Reflections on SelfDesigning ?Learning Community? by River Meyer
Our learning program here in British Columbia is called SelfDesign Learning Community, and I realize we don?t often speak to the ?why? of the Learning Community part of that name. It?s easy to fall into thinking we?re just a somewhat disparate group of parents or learners who happened to join this particular program for a whole variety of reasons, maybe for the wonderful mentors and Learning Consultants who partner with us along our learning journeys, or maybe because we appreciate the freedom it offers us to be learners in the ways that feel true for us (and those freedoms do still exist even as we are called upon by the Ministry to do some re-interpreting of them). Perhaps it?s due to our notions about how the philosophy of SelfDesign resonates for us. Maybe all are true.
SelfDesign?s program could have been created around those thoughts and still not have been called a Learning Community. So what is the thinking and the hope and the benefit in our being a community, and why might it be valuable that we consider ourselves or even celebrate ourselves as one?
The roots of ?community?
I love words, and although I quite disliked aspects of learning Latin when I was younger, it did give me a deep appreciation for word origins. I am a frequent explorer in etymological dictionaries, looking at roots and evolutions within our complex language, and just now I hopped on my computer to look up the origins of ?community?. No big surprises, yet a sweet invitation within the definition itself: fellowship, friendly intercourse, commonness, everybody. And stripping back to the related verb form of ?commune? I feel welcomed to reflect on commonalities and to experience a sense of sharing. Instantly I feel kinship, curiosity, a culture of potential collaboration?an awareness of being part of something larger than myself. I may be sitting in my home in the woods or in my apartment in the city experiencing a bit of isolation due to my somewhat uncommon beliefs about learning, but guess what? You?re all just a conference posting away, and suddenly I?m conversing with others who share some common language and thinking, who are making choices similar to mine. I can ask questions here and get pretty immediate responses, can find support, can feel like I?m growing because you?re all out there helping me be a lifelong learner. I have access to the voices of learners both younger and older than I, and in our exchanges I receive a diversity of ideas. Maybe I joined this program because of my child or maybe I?m in it because my work is here, but I have indeed become part of a community in the making of that choice. And that community spreads throughout this huge province of ours, and further.
What you receive equals what you offer
When I stop to think about community in a general way I realize that whatever community I might be in, whether it be my town, my network of personal friends, my spiritual group if I have one, or the community of SDLC, the outcome or value for me will likely be equivalent to what I put into it. That doesn?t mean I have to post in the SelfDesign online Village every week or live in a wide variety of conferences there, but it does mean that I need to be somewhat present, to witness what is occurring by reading what others may write, to think about my views when an issue comes up, or maybe to reach out when someone needs support. I need to do a little bit of ?communing? with myself by reflecting on why I am here rather than in some other online program that offers whatever it may offer.
SelfDesign Learning Community?(http://selfdesign.org ) ?is a home education program in British Columbia, founded in 2002 by Brent Cameron and colleagues. The Ministry of Education supports this program which serves the education needs of more than 2000 families.?The SelfDesign Learning Community includes an online social network called ?The Village,? in which family members of all ages participate.
River Meyer?M.A., has worked with children and families for 40 years in a variety of capacities including: family support services for children with special needs and for alternative learning programs, guardian ad litem for minors, counselling and mediation. With Brent Cameron, Founder of SelfDesign, she co-authored the book?SelfDesign: Unfolding our Infinite Wisdom Within. She is also author of the parenting course,?A SelfDesigning Path. Currently, she is working with the SelfDesign Learning Foundation in developing initiatives to forward the work of SelfDesign, and she is a member of the SDGI faculty.