By Maria Corse
The key to building a dynamic and vital community, based on respect, is to mesh individuals, who seemingly have little in common, yet are all excited about being part of that group. At DRC, you will have to take more than a casual glance to discover our multiple layers of diversity. The distinct faces that make up our community, with the exception of a few who are of Native ancestry, are mostly descended from pale, white (with a sprinkle of freckles) European stock. However, we make up for those differences, we lack at skin-level, with a wide range of awesomely, unique characters.
Because of our ever-changing population, filled with those extraordinary individuals, our community is constantly evolving on a completely organic level. Which is why you will hear me say, “no two days are ever the same here.” Our daily schedule is determined by the people who are in this space: their moods, their interests (that particular day or hour), the short and long-term plans they have each devised, as well as the over-arching goals of the entire group.
When a potential member asks, “how many days do I have to attend each week?” My answer will always be, “we are completely non-coercive, therefore I cannot tell you how often you should be here; however, if you want to feel like you are part of this community, you will be here as often as possible.”
Nevertheless, as I explained a few weeks ago, just being here isn’t enough; we also expect that you will participate, engage, and genuinely contribute positive vibes to the community. If you are here because there is nowhere else to be, or someone else (an authority figure) told you to attend, we honestly can’t help you.
That being said, there are some who really don’t know whether they are interested in joining us or not. On one hand, they don’t like public school, they are bored, and have no idea what they are interested in; therefore, it seems like it could be a good idea. On the other, some think they hate learning and have already adopted an apathetic attitude towards life in general; therefore, trying something new may seem like way too much work. This scenario is exactly why we have devised a two-month trial membership period for everyone who joins us. This offers the time some need to settle in and determine whether this is what they want or not. At the end of the trial, we will all sit together (student, family, and DRC staff), using the list of expectations and recommendations, as well as the membership contract from the trial application packet, to discuss whether DRC is indeed a good fit.
We really want to be that safe, inspiring place for everyone. For most, we are, but for others, after those two trial months, it is pretty obvious, for many reasons, we are not. And if that is the case, we will help them, in whatever way they would like, to move on to something that is right for them.
At DRC, we understand that a respectful and cohesive community is defined by its individual participants. We want to present ourselves as an exciting, dynamic, safe, fun, and viable educational alternative. To do that, we are seeking members who are kind and curious, who are open to investigating the world through an imaginative, creative, and resourceful lens, who are willing to make mistakes and own them, who want to share their talents, and who are dedicated to being their awe-inspiring, true selves.
We will be holding a huge garage sale, Saturday, June 1st, during the Annual Dairy Princess Festival. We are seeking quality items (no clothing). Please get in touch if you have something you would like to donate or would like to help us get it organized. Thanks!!
A huge shout of thanks to our good friend, Larry McGory, along with his trusty sidekick, Trish Pielnick (of Water, Woods, & Wild Wonders fame), who completed the fence barrier around the garage roof, the last requirement on the list from the Canton Planning Board. (With a week to spare, we might add!)
I am Not a Teacher
You may be surprised to learn that the one, and only, title that disorients me more than being addressed as, “Mrs. Corse,” is “teacher,” even when it was my technical label for ten years. That’s right, I will respond to, “Hey - You, Maria, Miss Maria (with less enthusiasm), or even Weirdo”; however, I will not answer, or even look up, if someone calls me teacher.
In my mind, to be a teacher one must, well, intentionally teach. If you are interested, here are the Merriam Webster definitions and synonyms for teacher and teach. At this point, I want to be very clear, I am not, in any way, denigrating those dedicated individuals who do, joyfully, fervently, and contently identify as teachers.
I am a decidedly independent (read - stubborn), hands-on individual, who learns by doing, but only when intensely interested in the subject at hand – not with direct instruction, rote memorization, or by reading text books. And, since I also firmly believe (based on a multitude of experiences) that authentic learning comes from intrinsic desire, developed and fostered in a safe, non-coercive, playful, and dynamic environment filled with resources and materials of the culture, as well as a supportive, mixed-age community, it would be antithetical, and, lets be honest, hypocritical for me adopt that classification.
I do, however, proudly own the titles: mentor, facilitator, and guide. In those self-designated roles, I ask a million questions, listen carefully, and make suggestions. I nurture curiosity, open-play, intent observation, and investigation by providing the resources and opportunities necessary for each individual to freely explore their interests and make profound personal discoveries. I model compassion, kindness, empathy, spirit, and enthusiasm, as well as a willingness to make mistakes, laugh at myself, and attain valuable lessons from those errors in my pursuit of life-long learning adventures. I expect that every single person I work with is willing to embrace their uniquely, weird selves, and that they are going to be dedicated to their own education, invest energy in their personal growth, work toward their aspirations, get messy, and have a ton of fun in the process.
