Self-Directed Learning Teenagers who visit the center are the authors of their own education. They can invest themselves completely in their interests, whether they be art, play, reading… Each learner is invited to take the initiative, with or without the help of other members, to identify his/her needs. They are encouraged to voice their goals and intentions (whether social, cultural, or academic) and propose self-determined deadlines, which they can self-evaluate. The learners and facilitators periodically decide on the activities and on themes that will guide workshops. Specialized volunteers may be invited to the center, depending on the various needs voiced by the youth. Each member of Mont-Libre is in charge of building his/her own schedule, based on personal interests and offered educational activities, and consolidates his/her learning to the proficiency level that they set up to attain. Attendance in workshops led by volunteers and mentors is encouraged but remains optional.
Democratic assemblies and decision-making processes Except for a few pre-determined topics identified by the facilitators (for instance, to guarantee security), all members of the center take decisions with regard to the functioning of the center. Democratic assemblies take place on a weekly basis. The activities and the rules of the center are decided upon following the one-person-one-vote principle. During decision-making processes, we aim to reach a consensus before taking a decision. If a consensus cannot be reached, the proposition that is preferred by the majority is chosen and tried for a week. During this time, all members are asked to continue reflecting on possible solutions that could satisfy the needs of those who had preferred another proposition.
Non-violent communication to create non-hierarchical relationships amongst members We attempt to model and encourage the use of Non-Violent Communication. We promote peaceful and empathetic behaviour and relations in which conversations and conflict resolution focuses on everyone’s needs, observations, feelings and concrete requests.
Transformative Justice and Conflict Resolution When a conflict emerges, we want that those involved in the conflict (whether they be teenagers or adults in the center) be the one’s involved in the resolution of that conflict. We believe that it is through the practice of conflict resolution that people learn how to prevent and solve conflicts. If a conflict emerges, the two parties involved are encouraged to solve the conflict on their own. If that is not possible, we invite them to ask for help from one of the facilitators in the centre. Facilitators can suggest other strategies or play the role of mediator. If this still does not work, we create a conflict resolution committee in which 3-5 people will be seating (1-2 people chosen by each party and one facilitator). The goal of such committees is to democratically identify the needs and demands of everyone involved in the conflict and suggest solutions that can be voted upon (see our page on the topic).
Multi-age Mont-Libre is a multi-age center for self-directed learning. We prefer to group teenagers according to their interests, regardless of their age because we believe everyone can learn from each other, as equals offering to the learning-community in a special way. The workshops are thus for all members of the centre.
Links with the community and volunteers offering workshops Teenagers are encouraged to share with the community what they want to learn and what they want to do. If the members of the center are not able to meet these desires, we try to find volunteers in the community to assist the teenagers to deepen their passions. For example, if a group of teenagers wants to learn Japanese and none of the adults know how to speak Japanese, we will try to find a Japanese teacher.
The importance of consent At Mont-Libre, we believe in the idea consent. Each individual decides for him/herself, insofar as this respects the needs of others. In this sense, members are free to use the center as they see fit. They can decide whether or not they participate in a workshop, and when their participation ends. They are free and encouraged to pursue their interests. Even while a workshop is taking place, they are free to use the space to do what is of interest to them, whether it be drawing, painting, playing music, reading, working with computers…
Kids’ freedom At the center, teenagers enjoy a freedom that ends when it infringes on another’s freedom. This implies that they can decide what to do when to do it and with whom, as long as it is done with the utmost respect for the other’s freedom. Thus, they are acquired responsible for their actions, the results of their actions, and their education.
Certification process At Mont-Libre, teenagers are allowed to do certain tasks and to use certain tools (e.g. answering the phone for the center, using the oven, posting on social networks…) once they are certified. All members of the center who wish to be certified need to demonstrate to a certified adult or teenager that they can perform the tasks with respect and safety.