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Interviews with self-directed learners, innovative educators, and young people blazing their own paths through life. Hosted by Blake Boles. Visit Off-Trail Learning @ offtraillearning.com. Formerly the Real Education Podcast.

Interviews with self-directed learners, innovative educators, and young people blazing their own paths through life. Hosted by Blake Boles. Visit Off-Trail Learning @ offtraillearning.com. Formerly the Real Education Podcast.
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Location:

United States

Description:

Interviews with self-directed learners, innovative educators, and young people blazing their own paths through life. Hosted by Blake Boles. Visit Off-Trail Learning @ offtraillearning.com. Formerly the Real Education Podcast.

Language:

English


Episodes

Blake Boles on the Future of Alternative Education

7/14/2019
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Where is the alternative education movement headed, and how will we arrive there? In this special episode, Blake gives the closing keynote at the AERO (Alternative Education Resource Organization) conference in Portland, Oregon on June 29th, 2019. Themes of the talk include: embracing the growing variety of alternatives, tackling unsexy but important challenges like school finances, doing better research on self-directed learning, and the many ways to make the movement more inclusive.

Duration:00:41:08

Margie Sanderson on Children's Rights

6/20/2019
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What are "children's rights" and how do they overlap with the world of self-directed learning? Margie Sanderson, a 24-year-old board member of the National Youth Right Association (youthrights.org), talks with me about the different conceptions of children's rights (also called youth rights), the many ways of empowering young people to participate in society like adults, lowering the voting age, competency tests, letting students enroll and unenroll themselves in school, and the strange idea...

Duration:00:41:28

Ted Dintersmith on Innovative Schools

5/29/2019
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After a successful career as a venture capitalist, Ted Dintersmith (teddintersmith.com)dedicated himself to discovering highly innovative schools around the United States, leading him to produce the 2015 documentary, Most Likely to Succeed, and his 2018 book, What School Could Be. Ted and I discuss his movie, math education, college-for-all, grit, and whether public schools will ever really change.

Duration:01:09:53

Blake Boles on Quitting High School

5/5/2019
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If conventional high school isn't a good fit for your kid, what should you do -- push harder, or try something new? Is high school mandatory for college, career, and a successful transition to adulthood? In this special episode, recorded live at the CHN Family Expo conference in southern California on May 4th, 2019, Blake explains why "Yes, You Can Quit High School and Everything Will Turn Out Okay." Download the accompanying slides at https://blakeboles.com/yesyoucan.pdf, and find the video...

Duration:00:54:21

Jerry Mintz on AERO

3/4/2019
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Jerry Mintz founded the Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO) over 30 years ago and has since helped start over 50 learner-centered schools. In this special episode, Jerry and I interview each other about the state of alternative education in the world and what makes us hopeful that the movement is making progress. Explore the AERO website at www.educationrevolution.org and say hello to both me and Jerry at the 2019 AERO conference in Portland, Oregon, where I’m giving a keynote...

Duration:01:06:31

Ned Johnson on The Self-Driven Child

2/2/2019
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What’s the sense and science behind giving kids more control over their lives? Why do they deserve autonomy? Ned Johnson answers these questions in his wonderful 2018 book, The Self-Driven Child (coauthored with Bill Stixrud). In the interview Ned discusses his life as a Washington D.C. test prep tutor, the deleterious effects of stress, why kids need a sense of control in their lives, shifting from “boss” to “consultant” as a parent, the science of self-motivation, and — crucially — the...

Duration:01:07:42

Kate Friedman on Promoting Self-Direction in Public Education

1/2/2019
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If you’re in love with the principles of self-directed learning but don’t want to abandon the public school system, how can you still make an impact? Kate Friedman (katefriedman.co) has figured out one way to do this. A former kindergarten special ed teacher who has also worked at the Brooklyn Free School, Kate now nudges classroom teachers in the direction of self-directed learning with the hopes of gradually shifting the New York City public school system toward more choice and inclusion...

Duration:00:46:02

A Brief Introduction to North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

12/5/2018
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North Star (northstarteens.org) is an alternative to middle school and high school in Western Massachusetts, and it's a highly inspiring model of supporting self-directed learning at the teenage level. In Fall 2018, I took a break from my speaking tour to spend 9 days at North Star and immerse myself in the model and its community. In this special episode, you'll get a brief introduction to North Star through the voices of a dozen of its teen members. To find centers similar to North Star —...

Duration:00:26:37

T.K. Coleman on the Best Arguments Against College

11/11/2018
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What are the best and worst arguments for going to 4-year college today? On today’s episode I debate this question with T.K. Coleman, the Education Director of an alternative-to-college program, Praxis (discoverpraxis.com). What’s the value of a stimulating academic environment? Access to social life? Developing a “life of the mind?” Signaling your value in the marketplace? If you have a young person in your life who’s wrestling with the college decision, this is a great episode to share...

Duration:01:48:04

Matt Sanderson on Not Back to School Camp

10/27/2018
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If you’re a teenager who (1) doesn’t go to conventional school and (2) wants to make new, open-minded friends — then get yourself to Not Back to School Camp, the preeminent gathering place for teenage unschoolers and self-directed learners. In this episode I interview Matt Sanderson, who recently finished directing two sessions of camp. Some of the questions we address include: What is day-to-day life like at Not Back to School Camp? What’s the best part and worst part about being director?...

