Do you want your children to enjoy learning? Most parents would agree that their ultimate goal in educating their children is to create motivated life-long learners. Research shows us that motivation and excitement for learning are best achieved when learners are offered autonomy, trust, and resources that support their interests. Self-directed learning is at the heart of this educational model. In this podcast, we’ll explore ways to ignite our children’s curiosity and passion for learning through interviews with experts and families who have experienced first-hand the advantages of pursuing self-directed education.
Supporting our Self Directed Teens with Blake Boles
Guest Blake Boles Official Bio: (From his website.)
Blake Boles is the founder and director of Unschool Adventures and the author of Why Are You Still Sending Your Kids to School?, The Art of Self-Directed Learning, Better Than College, and College Without High School. He hosts the Off-Trail Learning podcast and has delivered over 75 presentations for education conferences, alternative schools, and parent groups. Blake and his work have appeared on The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, BBC Travel, Psychology Today, Fox Business, TEDx, The Huffington Post, USA Today, NPR affiliate radio, and the blogs of Wired and The Wall Street Journal.
Why Are You Still Sending Your Kids to School? | Blake Boles
Show Notes Jenna begins by stating that as her own children move into their teen years she finds it more challenging to find meaningful learning activities that will hold their interest. This is why she is excited to talk today with her guest Blake Boles. He has spent more than a decade working with teens while hosting an ‘Unschool Adventure Camp.’ He is also the author of the following books:
‘Why are you still sending your kids to school?’,
‘The art of self-directed learning’
‘Better than college: How to build a successful life without a four year degree.’
He has contributed to many other publications as well.
Blake is the host of the Offtrail Learning Podcast and has given over 75 presentations to Alternative schools, educational conferences and parent groups.
He has been featured in:
The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, BBC Travel, Psychology Today, Fox Business, The Huffington Post, USA Today, NPR, and the blogs of Wired and The Wall Street Journal.
Jenna says she is excited to share Blake’s perspective on how to best support our teens quest for more autonomy and real world experiences. They will touch on mentorship and networking. Blake even shares a simple email structure that our kids can follow to connect with professionals in the fields that interest them. They also discuss the pushback that homeschoolers are receiving from experts who would like to see substantial regulatory practice here in the US for homeschooling families. At the end of the podcast Jenna says they will daydream a bit about the possibility of bringing adventure and challenges to communities all over the globe for our unschoolers. Perhaps it will inspire you to create one. Jenna hopes so!
Before we begin, Jenna wants listeners to know that she is still doing a book give-away. Just leave your review on Apple Podcasts, then email her and give her the screen-name you left the review under. She will put your name in a hat. (Yes, this is how it’s done!) The winner will win Blake Boles’ book ‘Why are you still sending your kids to school?’ For every five reviews, she will give away one copy of the book. Also, if you would like to join Jenna on the podcast to discuss any of the topics discussed on previous shows, you can be a co-host! Please reach out if you are interested! Lastly, Jenna says that the podcast has been so critical in helping her find community and learn, but she is looking for even more ways to connect with everyone. Sharing our stories and experiences really helps contribute to our personal growth. She is very thankful for those who have already reached out via email, voicemail and Zoom. She is looking for new ways to connect, form friendships, ask questions on a regular basis, read books together and discuss them. As she continues to find new resources she would really like to connect with you.
LINK TO SURVEY: GIVE YOUR FEEDBACK HERE
Jenna welcomes Blake to the podcast. She mentions that she just finished reading his book and wishes she had read it earlier in her journey to unschooling. She says there is just so much value in it regardless
Learning Timelines, Screens, & Parental Compromises
Guest Philip Mott
Philip is a former elementary school teacher who now offers parenting advice for busy and frustrated parents. He and his wife home school their three young children. He’s a regular contributor to Fathering Together and First Time Parent Magazine.
You can also hear an interview with him on the podcast Front Row Dads. There are two parts:
Part One https://frontrowdads.com/philip-mott-part-1/
Part Two https://frontrowdads.com/philip-mott-part-2/
He is interviewed by Living Joyfully With Unschooling on the Exploring Unschooling podcast. View here on YouTube:
In today’s episode Jenna and Philip have an open and honest conversation about how each of their households handles things like screen time, bedtime and other common hurdles in unschooling.
