Human beings are by nature curious creatures, and this curiosity, this puzzlement, is inherent in us. We use this curiosity to discover the world around us in a way that gives us a deeper understanding of it.
There is no need for an external authority to impose this drive to know. Instead, it originates within the individual, propelling them forward in their learning.
This is where the history of self-directed learning begins for the purposes of this post.
WyldFlower Learning Community is a non-traditional private school serving students K-12th grade located in Sheridan Wyoming. We have a foundation of self-governance and self-directed learning. We value creative thinkers and curious go-getters. We also deeply value democracy and civic participation. By creating a space in which democracy lives, wonder grows unhindered, and independence blossoms- children’s natural response is to thrive, reach, and grow.
Humans are wired to develop knowledge, skills, and intelligence. They consistently find unique ways of being and doing. Immersed in opportunities and challenges of the real world, scaled-down, children naturally develop into informed, active adults committed to making their community, and the world, a better place to live.
When LIFE is the curriculum, and each child/learner is on their own journey, how do you “do school”? If each community member has the freedom to pursue their own interests, how do you know if they are learning?
This is where our Roots come into play. These are the foundational structures we focus on at WyldFlower. While we don’t grade and we don’t test, we do stay in conversation with and in relation with each other. We check in periodically to see how things are going and to make sure we are supporting each child in their learning. It means the Staff stays very agile and attuned to the space!
Our Roots include:
Here is the VLOG for this post! If you would rather watch/listen- join us here.
What is Self-Development?
Self-Development includes these main areas:
– Cognitive/Intellectual Development: An environment of interested and interesting people is intellectually and socially stimulating. Allison Gopnik points out through decades of research that children are also hard-wired to learn. Gopnik has also documented how they become resilient, confident, knowledgeable, and skilled when in an environment where adults are more like gardeners and less like carpenters.
– Physical: Healthy bodies, healthy minds.
– Social/Emotional: Self-aware, empathetic, and compassionate.
– Spiritual: Allowing them to reflect on their positive actions, and beliefs, with opportunities to deepen their own values.
– Personal Growth: Developmental medical and psychological research has long documented that an individual progresses at a unique pace.
A person needs space and time to allow individual passions to sprout and flourish.
“Prepare your child for the path, instead of the path for the child”
——– Dr. Tim Elmore
Students need support and experience to gain a deep understanding of one’s unique strengths and struggles. We prepare the student for the path, not dictate what course each student should take. We want to cultivate an environment that challenges the individual to get to know themselves better and improve themselves mentally, physically, and socially; To see them develop the grit it takes to conquer fears and overcome obstacles in life. Childhood is a journey to independence. Students thrive on exploration. Given the time, space, and engagement, they can develop mastery of knowledge and skills with incredible accuracy.
What about Civic Engagement?
Civics is a hands-on, daily experience at WyldFlower. Learners are engaged in an ongoing project of running a democracy. They learn the importance of community involvement, the concept of justice, and what it takes to be a citizen for a healthy democracy to operate. The heart of the school is the Judicial Committee and School Meeting. The mechanisms for law establishment and enforcement. Justice is sought and each player on the scene is treated with kindness and respect.
I will do a whole post on the JC and School Meeting concepts in the near future. Stay tuned! Follow the blog to make sure you get updates!
How do you define Environmental Awareness?
Great question, glad you asked 😉
At WyldFlower we believe that to build environmental awareness and to truly understand the natural world, one must actually see the natural world.
By visiting nature we mean actually being in the trees, and the mountains. Seeing the wildlife and observing the scenery. We provide time and space for our community to develop a deep affection and connection to the wild spaces we explore.
From this connection to their environment flows a desire and awareness to attend to its needs and limited resources. To make sure there is sufficient time for this natural relationship to develop, we spend a significant portion of our day outside.
So just to recap, our Roots include
Life as the curriculum creates the perfect environment for learners to make meaningful connections between what they are learning through doing, and the community in which they grow- Learning through the lens of “The world is my classroom” gives context and immediate meaning to everything we learn.
Hello again! Thank you for joining us for our next conversation about SDL (Self-Directed Learning) and our experience with it here at WyldFlower Learning Community.
Today we are going to talk about 5 MORE myths about SDL.
Myth: “Self-directedness is all-or-nothing. It might be right for some kids, but not for all.”
Myth: “Self-direction implies learning in isolation.” (aka…makes socially awkward people. Eh hem, looking at you- home school stereotype)
Myth: “Self-directed students miss the basics of math, reading, and writing.”
Myth: “All of this talk about “learning through play” really just feeds into the myth that all of life should be fun and easy, as well as into the sense of entitlement that pervades the youth culture of today.”
Myth: “There is no doubt that motivation improves learning, but if motivation were all it took, everyone would have six-pack abs. Some things are just challenging, including math and science beyond a certain point, and some external motivation is required by most people.”
& how does it look at WyldFlower Learning Community?
When people ask me about WyldFlower Learning Community, it is impossible to explain how we do what we do, and why we do what we do without first explaining what Self-Directed learning is.
It’s also important to clarify what it isn’t. In this post, I will share the definition and examples of Self-Directed learning in action. In a future post, I will discuss what Self-Directed learning is NOT.
Kids can be excited to go to school! That is a promise I freely make because I know it to be true for us. These kids get MAD when we have snow days…seriously- they threaten to walk to school…in the snow, uphill, both ways! No joke.
How is this possible? Let me share the definition of Self-Directed learning with you and give some examples that spark joy in their hearts and minds, leading them to love their time at school!
How is it going, how did it go, how was year one???
These questions come at me from everywhere. Friends, family, random strangers (who somehow know where I work) in the grocery store isles… It is a question I struggle to answer in the polite allotment of time given in a conversation that is really meant to be two sided. I could answer that question for about 45 minutes straight.
Case and point. I was chatting with a friend on the phone yesterday that I hadn’t spoken to in a bit- sure enough. “So, tell me all about it. How did it go this year?” I fumbled through the answer of “So. Good!” adding a few little tidbits to drive home the point before returning the volley and asking about his year in academia. Him being a school administrator on the West Coast (the best coast 😉 ) meant his experience during a global crisis would be much different than mine here in Wyoming. (I have never loved our cowboy spirit more! Side note.)
What if I told you I had the answer? What if I could promise you a research-defended, pediatrician-prescribed, biologically founded, ironclad way to ensure not only whole-child health but also this laundry list of benefits to your child? Your pride and joy. Bone of your bone, flesh of your flesh. What if one method could give your progeny
Cognitive Benefits: (diverse and plentiful but too long to include in a bullet list)
Wondering if there might be a different way to approach “school”?
Do you have a child with an immense spirit and love of play?
Well, I am so glad you stopped by!
Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Ellen Goode. I am the mother of 4 amazing human beings who have gifted their mother with plenty of gray hair and a brand new outlook on the world. Can you relate? Three of them are playing hide-&-go seek right now. You would assume it a quiet game, but for some reason “it” just keeps shouting the names of the others repeatedly. On second thought, it’s more like shrieking. Yes, shrieking is a far more accurate term. Pardon me while I barricade myself in the bathroom and turn on the fan for covert coverage! Am I alone in this practice…just me?
We at WyldFlower Learning Community are excited you’ve become a new member of the family. Our mission is to provide students with a 21st century learning experience where they are front and center in their educational journey, and we’re happy that you’ve chosen us in that process with your child.
Success of a student greatly depends on the partnership of school and families. When your child sees the consistency of communication and the use of common practices when applicable, they feel supported and understood.
We look forward to working with you and your child and can’t wait to see all of the growth and discoveries your child will undertake.