Yes, this post comes with a warning label. Because you may find that, like me, you will discover absolute and unending delight in brainstorming. It, quite frankly, consumes much of my awake hours and, I might just as well admit, my sleeping hours as well. The process of allowing my mind to wander freely and then latch onto and develop some of those random ideas that float through is, in fact, addicting. I adore the challenge and thrill of envisioning, evolving, and then sharing these new ideas and possibilities with others.
I firmly believe that brainstorming allows our natural and innate curiosity to become the principal means of investigating concepts by delving deeply into all of those things that spark our initial interest. This is, indeed, the basis for self-directed learning.
Deep Root Center not only supports the brainstorming process, we actually foster it by providing an open, enriching environment filled with tools, equipment, resources, and supplies, as well as the emotional space and time each student may need to safely develop, investigate, and implement their theories.
Within this supportive setting, each student member has a completely unique system of accessing these powerful tools. Some students share their ideas and work with others. Several kids generate fantastical storylines together through their cooperative and creative play. Many work quietly on independent projects. And others create spontaneously as they examine, investigate, and play with all of the supplies and materials.
One Deep Root Center student member, as you have probably seen, has even been recognized in the local media (with potential national coverage on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon) for a project he brainstormed and then designed and built at DRC.
One of my latest personal brainstorm includes creating a Maker Space with the essentials for all of these fantastic hands-on projects, right here in Canton. For those who have never heard of Maker Spaces, they are operations, ranging in size, that are trending in larger cities around the world. They offer the space, a variety of tools, materials, and equipment for the public to use, as well as skilled employees (facilitators) who can provide assistance. Some have monthly fees, others are part of existing businesses and some have a per use rate.
I am sharing my idea with the community to get your suggestions, feedback, and your assistance to devise and implement a plan.
The following is what I have imagined so far:
I am reminded, everyday, of the immense power our words, thoughts, and actions have on the people we encounter while we bustle through our busy lives.
With this understanding that every single interaction throughout our day holds potential ramifications, we can choose empowering, affirmative, and merciful language and deeds or we can communicate negativity, judgement, and belittlement.
In truth, we never really know the impact we have on others. A simple kind word and smile could, in fact, change someone's life.
Compassion truly is a “super power,” that we all carry within.
This post was inspired by this comic and two events from this past week: An interaction Mike (my husband) had involving a pen and ink drawing he created, as well as DRC student, Jake Russell, and his invention, the Posi-bot. See his story here:
Yes, as you can see, Jake and Posi-bot have had some awesome local coverage. Thank you to Jake Newman of the Watertown Daily Times for writing the story.
The radio station –B99.3 – said Posibot may be “the most brilliant invention of 2016.”
And, get this, a producer from the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon contacted DRC on Friday to ask if Jake would like to audition to be on a segment of the show called “Fallonventions”. If Jake decides to participate, the above video will be viewed along with other young inventors by Tonight Show executives, who will then make their choice for who will be on the show in NYC in late Feb/early March. We will keep you updated on this very cool story!
Mid-Winter Break Workshops
Themes range from art, bridge building, and Rube Goldberg inventions, to animals, and story telling. Register your child today. Space is limited.
Third Thursday Info Session – January 21 – 12-2pm
Meet our student members and learn how this unique educational philosophy can benefit your child.
In November and December, we profiled a person each Tuesday who is intimately connected to Deep Root Center. As the new year begins, we are reprising the Tuesday Profile with the DRC Board Secretary.
I originally met Kara in 2005 or 2006 and was immediately struck by her ability to connect to students (youth) on deep level. So, as she mentioned when I saw her at the Brewer Bookstore in 2013, I knew she would be a perfect addition to our Board. Thankfully, she agreed to join us.
Name: Kara McLuckie
How long on the DRC Board and responsibilities?
In mid-2103, during an impromptu visit at the Brewer Bookstore Café, Maria told me about her plan to open a self-directed learning center. The idea immediately hooked me and I must have shown just the right amount of excitement for Maria to invite me, on the spot, to join the board!
Listening and transforming the verbal banter from our board meetings into accurate and succinct notes comprise my main responsibilities as the DRC Board secretary. I am also involved in developing communications and media relations for the center, but that is a work in progress.
Why do you serve on the DRC Board?
I serve on the DRC Board because I believe in the greatest number of learning options for kids, and DRC provides a non-school choice that is based on the success of model self-directed learning centers around the United States. The DRC makes homeschooling accessible to kids from a variety of economic backgrounds and family configurations, and it makes amazing use of community resources to support a kid’s education. I like what the DRC does!
What do you do for a living?
I wear three awesome hats right now: Grant Writing, Research and Education Consultant with Positive Action for Treatment Access-Nigeria, Chef at the Blackbird Café in Canton, and Test Preparation Instructor for Clarkson TestPrep, Inc. in Potsdam.
