103 episodes

Interviews with innovative educators, self-directed young people, and others who think differently about learning, teaching, and schooling. Hosted by Blake Boles (blakeboles.com), author of "Why Are You Still Sending Your Kids to School?" and founder of Unschool Adventures.

Off-Trail Learning Blake Boles

    • Education
    • 4.7 • 56 Ratings

Interviews with innovative educators, self-directed young people, and others who think differently about learning, teaching, and schooling. Hosted by Blake Boles (blakeboles.com), author of "Why Are You Still Sending Your Kids to School?" and founder of Unschool Adventures.

    Blake Boles on Adventure

    Blake Boles on Adventure

    Guest host Zen Zenith returns to interview Blake about his obsession with adventure. What exactly makes an adventure? How is adventure connected to self-directed learning? Is adventure just for privileged people? Why can’t Blake just settle down and lead a normal life? How do Unschool Adventures trips create a sense of adventure for both teens and trip leaders? Does adventure become harder as one grows older? Does Blake even have a retirement plan?! And what comes next?

    Read Blake’s “Notes on Adventure” here: https://blakeboles.substack.com

    Zen Zenith is a grown unschooler, musician, guitar teacher, podcaster, and Not Back to School Camp alumnus. Follow Zen on Twitter at @zenzenith.

    • 1 hr 11 min
    Chris Balme on Finding the Magic in Middle School

    Chris Balme on Finding the Magic in Middle School

    Chris Balme (chrisbalme.com) is the founding head of school of The Millennium School and the author of Finding the Magic in Middle School. After briefly flirting with public school teaching, Chris ran an apprenticeship program for middle schoolers for a decade before creating The Millennium School in San Francisco, where he served for seven years.

    We discuss Chris’ early infatuation with democratic free schools, how the Millennium School takes the developmental needs of middle schoolers seriously, the life-changing power of peer advisory groups, learning through quests, authentic audiences, and why he compromised on teaching math in a conventional fashion. Chris also describes how parents might think of themselves as excellent guides instead of their kids’ bosses or managers, 50 "Essential Experiences” for a meaningful adolescence, rites of passage, and what larger schools and programs can offer that home-based alternatives sometimes cannot.

    Get a taste for Chris’ work by browsing the 50 Essential Experiences (https://www.argonaut.school/blog/50-essential-experiences) and signing up for his excellent email newsletter (https://chrisbalme.substack.com/).

    • 1 hr 11 min
    Liam Nilsen on Reading

    Liam Nilsen on Reading

    Liam Nilsen (https://liam.media) is a designer and educator based in Åårhus, Denmark. He’s a former member of the LEGO Idea Studio, the founder of an Agile Learning Center, and a life-long unschooler who didn’t start reading until age 9 — at which point he fell in love with the written word.

    Liam and I discuss our lives as readers, including the books that have changed our lives, how we discover new things to read, books vs. articles vs. newspapers vs. social media, old favorites that now embarrass us, writing inside books, and keeping books vs. giving them away. We also discuss the virtues of higher education and self-directed learning programs that promote reading (or not).

    • 1 hr 32 min
    Grace Llewellyn on The Teenage Liberation Handbook, 3rd Edition

    Grace Llewellyn on The Teenage Liberation Handbook, 3rd Edition

    Grace Llewellyn is the author of The Teenage Liberation Handbook, the founder of Not Back to School Camp, a one-time middle school English teacher, and a luminary in the unschooling movement.

    In this episode we discuss the third (and final) edition of The Teenage Liberation Handbook, released in late 2021. Grace talks about writing the original book in 1991, how it became an underground classic, how her views on education (and her relationship to her 26-year-old voice) evolved over three decades, and how the book was updated for the 21st century.

    I had the pleasure and honor of serving as Grace’s editor for this project, and we also discuss our differing visions for the re-write. (Spoiler alert: hers won!)

