WHAT’S BEEN GOING ON
We just completed our 1st month of the program. Children have been busy setting their intentions for the day and deciding how they want to spend their time. This is a new framework for all of us, so naturally we are working out the kinks. What I have noticed, in four short weeks, is that the children are starting to take ownership of their choices. Ideas are beginning to flow. Initially, they were unsure of what to do with their time. Now, I watch as they get inspired by the ideas of others. It is almost like an awakening of curiosity that had temporarily gone to sleep. It inspires me to think of the possibilities
With this increase in ideas has also come the reality of “down time”. There will be times in the program where children need to figure out how to spend their time(especially in the beginning). As a facilitator, I am learning to observe and trying my hardest not to let value judgements get in the way. An example of this happened this week. I listened as a group of children gathered at a table and began to dialogue. Initially, the conversation was merely “hang out” kind of talk. They were getting pretty silly and I wondered where this was going. I continued to observe and did not intervene. I then began to notice a shift in the conversation. The children began to ask each other questions and go a bit deeper. They were inquiring about each other and connecting in a way that is necessary in order for a culture to evolve that honors each individual. This conversation led to talk about projects they are working on and eventually a meeting around a large world map that hangs on our wall. I realized quickly that children need the time and space for this to happen. To an outsider looking in, it may seem as though nothing is happening. But that is where we need to shift our thinking. In our program, if we really value relationships and believe that learning comes from healthy relationships then we need to provide an environment that supports that process. As facilitators we need to be ok with a certain level of uncertainty….as we are on a path that will not always be clearly laid out.
I mentioned previously that the children are beginning to understand setting intentions for the day, which is a great start. But I am also noticing some other changes. Just by chance, we began trying to solve brain teasers at the end of each day. We had no idea the children would like it so much but they now ask for this daily. When beginning the brain teasers, 4 weeks ago, it was difficult to solve them. We needed to stretch our minds and think beyond the obvious. Well, a funny thing happened yesterday. We all seemed to get the brain teasers very quickly. We laughed it off and said they were easy. As I went home that night I wondered, “Were they easy or are we just beginning to think differently as a group?”
WHAT QUESTIONS AND VALUES GUIDE US?
We are just beginning this journey but I am thankful that we are part of a bigger network. I know there are other ALC facilitators that are on this same path. We can support each other and the children as we ask ourselves important questions regarding our work.
“A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices…” William James
I recently read this quote in a post by Susan McKay, Director of The Museum Center for Learning, in Portland Oregon. Susan writes;
“…. what will it take for us to collectively realize that we need an entirely new set of questions in order to make change? We regularly accept the repackaging of old ideas and call them new. We get the same results, though often with exponential complexity. So we reshuffle the deck and deal the same cards. We need a fresh deck.”
She shares these questions:
What is school for?
How do we hold children accountable in a way that recognizes their humanity?
How do we create conditions that promote agency and empathy?
How do we create conditions that support children to use playful inquiry in the service of their own human birthright – creativity?
Susan’s post hit home for me. As we begin to shift our idea of education, we need to ask different questions. We need to change our perspective and be mindful when old value judgements try to take over. It’s incredibly inspiring to have a network of people to share this with.