Things were rapidly changing at the center DLRC at the start of the year. When we all gathered for our first day, it seemed like there were twice as many students than there were before the summer break. The Center was hardly recognizable from when I first joined while it was in its infancy. Back when there were no chairs or tables, and no students either! I recall that the student-facilitator ratio was 2:3; two students and three facilitators!
But times changed, I knew such a ratio would not be feasible, and more students arrived to divide the attention of the facilitators. Personally, I felt the Center was too crowded and noisy. There were a lot of people crammed into a relatively small space, and it took a long time to get accustomed to all the noisy kids running around.
The biggest positive for me at the start of the year was the process of selecting part-time facilitators. They called in multiple candidates for a demo lesson which the students would sit for, and they chose who got hired purely based on our feedback. This process gave the students a sense of control at DLRC, which does aim at being a student-run school.
We hit the ground running in July. Lessons came hard and fast, and assignments were difficult to keep up with. Personally, playing football for a local team made it much more difficult for me, and I had absolutely no room to breathe. Other students taking up extracurriculars probably felt the same. We had some reasonable discussions about the number and difficulty of home assignments, which did make it more manageable, but I still found myself staying up past midnight to finish work only to get up at 6:30am the next day. At least the assignments themselves were, for the most part, not a bore. Again I can’t speak for everyone, but I seldom found myself questioning the purpose of a home task.
The non-academic activities brought in mixed feelings. I only passively enjoyed art class, but looked forward eagerly each morning for my run in the park. With drumming, I didn’t quite enjoy the session at first, but over time I began to like it for no other reason than the fact that I like the whole group playing a catchy rhythm.
The SIP project was one of the low points of this year at DLRC. The aim was to have the projects led by the students, but this didn’t really work out. As the joint-head of one of the projects, I found it very difficult to delegate work, to coordinate with the rest of the group, and to motivate myself and others. In hindsight, we needed much more support and guidance from the facilitators, but at the same time more support could have resulted in spoon-feeding. Going forward, I only see the SIP projects being successful if all the students genuinely want to do it rather than thinking of it as an obligation, myself included.
Overall, it was a mixed year. I was sad to see that the relationship between students and facilitators become less personal, but this was inevitable with so many new students joining. Having a larger peer group had its own benefits, and the classes definitely do not feel too large.
I am optimistic about the coming year, hopefully it will have more of DLRC’s strengths, and fewer of its weaknesses.