It’s Not a Mystery

Let me start with a simple fact: a lot of teenagers don’t like school. (Shocking, I know.) There are a lot of reasons for this, but one of the big ones is that many teens don’t feel like they have much say in their day-to-day lives — the work they do, who they interact with, their schedule. This lack of control …

Well-Rounded?

In a blog post about misunderstandings, Seth Godin wrote this: And anyone who has been through high school has been reminded how important it is to be well-rounded. But Nobel Prize winners, successful NGO founders and just about everyone you admire didn’t get that way by being mediocre at a lot of things. It got me thinking. It’s nearly an article of faith …

The Way of Adventure #1

Well, here we go. Our good friend Blake Boles released a free online course designed to help young people take a bigger view of their life and get out of their comfort zones called The Way of Adventure. Me and some folks from PLC are going to give it a shot. There are 12 challenges to complete. Blake says, to date, no …

Don’t Hokey Pokey Your Dreams

My favorite line from our Finding Your Path event in December (see video above) was from Carlos Serrano, owner of Empanada Guy food trucks and restaurant. I’m paraphrasing: You can’t play hokey pokey with your dreams. If you find something you want to do, you can’t be like, “Put your left foot in, take your left foot out.” You have …

It’s Not Funny

If we had a “do-over” on the structure of schools, what would we create? What kinds of things would we focus on? The things on the left side of this image or the right? For most people, it’s a no-brainer—of course kids learn better under the conditions on the left, and these are the things we profess to believe in. …

Being Nudged

I had the chance to meet Grace Llewellyn at North Star’s 20th anniversary celebration last night. This was such an incredible honor for me. Besides Ken Danford (left) and the entire North Star crew, Grace’s work has had the largest influence on the direction of my professional life. When I was a miserable school teacher in 2006, I read Grace’s …

Not Back to School

It’s “Back to School” time! For many young people this is exciting—reconnecting with friends, new classes, new teachers, new opportunities. For some though, as August fades into September the sweet feeling of freedom gives way to a rising sense of dread at the prospect of another school year: the homework, the boredom, the sound of the alarm at that ungodly …

The Mythologist

In March, PLC hosted a talk by professional mythologist, Richard Schwab. Not only was I delighted to learn that there actually are professional mythologists, I found much of what Richard had to say to be profoundly connected to the work that we do with young people. Some of my favorites:  Taking control. He spoke about the lack of initiation rites for …

Deschooling

What happens when a young person stops attending school? Uncertainty. Panic. Teens and their parents wonder: are we doing the right thing? can this really work? what will everyone think? are we risking future success and happiness? For those of us who have had a traditional education, the idea that learning and growth can happen in any other way than …

Screens All Day?

One of the most anxiety-producing, despair-inducing, frustration-creating aspects of self-directed and noncoercive learning is the fear among adults that kids left to their own devices will do nothing but play video games…or watch YouTube…or go through season after season of shows on Netflix, or…fill in the blank. And that too much of these things, unlike other activities kids choose to …