Democratic Education And Health

Self-Directed Learning : Trust Their Instincts

When my children were very young; toddler and newborn, I joined a new mothers group that met once a month.  There were some wonderful grandmothers who hosted these monthly meetings, treating us to snacks, free childcare and a “talk”.  The same grandma gave the talk every time and we could count on a repeat of many of the same stories.  But one bit of repeated advice that has meant the most to me was this: study your children, know what makes them “tick”; who they are.  This admonition assumes that each child is a unique individual, delivered with their own special, innate talents and abilities rather than a clean slate awaiting external inscription.  I took this advice to heart and watched, equipped, and procured the tools and experiences that appeared to be the best fit for my young children. I wanted them to be self directed learners. I trusted the process: study who they are, provide what they need, watch them learn and grow.  It was very simple.  I believed that I was starting with

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Asking Questions and Living the Answers: Finding Identity in the Wilderness

Tim

I discovered this incredible work by chance while searching through a listing of outdoor jobs on an online database in the summer of 2011. As a recent college graduate, I was neck deep in the angst of entering the job force. I had never heard of Wilderness Therapy before, and honestly, I remember feeling unsure if I wanted to do it or not. I pictured a boot camp where students just cried all day and yelled at each other as field instructors ran around saying things like, “take accountability for your actions!” or, “let the tears flow!” Nonetheless, something about it captivated my imagination. So I applied for a job as a Field Instructor and read every book about it I could get my hands on. As I read Shouting At The Sky, a book describing a writer’s personal wilderness therapy experience, I started to understand that this wasn’t like anything else I had ever heard of; it sounded compassionate, powerful, raw, even sacred.

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When the Rubber Hits the Road

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Tuesday night, February 3rd, we had our first information meeting. In a nutshell, we have enough interest to open the school this year.The search for a location has intensified. Several options have been considered and rejected. At the moment, we are focusing our efforts on finding a location that will be our very own, where we can move in with ALL our resources and have enough room to spread out projects and activities. We are also looking for green space and playscapes. Tall order? Maybe, but just the right space is out there, ready and waiting for Makarios Community School.

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Cultivating a “Growth Mindset” in Wilderness Therapy

When my best friend first tossed the idea my way, I had two competing thoughts, of equal size and strength, immediately pop into my brain. Thought #1: “She believes in you, and wants what’s best for you. She wants to have a fun experience together.” Thought #2: “She is a lunatic, and even after being friends for 35 years, she is clearly trying to kill me.”

 

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Problem-Based Learning is Like A Chocolate Chip Cookie

problembasedlearning

 At Makarios Community School students have the option of learning in any format they want, one of these is called Problem-Based Learning or Project-Based learning or PBL. The entire point of Problem-Based Learning is to solve a problem. The point of Makarios Community School is to support and encourage students to discover their interests, to think for themselves and to develop the tools and experience to solve problems. One of the fun activities we experienced at Makarios this past year was called "The Learning Challenge" and the purpose was for students to present a project, speech, presentation or report on a subject they had studied. The very first challenge included a project on entomophagy and chocolate chip cookies.

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Nomadic Therapeutic Wilderness Programs Offer a Deep Immersion in the Healing Embrace of Nature

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit. —Robert Louis Stevenson 

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More Than Teachers

Who were your favorite teachers? Chances are, they’re your favorite for reasons beyond teaching. We all know that great teachers not only teach lessons; they are also interesting people to get to be around and who have great relationships with students. One of mine said it this way: “My students will probably not remember the content of my lesson, but they will definitely remember the way they were treated.”

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Makarios Community School - A Place for Everyone

One of best things about Makarios is the sense of community. Everyone knows each other, everyone helps each other, and everyone has a place in our school- except when they don’t, because they’re new. A prospective student’s trial week and a new student’s first few days can be some of the most interesting things to experience at Makarios, and it really solidifies the sense of community each and every time.

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An Open Letter to Our Children: Why You’re Not in Public School (and you are at Makarios)

The other day when we were talking about public school and your Democratic Free School (Makarios), we realized that…

  1. We’ve never really explained to you why you’ve never been to public school. 
  2. Within this absence of explanation, you’ve made up some pretty wacky reasons.

We're writing to set the record straight.

 

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What Wilderness Means to Me

AT White Mountains

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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