Friday, August 22, 2008

Working things out...and looking to the future

This has been a tough week with some of the younger boys. They enjoy creating their own physical games like Pokemon Battle and practicing their sword adventures, but the result of them not setting up boundaries for these games has been some anger and hurt feelings when things go too far. They've been working on talking to each other more and at week's end it seems to be going well.

Wednesday, we took time to go to The Station Museum's current exhibit "Defending Democracy". Highly recommended for anyone interested in human rights and in the struggles of peoples in the Americas. The kids sat through the film on the 2004 people's protest in Oaxaca at least 5 times. They were asking questions about why the police had on full riot gear and the people just had flowers and signs. They also got a kick out of the Otebenga Jones section of the exhibit that was set up to look like a high school gym and they tried to sit through the part of the film but their attention was focused on wanting to play basketball. They took lots of pictures of BPP's Emory Douglas' work. I am looking forward to making some stencils to do a little graffiti style self expression with the kids at the Art Day Houston this Sunday.

Yesterday, The Real School visited the HAEA pool party and had a blast! Great people and a great pool from what was relayed to me. I look forward to more collaborations with our community and building some great programming.

Tomorrow is the last Open Dialog at the Dickson location. It has served as the school's location for the past 18 months and even though it has been a great house, it is time to start a new chapter in the school's history. For anyone looking for an alternative to public education, please stop by 5020 Dickson St, Houston Texas 77007 tomorrow at 3pm to talk. We look forward meeting new families and getting more people unplugged from the typical institutionalized systems. Call us if you have any questions as we are glad to talk about positive ways to educate children. We all could use some backup and resources for our families. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

You know it's Tuesday when...

okay, there's no set thing to let you know what day it is...SO let's see. Today we had Diego, Ripley, Jacob, William, Sean, Evan, Troy, EliJah and Judah at school. They played a lot of different games and spent a lot of time role playing as different characters. Quite interesting what they pick up from we supposedly learned adults. I will try to post some of the pictures and possibly the video on You Tube tomorrow. We also sat outside a bit and made a craft, the Ojo de Dios, with sticks we picked up in the yard. It was a lot of fun and hopefully we will do it again in the future using multiple colors of yarn. Adults volunteering did some cleaning and organizing for the upcoming move and there was plenty of help from youthful volunteers.

The late afternoon saw most kids winding down while playing on the computers and surfing You Tube in search of Pokemon related videos. It was a good day to be a kid at The Real School. Left alone to navigate the major portion of their day, the kids are happier and only need assistance for those disagreements that can't be immediately negotiated or when they need help making food. Kids are amazing! See you tomorrow.

In Solidarity,


"Free children are not easily influenced; the absence of fear accounts for this phenomenon. Indeed, the absence of fear is the finest thing that can happen to a child." ~ A. S. Neill (author of Summerhill)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Looking for mentoring minded teens & others interested in internships!

The Real School AKA Dragon Valley

is a non-hierarchical learning environment, free of coercion and control and rooted in consensus decision making. It aims to build a community of trust and liberation through education. ....
.. ..

We are currently seeking interns who are passionate, playful, empathetic, patient, committed, responsible and honest. ....
.. ..
Call 832-767-0404, email or go to www. therealschoolhouston. org for more information about the school or to inquire about the position. ....

(Below is a more complete description.)....

Prospective interns must both like and deeply respect children, take initiative, love to learn, be willing to admit when they make a mistake, and have diverse interests. They should have skills and knowledge (or be willing to acquire them) in conflict resolution, alternative education, clear communication, unschooling, active listening, free schools, organization, consensus, modeling healthy and safe decisions, and anger management.....
.. ..
....interns carry out many tasks including teaching classes; listening; helping kids resolve conflict; cleaning; attending meetings; communicating with parents; outreach; fundraising; sharing skills; laughing; comforting hurt kids; playing; sharing interests; interacting with prospective families...
.. ..
The kids at the school say they would like prospective teachers to "like and care about kids, be understanding, engaging, fun, level-headed, have a good sense of humor, enjoy playing video games, and like to have a good time."....

A prospective teacher should be critical and conscious. Willingness to critically analyze our actions and behaviors is crucial to understanding our intersections of oppression (race, gender, class, age, etc.). Being conscious of "why we do what we do" and "why we think what we think" is important in maintaining a healthy dialog between parents, kids, and staff. The school should be seen as a place to learn for everyone involved. ....
.. ..
....Having a understanding of anti-authoritarianism and of the consensus decision-making model are important aspects of being a teacher. The Real School makes decisions collectively rather than relying on a leader to do so. Our basic principles are: respect ourselves, respect each other, and respect the environment. There is an expectation that kids, staff, parents, and the larger community will honor these principles not just during school hours, but also in their daily lives. ....

Interns should be prepared to commit to working at the school for at least a 6 month time period and to devote significant time and energy to their work. An ideal candidate would understand that interning at The Real School is not just a job and would approach their work with passion and heart felt energy. You are expected to take responsibility for yourself and should feel comfortable working without explicit directions while still remaining accountable to the community. ....
.. ..
If are interested in helping to grow something powerful and unique and believe that you can be of value to this amazing project, we encourage you to apply. Please send a resume with a written statement detailing your background, ideas on education, interests, and hopes for your involvement with The Real School AKA Dragon Valley to



The week in review...