Duration:00:56:44

Cassidy Younghans on Building a Career in Self-Directed Education as a Twenty-Something

10/11/2018
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If you want to get involved in alternative education in your twenties, what steps can you take to make it possible? Cassidy Younghans, age 27, is currently in the middle of answering this question. After teaching in Texas public schools for 5 years, Cassidy jumped ship and is now interning at the Houston Sudbury School. She dreams of starting her own school or center some day , but she’s not quite sure how — so for now she’s focusing on organizing meet-up groups, co-hosting a small annual...

Duration:00:53:03

Pat and Chandra Montgomery on Clonlara

9/22/2018
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What was it like to start an alternative school—especially one that supports “homeschoolers”, a hitherto unknown term—back in the sixties and seventies? Pat Montgomery did just that. She fought the hard fights, secured protections for home educators and self-directed learners, and even sued the Michigan State Board of Education. The school she founded, Clonlara (clonlara.org), now supports families across the United States and in 50 other countries, as well as on their physical K-12 campus...

Duration:01:15:19

Blake Boles and Zen Zenith on Unschool Adventures

8/11/2018
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In this special episode, Zen Zenith interviews Blake Boles about the past, present, and future of Unschool Adventures (unschooladventures.com), including a sneak preview of Blake’s big new program for 17- to 20-year-olds that’s launching in 2019: Independent Adventures. They also discuss Blake’s videos, articles, speaking tour, podcast, and future projects. Visit blakeboles.com to find the blog post that accompanies this episode (“Looking Back / Looking Forward”), and don’t miss Zen’s own...

Duration:00:54:13

Joel Hammon on Quitting Teaching

7/26/2018
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After a decade of teaching at public and private schools, Joel Hammon quit. Despite being on track to earning a six-figure salary with full benefits, he couldn’t take it anymore. But he still wanted to work with young people, so he co-founded Princeton Learning Cooperative (princetonlearningcooperative.org): a center based on the North Star model. In this episode we talk about how Joel struggled with teaching, what he loved about it, what led him to quit, how he (and others like him)...

Duration:01:22:39

Peter Gray on the Evidence for Self-Directed Education

7/5/2018
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Does self-directed education really “work,” and how can we prove it? In this episode I speak with Peter Gray, Ph.D., about the evidence (and lack thereof) for the effectiveness of unschooling and democratic free schools. Topics include: How does one measure the "effectiveness" of education in the first place? What does Peter's research say? How might a skeptical parent critique it? Why is it hard to get this research published? If Peter could design a perfect experiment to show that it...

Duration:01:17:28

Jade Rivera on Neurodivergence

6/22/2018
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Gifted, twice-exceptional, autistic, ADD, dyslexic: each of these labels falls under the umbrella of “neurodivergence”, and each has served to inspire thousands of families to consider self-directed learning options. Today I speak with Jade Rivera (jadeannrivera.com), the founder of Sunnyside Micro-School, a place she built to serve neurodivergent young people who don't thrive in school. We discuss Jade’s background as a chemist, how schools typically deal (or don’t deal) with neurodivergent...

Duration:00:56:37

Gabe Cooper on Starting a Public “Unschool”

6/7/2018
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Many dream of combining the principles of unschooling with the resources of public school — and Gabe Cooper is one of those few who has actually done it. In this episode Gabe discusses “Unschool” (sanjuan.edu/unschool), the program he founded in the San Juan Unified School District of Sacramento, California. We talk about his disillusionment as a public school teacher and administrator, what inspired him to start Unschool, his victories and challenges so far, his commitment to equity via...

Duration:00:42:49

Bryan Caplan on the Value of Conformity

5/19/2018
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How much of school is about skill-building and how much is about signaling, i.e., proving to employers that you’re intelligent, diligent, and can conform to societal norms? In this episode, economist Bryan Caplan (bcaplan.com) discusses his new book, The Case Against Education. Caplan argues that diplomas remain powerful marketplace signals, despite the fact that schools don't teach much. We discuss the implications of his findings for self-directed and nonconventional learners, how he...

Duration:00:49:17

Jim Wiltens on Deer Crossing Camp

4/23/2018
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Jim Wiltens is a modern-day Indiana Jones, an incredibly powerful teacher, and a huge figure in my life since age 11. I’m honored to finally get him on the podcast. As the founder and director of Deer Crossing Camp (deercrossingcamp.com), an off-grid wilderness summer camp in California, Jim helps kids develop serious outdoor skills and resilient attitudes. We discuss Deer Crossing's intensive teen leadership program, how Jim teaches attitude and "meta-skills", why he chose not to pay for...

Duration:01:15:14

Wes Beach on Building a One-Man High School

3/31/2018
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Frustrated as a public high school teacher in Santa Cruz, California, Wes Beach started his own one-man high school, Beach High School (http://beachhigh.education). Over 25 years Wes has freed more than 1500 teenagers from compulsory schooling by rapidly graduating them and creating transcripts that allow them to immediately dive into college, career, or further self-directed learning. Wes and I recorded our interview in his home office (i.e., Beach High School headquarters) and discussed...

Duration:00:57:40