From January 2016

Visioning the Future

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The Law Of Attraction is based on the idea that “like attracts like.” What we put out to the world is what we will receive. When we accept responsibility for what we draw into our own lives, we can feel empowered to create the life we want to live!

Last week, while cleaning my house, I found myself in my closet staring at an old vision board I made before ALC Mosaic existed, before I even met the parents who are a part of the school today. I was brought to my knees by what I saw. Three years ago, I immersed myself in imagining what it would look like and feel like to be in a school of my dreams. Today I am living this out.

Here is a snapshot of the vision board as a whole:

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At first glance, you’ll see kids playing outside, in a tee pee, reading a book, etc. These things of course would happen in a school of my dreams. But a closer look reveals some very interesting things that have been eerily called into my life since making this years ago:

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At the time I made this board, I owned a bike that I never rode. Its tires sat flat in my shed. I would not be considered an avid bike enthusiast. Today, our school lobby is filled with bikes. @Charlotte, one of our loved ALFs, has incorporated a love of bikes and the environment into the heart of what this school is.

Next I saw a picture that may seem trivial, but it warmed my heart to see it anyway. For those who were a part of the school in the spring of 2014, you may remember a couple of teen aged girls who were with us for a few months – who loved to draw all over their shoes and jeans. Some kids brought in jeans for them them draw and decorate on with sharpies.

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Then I saw a picture that caused me to gasp out loud and yell for Charlotte to come and take a look:

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Anyone at school this year is familiar with my box animals. This fall, a parent, Melissa, left a Minecraft Crafting magazine at school. I saw a minecraft pig plush made from felt and helped the kids make these pigs. This has turned into a hobby of mine making all sorts of box plush animals! I have no idea why I would have been drawn to glue down a box picture of a pig all those years ago for a vision of my dream school. This seemingly random detail is quite spectacular in my opinion!

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The next picture I saw reminds me of this year and the dedicated group of kids in both ALC Mosaic and ALC NYC who love psychology crash course. We’ve been consistently watching and discussing the videos since September each week. There was an episode on the Rorschach test in it, and we even tried some of these tests online.

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Another little strange coincidence:

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You may not think this is a picture to note as important, but there was a young girl, @libby who enjoyed wearing a beard at school for period of time. I showed this to her last week and she thought this was pretty funny!

There are pictures of kids gardening, playing in sprinklers, reading, writing, maps – all things that I see or have seen be important parts of our school experience. However, these pictures I highlighted sparked me as being slightly unusual things to include in this vision board for a school that hadn’t yet been created.

Re-visiting this board gave me much joy. In the simplest way, it made me smile to think about where I was three years ago, and where I am now. In a deeper way, this helped me to further understand the importance of focusing on what I want to see in the world TODAY so I can attract those experiences to me. 

What’s next? #OneCampus Vision Board. We are looking for our next home, and I am imagining that it will be spectacular!

A Brief History Of Education

This post is a follow up from our incredible experience hosting Peter Gray here in Charlotte (January 30, 2016).

In his talk, he refers to a blog post he wrote called “A Brief History Of Education.” If you went to the talk, you might be curious to read a bit more about this. If you didn’t go to the talk, it’s a very thought provoking read.

I reviewed some old blog posts I wrote before Mosaic was an ALC (we initially opened as a democratic free school). These posts are no longer currently viewable on the internet, but I dug a post I wrote after reading this particular blog by Gray in August of 2013:

Do you know why schooling became compulsory? In the linked blog post by Peter Gray, author of Free to Learn, he describes a brief history of education from the time of hunter-gatherer societies to today.

In the article, Gray describes how, “School gradually replaced fieldwork, factory work, and domestic chores as the child’s primary job. Just as adults put in their 8-hour day at their place of employment, children today put in their 6-hour day at school, plus another hour or more of homework, and often more hours of lessons outside of school. Over time, children’s lives have become increasingly defined and structured by the school curriculum. Children now are almost universally identified by their grade in school, much as adults are identified by their job or career.”

Are your children defined by their grade? Do they see themselves as more than a person who is “not good at math” or in the “top reading group?” Could this mindset be a contributing factor to increased depression and anxiety in the future due to a dependence on defining oneself through arbitrary standards?

It was fun for me to see that I am still just as passionate about this topic as I was then!

On Relationships

I’m finding this school year to be so much easier than the first and second years. This can be attributed to many things. I think the biggest factor involved here are relationships based in trust and love.

I made a little chart to examine the shift in dynamics between people when you have an established relationship rooted in trust & love. In my time teaching in public schools, I felt that one year was never enough for me to get to this place with my students. When I began teaching at the Friends School of Charlotte, one thing that excited me to work there was the 3 year cycle with the same teacher. At Mosaic, I can enjoy relationships even beyond that 3 years, which I love.

