March 2019 Volume 27 Number 2
We had so much snow this winter that we were able to go sledding four times… in a row. What a relief after all the years of minimal snowpack. We are eagerly anticipating the green spring. Before it got too cold, we had been going on weekly field trips which were mostly hiking.
For the first half of this school year, Field Trip Day was set up so that everyone who went to school would go on a field trip. This was designed with the intention of everyone being included. Everyone would bond together, and no one would be left behind at the school. However, what ended up happening was people stayed home. The purpose of having more togetherness was not being fulfilled.
A change was necessary. As a group we had to remind ourselves what the point of this was – to spend more time together. So, the students changed this habit, deciding that there would be more options. We’ve been enjoying things like Movie Day, Craft Day, and Family Fun Game Day on Thursdays when people wanted to stay inside. This is important to note because it shows a few of the subtle things your children are working on. They saw a problem and fixed it, showing an ability to think about what is happening around them and to affect change. They made the conscious decision to be more friendly and get to know one another better, showing care for the community.
Social support has been shown to greatly increase one’s health. Strong social ties reduce the stress hormones which cause inflammation and ultimately become a contributing factor of heart disease. All over the world, people who feel closely connected to their friends and family are living longer.
This past November, Iku and Moe went to Bengaluru, India for the 2018 International Democratic Education Conference. There were educators and students from Europe, Asia, Oceana, but mostly from all over India. Some of the things we learned was that there are now 47 new democratic schools in France – just in the last 5 years. In Addition, Indonesia is about to explode with new democratic schools.
Most amazing of all was the Children’s Parliaments of India. These are neighborhood decision-making bodies completely run and populated by children. They deal with issues of concern ranging from broken street lights and the use of disposable plastic to abusive and alcoholic parents. There are 50,000 such parliaments in India. They have been to the UN and it is now a world wide movement. Power to the children!
The next IDEC will be this August in the Ukraine – 2 days in Kiev and 6 in Vinnystia. This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to meet with students from similar schools from around the world. We are more alike than different. We are planning a trip through Turkey and/or Georgia before the conference. Please let us know if your child is interested in this incredible trip.
A big thank you to Eddie Brasch and Rios Wood Yard for their donations of wood. They have kept us warm both physically and emotionally.
Many students have been working on learning to play piano this winter, and they have been doing it in a self-motivated way – finding songs to learn, listening to them online and then working on playing them. This is a great example of innate natural curiosity. People are natural learners when they can learn freely without coercion.
Spring break will be 2 weeks this year – from March 8th to March 24th. When we get back, Angela Pi from Taiwan will be joining us as an intern until the end of the year. We first met Angela at the 2013 IDEC in Colorado. The next year 14 students from her school, The Humanities Exploration School, spent a week in June living here at TTS. Since then we have seen her at the IDECs in Finland and Korea. Having her visit will be a great reminder that we have connections across the world as we are part of a global movement.
Self-determination theory, a widely accepted theory of human motivation, proposes that all people have three innate needs: autonomy (having control over one’s actions), competence (building mastery), and relatedness (connecting positively with other humans). When these needs are fulfilled, humans can act with intrinsic motivation: they can start to do things (even very challenging things) for their own sake. But when these needs are not fulfilled, intrinsic motivation falters; we no longer want to do things for their own sake. That’s when extrinsic motivation is required — in other words, threats and bribes — to motivate people to take action.
Any place that claims to “educate” must give young people actual autonomy, help them develop actual competencies, and facilitate actual social connections. It must produce self-aware and self-motivated humans, not anxiety-riddled worker bees awaiting their next orders. Places of education must lift people up and bring them together — as we envision the ideal of school — not crush their spirits and isolate them.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being.