Monthly Archive: August 2008

Ohhhh, back to school….

I’ve had the little ditty from Billy Madison stuck in my head all day. (If you don’t know it yet, don’t worry — you will.) Tomorrow is the day I’ve been waiting for: my return to kindergarten at my elementary school.

I’ve got my lunch packed up: veggie & cheese fritatta, an organic peach, and half a piece of tomato bread. (Darren: “No one’s gonna trade you for that!”) It’s in a brown bag with my name on it. My mom offered to put a little note inside like in the old days.

I’ve had a lot of memory triggers today that gave me a taste of what’s to come over the next few months. I had to drive into Petaluma today on my old route to high school, and I popped in a random mix tape, circa 1996. It included:

  • “Lovefool” – The Cardigans
  • “Just a Girl” – No Doubt
  • “‘Til I Hear It From You” – Gin Blossoms
  • “Alone” – Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories
  • “Female of the Species” – Space (Are they really saying “more deadlier than the male”?)

It’s crazy how the lyrics have taken up permanent residence in a corner of my brain, which I probably could be using to remember what 12 x 9 equals. But then I’d miss out on belting out the Blues Traveler while cruising down Adobe Road, feeling like a 16-year-old.

Another blast from the past today was catching up by phone with an old classmate from high school who works for the Sonoma Index-Tribune. We hadn’t spoken since graduation but talked as easily as if we saw each other every day. Our 10-year reunion is approaching in a few weeks, and we’re both looking forward to sharing the evolutions of our teenage selves that are light on the zits, heavy on the sass. I’m hoping to track down classmates from all my old schools and see how we relate to each other as grown-ups. (more…)

IDEC: Headspins, Helado, and Hineys

Democratic Educators: We so crazy

This is your brain on IDEC.

I’m back from the International Democratic Education Conference 2008, my head still spinning from seven days chock full of energizing workshops and conversations. Here are my relevant stats:

  • Average hours of sleep per night: 5
  • Mosquito bites: 6
  • Guest bloggers for Reschool Yourself: 7+
  • Servings of dessert: 20?
  • Blog posts composed in my brain: 25?
  • Workshops attended: 33?
  • “A-ha” moments: Beyond number

Here are a few topics for upcoming posts:

  • The FAQs of Democratic Education: If kids aren’t required to go to classes, won’t they lurk around on MySpace all day? Does this type of education work for kids from unsupportive homes, and how possible is it in public schools bound by government regulations? Won’t kids go all Lord of the Flies on us if unchecked by a firm authority?
  • The coolest alternative schools and programs you probably didn’t know existed
  • A list of online tools that make me marvel at the powers of the Interweb
  • The IDEC “Kids’ Table”: An introduction to my all-star cast of young rabble rousers who are gonna shake things up in education, big time. And they’re fun to have a beer with, to boot.
  • Why I now trust myself to raise kids one day and not screw ’em up TOO badly. (I said one day, after a bonsai, a kitten, and a puppy have all survived on my watch.)
  • More “Reschooling Reasons” and a new series of posts called “Reschooling Tools”


Recess all day?

Imagine a school where you could choose what you learn and how you learn it. Imagine having an equal vote, whether you’re age 5 or 17, on decisions like which teachers are hired, or what rules students and staff will follow. Imagine a school day where you could write a letter to the local newspaper, curl up and read your favorite novel, explore the woods, or create a computer program.

It wasn’t until my last year of college that I found out that schools like this exist. I came across the book Summerhill, now revised and published as Summerhill School: A New View of Childhood, about an English school that had been around since 1921. I mentioned the book in a class that I shared with Andrew Chen, and we began a friendship that drew us both — through a chain of events that now seems almost fated — into the world of democratic education.

Summerhill Students

Summerhill Students

If you’re not familiar with democratic education, it’s a philosophy and practice whose essence is “People of all ages have input into the decisions that affect them.” It seems like a common-sense idea, but most schools and families don’t operate this way. The adults make most of the decisions, and the kids have more input as they grow older. On the other hand, adults and kids at democratic schools (also called “non-coercive” or “free” schools) decide together how their schools operate, meeting regularly as a community and normally having a democratic system for decision making and conflict resolution. Students are in charge of how they use their time and direct their own education from a young age. If schools exist to prepare kids to participate in a democracy, this kind of education is crucial.


Pardon Our Progress

MechanicFor the next few days, Darren and I will be making major changes to the website: switching servers, implementing the official design, and adding new features. If the site gives you any hassle, know that we’re just giving it a tune-up and will have it out of the shop in a jiffy.

Reschooling Reason #3: Start with a Clean Slate

SlateI’m spending the week in Jackson, Mississippi, visiting my boyfriend. Darren is a graphic designer and one of my sister’s best friends from Loyola University, New Orleans. If you’re wondering how we met, we hit it off in February at Mardi Gras. Nothing spells romance like applying eyeliner to a pirate in a pink bandana while he whines, “Agggh! It feels like you’re drawing on my eyeball!”

One of my priorities for this visit — besides consuming all the buttery delicacies that the south has to offer — is for Darren to help me revamp the Reschool Yourself site. Lucky for me, he can understand language like, “The objective of the WP-SuperCache is to make the site static and not run any PHP” — yet has never memorized pi to the 100th digit, or attended a Star Wars-themed wedding.