How passé - completely yawn inspiring - boring. Some would go even further to say that there is no real drama or thrill in nice.
I would argue, in most cases, that just may be the point. I understand, there are those few who thrive on theatrics, crisis after crisis, and turmoil, however, for most of us, it gets really old, really fast. And, for many us who are ultra-sensitive, it is absolutely unbearable. We are highly attuned to the energies and feelings swirling around a room when we walk in. An environment filled with toxic vibes of anger, sadness, fear, anxiety, or frustration often hits us like a ton of bricks.
On the other hand, we are equally aware of positive energy. Personally, when I am surrounded by people who are pleasant, kind, authentic, and open to new ideas and experiences, my heart beat slows down (I stop pacing) and I am visibly engaged in the activities or conversation around me.
People who are sensitive are often conscious of their impact on others and are very mindful of intentionally offering their whole selves by listening and observing carefully without judgement, and, by expressing their feelings and ideas with the objective of discovering shared passions and interests. I value the opportunity to make deep personal connections and to build meaningful relationships with the people I meet, all the while learning from their experiences. Because, really, when it is all said and done, isn’t that why we are all here?
No matter what you subscribe to --- The Golden Rule, the Law of Reciprocity, or the principles of Karma, they all promote this one thing. In my view, nice rests companionably alongside, honesty, authenticity, humor, compassion, empathy, and kindness; however, it also resides cozily within excitement, enthusiasm, discovery, creativity, passion, and spirited-ness. In other words, there is absolutely no need to be an obnoxious jerk to avoid boredom, because with respectful behavior you can open yourself to compelling new friendships and ideas, and, in the process, you may even uncover a small dose (hit) of drama, in bite-size, manageable portions.
Summertime We spent the last week of our academic year: playing in the woods, talking about classes for next year, making fidget spinners, dismantling the aquaponics system, working on our (award winning) Dairy Princess float, making homemade pizza, and engaging in the usual lively social scene.
Thank you again to all of our kids, their families, staff, and volunteers for another fantastic year. I am continually inspired by your enthusiasm and willingness to explore this model of education.
We have some exciting initiatives that we will be unveiling over the next couple weeks.
First – We will be creating a workout room/gym space at DRC. It will include simple equipment such as: a punching bag and boxing gloves, hand weights, chin-up bar, yoga mats and props, a balance ball, (maybe a small b-ball hoop), and a foam tile floor mat.
Second –We will be revamping our weekly schedule to take advantage of community collaborations and college student volunteers. Beginning Sept. 5th, DRC will be open every Monday and Tuesday, closed on Wednesday, and open on Thursday and Friday.
Third - Stay tuned for information about a brand new, innovative program at DRC this Fall.
Summer Hours In general, the Center will be open M-F, 8-3 during the month of June. I will, however, be scheduling appointments through the whole month and we will be working on rearranging, organizing and building our new spaces, so contacting us ahead of time is advised.
I will be taking at least two weeks of vacation during the month of July. There will be staff and/or an intern at the Center most days if you would like to stop in and check us out.
17/18 Registration is Open Contact Maria to set up an appointment to learn how your child can share their voice and ideas while becoming part of this dynamic and inspiring community of learners.
Self-directed, non-coercive education has been proven successful, beneficial, and valuable by years of scientific research, as well as the anecdotal experiences of thousands of learners and teachers.
Children learn more in their first year of life than the remainder of their years put together. Self-Directed learning methodology capitalizes on that natural instinct by allowing for and supporting a life-long love of learning, intrinsic motivation, individual interests and learning styles.
As children grow, defiance, their other inherent instinct, begins to kick in. Evolutionarily speaking, resistance to coercion and institutional pressures is absolutely necessary to the survival of the species. Innovative questions, fresh ideas, and new techniques, simply put, prevent stagnation of the culture.
This intuitive rebellion, along with the intention of attempting to change cultural norms, however, is seen as a direct threat by stake holders within the status quo. Students in traditional educational situations are, therefore, taught to conform, follow the rules, and abstain from questioning authority.