There's been a lot of water related events going on this week... tropical storms to water gun fights...what fun!!!! This morning Isaac led the battle cry for another epic sword training. Lots of outdoor fun and exercise was had today. Have a great weekend because we will! ;-)


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Rain Day - TS Eduard

So we braved the dreaded tropical storm with its rain, occasional wind gusts and its rain. It's always good to have a rain day, even when you're unschooling! ;-) Raj and I relaxed with the boys throughout the day until they wandered off to play their Nintendos or worked on the computers. EliJah and Judah at some point went out to play in the rain and when they were done looked like wet kittens.

Our friend, Pravin (who helped create The Real School and is now working at the Albany Free School) stopped by for a visit. I got the chance to talk about race and class in the Unschool/Free School community with him. The conversation brought more questions than solutions, but we really need to outreach to the greater Houston community to talk about REAL educational reform and taking back the concept of school and learning from the institutions. Krenie dropped Isaac, Troy and Justin off in the midst of the rain and after a nap, Isaac got to spend some time catching up with Pravin. Carol and I got to talk a little about the move later this month when she came to pick up Justin and Troy. It's very exciting to know that we are moving into a permanent location in just a few weeks. (if anyone is interested in helping with that move, please let me know!).

We had a visitor who has an interest in staffing here. She and I had a great conversation about institutionalized learning and how we want more for our children. I hope she schedules some time to come and observe the daily happenings here later this week.

I did take some pictures of the rain which I will post tomorrow. Time to tuck the kiddos in so goodnight!

More explorations in unschooling tomorrow!!!

Peace & Blessings,
kim pickens

Friday, August 1, 2008

Ellie's last day...

I write this with tears of sadness and joy. The day has finally come that our beloved friend, Ellie Shenker, leaves her teaching position to pursue her new adventures at college. She will be missed greatly as she has at times been called upon to be mature beyond her years and she has always stepped up to the challenge. There is only this left to say...Thank you, Ellie!

The Real School - Houston!!!!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Saving Tadpoles

We have had our latest eco-friendly science project arrive by accident at our doorstep. A few week's ago, one of the neighbors had a water main leak which kept a constant stream of water flowing across the sidewalk out front. This in turn encouraged the frogs to lay eggs which became a LOT of tadpoles. When the water main was fixed, the tadpoles found themselves trapped in an ever evaporating pool of water. So William, Diego, EliJah, Judah, Evan and Sean found themselves helping to add water every day to keep the tadpoles alive. I posted a request on Craigslist for a free aquarium to move the project away from the street and save as many tadpoles as possible.

A wonderful group of people answered and a huge thanks to Kristee for providing an aquarium, lamp and pump (along with some good advice on temperature)!!!! The tadpoles enjoyed the aquarium, but sometime at the beginning of this week there developed a film on the water. Sadly at the moment only 7 tadpoles are going strong - but they are growing their legs and the kids are excited to watch the transformation! Here are some pictures of the past several weeks and I will take some close up shots of the survivors this weekend!

Peace & Blessings,
kim - mother/cooperative member TRS

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Viva Jose!!!!

Last night we said "Thank you" to one of the co-conspirators of The Real School and teacher/friend for the past 2 years. Jose is an amazing person who has created a lasting impression on the children and we adults. His tireless commitment to allowing the children to build their community has inspired us all. We wish him well with his future endeavors in community building and activism and know our paths will cross again! The kids wrote and acted out a play for Jose that Ellie narrarated. Enjoy the pictures!!!

Lynn McCabe & the Blaffer Gallery Show

We were very excited to be a part of the 2008 Houston Area Exhibition at the Blaffer Gallery located at University of Houston. Artist Lynn McCabe was working on an exhibit and wanted to have the help of teenagers. Representing Dragon Valley were Justin, Isaac, Seth and Troy. Several of us went to the opening night festivities and in true DV style, we spent most of the time talking and playing outside the gallery! The show runs until August 2nd.

Family Night Out

We had a great time hanging out at Pachamama's Organic Coffeehouse on May 31st! Raj sang while the we all played, read and talked. Looking forward to doing this type of event on a regular basis!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Green Art - Earth Day 4/22

A great turn out in celebration of our Mother Earth!!! We had members of the community from the very young to our respected elders stop by and participate in the fun. Using recycled materials from everyday products we created a mural. Outside we planted some bush bean seeds and put each person's name on the pot so they can watch the progress. It was a positive day and we raised awareness in the 3 Rs and hopefully can make programs like this a regular gathering. Thanks to Wabash Antiques & Feeds (a Heights neighbor) for donating the seeds, pots and soil.

Outreach at the Westheimer Block Party - 4/12

We went as a school community to hang out and talk to folks about unschooling and what we are doing here in Houston. There were a lot of people out and we met some cool folks and saw some friends we haven't seen in a while. The kids had fun and we got to hear some music...good and bad! But that's another blog...Thanks to the Free Press for letting us set up a booth.