Before we begin Jenna reminds listeners that she is always looking for new topics and questions you would like to hear addressed on the podcast. For instance, would you like to hear more from Jenna herself, more experts, other ideas? Also, remember to please leave a review as this helps grow the community.
Jenna begins the interview by asking Philip to explain his journey into self-directed learning.
Philip says that he began reading a lot about child development, student engagement, and why students are not fully engaged. He realized that he was becoming the teacher he himself would not have wanted when he was a student. His experience in school was not a good one which was one reason he wanted to become a teacher himself. At that time he felt he had fallen into an authoritarian role. After doing some reading he began to try to make his classroom more child centered. But he says that the writings of Magda Gerber, a parent child advocate who founded the Resources for Infant Educarers usually referred to as RIE, was a great inspiration for him. He found this resource when his child was thirteen months old and followed her advice on letting the child lead in play and learning. He had always followed a self-directed path in his own learning but hadn’t made the connection that it would be the same for even very young children. He and his wife were surprised and pleased that a child that young could be so self-directed. This was when they became hooked on self-directed learning and knew that they wanted that for their family.
Jenna notes that she is always surprised at how many educators there are who have an epiphany and says that she can relate to the feeling of becoming that teacher that you don’t want to be. She says that it felt uncomfortable and wrong but was brought on by stress and expectations which were out of her control.
Philip agrees and says that when he was teaching fifth grade at an online school he was on a team that kept him from implementing some of the things he wanted to try. He did create a program he called ‘Connect’ in which he would engage with students in order to build a relationship beyond just academics. He tracked grades during this time and saw that the extra engagement with his students did improve their interest and success in class. But, it still didn’t make up for the fact that trying to teach everyone the same thing at the same time was really not working. The curriculum keeps teachers bound to a timeline teaching specific skills at specific times.
Jenna asks if there is in his opinion any time that any one skill MUST be learned.
Philip says that it is less about when or even what is absolutely needed to be known or learned, but is much more imperative that the child not be made to feel inadequate if they fail to learn something at the time we expect them to learn it. Even if parents don’t criticize or punish their child for not learning a skill, they receive the message of unworthiness from standardized testing, the grading system etc.
Jenna mentions that so
Online Alternatives to Traditional Schools: a conversation with Victoria Ransom from Prisma
Guest Victoria Ransom
Victoria Ransom is a serial entrepreneur from New Zealand. She has developed four companies including Wildfire Interactive, a social marketing SaaS company, where Ransom was CEO until it was sold to Google in 2012. She was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for New Zealand in 2011. Fortune Magazine honored her as one of the Forty Most Powerful Women Under Forty in 2012. In 2013, she was invited to the White House by President Barack Obama to receive a "Champion of Change" award recognizing her contributions as an immigrant entrepreneur. In 2015, she was awarded the World Class New Zealander award along with former New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark. In 2016, she was NEXT Woman of the Year in the Business and Innovation category.
In 2020, Ransom co-founded Prisma, a remote education startup. Victoria has been interviewed by Bloomberg News, The Corner Office, The New York Times and The Wallstreet Journal.
Show Notes Jenna’s intro: Jenna begins the show by reminding listeners that they can leave a voicemail for the podcast and she will read it on the show. Good or bad, she wants your input! Your comments, feedback and suggestions are much appreciated. You can find the link here.
Jenna introduces Victoria and explains that while the online school Prisma is not completely self-directed, it can be a good fit for families with kids that need more structure or are eager for more of a community in light of challenges to group meet-ups during the pandemic. Prisma is an alternative flex school with five week cycles during the year. This makes it a good choice for unschoolers to participate in and for world schoolers who do a lot of traveling.
Victoria tells us a bit about her journey. She is the mother of three and her journey in education began when her oldest reached school age. One thing that concerned her with traditional education was the rapidly changing world we live in, which she believed needed a broader skill set than conventional schools could provide. She was also concerned about the fierce competition and stressful environment, especially where she lives in northern California. She researched homeschooling, alternative and micro schools. She wanted a flexible environment where children could be led by their interests. Something that focused on problem solving and critical thinking. This is when she began to imagine creating something that would not only be best for her own children, but for other families as well.