 

Relationship with Trust & Love Relationship with Fear & Distrust
  • New experiences are embarked on together with excitement – you are willing to embark on something you’ve never tried before with a person you trust.
  • When a person doesn’t agree with you, you are open to see their perspective. Ultimately, you believe that this person is doing the best they can in this world.
  • When you spend time with this person, you are focused on loving them & yourself. Your time is joyful and playful.
  • Coercion, shame or guilt are used to make the person do something you believe is the right thing to do. An adult who fears a child might never learn to “X” believes that without coercion or shame, the child will not do it.
  • You are skeptical and distrusting of the other person’s intentions. You are concerned that without some type of punishment or negative consequence, the person might never learn to act or think in a way you feel is acceptable.
  • When you spend time with this person, you are trying to control them or focus your conversation on little lessons that you hope will make them act/think in a way you like.

 

In traditional schools, sometimes teachers get a challenging student in the classroom, and you can hear in the teacher’s lounge, “well it’s only one year, they’ll be gone next year.” This is a mindset too, that if there is a challenging student, you just need to “put up with” them for one year. So the year is spent managing behavior because that’s really all you need to do to survive the year. To me, this is not humane treatment of children.

It takes time to build relationships. A person in a trusting relationship with another will joyfully and happily engage in something new, challenging or difficult. This is a common concern that I hear from parents, “If they aren’t forced to take classes, won’t they just do the same thing every day? What if they never try anything new or challenging?” This question exists in a different paradigm than the one I choose to live in. One doesn’t worry about something like this if you are focused on loving and trusting other people. I am personally willing and excited to do new things with people who I know love me and believe the best in me. I believe this applies to most people.

Having existed in another paradigm, I know the mindset of the other side. I have coerced, punished and manipulated children. I have been on the receiving end of this as well, having lived in a world where the common mindset is that this is the only way children can learn to be “good” adults. I’ve woken up to see that this isn’t true. A simple look at all the disheartened adults hurting themselves and each other in the world is an easy wake-up call. As I learned more, I decided to act differently. I love applying Maya Angelou’s quote to my own life: “When you know better, do better.”

I am thankful for the opportunity I have to grow deep relationships with children (and their parents) over years of time. I have the time and space to see them, know them, and love them. I am in no rush to make them do anything, ever. I can wait for moments of inspiration to leap us into new discoveries. I can listen to their perspectives on life and, with joy, smile and appreciate where they are now in their journey (as opposed to feeling anxious for where I want them to be).

I’ll end this post with some quotes on this topic from some people whom have inspired my awakening into a new paradigm of thought:

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For further reading, you can read this article, one of the best ones I’ve read that describes the leap into this paradigm in terms of “deschooling” and “unschooling,” but in the end, is really all about trust.

Changing Your Mindset, Changing Your Life

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I was looking for Peter Gray quotes to share as we get excited for his speaking event in Charlotte on Jan. 30th, and came across this one. I personally would replace the word “education” in this quote with “life. Which prompted me to reflect on a common parent question I get about the future.

“But what if after going to your school, they grow up to wish they hadn’t? What if they can’t get into the college they want to?”

And to that, I say:

“Oh my…but what if they grow up in a traditional school, go to a prestigious college, get a job they don’t really like and then work there every day, living for Friday when they can finally drink away the misery of staying in the job because they have so many student loans? And they are taking anti-depressants or anti-anxiety meds every day to get through life?

This is a mindset, to live with chronic worry, to live out of fear for what *might* happen way down the road. Instead, I want to model for children living a life of purpose, one that is worth waking up for every morning. One that feels full of joy and love. Most schools are not modeling that for children, but instead modeling the mindset that you must suffer right now, you must get through this day in order to have a “successful” tomorrow. That you must be stressed out and worry about the future and what might happen to you if you don’t stress about it right now. But what is success? Isn’t success being thankful each morning to be alive? Or is it going to a job you hate and wishing you had a different life?

If you are focused on being concerned about how you will mess up your child, no matter where you send them to school, you will be focused on this. Perhaps, would you consider what would happen if you change your focus? You might change your life and your relationship to the world and your child. You might perhaps find that no matter where you send your child to school (or choose not to send them), doesn’t matter as much as your own mindset in life. So I actually don’t promote that people come to our school to find bliss, but that they find their own bliss first, and if it feels right, join us in our journey of like minded families. Because if you are trapped in a mindset of living in constant worry, than you will bring that here and worry about our school just as you’ve worried about other schools. Change your mindset first, then make your decisions (about what school to choose, or really, anything else) from a place of joy and inspiration!”

I have been scoffed at for leading and promoting the questions of how might we lead ourselves and teach others to have free-spirited, joyful lives NOW, and I have heard: “Well that’s because you live in la-la land. You don’t live in the real world.” Well, what if we created the world we want to live and are excitedly doing that? What if we create the world when we chose what mindset we want to have and we choose how we want to feel, and how we will respond to the world around us? What if we create the world when we choose to focus on what we want to draw into our lives rather than what we want to avoid? These are the considerations I ponder in my own head and that resonate for me to create my own heaven on earth.