I get it, really! Deep Root Center, along with the other Liberated Learners (LL) Centers in the US and Canada, is completely different from any other educational environment out there. We are all listening to kids stories and linking them directly to their interests in open environments that encourage and support mutual respect and trust, self-direction, intrinsic motivation, and learning through living, in ways that schools can not. It is, therefore, fairly common to hear these five questions when I am out in the community: “What is Deep Root Center?” “How does Deep Root Center Work?” “Why do kids choose Deep Root Center?” “When will they learn the stuff they need to learn?” And the ever popular, “Where can kids go after they finish (can they go to college)?”
What – Deep Root Center is the only innovative, dynamic, and forward looking learning center in Northern New York. DRC provides a completely unique and individualized academic program for each student member based on their interests and passions through classes and one-on-one tutorials, and DRC serves as a direct bridge to the community to help students locate internships, apprenticeships, and volunteer opportunities. Youth have access to resources, materials, tools, equipment, and staff support to delve into personal academic research and to create hands-on, art, science, carpentry, and other real world projects. DRC is proud to offer a safe social space where kids are invited and comfortable to be their true selves.
How – The legal mechanism for a young person to become a member of DRC (and the other LL Centers) is to file homeschool documentation with their local school district. The staff at Deep Root Center offers direct assistance in writing the Letter of Intent, Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP), and the Quarterly Progress Reports. After becoming a member, each youth uses the DRC facility in accordance with their personal learning plan which they map out with their mentor during weekly advising meetings.
Why – Despite legions of dedicated, caring teachers, many young people choose DRC because they are lost, bored, or alienated. Some, for a variety of reasons, are struggling and feel anxious. These kids are looking for something different and they feel ready to take charge of their education.
When – This is probably the hardest concept for people in our society to understand, because most of us have been through the compulsory, coercive, and standardized system. Despite what we have been told over and over again, few students in a class are going to understand or retain information (after the exam), just because a teacher introduces an idea and spends 30 - 60 minutes, or even 100 hours explaining it.
The self-directed learning philosophy is based on research that indicates most people gain knowledge when they are interested, attracted to, and excited about a subject. We believe that fundamental academic skills are developed when youth have the opportunity to discover connections in the real world through a multidisciplinary fashion. That means we directly engage students through the subjects they are most interested in such as: architecture, astronomy, cultural anthropology, clothing design, communications, computer programming, movies, black-smithing, story-telling, sculpture, comics, music and song writing, mechanics, etc … Through this method we are, in essence, teaching kids how to learn, not what to learn. Once they understand how to find information on their own, they are able to go out and investigate anything that intrigues them. The act of learning becomes addicting and they become life long learners.
Where – Teens who are engaged in self-directed learning have developed skills that employers and colleges are looking for. These kids, to put it quite bluntly, have been out living life, following their passions, and are often far more interesting than those students who have followed the traditional cookie-cutter path. These youth are able to interact with adults and other kids to discuss real-world issues in an intelligent and informed way. As Ken Danford has said, “there is nothing you can do with a high-school diploma that can't do without one.” Youth who have utilized Liberated Learners Resource Centers have gone onto college and university to earn four year, Masters, and even Doctorate degrees. Some have started their own businesses, and others have gone into technical and service careers. They all have the same opportunities that are available to any student who has graduated from a traditional high-school.
Yes, we get it, Deep Root Center is not for everyone. We are here for people who understand there is more than one educational path and are ready to expand their vision of what education can be. If you are one of those people, please let us know how we can serve you. We invite you to tell us your story.