They Don’t Build Playgrounds Like this Anymore

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It may be a throwback to the seventies — the design aesthetics and all, and it might be a tad unkempt, but one thing is for certain, they don’t build playgrounds like this big and this well-thought-off and not picked from a catalog of plastic products.  Instead, a designer took pride in conceptualizing each and every detail and government funds were poured into this piece of social goodness.  Sadly, our government doesn’t go into much playground building anymore.   They leave it up to the private sector because it’s probably more sustainable that way with commercial activities paying for maintenance cost, but the private sector is not providing much either.  Still, wouldn’t it be wonderful if the generous playgrounds we dream of could come true?  Wishful thinking till I’m blue in the face, but perhaps someday.

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Junior is Here!

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We thought it would take another year before we could open Abot Tala for younger kids.  It took us more than a year (14 months) to give birth to Abot Tala for teens so we surmised we needed time for the junior’s gestation period.  However, circumstances conspired to bring us to where we are now: ready to open the doors of Abot Tala for children 6 to 11 years old!

We ran a two-week experiment last June to see if the kids and teens could co-exist in one place and we concluded that if we had a much bigger space, it could be done.  But since the space for teens was limited as it was, a separate area for kids was necessary.  We also had to quickly assemble a team like Avengers and it was no easy feat.  Things eluded us.  There were moments when we thought this dream was impossible to pull off this year and we could just wait till next year or when the universe grants us the consenting environment.   Surprisingly, it did and tomorrow, August 12, we expand the age group and the physical space.

Abot Tala for teens promotes self-directed learning while Abot Tala for the kids is interest-led.  Activities cater to all multiple intelligences and learning styles.  The teacher follows the interests of the children while giving ample importance to basic academic skills.

Just like Abot Tala for Teens, Abot Tala Junior is not a school.  The children who join us are either homeschooling already or intend to homeschool.  Abot Tala Junior is an alternative to mainstream school.  If the children want to transition to regular school or go to university in the future, they can opt to take the PEP Test at DepEd and/or get a homeschool provider.

Families can choose whether their kids attend Abot Tala Junior once, twice, thrice or four times a week.  There are no grades, report cards or certificates.  Every two or three months, there will be a presentation of the children’s works.  To learn more about this program, visit https://abottala.com/junior/

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79th at Bunting Farm

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Yesterday was simply a celebration of family, friendship, nature, food, art, design, architecture, trees, blue skies, abundance, harvest, humor, generosity, gratitude, generations, shared jokes over witchcraft plus 79 years of Tito Manny, the role model whose dreams for the country never fade.   What amazing things a united brotherhood, sisterhood, a united brood can produce!  Thank you for the labor of love!

Zee Question

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Z asked me, “What are the benefits of going to a self-directed learning center?

I posed the question on the Liberated Learners google group and Maria immediately answered, “The benefits are unique for each individual.  However, in the experience of people from Liberated Learning centers, when teens or kids are given the power to make their own decisions about their life and education, it changes something fundamental within them.  Beyond feeling empowered, after a while, they are able to see things more clearly.  They are able to think about their life differently.”

One parent of a teen attending North Star wrote, “I just wanted to tell you how thrilled we have been as a family that our son is attending North Star.  He is such a happy guy, his stress has disappeared and his love of learning languages is being nourished and supported.  It is such a pleasure everyday to drop him off.  Thank you for providing such a wonderful program.”

Another parent emailed, “Our days and nights have changed for the better.  My son and I are closer and share more with one another and everyday he comes up with new things he wants to explore.”

The students are equally pleased saying, “The approach to education has always felt right for me and the social scene is welcoming.  I spent more time doing what I enjoy, less time being bored and less time fretting that I was falling behind. Through the classes, tutorials and assistance from my adviser, I was able to focus my energy on topics that interest me and fun things like rock climbing, hiking and socializing.”

Another member recounted, “It felt good to finally feel like I was allowed to be myself and to be surrounded by others who were being themselves, too.  I joined Band and Theater, things I had never dared to do before, and I had the time of my life learning and performing.”

