To make up for last weeks really long post, this one will be shorter.
Wow, we will be starting the 4th week of our Pilot Program on Monday. How did that happen so quickly? Elwood was a busy guy again this past week. He spent two hours on Wednesday with an IT pro who helped him take apart a really old computer to look at all the pieces. The session went beyond computer technology and delved into life lessons. Now, we have all the parts from the computer that really can't be used to build another one because they are so outdated. I was thinking of making an art installation with all the pieces...
Oh and after spending time with Andrew, the IT guy, he decided he might like to put a Linux operating system on the computer we built that first week. Andrew says it will make the computer faster---
We contacted the Modern Language department and will hopefully have a German Language student volunteer some time to teach Elwood some basics.
Elwood is very interested in starting a business that makes electronic gadgets. To be clear, this is something he spends enormous amounts of time thinking about and researching. This past week we discussed the mechanics of opening a business, filing a DBA, creating a business plan, making a budget, and borrowing money to buy all of the equipment he would need to make the electronic "do-dads."
We went skating on Thursday, well to be precise, Elwood skated and I read a book. Another life lesson was achieved in those 45 minutes on ice; don't wear ankle socks when you go skating!
Our mural is coming together. Elwood painted his dragon and sun and was trying to figure out how to tie the two pieces of the mural together. (What goes in the middle?) Then he got the idea to put another piece of paper underneath and create the "underworld" of this mural. Stay tuned!
After School Program
Youth have the opportunity to use Deep Root Center to pursue interests and passions that are not being offered in their everyday curriculum.
Deep Root Center is open to students who attend the local public schools , every day between 2:15 and 4:00.
This is a post I have been trying to write for a really long time. The guts of it were written a couple months ago, but it never felt quite ready. There may have been a reason for that...
I just read a memoir by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas. She is an 80 plus year old author who has written about her observations of animals and 'primitive' (ask any of my anthro students the definition of primitive. It is not what you think...) people in Africa. Her earliest works were about the Ju/wa also sometimes known as the !Kung in West South Africa (Namibia). This woman is an amazing writer with years of working (playing) at her craft. In one of the last chapters of this book, she offers six rules for writing, that she always attempts to follow. The sixth rule is about revising. One of her suggestions about practicing revision is to remove the sentence you are the most proud of. Wow, that is brutal and will remove any ego from my writing, if I remember or have enough time to follow it. You may have noticed, some of my posts are written at the last minute with very little editing or revision.
In the end, and, as you will see, in the beginning, it is all about trust. I have to believe what I put out in the world is the best that I have to offer at that moment and the folks reading it will appreciate the message for what it is.
I have been passionate about trusting kids for a long time. Trust that they know what they need to become the best people they can possibly be. Trust in their abilities and insights. Trust in the goodness of their hearts. Trust that they will make mistakes, mess up and make bad decisions. But as with all screw-ups, belief that they will learn from the experience and move on to the next important event in their lives with a larger cache of knowledge to draw from. Trust they are not wasting precious time, 'doing nothing'. They are learning, growing beings soaking up information every moment of every day, because it is impossible to 'do nothing'. As parents or teachers, we can not judge what learning actually looks like, or more importantly, what experiences are valuable for an individual at any given moment.
We get frustrated because teens can't seem to motivate themselves to do what we deem important. But, we don't give them the opportunity to be self-directed. Many children are told what to do all the time. At home, in school, socially... they are bombarded with instructions. “Do this, do that” or for that matter, “don't do this, don't do that.” They are not inspired to gain the skills for decision making, because society does it for them. It is our fear, as parents and teachers, for their future that inspires us to micro-manage their lives.
I wear both of those hats, mom and teacher. I am the parent of two teen-age children (I can say that for three more months before the oldest turns 20) and one of them is home-schooled. At times I have to hold my tongue, really, actually bite my tongue, to stop the unsolicited, judgmental comments from tripping out. OK, sometimes I am not always successful because holding back some of the comments would mean an explosion of Mom parts flying through the cosmos. But I would like to think that I do trust them, most of the time, to make the best choice for themselves at that moment in time. Sometimes they do ask for advice and sometimes I reply without even thinking, “can this one be answered on his own?” or “does she really need me to tell her how to do that?” Our goal is to have happy, empowered children who are comfortable making important decisions on their own, but sometimes it really is easier to solve the problems for them or at least it is faster. I have to remind myself constantly that my answer or solution may not be the best one for them.
