What's in a Name?
I will always respond to "Maria," "Mom," (even if they aren't technically my offspring) or even, occasionally, "hey you" - but not Mrs. Corse, Miss Maria (even though a little less proper), or any other formal descriptor. I have always felt that using titles (prefixes) is a foundational component of an outdated patriarchal system that elevates adults above young people for no reason beyond the fact that they are older. (I think we can all recognize that wisdom doesn't necessarily come with age.) The only exception to this, in my mind, is if someone has earned, through hard work and dedication, their title - Doctor (whether PhD., MD., etc.) or other professional monikers.
Simply calling someone Mrs., Mr., Sir, or Madame, will not automatically generate a feeling of respect. Yet - it does come through trust, admiration, shared adventures, and the mutual understanding that comes from those experiences.
None of us can demand or even, honestly, expect to receive respect through the use of a title or any other power-grabbing methods. In the same way, none of us can insist that someone earn our trust.
However, each of us can dedicate ourselves to pronouncing people's names correctly (and within that, acknowledging that we may be having a difficult time getting it right - and promising to practice) and always asking for and using their preferred name and pronouns.
And within that, building relationships through mutual trust and respect - then comprehending that we all, no matter our age, can contribute, is the key to moving our culture forward beyond hierarchy and artificial status to the common goal of solving societal problems and forging community.
Register for DRC's Summer Programs, open to any child in the NoCo between the ages of 5-12, here.
Years ago, when Kenzie, my second kiddo, was in Kindergarten, we proudly hung the holiday-specific artwork they brought home in the windows on the front porch. However, when we looked across the road, we saw the very same picture hanging in the neighbor's front window - it just so happened that their child was in Kindergarten too. And not, coincidentally, they were the same pieces that Ian, my first kiddo, brought home three years earlier. Since then, it has served as the perfect example of what I refer to as canned creativity.
You may notice that the oxymoronic level is off the charts for that particular phrase. Authentic artistry, ingenuity, imagination, and originality don't come prepackaged and contrived with lesson plans attached. No one should ever provide you with pre-cut and pre-drawn components or step-by-step instructions. Or get to tell you what color your pumpkin should be - and they are never (ever) allowed to scold you for coloring outside the lines.
Creativity is born inside your vision, and it is yours - no one else's.
Instead of squashing all that potential with tired canned projects - we can support it by providing the requested resources, materials and encouragement, and then standing back (and as I have said here more than once - get to hell out of the way) to watch the creativity flow. The results may not be what we had in mind or even particularly beautiful - however, they certainly won't be tired, boring, soulless, or mind-numbingly predictable either.
I firmly believe that those who dare to dream, invent, and, yes, even make mistakes - are the people who will think outside the box and consider all the angles to come up with fresh, inspired ideas to solve the problems we have been working on for a very long time.
Head on over to the DRC website to register your child for Exploration Station Summer Programs.
*This week's blog post was inspired by the below testimonial. It is my great honor and privilege to provide the space and environment where these kinds of transformations can occur. Thank you to Danielle for sharing.
Have you noticed that it seems like our entire culture is hell-bent on toughening us up? The "that which doesn't kill you will only make you stronger" mentality has infected every aspect of our lives. Additionally, we are obsessed with pointing out flaws and negative characteristics. We spend our lives judging (belittling) others - behavior, activities, appearance, skill levels, emotions, and beliefs.
If we are totally honest with ourselves, we understand that none of the above judgments help anyone become a better version of themselves. However, our excuses sound like - "I survived all the crap, and I am fine." "I am trying to toughen them up for the real world." "No one is going to coddle them out there; they need build up some callouses to survive." Or the ever-popular, "How are they going to improve if I don't point out what they are doing wrong?" Come on! No one needs to hear what they suck at - they are already very aware of that very long list.
