Since November, I´ve felt increasingly uncomfortable with the ways things have been playing out in Explora. Don´t get me wrong: we´re having a great time most of the time. And I still think the concept of an after-school program was a great idea: bringing alternative education “to the masses”. But in real life here in Mexico, the challenges have been huge.
Not enough families have been showing even a remote interest for the Agile Learning concept. I was fine with that, thinking the kids themselves will be the best embassadors for Explora. But even though they love it here, the parents still haven´t grasped the innovative aspects, thus not sending their kids more times a week (because they have English classes, soccer training and so many other things to prioritize).
And since it´s an after-school program I can´t ask the parents to be more present, to read up, to learn and investigate, or even support Explora in other ways. They just don´t care.
For someone who´s been giving workshops for parents for over a decade, it´s been really frustrating not being able to support them at all, seeing misunderstandings and miscommunications arise because they really have no idea what we´re doing and why. Because they simply don´t get it, and frankly don´t even seem that interested in their own kids. So, I´ve come to a place where I feel that I have no time and no energy to work with children whose parents aren´t present nor interested.
Then there´s been the challenge with the “disturbing elements”. Kids that come in once a week, damaged by the system, and basically tear apart our conscious creating culture in a second. Because they don´t know how to listen (not even to themselves) and even less respect another human being (obviously because they haven´t been respected a lot in their lives either). We´ve done our very best to work with them, but the time is too scarce in order to have real results.
As you might understand, it´s proven very complicated to work on these premises, and last week I realized I´d most likely have to shut Explora down. I simply refuse to be in charge of a place where I can´t guarantee children´s emotional safety.
It felt crap. I have such a huge commitment with children and teenagers, always fighting for their rights: trust, respect and freedom. But it´s absurd to have such a commitment when the big majority of parents don´t.
In the middle of the thought that I´d have to let go of the most innovative project I have ever created (tears running and all that emotional meltdown I always go through), I realized it didn´t have to be that way. There was another way to do it. I´d just have to do something I had wanted to avoid all along: turn Explora into a full-time school. Or rather unschool. Or lets say: a substitute for school. Dammit! I don´t want to define it for what it is not (and the word “school” drags plenty of connotations along with it: teaching, curriculum, adult directed etc.).
But enough parents have shown up looking for a school and “only” finding and after-school program. I haven´t been looking for them. They´ve come to me which shows me the need is clearly there. So why not just go with the flow? It isn´t something I had ever thought I´d do, but why not? And you know: it feels light and fun – which is all I need in order to know that it´s the right step to take.
So, for sakes of clarity: as from August 2017, my intention for Explora is that it will be a full-time Agile Learning Center that will be open in afternoons, 2-7pm, with a steady group of children whose parents are willing to let them educate themselves freely, and fully ready to support them on that way. So yes, I´m focusing on attracting very open-minded families (I actually already have a great group that will meet up with me tomorrow in order to explore Explora). And no, I won´t receive parents that aren´t interested in challenging adultism in all its forms.
This year is all about learning and practicing. In August we will be ready – on one condition: that this process flows. If it doesn´t, it´s okay. I won´t push the river.