A few random highlights from my previously recorded thoughts:
At first I thought the handsignals were really silly, and wondered why the standard head-nods and lack thereof didn’t suffice. But halfway through the second day, I find that I like the hand signals. They help me stay focused and not looking around for someone to trade sideways glances with. They let me express myself without being rude when someone else is talking. They fill a void in our often discussion-heavy culture that probably needed filling.
The boundaries discussion was weird and frustrating for me. I want everyone to agree that the boundaries for freedom are that people will be supported in their pursuits as long as they are safe, legal, and respectful. I think that’s succinct and needed, just as a definition of what kind of space we want to create. At first I felt so much resistance to this concept of any explicit boundaries that it made me wonder, what exactly are people afraid of, if we say out loud (“with our mouth-space” as a fellow ALFer put it) that these boundaries exist? I was greatly relieved when those boundaries were explicitly affirmed, because I felt I could put this basic question to bed.
That boundaries discussion issue illustrates another observation I had about myself. I found the archetypes discussion helpful because as the days go on, I can see more and more how “alerted” I am to missing information. Missing information drives me INSANE and I didn’t realize it until I had a chance to let this discussion sink in. I was able to see, day after day, how information-focused I am, and how this causes me to butt heads with people for whom relationships and feelings might be more important. (A peek into my brain on a bad day: “I don’t really care how you feel, what you are saying is FACTUALLY INCORRECT and until you admit it this conversation is going nowhere!”) I am better able to see that this strength/weakness of mine, such a driving force, can cause some discord, but when my powers are used for good, people really seem to appreciate that role.
Sara and I both really relished the process of getting the words for the roots exactly right. We had to pull the concepts out of Arthur and play with the language until everyone felt that it was clear, not jargon-y, and yet embodied the entire concept we wanted to convey. We were both very much in “flow” as we took part in this process, and the icing on the cake was that when this was read aloud to the entire group, people loved it! I think some people even had tears in their eyes. This was a great achievement and a very affirming experience for me.
My kids say that sometimes it seems like a lot of fun things are happening at once and they don’t know which activity to pick, and other times they feel like there isn’t anything fun happening and they get bored. Regarding the first “problem,” we have discussed as adults that although our first reaction is to try to “fix” it (by setting the schedule differently, trying to communicate whens and wheres better, etc), it isn’t actually a problem at all. The GOAL of our school should be that there are so many awesome things happening everywhere, you are forced to just pick the thing you find the awesomest at that time. In that way, our school is more like the Internet, and less like the days when there were only three channels on television and often only one or none had anything good on. Regarding boredom, part of the ALC culture is that we do not feel that kids being bored is a problem for us as adults to solve. Being bored gives children an opportunity to figure out for themselves what they are interested in doing. If a child tells me they are bored, my likely response is “Huh.” This way their feeling is acknowledged, but the problem remains theirs to solve. The ability to find something to do when you are bored is an important skill that kids must develop.
A gratitude I have that is renewed on a daily basis is for the people who enjoy and make it their work to play with kids all day long. While I prefer to spend my time with words and ideas, they do the actual hard work of forging relationships with young people, a task that would overwhelm me. Without these folks, none of this other work would matter at all; it would all be abstract academic exercise with no bearing on any kind of reality, and no evidence that any of it actually has value. How happy I am that my kids have these fun, nurturing, sparkly people to help open the world to them.