As a result, we have produced yet another generation of universally unhappy, damaged peeps who only know what is wrong with them. And this is exactly why I meet kids who are anxious, depressed, unsure of what they are good at (or are interested in), disenfranchised, and plainly apathetic.
What if, instead, we spent time observing the positives - and using those attributes to build up, affirm, and support? Within all that, we can allow our kiddos to process and then detox from the trauma induced by a system designed to yield carbon copy, unimaginative, competitive robots.
I witness the transformations every day - when kids hear kindness - they open up. When they receive grace and compassion - they can give it to themselves. When they grasp that they - their ideas, interests, thoughts, plans, and aspirations - are consequential - they can focus on those. And when each of us is able to do all of that, the whole world of possibilities unfolds before our very eyes, and we discover our purpose.
We are working on reorganizing the entire Canton Center for better functionality. The music room is now downstairs, the art room has moved to the largest room in the house, and the seedlings space is in the cozy room upstairs at the back. If your child is interested in checking us out, please schedule a time to visit. Our facility provides an air of hominess and comfort that goes a long way in generating an environment that supports a connected community.
Thanks again to Coakley's Hardware for donating these items for our much needed exterior painting project.
How cool is it that DRC has its very own Little Library? A shout of thanks to Maria Morrison for delivering it! Stay-tuned as it gets a paint job and we decide where to place it.
What Do You Need?
But the bigger question within that is - who, exactly, decides that for you? Most adults will answer the latter query by responding, "why, I do, of course." Why then does our culture believe it is OK to tell young people what, how, when, and where they need to learn (or do) to be a "successful," "productive," and "accepted" member of society?
Children from a very young age know what they need. And with very little guidance, they will seek it out. Some little ones are attracted to nature - they pursue any animal they can find, including the creepy crawlies. They will lay in the grass with their little faces upturned to the wide-open sky - keenly watching the wind-blown cloud patterns, migrational habits of the birds and butterflies, bugs buzzing by, the rain or snowdrops falling on their tongues, or even the shadows made by the sun shining through the leaves. Or they will stomp in every puddle, wade into the ponds, lakes, or streams to feel the ooze between their toes - no matter how cold, squishy, and uninviting it may seem to the rest of us. These kids are so attuned to the seasons and all the living creatures - plants, animals, and fungi - that they can tell you anything you would like to know.
Other kids will immerse themselves in music, art, dinosaurs, history, geology, languages, wordplay, cooking, gaming, number play, sports, or __. All are valid pursuits. Every single one of them!
No one should ever have the authority to tell any child what they are passionately absorbed with, at the moment, is unimportant or useless. But yet, that is what we do every day - even if it is an implicit message.
You know the standard comments, "you can't make a living as an artist, writer, musician, or ... " Tell that to all of the people who are thriving in this world doing all those things.
Or how about the ubiquitous, "how will you learn to read, write, and ... if you don't study them in separate and distinct classes." As I mentioned two weeks ago, life is not separated into subjects - so why should we disconnect our learning experiences from each other?
And lastly, the ever-popular "you are behind." I have to ask, behind what - the predetermined, incongruous timetable set by the disassociated officialdom? Sounds ridiculous when stated like that, right?
Within all that (the traditional education system), we are shutting down every child's innate curiosity and intense desire to explore, discover, and create - essentially destroying their natural love of learning.
I want to live in a world where every single person is happily engaged in pursuing the things they love the most. Imagine working together to fill all the niches within each community. And, no one would be forced to do the thing they hated, simply to make a living. Utopia(?) - maybe. But, I am willing to do the work to get us closer - especially, if it means I can help one more child break free from the system and realize their dreams.
DRC Seedlings program is designed specifically for younger children to explore the world on their own terms. You can learn more - here.
We have openings in all of our programs for the coming year. Get in touch to learn more.
Thank you to Coakley's Hardware for donating supplies to prep the exterior of our Canton facility to be painted. (If you have seen it, you understand how badly it needs this facelift!)
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