At birth, we each have a distinct and unique blueprint for who we are and what we are good at - built inside. That innate plan often goes awry when parents, teachers, and the culture - we are born into determines our educational path.
Children frequently feel unheard and unbearably frustrated when they realize that those who love and nurture them - ignored, didn't understand, or straight-up sabotaged their inherent genius. Mostly accomplished in the guise of, "but we know what is best for you." "This is how it has always been done." "We have to follow the rules." Or, "why can't you just fit in?"
At this point, the behaviors triggered by their resentment grow into "obstructions" to "real" learning, which initiates the traumatic experiences that determine future beliefs about learning and education. If this series of events has not happened by the age of 5 or 6, it will by the time they are 9 or 10 years old. And if not addressed, the teen years are bound to be pure hell for them - and anyone who loves them.
But, you ask, how will I know what my child's "genius" is? Quite simply - pure observation. Watch what draws their attention and what they are proficient at from a very early age. Provide resources and materials and multiple modalities for endless free play and exploration. Then sit back (get the hell out of the way) and let the magic of curiosity and the excitement of independent discovery take over. Kids will inherently solve problems and challenges when they pop up because they have not been taught to fear the inevitable mistakes derived from experimentation. Adult intervention isn't a requirement for learning. It happens naturally. And it does not turn off at the age of 4 or 5!
We see this every day. It takes practice and a fair amount of trust to provide the resources and space where kids feel safe to unleash all that creativity, inspiration, and pure joy of independence and discovery.
Agency allows for confident problem solvers who love to learn new things. When given the opportunity to follow their interests and the goals based on those interests - instead of a predetermined rigid curriculum, or society's expectations, these kids understand their place in the world. And that, ultimately, serves us all.
Scenes from this past week.
Weekly Creative Meditation
You guessed it - DRC-East fundraising activities continue to be the lead story. We are finishing up the Tastefully Simple online fundraiser today. Next up is Pampered Chef. The link will be available on the DRC & DRC-East FB pages as soon as it is up and running. We also encourage you to join the Support DRC-East FB Group.
They are also holding a bottle drive. In addition to the site on the below poster, you can drop off bags of empty and clean bottles at Barney's Wagon Wheel Bar (huge shout of thanks to them) in Malone or at DRC-Canton - 48 Riverside Drive in the driveway in front of the garage.
We are still looking for vendors and musicians for the May 21st Party in the Park. Please share this opportunity with your network.
As humans, we generally wear masks (no, not PPE) for two reasons - to hide our authenticity from ourselves or others or to change our appearance. The first is a metaphorical mask, and the second is usually theatrical - but can also be figurative.
From an early age, most of us learn to alter our essential beings to fit society's expectations, especially when we are in public. Human babies pick up seemingly invisible cues of culturally appropriate behavior. These signals are so subtle adults don't even notice they are giving them off.
And this is when we begin masking our true selves - our quirky personality, anger, empathy, sensitivity, needs, desires, and especially our neurodivergence - because we feel weird, strange, out of place, and unsafe. And that there is something radically wrong with us.
Fun fact: people assigned female at birth are far more likely to be diagnosed with dyslexia, ASD, and even ADHD later in life - simply because they are far more likely to mask the "weirdness" and behaviors associated with those labels.
This conversation is a throwback to last week's post that mentioned forcing disabled and neurodivergent folks to fit into our preconceived notions of acceptability and utility - instead of changing the world and our attitudes so everyone will be comfortable, accepted, and respected.
Eventually, our mask begins to fit so well we can trick ourselves into believing it represents authenticity because it embodies all the feelings of safety. And then it becomes affixed permanently - reflected in the stories we tell ourselves - until we are ready to consciously, with thoughtful intention, strip it away.
This can be a painfully overwhelming journey that reveals the deeply embedded scars from past trauma inflicted upon us - by others, as well as ourselves. However, that rough, pothole-filled obstacle course eventually gets you to a place where you no longer need your disguise and are accepted (by yourself and others) as you are - fallibly, awesomely, human.
It is my pleasure to spend my days unconditionally supporting young people on their path to authenticity in an environment free of judgement, bias, and coercion - where everyone is encouraged to drop their facade and be real.
This past week, during a homeschool consultation, I spoke by phone with a teen to learn more about them - what they wanted to do, and their goals for the future, so I could build their learning plan. I think they were taken aback, at first, after discovering I was open to hearing their preferred name and that I asked their pronouns up front. I think they came into the conversation expecting another adult to tell them what to do and how to be. Once we got over introductions and I asked what are you into? They were so overwhelmed with disbelief and relief, they blurted out, "so much stuff." And then they began to list them accompanied with anecdotes. We talked for over 30 minutes. I hope in that short time this young person understood that I honor and celebrate them fully as a uniquely, brilliant individual who does not need to hide behind a mask.
Weekly Creative Meditation
The latest news continues to be the DRC-East fundraising efforts.
We are also holding several online fundraisers to benefit Deep Root Center-East. Our second one is Tastefully Simple March 19th - 28th. Click the link to the Tastefully Simple ordering page.