By far, the most time-consuming commute is the one to Nigeria, but that is sometimes eclipsed if I get stuck at the traffic light at the intersection of Park and Main Streets. It’s a very long light.
What are your hobbies and interests?
Right now, I am in love with squash, the racquet sport, not the starchy vegetable. My very understanding partner has been a saint when it comes to playing a few games (and very occasionally winning) with an intense and sometimes tiny bit competitive me, watching me rush out the door to play a match and barely waving good-bye, and being awoken at 2 am by the flickering light of a “How to Improve Your Backhand” YouTube clip binge. I also appreciate my partner’s total lack of jealousy when I introduce one of my squash partners as, “my partner.”
One of the things I like best about squash is the quickness with which a new player can pick up the game, and introducing people to squash is a pleasure. It is a skill and fitness adaptive sport so just about anyone can play, and the courts are wheelchair accessible. So, if anyone reading this would like to help build an army of recreational squashers get in touch with me!
Endurance sports like road biking and triathlon have kept me entertained for several years. I adore the task of setting training goals, seeing improvements in my performance, and meeting the community of athletes at local races. Many people have a mantra that they use in order to stay psyched while they train or compete, mine is, “personal best … personal best … personal best.”
Dogs, dogs, dogs. Since I basically work three jobs and spend most of my free time either playing squash or riding a bicycle, I don’t own a dog. However, I am lucky to have plenty of opportunities to play with and unofficially train other people’s dogs. Call me a self-directed dog enthusiast.
Currently, I have been working on the basics of agility, pointing and retrieving with a lovely Brittany who now has a new doggy playmate. The Britt and I have gone to two great training classes hosted by the St. Lawrence Valley Dog Club, and we have learned that training is a collaboration and ongoing process between dog and handler. The Britt’s playmate is an excellent snuggler, and is currently learning recall and sit commands.
What are you the most proud of?
I am proud of being active in the communities of which I am a member, wherever and whatever they may be.
I am the most proud of being active in the Canton community; it’s where all the pieces of life come together for me.
If you were going to play hooky for the day, what would you do?
Ski, shop and dine in Lake Placid, NY. However, if it were possible to build a St. Lawrence River Skiff, become fluent in French, do the Lake Placid trip and go to bed early (wink) all in one day, I would do that.
Name the last three books you have read.
Richard Rhor’s Falling Upward
The Lifespan of a Fact, Jim Fingal and John D’Agnata
Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird
(I am sneaking in a fourth book: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. I pick up this book frequently and read a chapter, a sentence, a line or a word. It’s a troubling and fascinating work).
This tale is about a sad and lonely ping-pong ball, a blow dryer, a large cardboard tube, a few assorted boxes and baskets, as well as a bored and perpetually curious twelve year old boy who adores games.
On Monday morning, after math class, “T”, the twelve year old discovered a ping-pong ball in the dice container. “T” bounced it off the walls for a few minutes, then asked if he could paint it. He received the usual response, “of course,” and proceeded to paint it red and blue. He then blew the paint dry with the hair dryer and discovered that the force of the hot air held the ball up. “T” played with that for a while and then grabbed a long cardboard tube, placed it against the hairdryer, dropped the ping pong ball into the tube and turned the dryer on.
Whoosh – the ball flew out of the tube! Whoa - Game Changer, right there! Now, he had a device that had the ability to shoot a small ball across a room. (Those of you who know or have known a boy from the age of 3 - on up, will completely understand the amount of delight this phenomenon engendered.)
His cohorts (the seven year old and two - ten year olds) quickly responded to his excitement; they proceeded to invent a pin ball game together by setting up various boxes and baskets on the floor assigned with different scores. They took turns operating the blow dryer, helping each other to hold the tube up and drop the ball in. Another kid kept score with a marker on a hastily set up chart. They experimented by holding the tube at different angles and distances. Eventually, they tired of the whole game and set it aside to move on to the next creative pursuit.
Later that day I asked “T” what he learned, and he said, “I learned that a ping pong ball can be held up with the air of a blow dryer.”
In my estimation, he probably discovered a multitude of truths that he is not able to articulate just yet. He realized that being bored is okay and that by following your curiosity you can create something awesome. Yes, he observed some real physical science in action. He determined that playing is a valid way to explore and experiment. He gained self-esteem as the acknowledged inventor of this new game. He found that making mistakes and problem solving is part of any creative process. He recognized, most of all, that he is an integral part of the Deep Root Center community because of his talents, his inherent physical and creative energy, and his intuitively kind and nurturing nature.
These spontaneous experiences are so powerful because they open the flood gates to learning that go far beyond our extremely limited definition of education. If I had set up a formal physics class with those very same components, the majority of the above mentioned lessons would have been lost.
