january monthly messenger
Dear RTS Families,
Happy New Year!
Wow! It sure feels good to be together as a community again. Through fire and flooding and a ferocious outbreak of the flu, the strength of our community has certainly been tested. But, unlike the the monotonous tests administered by the conventional school system, it is through enduring these real life challenges that we actively strengthen our resilience.
When hardship strikes we become stronger and wiser. Together we compassionately hold each other and develop strategies that support community care.
During the month of January, we noticed a positive shift in energy amongst Rock Tree Sky community members. A sense of enthusiasm and motivation has been infections. We also sense an attitude of appreciation for our community and the space we share amongst learners and families.
The excitement for learning, want for togetherness, and general feeling of gratitude have all been inspiring reminders that there are blessings to be found even in fires, floods, and flus.
We are looking forward to continue to expand in this new year together and are hopeful for the potential that it holds.
As always, Be Well and Stay Curious.
With love from the RTS Staff
Looking towards FEBRUARY
Friday, February 9th: 6:30pm-8pm This month's 2nd Friday event is a parent Makerspace experience! Join for an evening of community engagement making with drinks, snacks, and different activities hosted by our mentors.
Childcare will be provided for those who need it.
Monday, February 19th: President's Day - No program
Saturday, February 24th: 10:30am-12pm Join Natasha and Chrissy for the first gathering of a monthly parent support/discussion group. We are looking for a volunteer to host this event. If you are interested in hosting please let Natasha or Chrissy know!
Reflecting on JANUARY
January has surely been a month filled with newness. Each week of January has presented a different flavor, a different surprise.
RTS started up after an extended holiday break on the second day of the New Year. And in addition to reopening the doors to the Maker Space and the gates to the Farm, we also opened the doors to an old school bus that we have began converting into what will be a new classroom/hang out space for our teenage learners.
Out on the farm we have manually erected a new arial silks rig that has allowed for increased participation in our bi-weekly arial silks classes. And, after two days of steady rainfall during the second week of January, a new carpet of green grass has sprouted on the farm. The changes in the landscape caused by the fire have opened opportunities for the creation of new ways to engage in the space such as building new forts. On the farm we have also worked to relocate our labyrinth and are excited to report that the final stones have been laid! This labyrinth was created with the intention of providing a meditative space for community members and it was lovely to see children silently and intently walking the path last Friday.
Back at the Maker Space we have new weekly offerings including blacksmithing and cooking classes. We also have installed some new computers and drawing tablets.
In other news, Natasha and Chrissy have announced the launching of a new parent discussion and support group. The intentions of the group include increasing community engagement by participating in a continual dialogue exploring a variety of questions in regards to self-directed learning.
Finally, to celebrate our togetherness and all that we have created together, the RTS Learners hosted an Exposition of work on the 25th of January. Learners entertained community members with creative performances as well as a display of their work in an open gallery walk.
As a community, Rock Tree Sky is delighted to discover what is to come in the forthcoming months and to experience even more new energy, new ideas, and new possibilities.
Quotes from the Kids
In response to the question: What are you hopeful for looking towards the upcoming year?
Zuzu: "I'm hopeful that the trees will grow all back. And that the baby chicks and chickens become friends. They sort of interact right now but there are also sort of in separate flocks right now. I'm hopeful that we will see more green leaves this year."
Vida: "I'm hopeful that it gets more like spring was last year; more green, more baby animals...I hope something big happens this year...I think it's gonna be a good year."
Helen: "I hope that everybody gets their wishes...And I hope that whatever happens will be a surprise."
Sophie: "I hope everyone has fun and I'm hopeful that everyone is kind to each other and cheerful and all sorts of things like that."
Elan: "I'm hopeful that we move the goats to new farm. Then we could milk them and stuff and that would be nice."
Luca: "I hope to have an awesome and exciting year full of adventures."
Gabriel: "Thats a hard question. I could think on this for while."
Quinne: "I'm hopeful that I'll get my screenplay made."
Kingsley: "Nothing. Life is a downward spiral. No -- I'm perfectly content. I guess I want things to be different but to still be good..."
Well, it is now 2018, and for this month's Parent Education piece we would like to address one web of questions that most parents are continually grappling with. That is the web of questions regarding the role of technology in the lives of their children.
I think that in 2018 most of the concerns that parents have with regards to technology and their children have to do with specifically with 'screen time;' i.e. social media, gaming, entertainment, etc. The main concern being the disconnection and isolation that might result from extended time spent behind a screen. Which actually is a concern that some kids have for themselves despite their affinity for technology - to quote Hunter "[Technology] is an amazing thing -- I couldn't live without it." But when I asked Hunter to define technology he said, "Technology is something that disconnects people or makes them separated from the natural world."
I myself have many opinions about the role of technology in my life and the lives of my peers. Yet, I do not have any concrete answers for what is optimal screen time allowance or what are appropriate media to engage in. And instead of provide answers that I do not have I am sharing the following link to a recent episode of On Being with Krista Tippett: The Universe is a Question. During which Krista Tippett converses with Kevin Kelly, founding editor of WEIRD.
I find this conversation relevant and useful for puzzling through my own relationship to technology and I am sharing it in the hopes that it might offer a useful perspective for puzzling through the role technology might play in the lives of your kids. (Though I must say that Kevin Kelly does not provide any answers to the questions of optimal screen time allowance or appropriate media engagement either...in fact these things are hardly mentioned in this conversation).
According to Kelly, technology is defined as anything that is made. And, he says, technology ought to "generate surprises."
In this conversation, Kevin Kelly also speaks about the perspective of technology that is upheld in the Amish tradition which is in essence that technology is only introduced and allowed by the community if it is communally determined that the technology in question will help to enhance community connectivity.
So instead of asking how much time is too much screen time? I am offering the following list of questions; Does this technology increase connectivity to others? Does this technology allow for increased creative potential? What is the motivation for using this technology and is that motivation sincere? Will this technology aid in generating surprises? Why, how, and what will we reap from that?