Jenna asks Victoria to tell us who Prisma serves. What do the families enrolled in Prisma look like?
Victoria says that a common thread is that most of the parents at Prisma want their children to love learning. They are looking to Prisma to provide a toolbox that can help them be able to do many types of work by teaching them critical thinking and problem solving. The kids should be challenged and excited.
Jenna asks about the ages and prior circumstances of the children enrolled in Prisma.
Victoria tells us that the program currently serves grades 4 - 8 at the moment with plans to expand. Prisma grew quite a bit during Covid19 because many children were homeschooling. With Prisma, families found much more flexibility versus a traditional school moved to online. Some of the kids in Prisma are gifted and just felt bored or unchallenged at school. Some have difficulties that made conventional school difficult for them. These children thrive when they are able to move at their own pace. Victoria mentions that Prisma does do some assessment tests and academic growth is occurring.
Jenna asks what a typical Prisma day looks like.
Victoria says that students
Seeking More; An Educator's Departure from Public School Teaching
Jae says he reached the breaking point in 2020. With the pandemic in full swing and talk of schools opening back up that fall, he started to realize that parents were not focused on their child as much as they were needing teachers to return as babysitters so the parents could go back to work. He didn’t want to be a glorified babysitter. Five months later, he quit.
Raising Kids in a Consent-based Environment
Guest Sophie Christophy
Sophie is the CEO for a charity called Phoenix Education. An organization that is working to change the education system so that schools are more collaborative and offer rights respecting spaces. She is also co-founder of ‘the Cabin’, the first consent-based education setting in the U.K. - a self-directed learning community for children aged 5-11. She runs courses on consent based education and works with people of all ages on changemaking/education activism and paradigm shifting. All this is a move forward toward a new paradigm in which children are respected, listened to and treated as whole people, where adultism is managed and de-escalated as much as possible, as a route to social justice. Sophie is an unschooling parent to two children who are 7 and 10.
Twitter: @schristophy, Facebook: Sophie Christophy, by email: email@example.com
Show Notes Jenna welcomes everyone back to the podcast after a break in which she and her family moved back to the US from Europe. She catches us up on her own family’s unschooling adventures and her future plans. These include plans to combine her love of documentary style family photography and unschooling. For more information check out Jenna’s Instagram and click on ‘Join my Audience.’
Introducing Sophie Christophy:
Read Her article from the Huffington Post
Sophie was referred to the podcast by Dr. Nickee Stopler in episode 9 of The Rogue Learner Podcast.
Sophie tells us that she became interested in unschooling after the birth of her daughter ten years ago. Always a curious child and life-long learner she credits the many educators in her family for her ability to trust her own instincts and problem solving skills.
She explains how having her daughter was a huge life shift. She found that she was extremely tuned in to her daughter’s anxieties which brought her to a better understanding of just how differently we all see and experience the world around us. Knowing that she needed to be an advocate for her daughter as she felt that the social constructs of our society may not be the best for the mental and physical well being of people in general, especially a child.
One event that shaped her thinking about life and learning was when one of her parents came out as Trans. This opened her mind to better understanding the need for love and acceptance over prejudice and also that just as being a part of any marginalized group can leave one feeling vulnerable, the same can be said for unschoolers. A certain amount of bravery is called for.
Moving to the topic of deschooling. - Sophie says to begin with giving yourself permission to control your own situation. Recognize your fears. Ask yourself what is holding you back. Treat deschooling like a practice (she gives the example of yoga.) Do it daily to make it a practice. Be a conscious creator of your environment. Pay attention to what you surround yourself with. Question your motives. Make a commitment. Create an environment that will lead to success. Outcomes and variables are set.
Sophie and Jenna discuss these thoughts.
