, emphasizing practical skills necessary for survival and cultural preservation. For example, an indigenous tribe in the Amazon might teach their children about the medicinal properties of local plants, how to navigate the rainforest, and the stories and rituals that bind their community together. This education was richly contextual and immediately applicable.

On the other hand, modern schooling offers a more standardized curriculum, aiming to equip students with a broad set of knowledge and skills. This approach allows for the accumulation and dissemination of a vast array of human knowledge across geographical and cultural boundaries. However, it may also lead to a sense of disconnection between what is learned in school and the realities of the student's immediate world.

Memory: The Cornerstone of Traditional Education

In traditional societies, memory played a fundamental role in education. The art of remembering was woven into everyday life, shaping the society's cultural fabric and knowledge transfer. To pass on their knowledge, ancestral societies developed intricate mnemonic techniques. These techniques, often embedded in stories, songs, and rituals, served as powerful tools for encoding, storing, and retrieving vast amounts of information.

Memory techniques, often termed 'memory palaces' or 'mind palaces', were a cornerstone of traditional education. A memory palace is a method of memory enhancement that uses visualization to organize and recall information. A person would visualize a physical location, such as a building or a natural landscape, and mentally 'place' the items to be remembered in specific locations within this imagined space. These locations, known as 'loci', serve as memory hooks that facilitate recall.

In contrast, modern education tends to focus more on abstract thinking, problem-solving, and critical analysis. While these skills are undeniably crucial, the art of memory is often overlooked. Yet, memory is the foundation upon which these higher cognitive skills are built. By integrating memory techniques into modern education, we can enhance learning outcomes and empower students to be active participants in their learning journey.

Family Time was inspired by these ancestral memory techniques. We wanted to create a tool that not only assists with time management and task organization but also functions as a memory palace. By 'placing' tasks and learning experiences within Family Time's integrated system, users can better remember and connect their experiences, leading to a deeper and more holistic understanding.

Virtue Ethics vs. Modern Civics

Ethics and morality have always been integral to education. In ancestral societies, they were often taught through stories, rituals, and community practices. This approach aligns with virtue ethics, a philosophical perspective that emphasizes character and virtues as essential components of ethical decision-making.

On the other hand, modern schooling tends to prioritize civic education. This involves teaching students about their roles, rights, and responsibilities within their community and society at large. Civic education focuses on knowledge about political systems, social justice, and law and order. It aims to foster active and informed citizens who contribute positively to their societies.

While both virtue ethics and modern civics have their merits, we believe that there's value in incorporating elements of both into education. Virtue ethics, with its focus on character and personal virtues, can complement the broader societal focus of modern civics.

Through Family Time, we aim to bridge this gap. We encourage users to reflect on their actions and decisions, fostering personal virtues such as responsibility, perseverance, and respect. At the same time, we provide resources on a wide range of topics, including social studies and civic education, to help users understand and navigate their societies.

The Inspiration behind Family Time

Family Time draws from the strengths of both these paradigms. Inspired by the holistic, integrated, and experiential learning approaches of ancestral societies, we incorporate this into a modern tool that can be used in diverse settings. The mentoring aspect of ancestral education is mirrored in the "Family Time" tools for parent-child collaboration. By facilitating shared tasks and learning experiences, we aim to create an environment where knowledge is mutually constructed and valued.

Like ancestral education, Family Time also supports immersive, contextual learning. However, instead of focusing solely on local environments, we help users integrate their diverse experiences - school, home, hobbies, and social activities - into a coherent learning journey. And just as modern education disseminates a broad array of knowledge, Family Time offers resources on a wide range of subjects and skills, allowing for a personalized, yet well-rounded educational experience.


The journey of education is, in essence, a journey of shaping one's mindset. Montessori methods, modern schooling, and ancestral education each shape distinct mindsets that influence how individuals understand and interact with the world.

The Montessori approach, with its focus on a child's natural psychological development, encourages a growth mindset. It underscores the idea that abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication and hard work. This mindset inspires lifelong learning and adaptability, qualities that are increasingly important in our ever-evolving world.

Modern schooling, with its structured curriculum and focus on critical thinking, shapes a more analytical mindset. It equips individuals with the ability to break down complex problems, analyze them, and formulate solutions. This mindset is essential in today's rapidly changing and technology-driven world. However, this approach can sometimes lead to a sense of disconnection and alienation, as the focus on individual subjects can overshadow the interconnectedness of knowledge and the world around us.

Ancestral education, with its integrated and experiential learning, fosters a holistic mindset. Individuals are encouraged to see the interconnectedness of all things, to understand knowledge as part of a larger whole. This mindset nurtures an appreciation for the richness and diversity of the world and our place within it. It serves as a remedy for feelings of alienation and disconnectedness, creating a sense of belonging and purpose.

In creating Family Time, we aimed to bring together the strengths of these diverse educational approaches. By integrating the growth-oriented focus of the Montessori approach, the analytical strength of modern schooling, and the holistic perspective of ancestral education, Family Time is designed to foster a balanced mindset. It encourages users to embrace growth, think critically, and see the world as an interconnected whole.

Imagine a tool that not only helps manage your daily tasks but also fosters a love for learning in your children. A tool that draws from the wisdom of our ancestors, integrating it with the practicalities of modern life. That's what the Family Time box offers.


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