“Would you like to join the others in the clay work?” asked the facilitator.
The 8-year-old boy flashed an intense look and replied, “I am thinking.”
After waiting a few minutes, he smiled and said, “I think I want to eat first.”
As soon as he finished eating and put his snack box away, she asked, “Do you now have something that you would like to do?”
Taking his time (a few minutes) he said, “What makes you think, I am not doing what I want to do? I am already doing what I want to.”
Awestruck, the facilitator reflected on this. He was sitting with the others, watching his group members make their clay art, listening to the conversation, adding his bits whenever he felt like contributing. By repeatedly questioning him, she had completely disregarded the fact that he was actually doing something.
As a part of the DLRCEE program, everyone, not just children, has a certain degree of freedom. For example, while there was a clay workshop ongoing, the children got to experiment with tools to smoothen the clay, make holes and give shape to what they were making. However, we also spoke about the properties of the clay we were using, where it was from and some special techniques. This liberty allows space for self learning and growth, in turn shaping the students a bit more wholesomely from very early on - and this is what DLRCEE also aims to do.
“A five year old boy (the youngest in the group), took the penguin I had made and started dismantling it. When I said I was feeling bad that he broke my penguin, he apologised in his sweet voice and said, ‘Sorry. It’s just clay, you can do it again.’ I just nodded my head and went quiet. After a few minutes he said, ‘Different people have different feelings. Can you make a flower for me?’ We smiled at each other and moved on with me making a flower for him.” An anecdote from a DLRCEE parent.
Somewhere in our adult controlled living culture, we tend to forget that not just the older learners, but even children have an awareness about themselves. They know what they want, they are observant about how their behaviour impacts others and they instinctively know how to make up for their errors and move on.
When the DLRCEE program was initiated, it was clear that we wanted each participant (irregardless of age) to experience some time free from restrictive control; for them to be in charge and lead the program; for them to plan their day, execute their plan and reflect on it during the closing circles. Such conversations, among many others, have been the backbone of DLRCEE and the knowledge derived through these conversations has led to more curiosity and learning which resonates. The DLRCEE program was curated to value this innate nature of every learner and facilitate an environment in which they thrive in their being.
This choice based program believes that people of all age groups need freedom and autonomy to learn and grow. Over the course of this program, there have been many learnings and takeaways, which have transformed into DLRCEE’s core principles:
Learning all the time and everywhere - everyone is learning all the time through every experience.
Freedom - everyone needs opportunities to experience freedom in making choices and deciding what and how to spend their time. This freedom is important to help them develop self awareness and build and enhance their identity and agency.
Self led - The individual has the ability to lead their own journey. They have the ability to decide what they want to do, how they want to go about it, how far or how in-depth they want to go.
Choice based - everyone has complete autonomy in decisions.
Mixed Age groups - This does not only refer to children of different ages, but everyone! Be it 7 years or 20 years or even 50! The belief is that both younger and older people learn from each other and no will be intentionally segregated according to their age groups.
Trusting environment - everyone thrives when they trust the environment they are in and are assured that they won’t be judged or labelled and are accepted the way they are.
The facilitator acknowledges that though they are in charge of the program, they value the above mentioned principles and are in a constant process of review, reflection and transformation.
At DLRCEE, we want to encourage all age groups to unlearn, learn and engage themselves into active forms of entertainment. If an individual wants to fly, this is the space. If they want to imagine and create, this is the space. If they want to experience, this is the space.
Come be a part of our community today!