We lose so many brilliantly creative, wonderfully inventive, and beautifully unique kids - within the system. Their genius is wasted - all for the sake of a compulsory, ancient, static, finite, and rigid curriculum that, without question, from the majority, is accepted as the norm.
Why does this antiquated system (and the people who run it) have the authority to decide what is valid within the context of education and what isn't? How does algebra count, but the enormous number of hours spent independently writing, producing, and recording original music doesn't? Why is "seat time" a thing? Why were the seven, twelve, and seventeen-year-old set up to fail their entire school career because they are not a typically classic student and could care less about the classes offered? How can we collectively stand by, shaking our heads, and wagging our fingers at the "laziness" and failing grades without investigating why they are flunking out? When will we stop judging young people by the archaic rules designed for a different age? And when will we stop coercing kids to learn stuff that has no consequence in their lives? At what point do we recognize how many kids are struggling, not because they are "slow," learning disabled, or troublemakers (or whatever label forced upon them), but because they are brilliant in a way that is not recognized or supported by the system?
And when will we realize that all those lost kids are not broken because of their differences, but have something incredibly valuable to contribute to society and their community?
We lose out every single time a young person is not trusted to follow their inherent brilliance but instead faces punishment, ridicule, and failure for simply being themselves.
This short video explains why Deep Root Center exists.
A huge shout of thanks to Liam Crossen Films for producing this video.
Fear of the unknown. Fear of failure. Fear of making mistakes. Fear of appearing foolish. Fear of change.
To which one do you claim ownership? Or, is it a separate one depending on the moment?
Embracing and holding on tightly to those fears inhibits your ability to grab on to all the possibilities as they present themselves.
Every day is chock-full of opportunities - taking the time to pause and recognize them and then assess what stops you from grasping them as they drift by is a skill any of us can learn.
Jump in! Seize the moment - not knowing is okay! You will never possess the feeling of success if you have never felt failure. Mistakes are, simply, the path to mastery. Appearing silly is all in the eye of the beholder, and some would say a way to remain authentic and humble. Lastly, change can only lead to progress - a journey overflowing with life-altering and astonishing moments of beauty and possibility.
The new DRC schedule begins tomorrow. We are excited to host nine St. Lawrence University students from their Community-Based Learning Program, who are facilitating twenty-one of our thirty-five weekly remote sessions on our Discord Server.
You can join the fun - DRC accepts new members throughout the year.
Authors Note: In November, we had a filmmaker spend three days with us to interview staff, parents, and kids, as well as capture our everyday moments. He recently sent me rough drafts of four short videos that he had created with some of the footage. One is entitled "Why". That one hit me hard - right in the tear-jerking place, and that is where this particular blog post came from.
You know that satisfying emotion - the one you feel when you realize that someone "gets" you? Is there a better feeling in this world - when you know that you can be yourself with that person - no filters, no actor's masks, or mental gymnastics required?
Asking someone to adapt themselves to conform - is asking them to change their inherent being because we can't manage them the way they are. Kids know when they don't "fit" in. And their takeaway is that they are broken in some fundamental way.
It is my contention that every child should experience affirmation every single day. Every kid deserves to be surrounded by people who accept them on every level and where no one will try to change them to fit into the environment (or society).
Rather than reforming the essence of any child, I believe that we should alter the environment, along with our own biases.
This includes everything, from medical diagnoses to identity. For example, children with ADHD need an environment that supports their momentum and staggering creativity fueled by wild curiosity. It is no different than adapting the room for a wheelchair, walker, or other physical handicap support. And, when a child tells you their personal pronouns and the name they prefer - use them! No snide remarks, eye rolls, or arguments are required (or even permitted).
Wait! I am not telling you to stop supporting children to improve their skill levels and learn new tasks. However, I am saying that we can not take it on, as a task, with the intention of changing them to suit our (or society's) needs or expectations.
All children deserve to be celebrated. Not for what they can or can not do, but for who they are - deep inside. When kids feel like they are OK, as they are, self-assurance becomes their default mode. And when people feel content, they are more likely to take on new challenges and look at the world as a place to explore all the possibilities.
This, in a nutshell, is why Deep Root Center exists.
We are happy to say that eight St. Lawrence University students will be volunteering again this semester through the Community Based Learning Program. They will offer classes and activities through our virtual learning portal on the Discord App. You can find our schedule here. Keep in mind that it will be updated regularly over the next week as we create sessions for the students that fit within their preferences and weekly calendars.
