When investigating something new or different, what do you look for as an indication that it is a safe choice? Or, simply stated, what makes something feel safe to you?
Do you seek a governmental stamp of approval such as a permit or license, or do you look for something that a large number of people endorse or support? What if you knew those things we commonly examine to verify safety offer, for the most part, no guarantee of security at all?
Think about it.
What if we choose to feel safe because of a proven track record, integrity, or because it simply makes us feel happy?
Again, think about it.
Safety has nothing to do with following the crowd and everything to do with trusting yourself.
Class Dismissed: tomorrow -
April 28th, 7pm
Please spread the word. Opting Out of testing is the first step towards taking control of your child's education. Learn how to Opt Out in an even bigger way.
Tuesday, April 28th, 7pm - UU Church in Canton
Class Dismissed is a film about learning outside the classroom and is a must see for anyone who has a child or knows a child who has expressed frustration, distrust, and a sense of alienation from their current educational situation. If your child has said, "I want to be homeschooled", this movie is for you. If you and your family want to take education back into your own hands, this documentary will explain how it is possible. This film is about choice, freedom, and the possibilities that suddenly open up when your child is allowed to embrace their interests and passions.
Class Dismissed follows a regular, everyday, middle class family as they explore all of their educational options. It is gutsy, honest, and covers every single question and doubt I have heard expressed from families who have explored homeschooling.
Please plan on joining us for the film and discussion. Bring a friend! We will answer questions and offer resources.
There will also be an opportunity to talk to Maria and schedule an appointment at DRC for further conversation about your personal situation.
I will admit, many of the lifestyles choices I have made are a bit unusual when compared to the greater population of the US. And, when I have the opportunity to talk about living off-grid, using a saw dust commode, and growing and preserving much of our food, I see the look in many people's eyes that indicate they think I have gone completely 'round the bend. You know the one I am talking about.
Scanning over the last 50 years of my life (OK, I can only really recall the last 45 or so), I barely recognize the person I was even twenty years ago. Growing up, I was the child who hated school but sucked it up and did what I was told. I was, to be very blunt, a goody two shoes. My dad was a teacher (my 6th grade teacher to boot) and if I got into any trouble it would have been reported directly to him and my mom (this didn't stop my younger brother, however). I was a timid little mouse afraid of my own shadow.
To be clear, I have never liked rules and have always chafed against control and restrictions, however, I have always toed the line and done what I was told. I had an abnormal fear (dislike) of authority. No one could have guessed that I would be living the “alternative” lifestyle I enjoy today, least of all me!
Reactions to my unconventional life choices, however, don't even compare to the responses I receive when I tell people that I trust kids, all kids, explicitly. I trust that they know what they need to learn; I trust that they know how they learn best; I trust they will ask good questions; I trust they are real and honest; I trust they will respect the earth and everyone on it; I trust they will always try to do their best, and if they don't, I trust that they will own up to their mistakes and try to make things right; I trust they will go out into the world as adults, make change, do good work, and be responsible citizens of the earth.
Because, trust and faith, in the end, are what generate trustworthiness. If I child knows without a doubt that he is trusted to make good choices, he will. She will be comfortable in her own skin and will be excited to listen to others opinions, because she knows her opinion is valued and respected. If kids are able to create their own life without having to relive their parents or teachers mistakes and disappointments, they will be successful (happy) in whatever life they choose for themselves.
This confidence I extend is not just reserved for kids, however, I have a deep trust for all humanity. I believe that we are all humanitarians and when options are given, freely, people make choices and decisions that have a positive impact for others. When kindness and goodwill are extended people respond with genuine desire to help each other. I believe it goes back to our evolutionary beginnings as hominids who lived in hunter/gatherer, egalitarian societies. Our ancestors relied on each other for basic survival, and along with our ancient biological need for sweets and fats, this trait, too, has been passed through millennium to guarantee our species endurance.
The key words in all this are freedom, choices, kindness, and options, because if those four things are not present, people tend to make decisions based on their own survival and immediate needs.
Within this story and editorializing lays a request and an amazing opportunity for Deep Root Center and any other organization/individual who would like to (freely) explore the idea.
As I mentioned last week, DRC will be moving at the end of June and is actively searching for a new home. I looked at a large (5000 sq ft) space available on the second floor in downtown Canton. The space has several rooms (eleven, I believe), some with doors that close- others with arch style doorways. It has three separate entrances into a large common area with some architectural detail. The building has a non-functioning elevator; if the owner has paying tenants, he will get it fixed. There are three modern bathrooms and a kitchen without appliances. It is beautifully renovated and is ready to move in. The owner is willing to rent to several organizations/individuals who would then share the space and the cost. Details will be worked out as we determine who will be part of this collaboration.
DRC is interested in organizing this like-minded group. It could work well for someone who needs one room as an office, or an organization that has multiple needs and would be willing to share rooms and common areas with others. This space is large enough that it could accommodate a variety of options.
I am just crazy (trusting) enough to believe (strange looks and all) that there are people in our community who would be very happy and excited to be part of this exciting collaboration. If you know someone who is starting a business, has one that they would like to expand to Canton, is part of an organization that needs to find a new location, and is looking for opportunities to work with fun, outside-the-box thinkers, and awesomely creative people, please have them contact Deep Root Center for more information.
