On Friday, I was trying to explain deschooling, the spontaneous and natural upheaval every kid has to go through when they leave public school, to two deeply committed parent volunteers. After a few minutes, one of them said, “Oh, like detox.” Yes, exactly! I was grateful to have her translate my incoherent babbling into that one simple statement, which explains the process our kids go through so very clearly.
This past Spring, I had severe bronchitis for the second or third year in a row. After taking the prescribed meds, I was still coughing uncontrollably. That is when I finally went to an alternative practitioner, who after taking one look at me said, “you are one tired and stressed out lady,” and proceeded to suggest a particular Chinese Herbal Detox. Within one day, I was no longer coughing. And, after the full course (15 days), I was significantly less exhausted. Considering stress and tiredness are (for now) inherent components of this job, I remind myself every three months, or so, to detox with the herbal compound. It literally scrubs the toxins from my internal organs and allows me to function.
Unfortunately, there is no magical formula to facilitate or eradicate the deschooling process. Every single student who has been in the system, whether for one, two, nine, or 13 years, has to go through it. It looks and feels completely different for each person. And, the amount of time it takes to “detox” varies greatly. Sometimes it correlates to the number of years in school, but occasionally it does not. It frequently depends on the severity of crises the young person has endured and how much emotional damage was inflicted upon them.
This particular detox takes time, patience, and understanding, as well as strategies - including a mentoring presence, which provides kindness, unconditional support, suggestions, and gentle encouragement to reach beyond their comfort zone to tackle things that they are afraid of. We also try to point out and hype up their innate talents and positive traits every single day – sometimes, that may be only one single thing – but we will always try to bring positive attention to it.
I have to remind myself regularly (like a hundred times a day), when I am feeling particularly frustrated, and really just want to metaphorically (or otherwise) kick them all in the butt, that everyone at DRC, students and adults, are somewhere on the deschooling spectrum. Their only frame of reference is the philosophy and methodology of a state run, compulsory, and coercive educational system, where each student follows the uniform, finite curriculum, and is told what to do from the moment they walk in the door as a 4 or 5-year-old.
My students are kids who are struggling mightily with the concept of taking charge of their lives and education. And, we adults, who went through the public schools ourselves, are disconcerted and, frankly, uncomfortable to observe them so deeply engaged in this intensely emotional labor. Which, at times, appears to be a whole lot of uninspired lazing around and “doing nothing,” balanced with other days where it takes on the aura of a three-ring circus - filled with noise, play, a multitude of projects, classes, music, art, and animated discussions.
Detoxing from school is hard, emotionally charged, and exhausting work for each person here. For me to judge it as anything else, negates its honesty and value, and will only extend the amount of time it will take for them to come out the other side – to shine brightly with confidence, motivation, and newly discovered or developed talents and aspirations.
The electrical work is finished at our new home! I want to send out an immense thank you to Josh Pitts who not only donated his time, but the supplies to get a new breaker box installed upstairs and all the outlets grounded. Josh, you are completely awesome!
Getting that undertaking wrapped up brings us, oh, so close – we hope to be moved into the house this week. But, we need your help to finish up one last required project! A fence (barrier) needs to be installed to keep kids off the garage roof, which is on level with the backyard. We have vacillated about the type of fence and actually purchased most of the components for a chain-link fence, but realized upon further research, the complexity of installation is well beyond our personal skill levels. It will be installed eventually, when we have time to find someone, who knows what they are doing, to facilitate the many layers.
Josh, our hero from above, suggested building something simple and temporary with 2x4 posts and 2x8 slats. DRC will purchase the lumber, but we need help building and attaching it preferably tomorrow or Tuesday.
This is an "ALL HANDS ON DECK" call out - for the concerted effort which is needed to move everything that remains at 7 Main Street to 48 Riverside, this Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. We also need to do some touch up painting at 7 Main and clean the carpets, before the end of the month. If you can help with any of these tasks, please get in touch.
Thank you to everyone who has provided physical, financial, and emotional support during this immense undertaking. We will be hosting a celebration very soon. Stay tuned!