Our stories - our combined voices are what make up this community. Every single one of us has lived a life-time before DRC (for some of us that amounts to many more years, than others). Those previous experiences inform not only our past tales, but present, and future narratives, as well. When we begin to amalgamate all those individual life-times into a shared tale, we not only discover the many differences that make us perfectly, unique, but also the uncanny mirror images that remind us of our interconnection and, yes, our shared humanness.
When I ask all of our students to think about what DRC means to them, at this time of year, I discover that many of their responses reflect similar cravings and values: comfort, family, hominess, freedom, safety, and advocacy. These are basic human necessities. We all need to be heard, to have a safe place where we are supported to be our most awesomely, creative, distinct selves without fear of being judged or ridiculed – an environment where we have the freedom to thoroughly explore what truly delights us. After some time in this space, some are surprised to learn that they have hidden talents, others realize that they are in fact imaginative and creative after having that part of themselves buried or shut-down.
Our strength comes from listening to and honoring all of our voices to create an organic community of kind, empowered, confident, empathetic, outside the box thinking individuals who know what they want and, if necessary, will change the world to make it happen.
Deep Root Center is on Spring Break this week. We will be back April 22nd.
We are in the process of planning a massive, collaborative garage sale to be held during the Dairy Princess Festival, Saturday, June 1st. Please stay tuned for more information as it comes together.
A Planned-Out Life
This past week, I was chatting with a college student. When I asked what she was interested in, the conversation went from casual to intensely personal in a heartbeat. You see, she has no idea and is deeply worried about not knowing what will come after her four years of higher education. However, the thing that scares her most is that she isn’t even sure she wants to be in college, but is still thinking that continuing to get her Master’s is probably the next step.
Whoa up! Someone who isn’t convinced that a college education is what she wants, is actually considering Graduate School?
I would like to believe that this 20-year-old’s story is unique; unfortunately, I know it is not. The most unsettling piece is that she, a girl who has always followed all of societies requirements, did very well in high school, and met all her parent’s expectations, is suffering from pretty severe anxiety, and, during spring break, for the first time ever, was prescribed medication to deal with it.
While we were talking, she mentioned that she felt like she had no option – her parents made it very clear, it was college or else. She also said that her perceptions of the world included choosing a career and sticking with it for her entire work life. You see, that is the environment she grew up in. Both of her parents, as well as most of their social peers, and relatives, have been doing the same thing their whole adult lives. They are all living a planned-out life according to cultural norms.
When I told her, in so many words, that she has been sold a line of bull, and that she actually could deviate from this precisely planned path, she looked at me with an expression of awe, which quickly turned to dismay, terror, and then back to, what I would like to think, hopefulness. She thanked me as she was leaving. My only wish is that this interlude prompts her to explore the world of possibilities, beyond that tiny little box that had been presented to her.
What many don’t quite understand is that another word for plan is control. We try to force those things we think are right (read, normal and accepted). I will always argue that mapping out your life (or even your day) can only lead to angst and eventually acute disappointment. I won’t even get into the proven importance of free play and spontaneity for the development of young (and, let's be honest, older) minds and bodies. We all need the freedom to explore, ponder, and create, to our hearts content, without time limits or a schedule.
Why do you think self-help books, life coaches, retreats, yoga classes, self-actualization and mindfulness workshops are hot commodities? Or, for that matter, why harmful addictive behaviors have ramped up exponentially in the last few decades. People are looking for ways to escape from their overly, planned lives.
The Yogis have always had it right – live in the moment. Be spontaneous! Be content! Simply, sit back and be open to all the possibilities that present themselves - right now. Do not try to force what doesn’t feel right. Trust that your life has a purpose and that you will be guided, where you are most needed, to provide your most honest, talented self. Everything else will fall into place when you are living authentically. No rigid, constraining plan required.
Note: This doesn’t, in any way, mean that you should be lazy or shun effort. In fact, I am saying the opposite. Hard work can, absolutely, be joyful, fun, fulfilling, and exciting, when it comes from a place of truth and genuineness, and is accompanied by a willingness to share your passion with others.
Deep Root Center only has a few openings for next year. Please get in touch if your child is interested in following their interests and exploring a world of possibilities within a safe supportive community.
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