I owe all my thanks to the Agile Learning Network for showing me how to do life differently. Trust, intuition, love, compassion, play, and happiness were not big components of my children’s education because these things were not part of my educational background. Once I had made the decision to make a drastic change in their learning paths, I found ALC. ALC’s are an amazing group of people that showed me life could be easier and happier. My deeply ingrained traditional ideals were shattered and this group of people modeled how to do almost everything differently. It wasn’t just learning that I saw differently, it was teamwork and interpersonal relationships and a true passion for what they were doing and creating. They modeled how to speak to each other effectively and how to receive constructive criticism and disagreements without being offended. They modeled how to agree to disagree while keeping the focus on what is best for the children. I had never seen anything like it. I wanted this kind of community for my children. I wanted my kids to be surrounded with people of this mindset and to grow up with the freedom and self-empowerment this group provided.
Before finding the Agile network, I had the vision to start a school but I needed support and I needed more insight. My school vision was still clouded by traditionalism. After finding ALC, I was fully devoted to their model and I had every intention to bring this school to my area. ALC had shown me a better way to serve the needs of the children and I was excited to get going, but I was aware of my hurdles.
On my journey to open an Agile Learning Center in my community, there were several things that caused me to be hesitant and to pause:
- My community didn’t “feel” ready to me. My area is ready for something different and the schools here are overflowing with new home development, but the problem is that Agile is too radical for now. I appreciate and understand what Agile is doing, but the people here simply couldn’t relate. I needed a way to create a bridge from traditional school to self-directed learning. I needed to be able to have something in place that could help the parents confidently walk away from forced learning into student-directed learning with little fear. After trying to figure out how to make an Agile Learning Center work in my community, I resolved that it simply would not work in this time period.
- I need more of a “plug in and go” model. Yes, I need hand-holding. The folks at ALC are ultra supportive and excited to help in any and all ways but being brand new to this mindset, I was feeling overwhelmed. While the ALC model is forming nicely, it’s not enough for now. Not only am I shifting old beliefs, mindsets, habits, and traditions, I am also trying to teach other people how student directed learning works so that they might join our school as well. I was doing A LOT of teaching and guiding parents and little time investing into the school itself. I felt that I didn’t have time to be part of the creation and design of the ALC model and (being new to the arena) I didn’t have much to contribute to the network. I also have a child going into the ninth grade and I need something that I could just plug into and use. I had no idea if there was a developed model out there or not so I set out on a journey to find out. I did.
- I found myself feeling insecure about giving my children 100% freedom all day long. The traditionalist in me kept resurfacing. I fully understand and support “maximum support, minimal intervention” and will continue to in that motto. However, I felt that there were some things that would be beneficial for the kids on a “need to learn” basis. I couldn’t let go of giving the kids some sort of educational goals and some way to help motivate them to want to meet those goals. I watched my kids in the karate dojo wanting that next belt so badly they could taste it, but they had certain skills to master before they could test for those belts. I needed to figure out how to motive the children the same way those belts motivated them. I fully understand and love that Agile believes in self-motivation, but the people in this community can’t see it yet. I felt there had to be a “need to learn” as well as a want to learn expectation.
- My kids were asking me to help them make goals because they enjoyed meeting those goals while still having time to do their own things.
I am hoping that as parents start to feel safe to make the transition to self-directed learning with the new model I am using, I will be able to create an Agile environment within or nearby the new school I am starting now. In the mean time I have to help the community “cross over” so to speak.
I hope to never be disconnected to the Agile Learning Network because what they are doing is magnificent. In the meantime, I will be here in my traditionalist culture creating awareness, revving up and educational shift, and providing a learning environment where children can flourish and parents can finally feel okay.