Thank you for your continued support, for spreading the word (about this and about DRC as an educational option) and for sharing your fabulous ideas with us.
We'll keep you updated on this new adventure as well as DRC's growth!
These are three words I struggle with and try to determine if, where, or how they have a place within the non-coercive, student centered, self-directed learning environment of Deep Root Center. The following thoughts and questions are seriously just a few that run through my head everyday. If we expect a student to complete a task, will he view it as an obligation and compulsory? If the staff encourages someone to take on a project before she feels ready, is that coercive? Is there a distinct line between independent learning and supportive education or are the borders really fuzzy and blurry?
These particular concepts had, until recently, always appeared black and white to me with no gray area surrounding them at all. The more I interact with students and their parents in this setting, however, that murky area becomes painfully obvious. Sometimes kids are just stuck in a position of inertia. They have had time to de-school and feel ready to move on, but honestly don't know how to engage with this new world of independence and freedom. They are literally entangled in the residual muck from years of anxiety and of being told what to do. The question then becomes: How do we support and encourage students to climb out of the constraining quagmire without making them feel obligated, coerced, anxious, bullied, or overwhelmed?
In Betcha Can't, a recent post, I suggested that offering a challenge is a good way to draw out the intrinsic learner in all of us. Most of us will respond to the excitement of something new and different, when a new concept is offered as an opportunity for exploration. If this is the case, how do we know which specific challenge to offer each individually unique student? And, how do we know when they are ready to hear and respond positively to that challenge?
The answer to those questions may lay within last week's post about intuition.
Maybe once you spend enough time with a child (as a teacher, parent or friend) and have listened (I mean really listen with your heart wide-open) to her tell her story and then interpret what makes her heart sing, you are better able to respond with an empathetic challenge that she will be accept fully and joyfully. Often times she won't even realize a challenge has been issued because you have simply offered an option from within her own narrative that excites and delights her. She may even be able to escape the doubts and fears and experience the myriad of possibilities open to her.
Trusting ourselves as facilitators or parents and trusting the kids we spend our days with is at the very heart of all these questions. When everyone respects and acknowledges their own talents, and humanness, we are all able to interact on a deeper level. No one feels coerced or obligated because we are all equals learning and growing together.
Deep Root Center is looking for a new home! Our lease expires at the end of June. We have a few ideas about collaborating with other like-minded organizations, businesses, and individuals who are seeking facilities. If you have any thoughts, ideas or suggestions, please pass them on.
Opportunities to learn more about becoming a self-directed, life-long learner:
Third Thursday Info Session - April 16.
Join us to explore the possibilities for any child at Deep Root Center. We will answer questions and discuss the logistics of becoming a DRC member. If you are not able to attend this session, please contact Maria to make an appointment.
Class Dismissed Screening – Tuesday April 28th at 7pm.
DRC is hosting the screening of this important new film about learning outside the classroom at the UU Church in Canton. Don't miss this opportunity to view the film with other members of the community who probably have many of the same questions about educating children in today's world.
I classify myself as an intuitive teacher. This is a label I use to describe anyone who is natural, innovative, imaginative, empathetic, open-minded, has a willingness to have fun and be silly, and is eminently comfortable creating a learning opportunity in any environment. An intuitive teacher often has a kernel of a plan, but usually doesn't carry around a full blown lesson plan, because they understand it is the individuals and their unique ideas within any given experience that will ultimately form the lesson.
Intuitive facilitators sometimes don't even think of describing themselves as teachers, and they are often not trained; it is simply who they are. They can be found in any occupation and in all walks of life. They are the people that others are instinctively drawn to when they are in need of instruction or inspiration.
These are the folks who can be found sitting next to a young person in the woods listening to a story about the fairy house being built from twigs, stones, and cool moss. The ones standing among a group of kids facilitating a discussion about starting a business or their favorite animals. The person who transcribes the story that eleven children, in turn, are creating and dictating. The ones who are facilitating the brainstorming session and offering encouragement. Or, the individual who has a large supply of recycled materials, craft supplies, and a specific creative challenge. We are the people who can take any idea or suggestion and spontaneously turn it into an activity or “lesson.”
I am so very grateful that my job description does include the word teacher because I get to spend my days listening, engaging, and challenging students. I get to follow the paths initiated from a kid's concepts and proposals. I encourage young people to think about education as an exploration of life instead of individual subjects to be checked off on a curriculum sheet. I also help families translate all of the awesome learning a student has done at home, in the community, and at DRC into Educational-ese a term I have borrowed from an on-line homeschool article. This is the language that manipulates words and phrases to indicate the presence of “real” education and learning; it is used and understood in the world of formal, socially accepted education and the one authorities expect o see when they read such things as Individualized Home Instruction Plans (IHIPs) and Quarterly Assessment Reports.
I am also grateful, however, that I am not a trained teacher; my degrees in Fashion Design/Fashion Merchandising and Anthropology have offered a breadth and depth of knowledge, as well as a love of learning, that I probably would not have discovered if I had majored in Education. I was able to delve deeply into the subjects that interested me and that led me to understand that people learn more and are happier when their education is self-directed and completely individualized.
My passion for exploring new ideas and sharing them with others is entirely encompassed within this gratitude. This is the reason I get up every day, the reason I write, and the reason DRC exists. It simply and unabashedly makes me happy.