So, how do we strike the balance between coddling or controlling our kids and supporting them to become emotionally mature young beings. I believe it is all about mutual respect. If you actually listen to your kids and have real conversations about your life together, including your dreams and goals, not just for them but for yourself, they will respond positively. Kids want us to be real. They should understand we aren't perfect, because we are all learning, growing beings. Youth need to bounce ideas off us without fearing ridicule or judgment. And most importantly, they need us for that emotional connection of unconditional love, support and occasional moments of pure, unadulterated silliness. Because when all else fails, a sense of humor will see you through even the toughest times.
We sent out a letter via email this past Monday, requesting donations. If you did not receive that letter and would like to, please let me know. At this point, we need to have some money coming in. The insurance bill is due as is the monthly replication fee. If you are able, please consider a donation. Deep Root Center is a project of Seedcorn and checks should be made out to DRC/Seedcorn. Our mailing address is PO box 424, Canton, NY 13617
We will also be creating a crowd funding appeal, through Incited in the next couple weeks.
If anyone has other ideas on raising funds, please let me know.
As always, thank you for your support. I continue to be amazed by the number of people who recognize me and stop to thank me for opening this Center. This community is an awesome place to call home.
In a word, it was AWESOME! Elwood and I have established a bit of a routine, but nothing that inhibits spontaneity. He is interested in many subjects, but as you will see, is especially enamoured with technology.
On Tuesday, our first day together, we decided to try to make an old mini laptop with a broken screen serviceable, again. I also own a very old flat screen from a desk top I purchased in 2001 when I went back to college. A few years ago, we threw the tower into the hazardous waste bin, but saved the screen. I have used it to play movies from my laptop, so there are two screens and kids can crowd around both sides. It has definitely come in handy over the years.
So Elwood hooked the old laptop to the old flat screen monitor and it worked! Only the broken screen was in the way. So, we decided to take the broken lid/screen off the laptop. Elwood took out his screwdrivers and proceeded to take the back off the computer. Then he got stuck; the frame around the back wouldn't come off. He said we had to take the hard drive out...well, I wasn't comfortable with that...this is a working laptop after all. We decided to call the Computer Mechanic the next day and see if he would help us. In the meantime, we looked at the Khan Academy website (very cool, look it up), drew part of a mural, made microwave popcorn with a regular brown paper lunch bag, walked to the library (it was very cold) and talked a lot. Yes, we found plenty to keep us occupied and happy.
On Wednesday, we called the Computer Mechanics as soon as they opened and he told us to walk on over. Eric (the Computer Mechanic) started taking apart the laptop, (yes, he did need to remove the hard drive among a few other things) and talked Elwood through the whole process, explaining each part and its function as he took it out. After about half an hour, he was able to take the lid/screen off the body of the computer. Then it was Elwood's turn to put it all back together! He also told us that he would be building three computers next week and Elwood would be welcome to come and “help”/watch. The kid was pretty happy! How do you top an experience like that? Well, he came back to the Center and signed up with Khan Academy and proceeded to find a computer programming tutorial. And then my friend, Noel, showed up and did a spontaneous keyboard/music lesson with him (he told me the day before that he would like to learn how to play piano). Yup, another amazing day under his belt.
Thursday was a bit more mundane. He noodled on the keyboard and on the Khan Academy programming tutorial, watched the amazing Sugata Mitra Ted Talk, created a vocab list, finished a Suduko, made more microwave popcorn, and watched a VSAUCE You Tube video (something else he showed me. VSAUCE does really cool videos that are sort of science based stuff). Oh, we also took a walk to the Post Office with plans to continue to the SLU Book Store, but turned around after checking the mail because it was too COLD.
I can only imagine what next week will bring!
If you know of anyone who would like to join Elwood and me in this grand adventure, please send them our way.
I am considering starting an after-school program, because we are open till 4:00 and the local schools get out around 2:30. If you know someone who may be interested in something like that, pass on our info.