When a young person becomes a member of Deep Root Center, they are explicitly authorized, and, expected to take on responsibility for their own education and life. This mandate, in the beginning, is sometimes not clearly understood by the student (especially teens), which can lead to confusion and a belief that they are not fulfilling all the necessary requirements as dictated by societal perceptions about education (as discussed in last week’s post).
Self-directed learning, by definition, assigns personal decision making squarely on each individual. At Deep Root Center and other the other Liberated Learning centers, however, that jurisdiction comes with intense and caring support. No, we won’t, and, simply, don’t tell any student what to do or make them try anything that does not feel comfortable or right, none the less, we always offer suggestions, ideas, and guidance based on a strong mentoring relationship with each youth.
At times, this philosophy becomes a double-edge sword. In taking charge of their education, these students are expected to ask for help when they need it, but, sometimes, don’t because of misconceptions they hold about the term - self-directed. Unless I, as their advisor, clue in to those, mostly invisible, signs, before it is too late, they flounder or feel uncomfortable and decide to go back to the place (conditions) they understand and recognize.
When this particular scenario happens, I compulsively step back to closely examine the situation. What could I have done differently to encourage that student to seek out support? Was I oblivious to some obvious hints? How could I have changed the outcome?
In the end, however, I always come back to our philosophy, mission, and vision. It is imperative that I trust my instincts, and, those of our kids --- in trusting, I am displaying a confidence in each child’s ability to self-regulate, which is, absolutely, crucial for developing their own personal decision-making process.
Yes, we will always be amenable to scrutinizing our processes and altering them to meet the needs of our members; however, a fervent belief in our overriding mission of providing a safe, supportive, dynamic, and non-coercive educational environment for those young people who are excited about living and learning without school will always be at the core of what we do.
DRC NEWS Water, Woods, & Wild Wonders Camping Trip Our students had a phenomenal camping trip this past week. The whole crew left the Center at 3:30 Monday afternoon for Clear Pond in Parishville. They set up tents, played along the edges of the pond, built a campfire, and cooked pasta, veggies and hotdogs for dinner. Then they paddled in the moonlight and roasted marshmallows for s’mores. Tuesday was spent splashing around in the shallows, canoeing and kayaking, and investigating the many nooks and crannies along the shoreline. They came back tired and dirty Tuesday afternoon and immediately began discussing their next adventure. Thank you: Trish Pielnik for inspiring and coordinating this amazing program with your warmth and contagious excitement for all things wild.
Christopher Raymo for your willingness to jump in and facilitate our kids never ending exploits with humor and kindness.
Glen Butler for volunteering your skills and outdoor adventure expertise to our excursions while injecting bits of silliness and tons of fun.
And, an additional thank you to Alicia for chaperoning every single week and sharing your beautiful photos with us.