February 14, 2016
While advocating for her daughter’s educational freedom, one of our parents discovered something about herself. The post below is written by that parent, Faith, who is also an amazing supporter of our school. All of the art pieces below were created by Faith during her own self-training as an artist.
I am a huge advocate for self learning, but it took me a long time to get to that point on my own. I didn’t even know that was an option when I was a child. Everything was put in front of me with no options but to ‘just do it’. My education background is like most Americans, preschool through high school, and then college. As a child I remember hating school. The word school, and the word learning were words that created panic in me.
College was no different. I ended up dropping out and a few years later I found an independent study course for a trade that I was passionate about. Independent study gave me the freedom and flexibility to zip through things that I understood right away, it gifted me the time I needed for the parts I struggled with, and it gave me space to explore.
Where was that option when I was little?
This is when I started to LOVE learning again. All I needed was the freedom to explore what I was passionate about. I wanted this for my daughter, I want her to know from the beginning that learning can be fun. So here we are at The Open School. They provide her with the opportunity to control her world. Can you guess what happens when you allow a child to consistently make their own decision? They become confident in themselves. Most children do not have the option of making their decisions. Everything is scheduled for them, when they eat, when they sleep, what they can watch, where they are suppose to be, to what they learn and what age they need to learn it by. These packed days, weeks, and years we create for them can be stressful.
I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time at The Open School. I have gotten to know each kid, who they are, what triggers them, how they react, and what interests them. I have been able to play their games, be a part of their imagination, and have been able to teach and include them in my own work.
I watch the children at The Open School be fearless in the face of discouragement. Friends who are outside the school, neighbors, and even family members question their education, saying they are behind their peers because they don’t meet ‘state” standards, because they might choose to play all day instead of sitting at a desk, means they are not learning enough. In reality, these kids are far more advanced in the skills needed to succeed as an adult. They are not afraid to get dirty, they enjoy it. They know mistakes and failures are an important step to learning. They have more control in their life, they do what they want because they have been given the freedom and environment that allows them to explore the world how they want to.
So what happens if we practice this concept as adults?
I decided to give myself that freedom of time, the freedom to make mistakes, and the freedom to just suck. I started to learn how to draw. I have always wanted to, but never thought I could do it. I allowed myself to be discouraged by my own thoughts and even let people around me talk me out of it. It was the kids, and the school that inspired me try again. So I started drawing at the school, and sometimes one, two or all the kids would join in. Then I started to draw at home. Now I am drawing and painting almost everyday, and I am getting ready to illustrate a children’s book. Everyday these kids show me that paving my own path isn’t scary, it’s fun. Giving myself the freedom to explore and the time to just sit and do the things I really want to do is when magic happens, and magic happens everyday at The Open School.
You just need freedom, time, a little bit of curiosity and the environment to explore.