Health and Education

Education is the key of successs

University-Model High School for the Liberated Youth

Did you know that George Washington Carver was the local “plant doctor” before he turned 13? Or that George Washington was a land surveyor in his teenage years? Or that Laura Ingalls Wilder began her teaching career prior to her 16th birthday? These teens were not much different than ours today. They were passionate about something, yet they had the freedom to pursue their passion.

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4 "Benefits" of Traditional Education

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On top of spending 8 hours a day inside a building, students get to go home with plenty to occupy their evening. Although it's been widely mandated that students only get 1 hour of homework on average each weeknight, most high school students are lucky enough to go home with at least 2 hours of homework! The standard, endorsed by the National Education Association and the National Parent-Teacher Association, is the 10 minute rule. 1st graders can have up to 10 minutes of homework a night, 20 minutes for 2nd graders, and 120 minutes for 12th graders. This makes perfect sense, but oftentimes teachers aren't communicating across different content areas. Students may very well be gifted more than the recommended amount of work to last them through the night. 

 

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What Wilderness Means to Me

AT Finish

I had no idea what I was getting into when I started as a field guide in 2011. What I did know, however, was that the wilderness provides a powerful backdrop for anyone searching for something. I had recently gotten back from a four and a half month backpacking trip from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail (The “AT”), where I had experienced that fact first hand. When I started the Appalachian Trail, on the surface I was a confident and probably somewhat arrogant recent college grad. However, internally I was scared to death by the fact that I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had always liked the outdoors but unlike many of the people I met during the trip, I was not fulfilling a lifelong dream by hiking the full length of the AT. Rather, I was fulfilling a dream that I had had for all of about two months after realizing that I was about to have to graduate and this was something that could help delay my entrance into “the real world.”

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Makarios is diversity...community...democracy

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I grew up behind the white curtain of Orange County, California...but I didn’t know it.   The street I lived on in the 70’s, was not Sesame Street, but Mullein Circle, a diverse mix of Japanese, Iranian, Vietnamese, Mexican American, African American, Afghan, and caucasian among 11 homes on our small cul de sac.  All the kids were equally excited when the ice cream truck made its rounds or the Japanese food truck its weekly delivery.  Regardless which appeared, we would scramble to the curb with our hard earned quarters to buy ice cream or rice candy.  I came to appreciate the diversity of cultural exposure years later when my family moved out of state.  The curtain of my existence was not white, but multi-faceted with beautiful colors.  Much like my daily experience, one year into my journey, at Makarios Community School.

 

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How to Wait : Supporting Your Child in a Democratic Free School

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When it was first suggested that I write about this topic, “How to Support Your Child in a Democratic School,” I immediately thought: "This isn’t something I think about, I’m just trying to make sure my daughter wears relatively clean clothes to school each day and is not bringing home too many ‘craft projects’ at the end of the week." She’s there most of the day doing her thing and hopefully, staying out of JC.’ But then I began to consider, what has allowed me to reach this point? What has enabled me to become comfortable with the idea of her doing what she thinks is important all day? How did I arrive at this conclusion--that all she needs to do is ‘her thing’ and all I really need to worry about is keeping up with the laundry?

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What Wilderness Means to Me

AT Finish

I had no idea what I was getting into when I started as a field guide in 2011. What I did know, however, was that the wilderness provides a powerful backdrop for anyone searching for something. I had recently gotten back from a four and a half month backpacking trip from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail (The “AT”), where I had experienced that fact first hand. When I started the Appalachian Trail, on the surface I was a confident and probably somewhat arrogant recent college grad. However, internally I was scared to death by the fact that I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had always liked the outdoors but unlike many of the people I met during the trip, I was not fulfilling a lifelong dream by hiking the full length of the AT. Rather, I was fulfilling a dream that I had had for all of about two months after realizing that I was about to have to graduate and this was something that could help delay my entrance into “the real world.”

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Parent Teacher Conferences at a Democratic Free School?

  FullSizeRender   Our students have thoughtful, caring, proactive parents. Some of them are new to (or even puzzled by!) this unconventional way of doing school; others feel that it fits like the glove they’ve been waiting for.  Many of our parents have spent several seasons in a homeschool or unschooling mode, while some have been on a quest for alternative education in forms of self directed learning, hack schooling or project based learning.  Whatever the case it is our pleasure to meet them exactly where they are along their parenting journey in a way that will benefit their student. After all, they know them even better than we do—their insights are unparalleled!   Read more continue reading
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Putting On Your Oxygen Mask First: Self-Care for Parents and Givers

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As the Family Support Therapist at Blue Ridge, I work with the parents of our students in the field. My role is to offer space for families to experience their own process, which often parallels the student process but is distinctly different for obvious reasons. Teens are in the woods, with both the discomfort that it brings and the luxury of not having to attend to their “normal” lives. 

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How does playing all day promote learning?

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One of the most common questions parents ask about democratic free schools is, “What if they just play all day? How will they learn anything?” This is a very normal concern, and a question every parent of a democratically schooled child should know the answer to. I’m going to use some real life examples of learning opportunities during play that I have observed and participated in at Makarios. I’ll talk about “the three R’s,” science, and interpersonal skills.

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Approaching Academics at Makarios Community School

Just how do we approach academics at Makarios Community School? In her recent blog, Jannica Morton shared several points of how a Democratic Free School is similar to Finland's #1 internationally ranked education system. Before ever reading anything about Finland’s major shift, I began to explore educational alternatives which eventually lead to the creation of Makarios Community School, the first Democratic Free School in the Dallas Fort Worth area.

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