Anyone who spends time with kids (of any age) can acknowledge how profoundly they understand the concepts surrounding privilege, disparity, social structure, and economics. Sadly, each child knows instinctively if they are at the bottom, middle, or top simply by observing how they are treated. No guess work required. Wealth and professional status equals high regard; poverty and plebeian ranking is on par with contempt, suspicion, and disrespect. It was how our system was originally designed and it is what modern culture fully endorses --- raise those at the top to the heights of opulence and push those on the bottom down to the depths of squalor, all the while, promising that compulsory education is (can be) the great equalizer.
This past week, I read a scholarly article that used Ivan Illich's 1971 book Deschooling Society and the fourth season of HBO's The Wire to discuss Illich's revelations about how the myths invoked by capitalism have compounded the problems of institutionalized education and to introduce his proposed solution of intentional learning communities.
It is hard to believe that I had never heard of Illich before reading this article. His fundamental beliefs about education are, for the most part, spot on with my personal philosophy. After reading this article (and highlighting the majority of it), I immediately ordered his book and look forward to delving more deeply into his ideology.
One of his observations (and remember this was written in 1971) relates directly to the above mentioned stratifying of society. He saw that those who benefited most from education were those that already profited from the entitlements affiliated with social hierarchy. Those that do not come from a privileged background suffered from discrimination because they simply do not fit into societal norms or expectations.
He also saw that assessment through standardized testing creates another means of ranking, not only of students, but teachers, schools, and their communities. Thereby creating larger economic disparity by punishing those who do not reach optimum achievement on the tests.
In reading this article, I understand that Illich believed the system of institutionalized education to be inherently flawed, and, more importantly, rigged against those who were (are) supposed to benefit the most.
Many students and families, right here in the North Country, are stigmatized, pigeonholed, categorized, segregated, intimidated, and encounter institutionally sanctioned discrimination, simply because of their economic and social standing.
Yes, these are strong statements, and, yes, my anthropologically inspired socialistic roots are showing, however, these are my convictions that, I believe, should be an important part of any dialogue about education. I fully understand that, by voicing my opinions, I can not independently or magically change the system and I will not convince most readers that capitalism is, indeed, defective.
I can, however, provide an inspiring place of learning that accepts, supports, and encourages every child to explore how their distinctive and beautiful gifts can best be shared with the world. Our organizational doctrine does not use economic indicators, ethnicity, income, gender, sexual orientation, learning differences, standardized tests, or societal expectations to limit or dictate who we serve.
Everything we work toward is in direct opposition to capitalistic ideals, which understandably creates tension and multiple challenges. The DRC ideology supports egalitarian and socialistic viewpoints, however, by default (paying rent and employees, and, purchasing supplies and equipment), Deep Root Center participates in a free market society which places all its eggs in one cumbersome, top-heavy basket.
We situate DRC at financial risk by joyfully accepting every student, who wants to join us, despite their economic and social tier (currently 90% of our members receive some amount of fee reduction). Our expenses are not going to be diminished (or eliminated) simply because we don't believe in the system that has created the need for them. Covering ones eyes and ears and shouting, “na-na-na-na”, neither sustains an organization's dignity, nor, more importantly, its bank account.
As Catherine Gobron, one of the co-founders of Lighthouse Holyoke (another Liberated Learner organization), is fond of saying, “the challenge is the opportunity.”
This is the moment we look to you, our community, to ask for your ideas on how we can work together on this enigma for all those kids who require our brand of education. I look forward to hearing every single (hair-brained, crazy, out there) scheme, because, as with all brainstorms, every notion guides us to others that eventually leads to the opportunity. Thank you.
This post was inspired by Illich, Education, and the Wire, by Erin Buzuvis. A link to the article can be found at the bottom of this page.
As mentioned, I have purchased a copy of Ivan Illich's book, Deschooling Society. It will be available to borrow as soon as I have taken it in fully.
Thanks to Krista Briggs for donating these origami stars for our August 13th sale.
Saturday, August 13th
Deep Root Center will be participating in the Village-wide garage sale event on August 13th.
We are looking for donations of goods – hand-crafts and used items (in good condition) - that can be sold during the event to raise money for DRC. You can contact the center to set up a time to deliver your contributions.
We will also host an open-house at the same time for folks to learn more about Deep Root Center. We look forward to seeing you.
This is Splash Week! We will be heading to Taylor Park as many times as weather permits. Register today!
by Maria Corse . . . which is why I am so very grateful to be part of an amazing team, who each offer diverse talents and skills to this community. One of whom has recently agreed (to my great relief and undying gratitude) to be designated (crowned) the queen of all the immensely important (do or die) small stuff.
