When experienced habitually, in learning environments, these are the emotions, along with excitement, anticipation, pleasure, pride, and self-respect, generated through authentic and meaningful learning experiences that produce a life-long love of learning. Despair, fear, sadness, anxiety, and apathy are all roadblocks and lead to the antithesis.
It has been proven, time and again, that our brains literally shut down when exposed to external stress and fear. Yet, our modern, traditional school systems still rely on their foundational strategy of coercion, intimidation, and fear of failure to elicit compliance.
Even during these extraordinary times when hybrid school is their answer to a pandemic, many districts are doubling down on these tactics - instigating emotional crises and trauma where there should be none. If there was ever a doubt about their loyalties and purpose, their callous behavior during this critical moment in time provides us with a definitive answer. The kids they serve are not their top priority. Additionally, I will argue that they are actively teaching children to hate the very thing they claim to provide.
If this stinging assessment seems harsh and unrealistic, you have probably not been privy to the same type and number of overwhelmingly sad stories that I have listened to over the past two weeks. The residual trauma of pushing parents and children to their limits, while erasing joy and enthusiasm from the equation will have long term implications for everyone involved.
This seems like a good time to send out a reminder of why DRC exists:
We believe that all young people deserve a safe, educational environment where they feel trusted and heard - and where they are free to explore all the possibilities. Learning can only happen when kids intuitively understand that they are safe, heard, and trusted to make decisions, make mistakes, and explore all their interests to achieve their ever-evolving aspirations.
DRC provides in-person or distance learning membership, as well as consultation services to homeschool on your own. We are here for anyone who needs us. Contact us today.
We still need someone to pick up the FoodBank order and bring it to the Canton facility. I have an order arriving on Wednesday, while I am at the Lawrenceville Center . Please get in touch if you can help.
The basketball hoop still needs to be assembled - we are having issues with the nuts not going onto the bolts. What are we doing wrong? Help!
The garage has been cleaned out a bit more, but we are looking for someone to help install organizational elements - shelving, hooks, etc.
What does it take to become a superhero?
Many would say physical strength - I would counter that by insisting a strong moral character is imminently more desirable.
Some would say cleverness is necessary - I would contend that wisdom has much greater value.
A good number would claim that every superhero needs a costume - I would observe that they prefer to be authentic and forgo any form of disguise.
Others would argue (quite strenuously) that an unworldly, inhuman magical power is required - I would assert that empathy, compassion, modesty, and a commitment to use your talents and skills for the good of all is the most vital of all super-powers.
Sadly, the world lost a powerful yet humble Super-heroine on Friday.
The good news is that each of us can step-up and dedicate ourselves to living our principles and sharing our imperfect lives with intelligence, understanding, authenticity, kindness, humility, and gratitude to release our very own inner superhero. Every single one of us can be the hero we are seeking.
Thank you, Justice Ginsberg, for teaching us that one person can, indeed, make the world a better place for us all.
Our first full week included a bit of tech angst while we worked out a few bugs in our virtual class platforms. We have sixteen different virtual classes - ranging from book clubs, writing clubs, languages, and arts and crafts and facilitated by seven SLU Volunteers from the Community Based Learning Program. We also have a couple kids joining us as distance learners. They are able to join the SLU volunteers as well as some hybrid sessions facilitated by the DRC staff. This is all new for us and we are learning as we are going. Fortunately, everyone involved understands that mistakes, as well as unforeseen glitches (the internet going out), happen.
Volunteer Help Wanted -If you are able to help us out on these projects - please get in touch. Thank you!!!
1. We have a portable basketball hoop that we need help assembling.
2. We have a friend/volunteer who is a master mechanic. He is determined to get our garage set-up properly so we can use it as an actual lab learning space for the trades (mechanics, carpentry, maybe electrical, etc.). A couple of volunteers cleaned it up significantly a couple weeks ago - but we need to bring it to the next level (creating storage and organizational systems, and work spaces, and removing items that are not being used). This is a fairly large undertaking that will take dedicated time and some skill.
