The Liberated Learner philosophy is based on the simple fact that we are all growing and learning in an integrated society throughout our entire lives. We embraced that concept literally, two and a half years ago, when we opened DRC, and offered our program and facilities to children from the ages 7-18, because we believe a real world education requires a firm grasp on the real world which includes the opportunity to participate in a community filled with a variety of ethnicities, abilities, eccentricities, economic backgrounds, religious beliefs, gender identities, as well as a spectrum of ages.
We can proudly report that this decision has grown an amazingly diverse and close knit collective at Deep Root Center that play, converse, and learn together on a daily basis. Everyone takes the six-year-olds’ concerns and talents as seriously as the seventeen-year-olds. They nurture and support each other through all their imaginary games, personal projects, and explorations.
It is amazing to watch (and listen) to a thirteen year old and seven year old become deeply engaged in conversation that feeds both of their spirits or a group of multi-age kids devise an apartment house with a variety of furniture and recycled materials to act out fanciful scenes (this past week, they were preparing for an inspectors visit) for hours on end.
Last Thursday I walked, with ten kids, to the Canton Pavilion to play kickball in an official field. We discovered, upon arrival, that eight of the ten kids had no earthly idea how to play kickball. The two thirteen-year-old boys quickly took the situation in hand and chose up teams with a complete lack of ego or competitiveness. They immediately understood that this was going to be a “game” that involved very little real kickball action and much hilarity. They made up arbitrary rules to assist the younger (and the oblivious) kids and guided everyone indeterminate of which team they were on. Needless to say, I spent most of the time rolling on the ground in laughter as their antics became increasingly absurd (yes, this probably explains why the photos I took to document the day are so unfocused - bad). The game lasted for two “innings” and eventually devolved into several kids making up imaginary games on the bleachers and others showing off their gymnastic skills on the grass. Watching children from all age groups romp and play together is, indeed, one of my greatest pleasures.
Several families have approached me over the past year asking if DRC would consider creating a program specifically for young elementary age students, because they want to homeschool their children, but because of life's little realities, are not able to take on the process themselves. We accepted a six year old, in February, because she was completely miserable in Kindergarten (because, I simply couldn't say “no” to an unhappy child). She, as mentioned previously, has fit in, mostly, because she is a delightfully, independent little thing who requires very little from the adults (except to ask for her allotted ration of hot glue sticks everyday). She creates hands-on projects, researches animals on the computer, makes books with printed out animals, interacts with the other kids, reads with a volunteer, and plays with the toys everyday.
With this past year’s experiences and wisdom under our belt, Deep Root Center, as requested, is developing a formal program integrating Montessori, Waldorf, and other child-centered philosophies and is starting to enroll youth between the ages of five and eight now for this coming academic year. This will be assimilated into our existing program to allow for the organic and spontaneous multi-age activities, play, and projects to sprout up throughout the day --- enhancing our already dynamic community and making it even stronger.
This initiative is a team effort led by André, the new DRC apprentice, and me. Another volunteer, who is a trained and experienced Montessori practitioner, has agreed to guide us through the development process and facilitate for a few hours each week. The Montessori philosophy focuses on creating an environment that is accessible, engaging, enticing, interesting, and heterogeneous with open shelving that houses rotating activities, objects, games, and toys, based on particular topics, where children are invited to explore on their own initiative. Lessons are conversations built around those subjects and interests, and, like all DRC classes, are completely optional. A theme will be prepared for each month along with a variable schedule of activities, lessons, and games which allows room for extemporaneous roaming and rambling dependent on individual requests and needs. The learning is completely self-directed within our safe, non-coercive, friendly, yet structured environment.
This new program allows Deep Root Center to offer our brand of real world education to families with younger children who acknowledge and understand that learning is a lifetime occupation that takes on varying disguises and forms and is seldom quiet, complacent, or obedient, but is frequently active, loud, boisterous, quite often messy, and many times willfully independent. If this describes your ideology, give us a call or drop us an email; we would love to share our vision with you.
We are in the process of talking with people who are interested this dynamic and exciting apprenticeship and will be accepting applications through the middle of June. Please get in touch if you would like to explore this opportunity. The job description and application are available on our website.
We have you covered parents. Just say “no” to bored kids this summer and register today.
END OF YEAR CELEBRATION
Join us for a potluck and art show, June 1st at 5:30pm, to celebrate all the accomplishments and growth this past year.
DAIRY PRINCESS – JUNE 4th
Look for the DRC float in the parade and come and talk to staff and board at the DRC table in front of our building. We will also have the facilities open and available for tours all day.