We tell students and their parents that De Ruimte is the most fun school to be at, but at the same time also the most difficult. Even more so for parents than students. For that reason we like to discuss here some themes many people encounter while being a parent at De Ruimte.
As a result of offering students the liberty to create their own path of learning, it is very hard for parents to see or understand what their child is doing all day or what progress is being made. They are told to ‘let it be’.
But what is it that you need to let be? Your child? Or your ideas? We ask parents to investigate their ideas about schooling and let go of them if need be. So you are NOT letting go of your child; you let it be to take its own responsibility. One learns by trial and error. The saying goes: ‘Educate yourself and let the children be’.
Having faith in your child. What does that mean? We have faith that the life of a student at De Ruimte goes with ups and downs, blunders and successes, doubts and decisions and… with the goals that suit them. As a parent you have to be willing to reconsider your own expectations and discuss them with your child. Whenever you feel as a parent that your faith is being tested it is a great moment to meet up with your child and the school.
To round up the admission interview we all consolidate the following sentence: ‘Do we give our faith/trust to (name child) to be free to create his/her own path of learning in affiliation with the people at De Ruimte?’. Everyone present is asked to give their consent.
As a father I had to get used to the fact that Wouter was attending a school without a fixed curriculum. But looking back at my own childhood, that pre-structured school program has brought me little gain. It amazes me that in our society we squeeze so many of our young people into standard school curricula, and expect them to follow it like tame sheep. Is that how we want young people to prepare for the future?! It’s great that education can also be had on De Ruimte: getting time to get to know yourself and the self-evident following your own preferences.
Tom (father of Wouter)
Deschooling for parents
For the younger children at De Ruimte it is natural to follow their curiosity and play. And they will keep on doing that when they are getting older. For older students that come in from regular education it often takes time to regain this personal drive. The idea that you are the one in charge of your life takes some getting used to again. We call this deschooling and we take appropriate time for the proces.
For parents this is not the same. In general their years of education have been so completely different from what their child is experiencing now, that they are not able to form a proper image of what is going on at De Ruimte. There is for instance a lot of invisible learning, way past classes and subjects. For that reason we think it is of the utmost importance that all new parents join the deschooling course that we offer. It gives one a better insight in one’s own convictions and shows different ways of educating oneself. During these three meetings, organised in cooperation with the students from the school, parents are introduced into the concept of learning in freedom, as well as the merits of sociocracy and the way we manage conflicts in the school.
At home the learned skills for conflict management and deliberating in a sociocratic way sometimes come in handy as well. In multiple families things changed due to the choice for democratic education. Parents even experience changes in their personal life caused by the liberation they see in their children.