If the children don't have to attend classes, how will they learn anything?
They will learn through their every day pursuits and by attending classes that they find appealing. First the child must learn what's important to them and what they are interested in. Sometimes this is difficult for them to determine if they have had someone else direct their activities. With external motivators minimized, they will be able to use their intrinsic motivation to figure out who they are and what is important to them. Mentors in the form of adults and children will encourage exploration of the student's ideas and opportunities for change, if desired.
Ok, so if they're not required to attend classes, what will the children be doing all day?
The children who will be attending classes offered at Raw Learning will do so because they want to. If they choose not to they could be painting, reading, playing instruments, dressing up and dancing and/or acting, playing outside, running around, playing games, coloring, imaginative play, writing, singing, talking, shouting, being read to, building, jumping, group meetings, cutting, creating, making rules, eating or any number of other worthy pursuits.
How will I know if my child has gained skills or knowledge during their time at Raw Learning?
Facilitators will take notes of observations, pictures of constructions and preserve creations. These will be labeled and dated and given to the child and their parent(s) at the end of each trimester. When students are picked up, facilitators also remark about events that occurred during the day at Raw Learning which were significant to their child's skills and knowledge acquisition. Photos and creations are also shared daily.
What is the role of the teachers, especially if classes are non-compulsive?
The teachers have the challenge of presenting the material that they will cover in an appealing way that inspires their students to want to learn more. This article by Alfie Kohn presents a thought provoking argument for teacher involvement and input to take the students deeper in their learning and comprehension.
Who thought up this cockamamie idea anyway?
Learning from life has been around as long as we have. Over the centuries different environments have been established for learners to come together to share their knowledge and skills. One such environment that was founded in 1921 and is still going strong today is Summerhill School in Leiston, England. Please see the resources tab for more examples of child-led learner-centered schools.
Won't the children be exhausted from the long day?
At first the children will probably be more tired because of the novelty of being able to run around with other kids. When that wears off and the children self-regulate, they will decide when they need to take a rest. Stress is what tires many people out. Because most of the stressful attributes of this type of environment have been removed, the day will be enjoyable.
What about children who want more structure?
We will all work together to provide it on the child's terms. For example, if they want a weekly schedule, one would be made up with the mentor(s) helping the child to determine what they would like. We would provide all of the consistencies to follow the schedule, but would not police or coerce the child into complying with it. For example, if the schedule says lunch is at 12, but the child doesn't want to eat at 12 then that's their choice.
Shouldn't the adults make all the rules?
If adults made all the rules what intrinsic motivation would the children have to follow them? The people involved in the day to day operations of the school will determine the rules and policies that will enable it to function as a whole and to provide for the needs of each individual.
How will conflict be resolved?
Peacefully and without blame while acknowledging the feelings of everyone involved. The goal is to enable the children to problem solve by providing them tools with which to do so. Tools that enable the children to let another know in no uncertain terms that they need to stop. Tools that give the children constructive options if the other doesn't stop. Tools that encourage reflection and critical thinking. Volunteer meetings will be critical to implement consistent conflict resolution at Raw Learning.
Do I need to attend all the parent and facilitator meetings?
Attendance at as many meetings as possible is strongly encouraged. At parent/facilitator meetings we connect as a community on which to lean to support each other and the young people in our lives. The community will be stronger if all parents are part of it.
For folks who are facilitating and will be spending time at Raw Learning, the parent/facilitator meetings are essential to deciding on how we will work with the students to allow them to learn as safely and freely with as many resources and opportunities as possible. This will enable us to address conflict at the meetings, instead of during the school day.
What is your child to volunteer ratio?
At no time will there be more than 10 enrolled children per facilitator at Raw Learning.
Why don't you have "school" in your name?
Because none of the definitions of school seemed to fit with our philosophy. Officially Raw Learning is a private school.
2807 North Augusta Street
Staunton, Virginia 24401