Modern humans are beautifully designed to be their most creative and, more importantly, willingly, adaptive during a crisis. Simply put, we become more receptive to outside the box ideas that were previously a bit too foreign or weird for our taste.
Unsurprisingly, this trait is presenting itself as families, around the country, are scrambling to come up with a solution beyond the two options school districts have presented - A) send their kids to school (with COVID modifications) or B) stay home to do online assigned school work and communicate with their teacher regularly. One answer that has sprung up, seemingly overnight, is the formation of “pods” or “micro-schools.” Yes, families are working together to hire a teacher to homeschool their children.
This a wonderfully creative, outside the box, solution for those who have the disposable income (almost laughable isn’t it – those two words combined, “disposable” and “income”) to hire someone to develop curriculum and administer lessons in their home. However (be ready for a gigantic dose of reality), social and economic status, once again, dictates who can take advantage of these opportunities and who is left, ostensibly, with those two choices. Although, when you look at it honestly, even though it may seem like the schools are offering two viable options, we all know, for many, there is really only one. The only way you can choose “B” is if someone (an adult) stays home.
You see, this crisis doesn’t present anything new that many folks haven’t been dealing with for a very long time. Even if they subscribed to the philosophy, and wanted desperately to remove their kids from school, the option to homeschool has never been available to them.
Despite these grim truths, Deep Root Center has been right here, in the NoCo, for over six years, providing an alternative to school, for any family, despite their economic realities, who are dealing with a crisis or who are, simply, seeking something different. This bears repeating - Deep Root Center does (will) not refuse any child because of their parents’ income level.
Therefore, if the current options presented to you and your family are unattractive, unrealistic, or purely unpalatable, Deep Root Center is here to help you build a unique plan that works specifically for you and your kids. You are not alone and you are not destined to accept the seemingly inevitable.
Available to any child in the community - Register online
Why Are We Surprised?
This past week, I glanced through an article about Sweden's response to COVID-19. As I understand it, Sweden did (does) not have a government-enforced lock-down. They relied on the citizens to wear masks and physical distance themselves without coercion. This particular article suggested that we should do the same here.
If you have been reading this blog for a while, you likely understand my feelings about coercive methods as a means to an end. Nevertheless, I will say that relying on folks, here in the United States, to do what is right, for others - is laughable and downright dangerous. (Yes, my cynicism and distrust are clearly evident today.)
Why? No, really - why do people in other places in the world care more about others than we do? How did we get this “$*&# you” attitude that pervades the U.S.?
Simply stated, many of our traditions are worlds apart. They, on the one hand, have a predominant culture of care and kindness. We can point to a plethora of culturally empathetic traditions all over the globe - not the least being Ubuntu in South Africa (which I have mentioned, here, several times over the years). We, in the U.S., on the other hand, have a culture of competition - stand on (beat down, trick, take advantage of) the person next to you to gain the advantage and, all-important, social status.
I, not surprisingly, believe that toxic competition stems largely from our governmental educational system that is built purely on coercion, rewards, and punishment. Many of us learned from a very early age to do only those things that we are forced to do and to only do them if there is a reward at the end. And, we can, legally, gain dominance by stepping on others on the way to achieving that reward. Additionally, we celebrate when the other guy loses or gets punished. Not to mention that we also have a 400+ year tradition of (largely) unacknowledged white privilege and outright racism that is inextricably woven into this conversation. All of which, I will argue, have all led to the symptoms of bankrupted compassion that are also overwhelmingly evident in our current political climate (I will let that statement stand on its own).
Therefore, why are we surprised that some people are going to object to wearing masks – that their ego trumps (pun intended) empathy and their contempt eclipses respect - that they, absolutely, will protest for their freedom to live their normal lives through a pandemic? And, they will, straight up, fight anyone who suggests that they should change their behaviors out of respect or the health of others. “We live in a free country,” I believe, is the standard quote.
I ask this question in all seriousness, how can this be a free country for all, if, in pursuing your (God-given) freedoms, you impinge on the rights of other folks?
In many cases, this question goes beyond wearing masks, physical distancing, and staying home when ill, it also extends to behaviors and attitudes towards BIPOC, LBGTQA+ folks, and anyone else who has different beliefs or appearance from them.
This quote, from Lauren Morrill (author of YA books), four years ago, about the ACA hearings, which has been misattributed to Dr. Fauci since the outbreak of COVID-19, sums this point up quite nicely: “I don't know how to explain to you why you should care about other people.”
We have officially arrived at a place and time where we are lamenting the near extinction of respect and compassion. And, given all the above, I have to ask, again, why are we surprised?
August 3rd - September 4th - 9:00 - 3:00 - Monday - Friday
With a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place, which relies on adapting and utilizing the DRC outdoor spaces for most of our activities and projects, as well as wearing masks, washing hands, and sanitizing surfaces and shared items regularly, we are ready to open our Summer Programs. We are limiting participation to eight kids each day. This is a drop-in program; however, given the restrictions of the pandemic, we are asking that families let us know ahead of time which days they will be attending so we can plan accordingly. Online registration can be accessed through the DRC website. We are also available to answer your questions.
