Here are the answers to some Frequently Asked Questions. Do not hesitate to contact us if you can not find the answer to your question.
How can I be sure my kids will learn what they need to know (Math, English, etc.) ?
If something is actually basic knowledge that you need in order to live successfully in this world, you can’t help but learn it. The “basics” will be captured in kids’ natural learning, which happens through living. We don’t need to force or trick them into learning something basic.
Basic knowledge and skills are defined by our current world. Whereas once it may have been basic to know how to saddle a horse, today it is basic to know how to open a web browser. The rich world environment in which we operate sets us up to prioritize knowledge and skills reliably and naturally based on our experiences.
If kids are allowed to do whatever they want, won’t there be chaos?
A Learning Center may look chaotic to a visitor because s/he won’t see what is expected in a traditional school: silence in the classroom and hallways and children on task and listening to the teacher. In our learning center, there may be a lot of activities going on, children working or playing in groups, by themselves, with a staff member. You might also see children talking to adults in a relaxed, friendly way. That would demonstrate an absence of fear, and not a lack of respect.
Dat School has very clear expectations and boundaries that the children agree to in order to participate at the Learning Center. They agree to engage with the group process, respect the space, and respect each other.
Adults often want to know, “Just how much freedom do the children have?” The answer is, quite a lot! Our communities set boundaries primarily based on safety, legality, and respect for others. As long as a pursuit is safe, legal, and shows respect for the community, children will generally be supported in that choice.
Because we emphasize good relationships with one another, there is little need to generate “rules.” We create a culture of caring for one another so the children seldom need rules imposed upon them to behave in an acceptable manner. We utilize nonviolent communication and avoid punishments/reward to manipulate behavior. When a difficult issue arises, we make use of conflict resolution tools and enlist the input of others to handle the situation in a way that affirms all parties.
We facilitate people’s ability to get clear about what they truly want to create for and of themselves. We trust.
Will my child be competitive and prepared for college?
When a self-directed learner decides they want to go to college, they know why they want to go. Many students unquestioningly spend thousands of dollars and several years of their lives going through college because that's what they think they're "supposed" to do. Intentionally entering a learning environment to accomplish a specific purpose is more likely to bring about positive outcomes. Longitudinal data on self-directed learning show that most of the kids who want to get into college do. Having alternative forms of record keeping and evaluation has not been an impediment for kids who want to go to college. In fact, there's a proven advantage for people whose college applications can't be tidily ranked by GPA and academi track: a human has to actually look at their portfolio. ALC students document their learning on sharable platforms, such as blogs and Kanbans. As a result, they typically find it easy to construct a rich portfolio, and some already have created portfolios for their personal websites.
How am I sure that my child is learning if we are not forcing him/her?
It’s almost like asking “how am I sure my child is breathing?”. Learning is a natural process that is happening all the time: while talking with others, playing, observing the surroundings, and sometimes, during formal instruction.
Learning is important, yes. Learning what matters to us is even more important.
At Dat School, the students are given the tools to learn and share that learning.
We may observe a lack of curiosity and motivation among students from the traditional system because we are telling them what skills they should master without acknowledging the fact that they might have different interests or goals.
How do you deal with kids with disabilities and with special needs?
All students are welcome to attend Dat School as long as :
they embrace the school’s rules
they don’t represent a danger to themselves or to another school member
the staff is still able to attend the other kids needs.
the staff is qualified or can get trained to address the student’s needs
Are you against the use of technology in the center?
Absolutely not. Computers have become the most important tools of modern society. Students are shown how to use them to make researches, share their learning, and get organized.
If there are no standardized tests, how will we know if the school is effective?
The success of a Dat School is not measured with the student’s results on standardized tests.
The school’s success could me measured by the level of well-being of its students and its staff, the amount of play, learning and collaboration happening.
Formal testing may be done for children who request so.
Why not implement a Montessori or another progressive approach in your school?
Progressive schools go as far as they can to use new ideas and concepts to inform the curriculum and teaching practices, but they still hold on to the notion that curriculum (whether content or processes) should be created, curated, and controlled by the teachers. Explicit consent from students (let alone direct collaboration) is almost always missing, which means the actual educational experience and medium is not one of self-creation or self-direction. (excerpt from Tomis’blog http://tomis.agilelearningcenters.org/)