“This is an act of rebellion!”

For the first time in life, I dreamt I had to go back to secondary school. Apparently I had to complete my studies with some grades I had missed in math.

I felt a bit ridiculous when I walked through the door of a classroom full of teens. I didn´t dare telling them my real age, so I said I was 25 – which obviously still was too old for them.

The teacher was a colleague of mine, from the time when I was teaching at a secondary school on a couple of islands in the middle of the lake Mälaren, just 30 minutes outside Stockholm. I knew she was good so I felt at ease.

Then she started showing us these different graphs and curves. And she showed us the amount of homework we would have to do.

I started squirming in my bench. I knew this was just a waste of my time and that I would never ever use that stuff in my real life. As I sat there, I thought about it and came to the conclusion I really didn´t need it: “I´ve already graduated from university, and I know for sure I will never ever use this.”

So I suddenly stood up, raised my arm with my fist clenched and said “This is an act of rebellion!”. And I explained I refused to do any of the exercises, that I knew it was only a waste of time and that, on top of all, homework is really damaging. “Actually”, I said, “you should read my book!”. And I proudly walked out of the classroom.

That´s when I woke up, crying of laughter. I think it´s one of the best dreams I´ve ever had!

Explora in full transformation

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.