Over the last twenty to thirty years, innumerable professionals have stepped out of the established educational model, with more joining the movement every day, simply, because they do not want to work counter to the natural human instinct of acquiring knowledge and skills. AERO a not-for-profit organization based on Long Island is a clearing house for the many versions of self-directed, child-centered education.
Deep Root Center is a member of the Liberated Learners Network of twelve functioning (open) learning centers with several more in the planning stages, opening in September. Each of the individual centers follow the North Star model, which was co-founded by Ken Danford in 1996. We are all completely unique, however, in the way we choose to operate. For example: at this point, DRC is the only center that works with young children (our Seedlings program); Lighthouse, in Holyoke, is much more structured; Compass, in Ottawa, offers individual classes to homeschoolers who don’t want to become members of the Compass community.
This is one of the reasons I traveled with two students to True North in Collinsville (Canton), CT, LightHouse in Holyoke MA, and North Star in Sunderland, MA this past week. We spent time observing and interacting with staff and members of these three sister centers to soak up ideas and inspiration to bring back to DRC. We had a ton of fun in the process and have started planning another mini-tour for next year.
Deep Root Center is building the future of education, right here in the NoCo, by supporting and encouraging our student member’s innate desire to explore their questions, ideas, and interests in our safe, dynamic, supportive community of engaged, self-motivated, and happy learners.
Last Week of the Academic Year This is our last week before summer break. The Center will be open during the summer as we work on: administrative tasks, plans for next year, and re-configuring the space (exciting news will be heading your way in a week or two). We will also have summer programming the last three weeks of August.
Become a Member Now is the time to begin exploring opportunities for next year. We anticipate an onslaught of applications over the next few weeks. Contact Maria today to schedule an appointment to learn more about becoming a member of DRC. Check out our “How it Works” and “Is DRC Membership Right for You?” pages for more information.
Thank You I am incredibly grateful to Christopher Raymo, our Seedlings Apprentice and Music Director. This place is better for his dedication to providing a nurturing, playful, and inspiring space for the Seedlings. He also brings a level of inclusiveness, patience, as well as professionalism to the DRC music program. I am looking forward to building more DRC awesomeness with him in the coming years.
Thank you also to André Lynch, the DRC Educational Program Director. André wandered in to DRC, out of curiosity, in the late fall of 2015. He volunteered for several months, and, when our student numbers started exploding last Spring, we hired him part-time. The innate curiosity that drove André to walk up the stairs has served DRC well. He is an integral part of our program and as he moves on to other endeavors, we send him with our love and best wishes. We will miss you!
The ancient school yard taunt, “sticks and stones … but words will never hurt me”, is a stinking pile of fiction (bull sh*t) that, for some reason, has transcended the ages. Labels, quite plainly, hurt. Beyond that, these denigrating tags initiate a downward spiral of consequences for the labeled, as well as, anyone or anything associated with them.
Every “trouble maker” has dreams and aspirations that are often either buried deeply or shattered by an adult’s judgement disguised as good intentions.
Yes, the so-called hooligans, delinquents, and resistors are all welcome and celebrated at DRC. Indeed, some of these teens have unsavory reputations that precede them, however, if I believed (or, for that matter, listened to) the labels, I would not have the privilege and honor of knowing these sweet, kind, funny, and smart (as hell) kids. I count myself beyond fortunate to be privy to their hopes and dreams and to have these shining stars in my life.
The fourth principle in the DRC philosophy says it best:
How people behave under one set of circumstances does not predict how they will behave under a very different set of circumstances.
School success or failure is not necessarily a predictor of a child’s potential for success or failure outside of school. An unmotivated student may become enthusiastic and committed after she’s left school. A student who doesn’t thrive in a classroom environment may become successful when allowed to learn through apprenticeships or in one-on-one tutorials. When we change the approach, the structure, and the assumptions, all kinds of other changes often follow. *used by permission of North Star
Simply stated, young people who act out are merely responding to their environment, people, and/or circumstances. They are not “bad”! I am sure someone who is a professional in the mental health field could (and would) explain this much more accurately and eloquently, however, this is what I, an untrained person who just happens to work with distressed and anxious kids, witnesses and intuits every time I meet another kid who is struggling in the traditional system.
At DRC, we believe that by providing time to decompress in a safe, supportive, non-coercive, dynamic, and caring environment, filled with empathetic, trusting, nurturing, and non-judgmental people, who listen closely, as well as an abundance of opportunities, we can, and, will, grow those defiant “hooligans” into healthy, engaged, respectful, and happy young adults.
DRCTrip I will be leaving early Tuesday morning with three teens (yay, we added one) to visit North Star in Sunderland, MA, as well as two other learning centers in CT and MA based on the North Star model.
Membership If your child is interested in joining us in September, please get in touch.
Summer Programming Deep Root Center will be offering Summer Programs the weeks of August 14, 21, and 28. DRC provides a safe, fun environment, which supports and encourages imaginative play and project based creativity, with an abundance of resources and materials, as well as a supportive staff, all in a comfortable and inviting air conditioned space. Register here: http://www.deeprootcenter.org/summer-programs.html or contact Maria - firstname.lastname@example.org or 315-714-4032.
Music Program Thank you to everyone who came out to the DRC Spring Concert last Tuesday. Our musicians exceeded expectations, once again. If you missed it, you can see the video here.
If you are inspired by what you read, see, or hear about Deep Root Center, please consider investing your dollars in our programs. We are an organization working hard to change the landscape of poverty and apathy in the North Country, through education of the young people who are the stakeholders of our future. Thank you!
Everyone has a tale to tell. Our personal stories, as presented in last week’s post, ultimately determine how we feel about ourselves and how we respond to challenging situations. Regrettably, the majority of our firmly held truths are erroneously based on someone else’s judgements.
This statement is especially accurate when we consider the messages our kids are bombarded with every single day. Young people translate those verdicts quite effectively, for themselves, into meaning: “there is something wrong with me and I don’t fit in.” And, in turn feel obligated to judge others using the same exact criteria.
As our kids grow into tween-hood (ages 9-12), they have most likely already embraced their assigned identity. Unfortunately, for many, that stamp is debilitating negative - hyper, weird, angry, stupid, shiftless and lazy, or, simply, the trouble maker. Once distinguished, they feel obligated and strangely proud to uphold their disagreeable reputation.
Understanding this basic piece of human nature, I wonder, incessantly, why we, as a society, instead of actually spending the time to get to know the child well enough as to understand the motivation behind the negative behaviors, continue to go into default mode of control - authoritarian methodology, and criticism, to try to produce desired results. Especially when we know these strategies often yield: drama, anxiety, tension, angst, resistance (push-back), intense unhappiness, and, very rarely, the outcome we envision.
I maintain that it is far more beneficial to offer positive reinforcement – to seek out (really dig for) and recognize efforts and accomplishments with supportive, inspirational, and esteem boosting language, which in the process, builds a positive reputation that the young person can proudly own, as well as respectful, trusting, and egalitarian relationships that last a lifetime.
Yes, I will be the first to admit, this takes time, patience, and tons of effort, because, sometimes finding the positive is extremely hard, especially, when a kid is working overtime to maintain that trouble maker image. To be truly effective, we, first, need to comprehend that it feels impossible (terrifying and unsettling) for them to relinquish an identity that is deeply intrinsic to their essential being.
Ultimately, you will discover that cultivating an environment of inclusion, respect, support, mutual dialog, and trust by communicating affirming, constructive, and encouraging messages is worth the time, sweat, frustration, and, yes, tears. Because, positively influencing a child’s (teen’s) perception of themselves and having the great privilege of observing the powerful transformations is just reward.
DRC News Spring Concert
Join us for the DRC Spring Concert at the Canton Free Library, Tuesday, May 9th at 12:30 and be prepared to be impressed by these awesome musicians. This is a free event; everyone is welcome. Donations will, however, be gladly accepted. DRC Voices We are celebrating all of the unique voices at DRC. Have you seen the series on the website and Facebook? If not, spend some time getting to know these fabulous beings. You may just be inspired! Trip to MA and CT I will be traveling to three other Liberated Learner Centers in MA and CT with two DRC teens the week of May 15th. We are looking forward to spending time with, and, learning from other teens and adults who are passionate about self-directed learning.