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Only a real situation can provide the real feedback needed for quality personal growth.

Vicente López is a staff member at Diablo Valley School. This article was published in the Spring 2008 issue of our newsletter.

A JC moment:
A double feature on education at DVS

by Vicente Lopez, Staff

During the Montessori stage of my career in education, I became quite adept at creating projects that not only captured the academic curriculum, but life skills essential to adult existence, such as anger management or debate etiquette. I would often read books for ideas and weave them into projects that I would look upon with the pride of an artist. Since I have reached the higher levels of my education here at the shores of DVS, I understand the futility of creating those projects or mock situations. Only a real situation can provide the real feedback needed for quality personal growth.

I have observed this kind of situation here on a daily basis. Ten minutes ago I walked out of a Judicial Committee (JC) session that would put adult argument skills to shame. Heavy topics were discussed with the utmost respect and in a peaceful tone of voice. The goal of the discussion was not my approval as an adult, or a grade, but community communication and the resolution of an issue that concerns us all; there was no lesson, only purpose.

Sometimes the tone of the JC is loud and goofy and the point does not get across at all; it’s functional at best. So it goes. This leads me to the yang of this double feature: Kids will be kids. Sure, DVS is a great education. Sure, in my professional opinion, there is nothing that comes close to internal motivation. When it brings out the adult in them, it does so in spades.

But let’s not forget that the reason this educational model is so effective is that it flows with, rather than fights, our intrinsic programming. That programming in the early stages of life calls for play, and not thinking about the future too much. Without a clear understanding and construction of the present, ramifications and long term goals have no meaning.

We, the "intelligently superior" species on this planet have, by far, the most extended period of play. Right now, students at DVS don't have a job or a driver’s license; they are at the early stage of learning. Some day, they too will work behind a computer, a wrench or a scalpel, but for now, the socks left on the floor, the goofy explanation for why the peanut butter is on the door or their loss of control in an argument is an acceptable (even if not correct) part of growing up, just like it’s part of our growing up to understand that.