"I am Just Following the Rules..."
We have all heard this statement at some point in our lives - followed quickly by, "There is nothing I can do." We all know what they really mean is, "I am just doing my job. I have a set of restrictions and guidelines to follow, predetermined by a higher authority, that have nothing to do with you or me - and everything to do with control."
These rules are generally not safety measures nor are they set for anyone's best interest. They are standards that have no basis beyond regulating compliance to (frequently outdated) culturally accepted practices.
I have found over the last eight years that people are utterly astonished when they hear me say, "yes, I can help, and this is what we can do." I find it equally confounding and gratifying, with a tiny bit of embarrassment thrown in, that those simple words can bring so much relief and gushing gratitude.
I propose a new set of standards:
Weekly Creative Meditation
Thank you to all of the families who have shared their stories and have trusted our guidance and philosophy over these past eight years. You and your children are the reason we continue to make it our jobs to challenge and then redefine cultural norms.
Wishing you all a blessed and Happy New Year filled with joy and worthwhile work.
Am I Good (Smart) Enough?
I would guess that many people ask themselves this question before taking any test or class. And when you consider the underlying cultural purpose of exams and grades - this question is clearly the correct one to ponder.
When we use tests or grades to determine whether the students have learned the content of classes or have met specific conditions to move forward (ticked off the correct boxes), we as a society are negating the worth of a good portion of our population. I mean, we literally use a ranking process to determine where a person stands within the system and, ultimately, society.
Yes, a few folks are naturally great test-takers (good at memorizing, regurgitating, and knowing what the teacher expects) and will always rise to the top. There is a reason for that old expression - "cream of the crop." The grand quest for 4.0 is the determining factor in how they feel about themselves and, sometimes, how they rate others in comparison to themselves. (I know this because I was one of those people.) They wrap themselves in the esteem of high grades and expect (usually correctly) that their 4.0 will open all the doors.
I will also argue that those natural test-takers, for the most part, come from an advantaged portion of the population: they have had few (if any) traumas in their lives, have a place to call home, know where their next meal is coming from, and do not have to worry about the basic necessities of life. People expect them to do well - simply because of their family name and where they originate (the "right" side of the tracks). Additionally, their learning disabilities are discovered early, and interventions are provided quickly. This practice is opposed to a large proportion of the student population who have to fight tooth and nail to receive official diagnoses and accommodations.
There is little or no classroom flexibility for anyone who:
This culturally approved educational philosophy provides an environment for unhealthy competition and bullying and compounds the current rates of anxiety, distrust, fear, and anger. Ultimately, we have an unimaginative, depressed, disengaged, disconnected population that hates learning, is disenfranchised from the system, and, most importantly, mistakenly understands that they are not good enough.
Tragically, we continue to lose our brightest, most creative minds to a system that fails to recognize their pure and absolute brilliance - which defies measurement with a simple exam or grade.
Weekly Creative Meditation
Thank you again to everyone who has contributed to the DRC annual funding appeal. This is your reminder that there are less than two weeks left to get your charitable donations counted in your 2021 tax filing. Please consider donating to Deep Root Center. You can honor a loved one or tell us why you are contributing in the comment section of the Donor Box.
DRC provides consultation services to families who want to begin homeschooling but do not want to become members of the Center. We have had so many requests for consultations these past few weeks - that we have developed a Google Form to streamline this service. If you know someone who desperately wants to homeschool but is intimidated by the process, please guide them to the consultation page on our website.
Best wishes for a Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas to those who celebrate from the entire DRC Crew!
Total impact is a section found on most grant applications or referenced in queries from potential donors. And it is a question I find myself honestly struggling to answer every damn time. Do they simply mean, how many kids do we serve, along with how many people do we employ? Or, maybe it means, what impact do we have on those individual kids? Or, it could even be, what are the ramifications of our presence within the community as a whole? I understand they are looking for quantification to justify any amount of money they may direct our way. Nonetheless, in most cases, our impact is decidedly intangible and unquantifiable, and, as usual, does not fit into any of their tidy little boxes.
I mean, really, how do you measure the impact of:
Because we don't use grades, a specific curriculum, or rubrics, the total impact of what we do every day may look minimal to those unaccustomed to our methodology and philosophy - until we re-imagine the metrics used to indicate improvements in confidence, engagement, and mental health. It is pretty much impossible to calculate the value of smiles, new friendships, warmth, trust, understanding, self-assurance, purpose, and personal dreams. Additionally, we may never realize the influence each fully appreciated, supported, and celebrated individual has on their family or community.
Weekly Creative Meditation
This coming Thursday is the last day before the Winter Break for both Centers. We will each have a Holiday party - DRC-East has a two-day "shindig" planned. We will share Secret Santa gifts (for those who choose to participate), games, stories, and treats that we will make together.
I have postponed my shoulder surgery to this Spring - after we finish our Academic year. There were too many things pointing to holding off. One of which was the stress of trying to shove a 2-3 week advised recovery period into exactly two weeks (and the inconvenience of winter, overall).
Thank you to everyone who has already donated to our annual funding appeal. If you have not yet, please consider contributing and sharing your reasons with your network. The only way we have to show our impact on the community is by continuing our work, and we can not do that without our community's financial support.
What Are We Measuring?
Here is a short list of what we should, as a society, be modeling and caring about:
I am in equal parts - angered, saddened, and horrified that we live in a world that mostly ignores how (and where) these essential and complex concepts are developed but fully supports the ridiculously obtuse notions modeled within our educational system. And to be clear, when I hear that a school official is concerned that a student's individual education plan does not include the NYS curriculum, I have to wonder if they even understand what they are measuring with that rigid, finite, unimaginative, competition based curriculum. Or if they are even worried about supporting that student or simply want to sustain the system.
Weekly Creative Meditation
We are deeply grateful that our Annual Funding Appeal is reaching folks who have never donated before. If you have not already, please consider contributing to Deep Root Center here or you can send a check to 48 Riverside Drive, Canton, NY. Every dollar goes towards supporting "our" kids.
DRC-East is booming! Last week we added five(!) new members! They are grateful to have their new space at the "Life in his Arms Community Church" and would like to make it permanently theirs. You can help by contributing to the Go-Fund-Me set up to purchase it.
And DRC-East sends a huge thank you to Becky and Glen Webster for donating a case of potato chips and a $200 GC to Webster's Meat Shop. They are excited to have fresh meat to cook for their lunches.
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