Last week-end I attended the Liberate Learners Replication Conference at North Star in Amherst MA, for the second time. Liberated Learners is the Not-For Profit formed last year by Ken from North Star and Joel from Princeton Learning Cooperative (the second Learning Center) that acts as an umbrella and a support organization for all of the Center's that are replicating the North Star model. There are now seven North Star type learning centers in the US and one in Ottawa, Canada. Two of those Center's opened as a direct result of the 2013 Replication Conference, Bay State Learning Center in Dedham, MA and Deep Root Center (us). This year there were several more interested individuals who may begin a Center in their town. This is a growing movement that we are all very excited about. We (members of Liberated Learners) envision a world where there is at least one self-directed learning style Center in each public school district in the US that acts as one more option available to those who are not satisfied with their current educational situation.
To create a replication of North Star you have to decide on what, in practice, it will look like. There are a few guidelines, but they are fairly simple:
You and your team must be determined that you are creating something instead of school. Yes, this is not a school. A Self-Directed Learning Center has no attendance policy; there is no coercion involved, and the learning is directed by the youth. The Center does not offer grades or a diploma.
Other than that, replicating North Star is pretty free form. Which makes sense. We are out here in the world saying each individual has value, needs to be heard, and is completely unique, so too are all of these Centers.
For instance, the other Centers start accepting students at age 11 and are in urban settings. Deep Root Center is in a very rural area and partially because of this we start at a younger age, which will be determined by the interest this generates in our community.
We are all open four days each week, because kids need to establish a life outside of their formal education. However, some are closed on Wednesdays and some of us have decided a long week-end is desirable, so are closed on Fridays.
The bottom line for all of us is definitely the kids. And, each of them use and see these spaces in a completely different way. Some see a rigorous classroom space with group classes or one on one tutorials, others see a comfortable social space, many use it as a place where art and other hands-on projects are created, some see a place with a loving compassionate support group and mentors; the list is endless. It is and can be all of that because this is completely individualized and totally flexible learning model. We are, in fact, whatever each youth needs in their life at this particular moment. Deep Root Center is the headquarters for self-directed, completely personalized learning in the St Lawrence Valley.
If you and your child are looking for something totally different, contact us today. If you know someone who is unhappy and dissatisfied in their current learning environment, please let them know Deep Root Center is here to help them fulfill their educational goals.
Len Mackey is facilitating our Drumming and Dance Workshop next week July 28th-August 1st. Sign up today! Not just for kids! Anyone over the age of 7 is welcome.
In Other News:
We are an official corporation standing completely on our own. We owe Seedcorn a tremendous debt and unending gratitude for guiding us through these past six months. Deep Root Center is currently in the process of filing for 501(c)3 status. We will keep you updated as it progresses.
Which leads to our Help Wanted section. We are looking for someone with bookkeeping/accounting skills to help us get our financial records organized and on Quick Books. If you know of someone who would be able to donate a few hours a month to this endeavor please let us know.
As always thank you for your continued support and enthusiasm for this growing project.