I. We strive to learn from, live, and instill the values of an Indigenous education, rooted in a local place, to the students in our program. Most especially, to live in a gift economy with our Earth and one another, giving and receiving, in a community of hospitality and love. The vision for this education is profoundly articulated in the writings and works of Robin Wall Kimmerer, ecologist at SUNY ESF and director at the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment.
II. We allow for students to express themselves, question, think freely and creatively, and learn how to converse with their peers and adults in their community. Our aim is to help the children engage in appropriate dialogue, thoughtful and respectful disagreement, and empathize with others.
We have adopted this approach in contrast to strategies of classroom management founded upon principles of ‘pop behaviorism,’ where external motivation, like praise and rewards, train children. While these strategies are highly effective in controlling children, longitudinal studies show that the effects of such an environment are damaging psychologically, socially, and emotionally to children. For such environments have been found to lead to aggressive, controlling, and manipulative behavior in the children who experience it. Manipulating children through punishments and reward systems is not only damaging for them, and all humans, but it has been proven to crush intrinsic motivation. Alfie Kohn has published numerous studies concerning these issues and others in his books, articles, and lectures.
III. We believe that children should be guided by intrinsic motivation and curiosity. This is why our students are given time to explore the outdoors, time for free play, and the freedom to pursue their own interests in our studies of the Language Arts, Mathematics, and Sciences.
We oppose coercive education. Psychologist Peter Gray has written and continues to write about the detrimental effects of coercive education, the increasing amount of time in school, the increasing amount of standardized testing, and the ever decreasing amount of time for children to have freedom to play and discover the world around them.
Notice of Nondiscriminatory Policy The Forest School of Lawrence admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at our program. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.