    Find a copy of The Teenage Liberation Handbook wherever books are sold or by requesting one from your local library (make sure to ask for the third edition).

    Grace is also the author of Guerrilla Learning: How to Give Your Kids a Real Education With or Without School (2001, with Amy Silver), Real Lives: Eleven Teenagers Who Don't Go to School Tell Their Own Stories (2005), and Freedom Challenge: African American Homeschoolers (1996).

    • 1 hr 8 min
    Takeru Nagayoshi on Walking Away from "Teacher of the Year"

    Takeru Nagayoshi on Walking Away from "Teacher of the Year"

    Takeru “TK” Nagayoshi was an AP English and Research teacher for seven years. In 2020 he was named Massachusetts Teacher of the Year—yet after winning the award, he decided to leave the classroom in 2021.

    We discuss Takeru’s early school experiences in Japan and New Jersey, how he become an educator through Teach For America, the daily realities of teaching in a “turnaround school,” the amazing AP classes he offered, the Teacher of the Year nomination, pandemic burnout, and the decision to leave his teaching position.

    We also speak more broadly about the purpose of education, schooling’s connection to societal inequities, why most reform movements don’t speak to TK, how he aligns (and doesn’t) with John Taylor Gatto’s critiques, how Generation Z is disillusioned by adult’s failure to solve collective action problems, and what kind of changes it would take to bring him back to the classroom.

    Takeru now works at Panorama Education (panoramaed.com) where he leads professional learning events that reach an audience of over 10,000. An education commentator and facilitator, he also leads workshops on education policy, social-emotional learning, DEI, and curriculum at the high school level.

    Find TK on Twitter (@tk_nagayoshi) and learn more with the following links:
    https://www.thisamericanlife.org/764/schools-out-forever
    https://www.wbur.org/radioboston/2021/10/25/massachusetts-teacher-burn-out
    https://commonwealthmagazine.org/opinion/as-a-teacher-i-think-its-time-to-rethink-education-accountability/

    • 1 hr 4 min
    Jack Schott on Why Summer Camps Matter

    Jack Schott on Why Summer Camps Matter

    Shortly after college, Jack Schott hit the road for two years to visit over 200 summer camps across the United States. He then co-founded a children’s sleepaway camp in upstate New York, Camp Stomping Ground (campstompingground.org), designed to inspire “radical empathy.” After co-directing Stomping Ground for many years (with Laura Kriegel) and consulting for other camps, Jack possesses a wealth of knowledge about the power and possibility of sleepaway camps. We discuss the unique magic that camps create, what kind of camps exist in the United States, how they promote self-directed learning (or don’t), accessibility and affordability, the vital role that camp counselors play in a young person’s life, and Jack’s personal favorites.

    Jack is also co-founder of The Summer Camp Society (thesummercampsociety.com), which offers training and consulting for camp leaders.

    To sign up for Not Back to School Camp, visit nbtsc.org. (Vermont campers: Enroll by April 30th!)

    Recorded on April 17, 2022, on the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

    • 58 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
56 Ratings

56 Ratings

RogueLearner ,

Brilliant Show

Blake Boles has an incredible way of playing devil’s advocate in his interview process and I like that he interviews guests who don’t always share his personal perspective. He is a tremendous asset to the unschooling movement. I’ve learned a great deal from him and his guests and recommend his podcast to anyone considering homeschooling. I was honored to have him as a guest on my podcast where he graciously shared his knowledge about how to best support our unschooling teens. I have two of his books on my shelf and refer to them often. Thanks for all you do, Blake!

ava hodnett ,

T

Hate it

land0licorice ,

Seminal podcast about unschooling

Blake Boles is a tremendous voice in unschooling, a homeschooling approach that puts agency back into the hands of the learner. In his episodes, Boles compellingly shares his years of experience leading young adults through their education journey using self-directed principles. His anecdotes and interviews help crack a window into the rich world of unschooling.

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