3. There is a dead tree in the backyard that needs to be cut down. It is very tricky and needs a pro (or two).
DRC-Lawrenceville These Peeps had their first day together on Wednesday at the Nicandri Nature Center. We had a fabulous time walking and exploring the trails.
Earlier this Spring, when I was looking back and trying to organize all of the nearly seven years worth of blog posts, I discovered that the most common theme, by a long stretch, was trust. Therefore, it isn't surprising that after the first days of our academic year, it is once again at the forefront of my consciousness. After all, it is fundamental to our philosophy and methodology at DRC.
I get the same questions every year from our members, parents, and absolute strangers that ultimately revolve around "making sure."
"How do you know they are doing the things they say they are doing?"
"How do I prove that I have done something?"
"What if I don't want to do math?"
"How do you know they are learning something?"
"How will they learn basic math (reading, writing, spelling, history, science)?"
"How will they get into college (get a job, function in society) if they only do the things they want to do?
"How will they learn discipline?"
And, then, come the statements:
"If you don't force them to do something, they will take advantage of you."
"Kids are fundamentally lazy."
"My child is not self-directed."
"My kid is only interested in video games."
"My child hates reading (math, history, spelling, science)."
These are all valid points when you consider that their point of view is based purely on their experience and knowledge of nothing but the traditional, compulsory, coercive system.
Yes, I, absolutely, trust that all of my "Peeps" are learning, growing, and making mistakes all the time. I believe that they, at their very core, know exactly what they need. I have confidence that they are all capable of seeking out the necessary support, knowledge, and experience when they are ready. I understand that they are all unique individuals with personal internal timetables, natural inclinations, aspirations, and, most importantly, free will.
When you consider that curiosity and creativity drive all learning and then go on to understand that all humans are born curious, isn't it natural to trust that every one of us will learn everything we need to - in our lifetime? Learning, after all, is a life-long endeavor.
Coercion is the only thing that will, without a doubt, turn-off, shutdown, and otherwise disengage our innate inquisitiveness and inventiveness, and ultimately our love of learning. And our traditional educational systems are designed to do just that. When obedience became the core principle of the educational system - not learning, that is the exact moment when trust was converted into a rare, beautiful, precious, and unexpected gift.
We are Back!
After a six month hiatus, this past Thursday was our first day back in the DRC Canton Facility. I am so excited to connect with all of "my" kiddos, again. We have an awesome crew of veterans and newbies! We spent a good portion of our first days considering everything that we want to include in our schedule and getting to know each other. I am grateful for their uniquely, wonderful personalities, and the humor, curiosity, creativity, and intellect they each bring to the group.
A few snapshots from our first two days !
This year I am delighted that our team of four in Canton includes myself, Elian, our staff person, Chase, the Senior Apprentice (returning for his second year), and Ryan our Apprentice. It is incredibly exciting to have these young people with us, training to work in a self-directed learning environment. The goal is that they will go out into the world to work with other organizations, or even found a center of their own.
Lawrenceville will open this coming Wednesday and then every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Happily, Trish will return as our Tues. & Thurs. staff person and I will be there every Wednesday.
We have a few openings in both Canton and Lawrenceville. You are welcome to get in touch if your child is interested in joining us.
Our Distance Learning Program is up and running as well and has a couple of slots open. Or, if your family has decided to homeschool on your own, consultation services are also available.
This week's post has taken the form of a photo essay - a visual cue that "we humans are nothing but bit players in this thing called life." I needed the reminder this weekend that there are never-ending Universal influences at work behind the scenes that are (and will always be) way beyond my control.
The stark beauty of nature, in all her glory, during a late morning walk prompted me to, once again, acknowledge that, after that initial punch to the gut, I can choose to respond with openness, positivity, gratitude, and hopefulness - to bend and adapt (like Mother Nature, herself), or I can react in anger, anxiety, frustration, and helplessness. In the end, there will always be an awareness that "this too shall pass," no matter how I chose to deal with it. And, only with the perspective of time can I look in the rear-view mirror to fully understand and appreciate all the "whys."
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