I am really bad at coping with minutiae and to be totally blunt--- I have never, in all my life, been accused of precision, perfectionism, or exactitude. My beloved and doting grandma was of the same mind, most likely, because she understood and recognized the difficulty I have negotiating through the things in life that require delicacy, dexterity, and finesse. “It won’t show from the road,” was her most common refrain when I proudly presented one of my many handcrafts that were ever so slightly askew. In reminiscing, I now realize that she always mentioned the flaws, however, she also recognized and honored them as an integral part of the whole.
Deep Root Center exists, mostly, because, over the last three years, I have been able to focus on my strength of envisioning the big picture --- creating (dreaming up) programs, problem solving, embracing spontaneity, welcoming collaborations, engaging in enthusiastic conversations, and being doggedly determined, while bumbling (and swearing a blue streak) through the drudgery of creating Excel spreadsheets, filing required not-for-profit documentation, and finalizing the other “officialdom” of New York State.
Deep Root Center is now thriving and growing, due to the fact that we now have a full staff that is dedicated to exploiting their individual expertise to further DRC's mission. Our crew consists of: people who are detail oriented, facilitators who delight in focusing on planning and scheduling, folks who are thrilled to brain-storm and strategize, implementers who ably take those ideas and make them reality, problem solvers, crafts people who can seemingly make something out of nothing, and we have the young at heart who will sit on the floor and play for hours. There are introverts who are happy to work behind the scenes and extroverts who adore being the public face of DRC. Personalities and talents continuously merge, blend, and compliment each other to create this awesome place.
In reality, none of us is good at everything --- no one has an all-encompassing brilliance to do it all. At DRC, we understand that young people have dreams and goals based on their personal interests, talents, and passions, too. (No, they are not sad, empty vessels yearning to be filled with a pitcher of cool knowledge.) Every student member is recognized as a unique individual who contributes a distinct genius to our learning community. We support and encourage them to develop their ambitions and we provide them the opportunity to explore how to share their aptitudes and gifts with the wider world. Our expectations are entangled in their desires. Our only wish for each of them is pure and unadulterated happiness, based on their own aspirations.
DRC is building the class schedule in ten-week blocks this academic year. This fall, we are looking for people to share their knowledge and skills with our kids in a variety of subjects including: Ancient Asian History, carpentry, French, Latin, Civics, Earth Science, Biology, Psychology, higher-level math, and Physics by volunteering at least one hour each week. We are also looking for volunteers who can provide IT, grant writing, and fund raising support. If you are interested joining our dynamic team, please get in touch.
DRC is currently taking applications for membership for the 2016/17 academic year. If you would like to learn more about all of our programs, contact us today.
The Seedlings is for young elementary age youth and is the only Montessori inspired educational program in St Lawrence County.
Contact us today if you are interested in finding an educational facility that celebrates each child's gifts and supports them to honor their individuality.
. . . are just one more indication that current cultural patterns are created from nothing more than multiple games of follow the leader. Human beings have become Pavlov's dog, automations conditioned to respond to cues, signals, and prompts. We chuckle, moan, or clap when the “audience” laughs, groans, or applauds. When the latest app game becomes a fad, we are instantly addicted. Hate, vitriol, ignorance, and unkindness have their own bandwagon. Obsessions are adopted rapidly simply because crowd mentality has deemed them innocuous.
Our innate sense of inquisitiveness, thoughtfulness, and individualism has been high jacked by a system that encourages and promotes conformity, meaningless competition, and uniformity.
I believe that passion and a personal commitment toward self-determination are the keys to sabotaging this phenomenon. Despite popular belief, we are not rudderless rafts adrift in a sea of indecisiveness.
You can make every choice unique --- based on your own experiences, interests, values, and ideals by investigating, researching, and thinking before stalking the crowd. Dare to be different. Live compassionately. Drive off the beaten track, and, please, laugh outside the lines.
DRC NEWS Summer Programming BUG OUT this week with DRC Summer Programs. Explore the world of entomology through hands- on experiences and research. Create a buggy mural and crafts. Take a hike and collect specimens (to be later released). Make up silly (or serious) songs and stories. The creepy crawly options are endless. Fees: $150/week or $40/day. Registertoday.
Square A New Way to Support DRC DRC is committed to saying “sure, yes, and of course” to every student who wants to explore the possibilities created by choosing self-directed learning. You can help us by simply clicking here and choosing an amount to gift to DRC. Every dollar pledged goes directly to supporting our kids to ask questions, learn, grow, and make choices. A New Way to Pay DRC Fees DRC now has a card reader. Pay your summer program fees and/or your DRC membership fees with your debit or credit card. $1.00/transaction will be charged to cover the Square-Up merchant fees. DRC Membership We are taking applications now for the 2016/2017 academic year. Our mission is to provide the facilities, environment, resources, and support for young people who choose to live and learn without school. If you know a child who wants to break free of societal pressures and expectations, please let them know DRC is here to help them create their own path. Contact us today.