Teachers and mentors feel the benefits of being in a learning environment that has none of the constrictions of traditional school.  One teacher wrote, “Through engaging with the students at North Star, I have found that building relationships with others through honest conversation is more valuable and impactful to people’s overall learning.  Each week I facilitate a class titled Solutions for a Sustainable Future.  This course has taken on the form of a discussion space for students to share their ideas and ask questions with regard to environmental, economic and social justice issues.  Within this space, I have encouraged students to investigate the correlations that exist between the condition of our human society and the well-being of the planet we share.”

For more stories and testimonials, check out: http://www.northstarteens.org/liberated-learners-newsletter

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Abot Tala is part of the Liberated Learners (LL) network of centers based on the North Star Self-Directed Learning for Teens, a model started by Ken Danford more than twenty years ago in Massachusetts.  Each LL center has it’s own name and Ken always emphasizes how each center must respond to the unique local conditions and culture.

Abot Tala is opening soon on April 1 at the Commune, Poblacion, Makati — our temporary home for two months.

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To learn more about the program and meet the people behind Abot Tala, please feel free to join any of these gatherings.  We’d love to meet you!

  • March 16 Saturday 3:30 – 5:30 pm Commune Café, Polaris St., Poblacion, Makati
  • March 19 Tuesday 5:00 to 7:00 pm   Bo’s Coffee, High Street, BGC
  • March 20 Wednesday 2:00 to 4:00 pm  Tim Horton’s, Glorietta 4, Makati
  • March 21 Thursday   6:00 to 8:00 pm  Starbucks, Grace Mall, Cayetano Blvd., Taguig

See you there!

Other Links:

Launching a Game Changer

If Not Those, What Is It Then?

School is Optional

Teacher Liberation

 

 

 

 

No Cheesy Goodbyes

 

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Fearless Trailblazer

Losing a Star

Gone Too Soon

I’m sure she’ll think the titles cheesy and bonk me on the head.  We only met a total of three times but enough to make an impact in my life.  Imagine those who have been with her for much longer.

School and pub-owner — no hesitation, no conflict.  She is what she is.  No wake and no funeral, just a party at Fred’s Revolucion.

If Blended Learning Center was nearby, I’d want my kids to go there.  If I had loads of capital or won the lotto (like what my friend, Rachael plans), I’d find a way to bring Blended Learning Center to BGC.  BLC at BGC.

Her passing made me think of her boldness and how we are sometimes too shy to run after our dreams, how our confidence fails us.  But not Gina.

 

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Read more about the Blended Learning Center here.

Read more about Abot Tala here.

Ikigai and the Challenge of Convergence

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May had lunch here yesterday and how did our conversation lead to ikigai?  Like conversations with old friends inevitably lead to what are we doing with our lives.  I told May she’s getting to her ikigai while I’m still pushing the circles to connect.

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I wish the circles didn’t dangle like a wrecked participle.  I wish they intersected and held themselves in balance.

It made me think of the ikigai of Abot Tala and our wish for a convergence of finding space and members.  Maybe the space hasn’t come to us because we need to find more supporters and participants.  We were aiming for space in Taguig, Makati or Pasig but we’ve looked further afield in Quezon City and Paranaque because we wanted to be open to more possibilities.   We’d like to be in BGC but every time I look at spaces there with astronomical rent, it felt like we didn’t have the right to exist in the area.  But didn’t we dream of pitching the idea to the bigwigs of BGC?  Maybe we need to put that into action.  If they are true to what they say, there’s space for this in the “home of passionate minds.”

On the other hand, maybe we HAVE found the space we want but in my mind, it’s not as big as I had hoped for and it’s not located in the premiere part of the city that I preferred.  However, it’s a good starting point where proof of concept can be nurtured and honed.  It’s a humble beginning that could grow and in time, we could move to a more prime spot that we deserve every right to occupy.

Throughout these months of searching for people who support what Abot Tala stands for, there are basically three types: 1) those who are simply not interested, 2) those who profess interest and say they want to help but don’t follow through with their initial enthusiasm, and 3) those who buy into the concept, put their words into action and contribute concretely.   We need to keep meeting more of those from the third group, and refrain from being sad about those from number two.  The convergence among people in group three will eventually happen; it’s just a matter of time.

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Find out more about Abot Tala