Where do you get your inspiration? Does it fly in unexpectedly - seemingly out of nowhere, or do you know, exactly, what circumstances will instigate it? No matter how it works for you, I think we can all agree that we can only be (feel) inspired when we are free - free from overwhelming anxiety, frustration, confusion, and pressure.
My inspiring moments often come in a flash - usually through a conversation, or an image, or sometimes just a word. I frequently joke that I have to have water pouring over my head for ideas to take shape. I seriously do my best thinking in the shower. When we moved to our off-grid home fifteen years ago, it turned out the joke was on me. I am, to this day, constrained to short showers, or else I have to hand-pump a ton of water into the holding tank. That is when I discovered that once I get the original notion of an idea, action precipitates creativity. Simply placing my fingers on the keyboard generates a flow of words. The pure joy of producing something out of blank space motivates me to do more.
I will admit there are times when I become overwhelmed with feelings of frustration and anxiety because I am forcing myself to be cleverly creative, or I feel pressured because someone is expecting me to complete something. That is the point when I quit - at least for a time until I have decompressed enough for ideas to flow, and I can get excited about the project again.
Any time I talk about self-directed learning, this is the exact point where the conversation circles back to motivation. "How do we, as humans, gain the ability to self-motivate?" "Can it be taught?" "What does intrinsic motivation look like?" "Is it OK to quit?" "But, what if my kid will only do something when I compel them to do it?"
I think the easy answer to all of the questions is joy. We want to do things because we are interested in them, and it satisfies us or makes us happy. Yes - as many point out - that even includes those things that most of us don't like. I hate cleaning my house, washing the dishes, and doing the taxes. And, I despise dealing with administrative "officialdom" - but I do all of those, less than desirable, tasks because when I finish, I have a sense of accomplishment. No reward or punishment is going to motivate me more than that simple feeling of satisfaction of taking something on and completing it.
Before kids (any of us) can be self-motivated - they have to unlearn what we have taught them by relying on sticks and carrots to coerce them to do what we think is best. The process, to be totally honest, may take a while. They need time to rediscover the pure joy of challenging themselves and accomplishing what they set out to do, the pleasure of being creatively inspired, and the unadulterated delight in creating something out of nothing. But, once they truly "get" it, they are well on their way to becoming their unabashedly, unapologetically, intrinsically motivated, authentic selves.
The DRC Canton facility is finally getting its roof repaired! When we get confirmation on when it will be started (and finished), we will set a date to begin our summer programs. We will have a safety plan in place, which will include spending much of the day outside in the yard, and on the porch. Creative activities will be adapted for the outdoor space. We will also take daily hikes. And, we will have a limit of eight participants each day. Stay tuned over the next week for details.
We are here to listen and help you navigate all the questions and concerns you have about your child's options this fall. Feel free to contact us anytime.
Agreeing to Disagree
Agreeing to disagree is perfectly fine if you and I are discussing whether we think that kiwi fruit tastes good, or not, or that you like country music and I don't. However, when it comes to the issue of basic human rights, we don't (can't) have a simple difference of opinion.
If you can't say (or do not believe) that, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQIA+ folks should be proud, women are equal, refugees and immigrants should be allowed to seek shelter, healthcare (including mental and sexual healthcare) is a human right, the poor should not be denied the basic essentials of food, water, and shelter (or, even that poverty shouldn’t be a thing), and that climate change is devastating our planet, then our foundational moral beliefs are worlds apart.
I believe that ingrained (indoctrinated) fear and aversion of the "other," as well as the greed for not only money but the power and influence that accompanies wealth and status, drive the hateful beliefs and behaviors that have become so deeply entrenched in our culture.
So, how do we go about changing the very fiber of our culture? How do we teach the antithesis of hatred? How do we instill that greed is not good? How do we indoctrinate basic human decency? I mean really, how do we make it very clear that it is not OK to be an asshole? Respectful behavior, human rights, and moral ethics should have nothing to do with politics or religion. But, yet, that is what it seems to come down to.
And, NO, tolerance is not the goal. Teaching tolerance is like saying, "you have every right to dislike these things, but you have to put up with them for the sake of being PC." It is wrong on so many levels.
I do not believe that people will learn something just because they have to take a mandatory class as part of a curriculum. I don't believe that real learning happens in a forced environment. I don't believe that someone will change their mind, simply, because they have been presented with facts, that defeat their convictions, during an argument. And, I don't believe that shaming someone will change their behaviors. But, yet, I do believe that everyone has the potential, as well as the right to learn and grow.
While I struggle with this exhausting conundrum on a daily basis, I continuously look at my responsibility as a mentor. Within this non-coercive environment, I have always been committed to combating learned apathy, helplessness (hopelessness), and, yes, even, hate, by modeling empathy and compassion, respectful behavior, and service to others. But, I am discovering that is not enough. I have to be willing to say, "No! On this point, I will not agree to disagree, and this is why." And in doing so, begin the hard conversations - the ones that will begin to challenge those moral beliefs, that on their very fundamental level, place other people's lives in danger.
* H/T to Kenzie Corse for inspiring me to think more deeply about all this.
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