Trust and respect are tricky, and, hotly contested concepts, especially in reference to kids, teens, and young adults. We often hear: “I’ll trust them when they can prove to be trustworthy.” Or, “they have to earn my respect.”
My response will always be – “how can they prove themselves trustworthy if they are not trusted to begin with?” And, “how does someone know what respect looks or feels like when it is never freely given to them?”
Frankly - one cannot dictate responsible behavior with control and coercion. And, one cannot demand respect with threats and intimidation.
At DRC, we trust that all young people are capable of self-regulation and that they will make good choices when offered the opportunity.
We do this because our main goal will always be to encourage our students to embrace and rediscover their natural curiosity and creativity; and, in the process, rekindle their love of learning and their belief in themselves.
The concept is actually quite simple. Without coercion, along with the cycle of reward and punishment, kids are free to make choices that speak to their interests and aspirations, not to what society or an authority figure commands. With that freedom, they learn responsibility for their actions through natural cause and effect. Not to mention that, all-important, the notion of self-motivation, which is always the first excuse I hear for not allowing a child to explore self-directed education.
Everyone at DRC understands that our one rule is based on the fact that respect is freely offered to everyone who enters. We have discovered that when you foster an environment where everyone is viewed as an equal, where kindness and compassion abound, and where freedom of expression is sanctioned - respect naturally follows.
Yes, sometimes we need reminders, and when that is the case, a straightforward, “that’s not OK,” is usually enough to prompt reflection and take personal responsibility.
At the end of the day, we appreciate that all DRC members are individuals, moving forward in unique directions at a pace that is right for them. And, we are responsible for providing this comfortable place where they feel utterly trusted, respected, and safe to take on their next adventure.
No DRC is not Utopia, and we don’t pretend to be. Furnishing this non-coercive, nurturing space is hard and emotional work, but we would not be anywhere else because we want all of “our” kids to understand that they can have a positive future, as long as they remain true to themselves, meet others with respect, and follow their hearts. And, that future can entail anything they imagine - college, entrepreneurship, a trade ... the possibilities are absolutely endless.
This coming Wednesday, October 2nd, will be the first drop-in day for family support of self-directed education. This weekly program has been developed as a stop-gap measure for the families who would like to join DRC but are currently on our waiting list. We are also making it available to any family who has received consultation services from DRC and is home-schooling on their own but would like some additional support. You can visit this page on our website to learn more.
DRC is gearing up to inform and educate folks about our mission and vision for the future. We are looking for people in our community, as well as the wider world who are passionate about investing their time and money to make sure any child in the NoCo has the opportunity to pursue self-directed education if they choose to. You can learn more here.