And we are still looking for vendors for the May 21st Craft show fundraising event, as well as musicians who would be willing to share their talents for a brief time that day. Please share this opportunity with your network. Musicians can get in touch directly. Vendors can submit this google form and then send the fee to DRC-Canton.
DRC Bling is HERE - we have t-shirts (Y-M, A-M, A-L, & A-XL) with both Canton and East logos available for $15/ea., as well as bumper stickers for $2.50/ea. Let us know if you would like to order any of these items.
The anthropological concept of ethnocentrism is very real. And it was one of the first things I learned as an anthropology student. Ethnocentrism is the fundamental belief that your culture is superior in every way. This theory (as Eurocentrism) is the underlying reason for colonialism (white cultures taking over darker-skinned cultures). As a side note - it is the basis for nationalism, too.
Ethnocentrism also extends to the notion that each of us personally believes we know what is best - it is in our human nature to think that our ideas and ways of doing things - are, in essence, better than anyone else.
Deep down inside each of us, there is that whisper of superiority. You can see where this piece of our essential humanness can get us in trouble - right?
These unconscious levels of snobbery hold us all back - because as a "propagandized" society, we automatically see the other - someone who is so very different from us that we can easily find reasons to disengage and hate. Which ultimately inhibits our ability to make real change for everyone - to create the inclusive world we all desire.
Weekly Creative Meditation
The DRC-East fundraisers continues to be the top news. DRC-East currently rents, by the day, an old church in North Lawrence that is also for sale. We greatly appreciate that we have been warmly welcomed to use this historic old building. However, we want to purchase it to make it our own. Owning it would allow us to use the space more effectively and use our creative talents to personalize it. The student members also envision making it into a community cultural and creative resource center. It will be a place to invite local people to participate in artistic and educational events. Their first idea is to hold a monthly brown bag lunch film series. The resource center could also host guest speakers, live music events, and art shows.
We are currently seeking vendors for our "Party in the Park." Please complete the Google Form to secure your space.
The Thirty-one online fundraiser goes through the 18th. Next up is Tastefully Simple. Join the DRC-East FB Fundraising page to get the latest scoop.
Our world is constantly changing - progress is the act of moving forward and embracing the change. Nevertheless, fear is a powerful driver. And anxiety about the unknown is probably the most commonly expressed. I believe the current phenomenon of trying to inhibit and regulate all the "newness" of those seeking ethnic (racial), LGBTQ+, healthcare, and female equity - are most likely the result of our cultural fascination with preserving the status quo. It demands that people go to great lengths to protect it - when there is the threat of change or the loss of something they value. When we look at life from the perspective of deficit instead of abundance, the fear becomes even more real. Hoarding is just one response, as are behaviors designed to grab the attention of peers, family, or even the media.
This tug of war between new and old ways is as old as humanity. It is the reason we have generational putdowns and misunderstandings. And why our society feels so very divided right now.
But, I can also see this antagonism clearly in the teenagers I spend my days with at DRC. Their lives are especially fraught. The very definition of the teen years is - change and inconsistency. The hormonal shifts and their reach for autonomy conflict directly with their desire to crawl back into childhood where decision-making is easy (do I want to wear the blue socks or the yellow ones) - are crazy-making. They seek out self-determination and all the adult things that come with it - yet they are unsure because it is overwhelming, anxiety-inducing, and they have learned through societal training that they can't practice, because making mistakes, the intrinsic way all humans learn - is unacceptable and straight-up bad.
The most common criticisms I hear about teens are their levels of unpredictability and irresponsibility. I am sure you have seen the meme over the past couple of years, "freedom without responsibility is adolescence." Every time I see it on social media, I want to scream. First off, the expression should read, "freedom without responsibility makes you a jerk (or less polite euphemism) no matter your age." Secondly, teens are not lazy, and they don't evade accountability. They are deep thinkers, and yes they are even conscientious, community-oriented, and kind. But, yes, they can also be ruthlessly unrelenting and fearlessly galvanized when they set out to fix injustices in their world.
I spend so much of my time trying to convince the teens in my life that they are not lazy, irresponsible bums just because they are not doing the rote tasks that society expects from them. These stereotypes spread over an entire generation are the source of damage that I see every day. And when people are traumatized or fearful, they are motivated to behave in ways directly in conflict with their innate nature or intentions.
Weekly Creative Meditation
The first DRC-East fundraiser is live! Please click the link and share with your network! You can also join the DRC East Fundraising FB Group to follow the action. The person running the Thirty-One fundraiser for us is donating her entire commission! We are immensely grateful for her generosity.
Our goal with this series of fundraisers and the culminating craft show/live music event May 21st is to raise the $60k needed to purchase the church that the East Peeps are currently renting. Owning it would allow us to use the space more effectively and use our creative talents to personalize it. The East kids also envision making it into a community cultural and creative resource center. It will be a place to invite local people to participate in artistic and educational events. Their first idea is to have a monthly brown-bag lunch film series. The Resource Center could also host guest speakers, live music events, and art shows.
Stay tuned as details for all of the fundraisers, including the May 21st event, coalesce. Thank you!
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