DRC accepts new student members throughout the year. If you are interested in joining our community, please get in touch.
This is our "Did You Know" series, on Social Media, from this past week.
Who is your tribe? To be clear, who are the people you align yourself with ideologically, not ethnically?
Some of us can admit (I can only hope), our answer to that question five, or ten years ago (or possibly even six months ago) was different than our response today.
Despite the common understanding, based on a system that trains us from an early age to do the exact opposite (how many times have you heard "make up your mind and stick with it?"), our personal belief systems should transmute and change as we grow and become aware of ideas and information that were not previously part of our understanding. No, it doesn't make you "wishy-washy," contradictory, or weak. It, in its purest essence, defines a receptive and flexible open mind (and science).
And on the other side of the coin, the inability and unwillingness to explore new concepts and change your opinion do not imply a strength of will or character. They are the precise descriptions of narrow-mindedness and intolerance (and pseudo-science).
I have a theory that some people are more susceptible to believing conspiracy theories spouted by charlatans because they feel disconnected and disengaged. I am basing my premise on existing research around addiction. There have been many studies, with humans and other animals, that have proven that a lack of meaningful relationships drives the habitual seeking of something else to take the place of it.
Within that theory, I find it utterly fascinating that people with an insular perspective actively try to convince themselves and others (gas-lighting) that they are, in actuality, not closed to new ideas by doing "research" and "seeking" out data. Because of the proliferation of biased media sources and straight-up fake news outlets, it is easier to find and latch onto these con-men and become addicted to cherry-picking and spinning information that "proves" their original rigid stance.
And this is where we are right now. When one tribe is engaged in the fantasy of strength and moral rectitude and incited by inaccuracy and delusional behavior, it becomes the meeting place of conflict - the conflagration of ideologies.
With that understanding, I remain committed to providing a community where engagement and connection are the foundation. And a place (even though it is virtual right now) where everyone is encouraged to explore the possibilities, make mistakes, and, yes, change their minds whenever they discover a new way of thinking.
This past week , in honor of our 7th Birthday, on our social media, we revisited the Liberated Learner Seven Guiding Principles articulated by Ken Danford, the co-founder of North Star in Sunderland, MA. Find the descriptions here.
As is customary, we all tend to take stock at the end of one year and the beginning of the next. This time around, it seems like there is even more at stake. We are putting an awful lot of pressure on 2021.
However, I would point out that the dumpster fire, shit show that was 2020, was not about the year - it never is. It was a perfect storm, a culmination of nearly 250 years of bad decisions and horrendous policies developed by people (oligarchs) who have no concern for anyone but themselves (egos) and their wallets.
It isn't up to 2021 to solve these problems - it can't. January 20th, while a hugely positive step, will not, alone, usher in our saving graces. The fundamental issues of an inequitable and unjust society will be festering just below the glossy patina of this new administration, in the same way, it has for our entire history.
It is up to us, the people who have the most at stake, to get creative and disrupt the status quo. Begin by supporting your neighbors. Stop thinking of charity as handouts and start considering it an act of resistance. The best way to make progress and to change the culture is to build it up from the bottom - the very roots. Eventually, these acts of rebellion, hidden within gestures of caring and kindness, will forge community, which will, over time, go on to generate a new way of thinking about the essential construct of our entire culture and society.
Absolutely, spend some time to reflect. Get a firm grasp on your personal takeaways - then use that knowledge to interrupt, disrupt, and make a difference. 2021 will not be any different than 2020 unless you and I commit to a cultural revolution fueled by compassion, consideration, understanding, and respect.
These are the final quotes posted last week on our social media to honor those voices we lost in 2020.
In January 2014, DRC Canton opened our doors with one very cool ten-year-old, me, a couple of computers, no heat, no internet, a few pieces of furniture, and a whole lot of dreams. Now, seven years later, we have a total of thirty-eight amazing students, divided between two Centers and the Distance Learning Program. We own one of those facilities, have an awesome staff and volunteers, there are heat and internet, as well as tons of resources and materials, and we still have some really big aspirations.
Thank you to everyone who has been part of this amazing journey. I am beyond grateful to all of you for the love, support, and hard work that has gone into making this vision come true. Onward!
And, if you would like to join DRC, as we move full steam ahead into 2021 please get in touch.
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