Everyone identifies as part of a group that accepts them for exactly who they are. As human beings, we naturally seek out those most like us; people with similar interests, passions, belief systems, and ideologies.
I will argue, however, that when tribal affiliations, obedience, and blind acceptance of group dogma trump critical thinking, not to mention, common sense, the positive benefits of membership are irreversibly annihilated.
The ability to divide populations and influence the behavior, and, thoughts of vast numbers of people is, indeed, a powerful testament to the tribal mentality.
Whether it is The Democratic, Republican, or Green party, Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, Paganism, Animism, Atheism, or Humanism, Pro-gun or Anti-gun, stay-at-home Moms or Mothers in the work force, Pro-Life or Pro-Choice, Environmentalists or Climate Change Deniers, black, brown, or white, quilters or knitters, organic or conventional farmers - - - the list goes on and on.
These affiliations all have one thing in common – creating the other --- providing reasons to judge and hate.
We can voluntarily educate ourselves, as one way to bring an end to the senseless violence and hostility --- unapologetically question, investigate, and understand the “party line” before jumping on the bandwagon. Above all, be willing to be wrong, and, be prepared to accept an idea that was previously counter to your closely held beliefs. This will allow us all to meet as a tribe of fellow human beings with love, compassion, empathy, and understanding instead of loathing and fear. Blessings will be upon us all, because, one encounter at a time, we will change the state of this world.
Deep Root Center is accepting applications for membership for the 2016/17 academic year. Maria is available to meet with students and their families to listen to their individual stories and discuss the benefits of Deep Root Center membership. You can contact her to set up an appointment
Maker - Space
We need some help getting the Maker Space room functional. If you are available to install shelving, move furniture and supplies into the space, please get in touch.
When your “to-do” list is so long that you are flummoxed by the very thought of deciding which of those thousand items has actual priority, it is nearly impossible to comprehend taking time to do essentially nothing, without feeling guilty.
Modern western society is built on the ideal of hard work, obedience, and uniformity - all tenets of the compulsory educational system that was founded over 100 years ago when factories needed a compliant, moderately educated, and diligent workforce.
Our culture, consequently, has been brainwashed into believing that relaxation is self-indulgent and slothful, therefore sinful. Scientists agree, however, that scheduling downtime is absolutely critical to productivity, and your sanity.
The circadian rhythm of wakefulness and sleep are the human equivalent of a default mode to insure our brains have time to reboot --- digest, interpret, and absorb the abundance of information processed by those amazingly adept neurons everyday. Overriding those manufacture recommendations is detrimental to efficiency, not to mention your mental health.
Beyond those inherent patterns, however, humans also need whole days of rest – to ponder and ruminate on our individual actions and place in the world. I have unapologetically built a day of reflection into my weekly schedule. This time is sacred, and as an introvert, positively essential for my ability to interact confidently with others on a daily basis. These days are, ideally, spent alone, staring off into space, writing, reading (for pure pleasure), napping, baking and cooking, and performing the bare minimum of household duties.
This natural ebb and flow is also apparent to those of us who work with youth who have spent years in a traditional school setting. These kids require a time (weeks, months, or years) for contemplation and shedding preconceived notions about themselves and their education before they can consciously embrace choice, discovery, and exploration in a self-directed learning setting. We call this period of self-discovery, “de-schooling”, and it looks, feels, and sounds like they are “doing nothing”. As hard as it is to watch, this gift of time is truly essential for their growth and eventual success.
Decompression is hard-wired into every mechanical and living system. Give yourself, and, others permission to sit (or lay) idly. Watch the clouds float past, the wind whisper through the leaves, the pollen laden bee drone by, or, even, imagine the footprints of others who have come before. Take as long as you need --- breath in the quiet and solitude. Rest.
We are very excited to announce a team of three facilitators: Chris Raymo is an accomplished musician and a DRC parent, who has years of experience teaching music as well as young children in a daycare setting. Michelle Manno is a homeschool mom who has recently and whole heartedly embraced the concept of un-schooling. She graduated from Notre Dame with a BA in Psychology and has experience as a teaching assistant in a classroom for children with diagnosed behavioral disorders. Desiree Roddy, a doula in training, who has two young children and has been trained and has practical knowledge in Montessori Methodology, is volunteering to train the DRC staff and will spend time at DRC each week.
This team will be meeting throughout the summer to plan monthly themes and activities and to design the designated space.
Applications for the Seedlings program are being accepted now and through the summer. Contact Maria to schedule an appointment to learn more.