The basic philosophy behind self-directed learning is that the intrinsic and innate curiosity of each student (child) will lead to similarly profound learning experiences. At DRC, we are fostering (allowing) free exploration of that inquisitiveness by following instead of leading, providing space and time, as well as a large assortment of tools (toys), resources and materials, and by responding, “of course”, to almost every request.
Posi-bot Installation – Tuesday January 12th - 11:30am
Join us at the Canton free Library for the ribbon cutting ceremony to formally welcome Posi-bot to his new home.
If you have been following this story, you know that "J" created Posi-bot this fall as his Social Studies project. Posi-bot contains posi-notes, affirmative messages, that people can take out when they are having a bad day. Others can leave posi-notes if they are feeling generous. In looking for a permanent home for Posi-bot, "J" presented his idea to a Canton Village Trustee who suggested an inside venue, such as CFL. "J" then asked Emily, Krista, and Valerie, if the library would host Posi-bot. They enthusiastically agreed.
After-School Enrichment Program M-Th 2:30 – 4:30
Open to any youth in the community. Contact Maria to register.
Mid Winter Break Workshops
DRC will once again offer workshops during the public school break Feb 15 – 19. We are in the process of scheduling themes for each day, so stay tuned. If you would like to register your child, please contact us today. Space is limited.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our Annual Funding Appeal. Fundraising at DRC is a year round endeavor, because we are not federally or state funded. We rely on philanthropic giving to provide these facilities and programs to youth who are imagining a different kind of education.
Please consider becoming a sustaining donor by using the PayPal button on the DRC website. You can choose to automatically contribute each month.
We also have an envelope and donation jar at Bessette's Bottle Redemption on Rte 11. When you return your bottles and cans, you can add your slip to our envelope. We will also accept your bottle and cans and return them for you.
DRC (Whole Learners) continues to receive a percentage of each sale through your online purchases at iGive and Amazon Smile. We have already earned 65.00 from iGive!
Canton Winter Fest
The DRC kids will be building a snow sculpture in the village park.
The Center will be hosting a Fun Day Open House on Saturday February 13th. Join us for games, arts and crafts, as well as other fun activities.
I think we can probably all agree that every single one of us is a completely unique individual with completely unique ideas, ethics, and philosophies. Therefore, if I said that my thoughts, morals, and principles were the only honorable way to maneuver through this life, outrage would ensue. I would like to point out, however, that every time we argue a point of contention, we are in a very small way doing just that.
Debating, quibbling, and fighting over individual ideals and beliefs will not (usually) change anyone's mind. Because, at the end of the day, we all have this intrinsic belief that we are right. The only way to explain this phenomenon rationally is to simply say it is the result of being human.
Anthropologists call it ethnocentrism, which, I think, only really explains how one ethnicity believes they are superior to all others. Some say it justifies colonialism, slavery, etc....
I personally call this behavior egocentrism, which definitely has negative connotations, but is, I believe, a much better description for this innate human condition that even the wise and enlightened among us have difficulty escaping.
Within this humanness, we look to and are attracted to folks who agree with us on the broadest issues. The people who think, look, or speak differently automatically become “the other”, and as I have mentioned in previous posts, permits all manner of atrocities to be committed. This conduct does not exclude the most forward thinkers; on some level, we are all guilty, simply because we are all human beings.
At this point, we have established that we are all totally different. We all believe our way is best; we will all fight over our perceived rightness, and, as a result, we will not change our minds despite arguments leveled at our deemed incorrectness. If this is indeed all true, then we can also agree that debates are beyond useless!
I would like to propose, in the new year, that instead of lecturing, judging, debasing, ostracizing, or criticizing someone for their personal beliefs, we offer them the circumstances to freely seek out new information, knowledge, and understanding, as well as the opportunity to change their minds without feeling coerced or pressured.
We may also, in the process, find the strength, awareness, wisdom, and hope to change our own minds about previously held personal truths.
Just think about all of the favorable conditions for open-minded growth, change, and peace that will emerge, not to mention, stress relief!
* This post was partially inspired by a Seth Godin blog entitled Making a New Decision from a few weeks ago.
Happy New Year!
Didn't get your donation to DRC in the mail before December 31st? No worries! Send us your tax deductible contribution today (check or PayPal) and you can simply get an early start on the 2016 tax year.
We are doing this amazingly rewarding work all year long and rely on your generosity to provide kids, from all walks of life, the option to live and learn without school.
After School Program begins Monday, January 4
Leillah, a student member of DRC, who has extensive experience working with young children has designed this program. She and other volunteers, with my support, will provide a safe, nurturing, creative environment for youth to explore their interests. Call or email today to register your child.
The Growth Spurt Continues ...
We will welcome two new student members when we return on Monday. If you know of a child who would benefit from our programs, please get in touch. Any student who is interested in learning more, is welcome to visit for a day or two to fully engage in the DRC experience.