Institutions such as schools try to control the uncontrollable. Be wary of falling into the trap of switching one dogma or philosophy for another rather than listening to your own intuition. Continue your own self directed learning while you are facilitating your child’s learning. Sophie discusses a new course that she offers in Deschooling the Body. In this class she teaches her students to bring their physical bodies into the decision making process by paying attention to the body’s cues, responses and intuitions. Do you react to a statement physically? She goes on to say that if you feel your body react to a statement in an uncomfortable way, it may not be true for you. Feel it, breathe into it and find a way to loosen that energy, through movement etc.
Jenna asks Sophie to explain more about the Cabin.
A Self Directed Career Path
Guest Vincent Pugliesi
Vincent is the founder of the Total Life Freedom Community. Living a life of freedom is of huge importance to Vincent and his wife Elizabeth. They homeschool their three boys, and believe that having control of your time, your money, and the work you do, leads to the ultimate life freedom. While teaching others to do the same, the movement of Total Life Freedom was born.
Hey Everyone, welcome back to the Rogue Learner podcast. I have had a little break from publishing and I’m really grateful for you all having patience while I figure out my new rhythm here in the States. I don’t know if I’ve said it before on the show, but my husband is still in Europe and will be joining us later in the year so the time I once had to allocate to the show is reduced to very little, especially now that things are opening back up and my kids have access to so many places and clubs that were once closed due to Covid-19. I’d like to start by thanking you all for being so supportive and kind as I transition into our new normal. I am confident I can continue publishing great episodes, in fact I’ve spent the last week interviewing more amazing guests, but I do think the frequency of my publishing will slow at least until my husband joins us. For now, I’ll commit to one great interview a month, with the hope that I can do even more than that.
Some listeners have reached out to me to ask how they can support the show and I appreciate you wanting to help out. The show does cost money to produce, but I’d like to keep the information free to anyone who needs it. Still, if you like the show, get value from it, and have the means to support it monetarily, you can now do so by clicking the “Support Rogue Learner” link either in the show notes or from my profile on Instagram. I am eternally grateful for anyone who makes a contribution. The money will go directly back into paying for the domain, hosting, podcast distribution service and Adobe Audition subscription.
Another way to support the way if you provide a service to other homeschooling families is by advertising on the Rogue Learner website or adding a paid listing to the directory. You’ll find the link in the show notes or in my Instagram profiles. Thank you!
Also, as a thank you from me t o you I always have a book giveaway going on. If you leave a written review on Apple (which you can do through iTunes btw even if you don’t have an iPhone) and then send me a quick email with your screen name, you could win a copy of a book related to SDE. For every 5 reviews, I’ll be giving away two new books, “Raising Free People; Unschooling as Liberation and Healing Work” by Akilah Richards and “Why Are You Still Sending Your Kids to School?” by Blake Boles. Head on over to Apple Podcasts to leave an honest written review and get a chance to win one of these books!
I’m really excited to introduce today’s guest. Vincent Pugliese is an entrepreneur who began his career in a very self-directed manner. Feeling as though he had no options in his 20’s and no clear direction, he took up his father’s advice to take on a photography class. In his story, you’ll hear how he went from completely apathetic toward learning to deeply passionate about sports photography. What I find most incredible about him is that he is now using that knowledge he acquired regarding how people learn with his own three boys. I’m so thrilled that he took the time to chat with me and I think you’ll feel the same way I did by the end of our conversation: motivated and inspired! And now, here is my interview with Vincent Pugliese from Total Life Freedom.
Jenna begins by welcoming Vincent to the show and thanking him for talking about his homeschooling experiences on the ChooseFI podcast, because it really inspired her to think more critically about
Such a fantastic podcast
I stumbled upon this podcast searching for interviews with Naomi Fisher and I am so glad I found the Rogue Lerner!! It’s very inspirational and done in a professional manner. Looking forward to listening to more episodes!
I’ve listened to a few episodes now and really feel like the conversations within these episodes are thought-provoking. We’ve been relaxed homeschoolers with all 3 kids for a year now, and with 1 prior to this year. We’ve tried different things and pieced different things together along the way. It’s so nice to know that there are others out there looking for the best way to educate their children while allowing them to thrive in freedom and curiosity. I’ve expanded my thoughts further while listening to this podcast. Super glad we came upon this one!
The Future of Education
Love the concept of unschooling and grateful for the fact that the message od alternative schooling is spreading. Thank you!!