The deschooling process is getting to me

So, the first week went great. It far succeed any expectations I had had. However, the second week left me with a whole different feeling.
No new kids have been enrolled. My radio spots haven´t started to run yet and the directors who were supposed to visit Explora haven´t had time to make it, so some days I have three kids, other days I have nine.
My impression is that the energy has started to stagnate a little. How that can happen after only two weeks is most likely due to several things:

The kids really have very little initiative. They are used to being directed by adults and constantly look to the adults for guidance. By now they know there are board games, art and loads of free outside play. They also know how to throw the snap and play ninjas, but no one is setting any real other intentions but “play without a plan” (something my son initiated and now they´re all copying him…). Now, if they all would “just” play freely, nothing would make me happier! The point is: most of them don´t. They wait for the adults to initiate an activity.

Every day we end with the community mastery board, but only the adults have stuff they want to add. We´ve told the kids they can add anything they think isn´t working very well, but nobody has anything to say so far. We then do a short gratitude circle, but none of the kids have anything to say.

My feeling is they still don´t feel safe enough to share any personal comments.

Besides the lack of initiative and creativity in the kids – which clearly is something I need quick support with in order to manage generating, I don´t know what else to do in order to make the kids feel more comfortable. They come from completely different backgounds and have been exposed to very different family circumstances and schooling. It´s not that easy for them to connect across “borders” (we have so many of those invisible ones down here).

Thursday I tried solid/liquid and it totally didn´t work. Only one very outgoing girl felt safe enough to play. The others were just staring looking completely stiff. I had already questioned that particular activity in my mind, but I thought I´d try it out with them anyway. I still don´t know why I had the feeling it wouldn´t work, nor why it actually didn´t. Why didn´t the kids respond in the same way they did to ninjas? I intuitively know why, but I can´t really put words to it. For some reason it´s an activity that demands more trust, and it also puts the kids more on the spot.

I have so many questions about what other activities to offer and how to guide the kids towards more self-directed learning opportunities. At this point it feels like as if I will have to basically kill myself in the process of finding more fun group games to help them connect. I haven´t managed to find any information in Spanish on group activity games, so the other facilitators can´t help me with it.

I have also observed that the facilitators tend to go for very adult directed offers that don´t create any space for the kids taking their own initiatives. We talked about it the other day at our weekly meeting, and they could totally see it too. I have some ideas on what I could suggest to them, however, I´m starting to feel drained in the process of first creating and now holding the entire project without any tangible help from anyone else down here.

I know there will always be ups and downs. Waiting for the rollercoaster to take me up again!

4 thoughts on “The deschooling process is getting to me”

  1. It can be tough to deschool while in some parts of your life you still have to play school. It can also take a long time to get to the other side of deschooling. Emphasis on long. My heart goes out to you as you wait for them to get to the other, more productive side of the process.
    I would suggest maybe meeting them where they are. They can’t & won’t for sometime, I think, be ready to generate their own pursuits and offerings. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with coming up with some things you think are sure to be interesting to them.

  2. My heart went out to you when I read your post. I admire your courage. My daughter started ALC in NYC a year ago, at the age of 13. The adjustment process has been wonderful and also very hard (for me). I have read that de-schooling can take a year … or two. This seems like a good estimate based on my own experience. Of course I am very emotionally involved, so it’s not easy. But it really takes alot more than a few weeks for kids to feel safe. So much damage has been done in schools. In the beginning (maybe after 6 months) I noticed a very tiny but important change. My daughter stopped being afraid to ask questions and admit she didn’t know something (like the meaning of a word). Any small change is a miracle. The age mixing is so helpful for building the comfort and feeling of safety.

    I agree with the other comment above: Not to feel bad about making all of the offerings. Volunteers bringing in offerings has been so helpful. My daughter relates to and feels safe with physical activity…acro-balance was the first place that helped her relax.

    I remember in the beginning she told me they watched a movie ‘Into the Woods’. I was a little concerned and sceptical when I heard that this was an offering, but these kinds of activities that adults would not tend to suggest in a ‘school’ setting, really do help to make young people feel safe and realize that this is not the normal kind of school at all. And my daughter was very enthusiastic to have these kinds of offerings…just going on a trip downtown, visiting grocery stores, looking at the furniture that people left on the street, going to the thrift store, going out to lunch, strangely these have been some of the many day to day activities that they have done in NYC. It does seem to work. Keep it up. And keep up the faith.

  3. It´s Monday and I had a serious talk with my facilitators. We decided to back off totally today – I mean, we even left the room during the intention setting… and OMG! The kids suddenly started chatting with each other, and three of them took off outside. The others stayed and said: we want to play hide and seek. My main facilitator answered: great! Go ahead then! And OFF THEY WENT!!!

    It was an amazing afternoon! The kids played like crazy, and all we did was watch them and talk about self-directed learning. It´s like as if they were completely different kids! And when we reconnected before 7, they actually TALKED! They said it had been an awesome day and that it had been very different. They couldn´t tell why, but they all said they liked it. YAY!!!! I´m not totally lost after all 🙂

    Thank you all for your kind words and supportive attitudes!

  4. I didn’t notice this reply until after I read your next post. Thanks for posting this. It is so inspiring. But of course, life is real and there will be more challenges…who knows what. So of course, you should continue to post them. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *