We had a wonderful Open House yesterday at our new location! Thanks to all of you who came by...it was delightful to meet you. We look forward to creating together an alternative education opportunity on the west side of Phoenix. All children are welcome! If you were unable to make it to the Open House, but would like a tour please conatct us at 623-242-
My 9 year old lifelong unschooling son is remarkable in many ways, I am always delighted to hear him speak of the many things that fascinate, amuse and excite him. He has a quick wit and keen sense of humor, a ferocious temper when frustrated and he always surprises me with what is on his mind. Something he had an early fascination with was letters and numbers. One of the stories he likes to hear me tell him is how he figured out how to read on his own at the tender age of 18 months. "Stop" was the first word he read and soon after followed "j-u-m-p." He would excitedly jump up and down with each letter he shouted out in his tiny voice. For his 2nd birthday he received two sets of magnetic letters that he would study and carefully line up and then he would request, and often demand, that I read the word he spelled. Sometimes these words were over twenty letters long, and I would do my best to sound them out for him. One of his favorite activities while in the car was to read every street sign we passed out loud, his favorite was "Not A Through Street," it was like finding a prize each time he saw one. There was also a journal we kept in which he would have me write his favorite words so could read them, I still have it and it is fun to look through. As he grew older he also enjoyed helping out his big brother with spelling a word for him here and there. Over the years people have asked how I got him to do this or how he was able to figure it out. My response has always been that it was his own interest that he was allowed to pursue as he wished, no one ever forced, coerced or manipulated him into it. Reading was a puzzle he was dedicated to solving. Many children have passions that are not so easily embraced, but when they are allowed the time to explore whatever their interest may be sometimes surprising things happen that reveal their innate gifts. Sir Ken Robinson speaks of this in his book "The Element," he refers to this as the point where talent meets passion. If you are in your element then you are doing something for which you have a natural aptitude. In other words, you get it and you love it. This doesn't mean that learning every aspect of your interest comes easily, but that the struggles are seen as positive growth towards understanding.
This past fall was my son's introduction to public school, there were big changes in his life that brought this about, and although it was not his decision to go, he was willing to see what "this experience" would turn out to be. He has enjoyed making friends that he can see every day and has discovered that social studies is boring and may not help him out in life, he thinks science is pretty interesting, but he has trouble understanding how math on paper relates to real world stuff; I completely understand! The other day he volunteered to be in the school's spelling bee, he says he was one of ten students and became the first boy in the school's 80 year history to win the 4th grade spelling bee. To him this was not such a big deal, but it was pointed out that he is probably the first unschooler to win also, that had more meaning for him. He says he was a little intimidated at standing before the other students and teacher while trying to picture in his mind how to spell the words he was given. His winning word was "reveal" but the most challenging word for him was "undertow." He said he was not familiar with the word and guessed its spelling to be u-n-d-e-r-t-o-e, but when the student before him spelled it that way and was eliminated he said he had to re-envision it in his mind and t-o-w seemed like a good second choice. He says it was a lucky guess and I suggested to him that he may have remembered seeing "tow" as a separate word at some point - as in tow boat or tow a car, but he didn't recall and is happy with calling it his "lucky guess."
He is a little excited and a little scared because the next spelling bee will include another school and will also include 5th graders; and if he is successful he will move on to even more schools and older kids. I reminded him that he has been reading even longer than most - if not all - the 5th graders so he should be just fine, and he reminded me that winning is not what is important, he is in it for "the experience" and to have fun. He is going to prepare by reading through a dictionary and doing flash cards with his dad. I look forward to hearing all about it.
"Open Doors Center is about allowing children to learn from their experiences with personalized, passion led, education." ( Marty Lamb, father of 2 sons who attend Open Doors.)
There was great enthusiasm inside Kaleb as he anticipated Mary's arrival. He was excited to go straight to the park to start on the treasure hunt that had been planned the day before. We headed out - the boys on bikes and baby in stroller. When we got there we buried the treasure for Marty to find and then started work on the treasure map and another map of how to get to the park that Zachary requested to make. While drawing Zachary wanted to put a label on the map and asked how to spell "house." Mary and I asked him what sounds he was hearing and he wrote the letters of the sounds that he heard and Mary said that what he wrote down made sense and sounded accurate and that she would know that that was what he meant. It was his map and it made sense to him so that is all that mattered. It is my impression that he felt empowered in that moment because there was freedom in not having to be correct, what was important was being understood and being able to help himself. Ordinarily I would have given Zachary the correct letters, I appreciated Mary's insight at allowing this freer way of thinking and it is something I will continue to do! We all learn and grow at Open Doors.
During the map making Kaleb realized he was hungry and wanted to head back to the house. It took the adults some time to sort out what to do, at first we tried to encourage him to keep going but after a few tries we realized that it is awfully difficult to concentrate when hungry, so we split up, half of us stayed at the park to guard the treasure and finish work on the maps while the other half went home for food. All of this was done with the children's input and observations.
Once everyone was was refueled and back at the park the treasure was located and dug up and the contents were revealed. There was a special handmade doll from Lake Titicaca for Daisy, also crystals of quartz and amethyst; and of particular interest to Kaleb was a card depicting the violet flame of St. Germaine. A discussion followed about what process Kaleb could go through to help him remain centered in himself and remain strong in any situation. There was also a pendulum that everyone got to experience by moving it with their chakra energy as it dangled above their hand. Later the pendulum was used to check particular chakras of Kaleb and Zachary and interesting information was revealed along with helpful suggestions to keep the energy flowing. An especially energetic day.
We are all really enjoying Mary's enthusiasm and encouragement, mostly her energy has re-energized us and we are looking at things with a renewed appreciation for being outdoors.
What We Did
Wednesday, January 31,
It was a beautiful day to be free to embrace the
gifts of Mother Earth by spending
time outside absorbing sunlight, feeling the gentle breeze, and watching
a hawk circling above us in the crystal blue sky. Some of us exercised our
muscles riding bikes to the nearby park, (after Marty, Caleb and Zachary worked
together to solve the problems of flat tires!) while Daisy, Mary and Valarie
kept up with some fast strolling. Our play at the park included working an
excavator which is able to rotate 360 degrees. Caleb and Zachary demonstrated
for Mary how to work the levers and rotate the seat. Digging in the sand
prompted our imaginations to consider burying treasure near the excavator and
drawing a map for their Dad, Marty, to follow. The children worked on this plan
in quiet confidence with Mary and Valarie. Mary agreed to stop by the park early
the next morning and secretly bury the treasure. The boys were bubbling with
anticipation of leading Marty to the park on Thursday morning with the drawn map
in hand. Captain Caleb and First Mate Zachary, hoped that the treasure would not
be discovered by other “pirates” before we could lead Marty to
We also investigated the physical properties and geometry of a
yellow quartz egg, and a crystal prism which had an octagonal base and as
Zachary observed, “a pointy top like a triangle, and lots of triangle shapes
inside it.” Holding the prism in the sunlight caused the light to refract into
7 rainbow colors and revealed an eight-pointed star also. We got out the
colored pencils and challenged ourselves to draw what we observed in the
crystal. This was so enjoyable
that we just continued on creating octagons, an octopus, and a Zen design that
Valarie and Zachary and Daisy worked on together. We learned that “oct” means
eight and with the mention of an octopus with 8 arms, in a flash of the laptop
keys, Marty guided us down into the deep ocean where we discovered all manner of
octopi! We examined the spiral of a seashell which was “pointy on the outside
with little triangles on top, and smooth on the inside and pink and orange.”
Listening to the sea, we held the
shell to our ears and Zachary placed a call to SpongeBob Squarepants….afterall,
we were learning about geometric shapes! And while we were focusing on the
number 8, the children had a great idea to play the card game Crazy Eights.
you know that the number eight on its side is the symbol for Infinity?
extended our learning about pine trees from the previous day by examining a pine
cone and looking at pictures of the pineal gland in the center of the human
brain which has been known for centuries to function like a transmitter of high
frequency thought waves that connect us to the wisdom of the finer energies in
the natural world and higher order thinking.
Open Doors Center is in process of working with some investors to acquire land. This land will become an organic garden run by the children with the help of guides. Children (and families) are welcome to become part of this project. Not only is the goal to become self sustaining, but also for the children to learn how to run a business. Continue checking our blog for updates! WHAT A GREAT WAY TO LEARN LIFE SKILLS!
Yesterday I was talking with a nine year old boy. He had been feeling a lot of fear. When he drew a picture of this fear there was a lot of dark energy going into his heart. He spoke about how he had come from somewhere else and was having a difficult time connecting with that palce. I was guided to suggest that he make a sword to protect himself from these energies...to sever the ties. He responded by saying he already knew that was what he had to do and described the sword to me. Its' colors were pink, blue, (violet) and gold. I asked hime if he knew St. Germain (violet flame) and his immediate response was, "How do you know my friend's name?" He then asked me if I knew the name of his 10,000 other friends...(Masters, angels, etc...)
Today's children are here to help us, but they need our help to stay in touch with their True Selves. There still remains negative energy in our world and sometimes they need our help in remembering how to protect themselves. Using colors, sounds, swords (to assist them in knowing their power), energy armour, and the violet flame are a few ways that we can suggest to them...(By the way, his sword turned out beautifully and light surrounds him as he holds it proudly!)
So often it is the the Void where we find true joy...children do not fear the Void...they Create in the Void!
The portal for New Education has opened. There is nothing REAL holding you back. The process is simple...start small, perhaps in someone's home...gather a group of children and ask them what they want to learn, to remember...surround the children/teens/adults with nature and animals...be present to the children and allow them to be present to you...the portal is open...trust...walk through...New Education is here...
As a grassroot movement we are moving forward with New Education. Are you ready to have your child participate in a program where they guide their own journey...knowing what motivates them and following that passion? Dare to imagine the happiness and joy in their spirits...