Progress

I am so excited and inspired by all the messages I have been getting over the past week! So many of you have written to me to tell me your stories and I have loved reading every one of them. The theme I am seeing is: you have seen the failures of the public education system and will try anything to keep your children out of it. You see your children’s love and excitement for learning and are terrified that they will lose it. You recognize the need for a change, but don’t know how to make it happen.

785a467ddd42e4a4c65efed5d5bf43d5The change is happening. We are committed to creating a new way for children in our community to educate themselves and to escape the rigid and controlling system of a conventional school. Children are more than capable of educating themselves provided they are given time, space, and trust to do so. Let’s create that space!

Our vision for the Free Learners of Nanaimo is a self-directed and non-coercive environment where children are free to dictate their own educational paths. There will be no curriculum and no mandatory classes or subjects; rather, we will engage in “life learning”- learning through interaction, life skills, and following interests. Compared to a conventional (forced) education, this is a scary theory- but it’s a proven method of education that you have already witnessed yourself. Think about how much a child learns from the time they are born until the time they go to school: they learn to sit, stand, walk, talk, play, ask for things, share… the list is endless. This authentic learning doesn’t just stop at age 6!

So if there’s no forced learning, what will children do all day? Everything else! We envision an environment full of exciting and enticing materials and resources that will encourage children to follow their passions (or find one). Guides- not teachers- will 10923298_10152855147512825_593683379776220930_nbe available to facilitate a child’s self-directed journey to their goals. Without the confines of bell schedule determined by someone else, children will be free to immerse themselves in their chosen activity. When an individual is allowed to direct their own learning, they are able to follow their passions and learn on a deeper level, in a more complete way. Without an adult filtering the information, topics are often learned in a much more diverse and broad way.

This is a radical and paradigm-shifting way to approach education and it’s not going to be for everyone. But for those that don’t fit in at a conventional school, or for parents who want something different for their children, this could be the answer.

So where do we go from here? We need to form a community to create this amazing new place and we need team builders and volunteers to bring the vision to life. We will start creating both of those things at a information session coming up in the next two weeks. Here we will discuss the vision in a little more depth, outline the next steps and connect with others who are invested in an alternative education option.

If you want to attend this meeting, please make sure you add your email address to the mailing list as the details will be sent out through email. Can’t wait to meet you!

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Do we have the right to educate children?

“An education (or, what is taught in school) is pretty well defined here. We can see the curriculum online any time we like. It is clearly laid out for us what a child should learn year by year. It appears that education is the filling up of a child with a pre-determined set of knowledge. But is there really only one type of education? And is it the same for every child? And who gets to decide what is important enough to include? Who decides what things are more important than others? Looking through the curriculum it’s easy to see that a lot of education is centered around ‘academics’. We get the distinct impression that things like reading, writing, and mathematics are more important than the arts. But what if you’re an artist or a dancer? Surely a one size fits all approach is very limiting? Surely being ‘successfully educated’ means something different for each individual person according to their strengths, interests, and what they plan to do in their lives.”

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Continue reading at Happiness is Here blog.

“This idea is crazy.”

A free education sounds pretty crazy, doesn’t it? If you’ve never heard of non-compulsory education before, it can be hard to wrap your head around the idea. Kids who are left to their own devices won’t actually learn anything, will they?

Actually, they can- and they do. Conventional school is only one way to get an education, and there are places all over the world that have been doing things differently for years. Check out these amazing schools that are offering their students an incredible environment to educate themselves in.

Summerhill School in England is the first of it’s kind and has been in existence for almost 100 years! Founded by A.S. Neill, Summerhill is a boarding school that produces thoughtful, intelligent graduates that go on to become doctors, artists, lawyers…

The Sudbury Valley School of Massachusetts was founded in 1968 and is a leader in the world of alternative education- so much so that democratic schools are often referred to as “Sudbury schools”.

The Albany Free School was founded in 1969 and prides itself on helping to rehabilitate students that had “slipped through the cracks” at their old schools and help to rebuild their love of learning.

And more locally, Windsor House School has been operating out of North Vancouver since 1971. Publically funded, this democratic school offers students a completely child-led and respectful education.

So maybe it isn’t so crazy after all?

Calling all revolutionaries!

Hello again free learners! I am so excited to get this project off the ground and to start turning this vision of a free and non-coercive learning centre in Nanaimo a reality. I am searching for like-minded individuals that are passionate about children’s rights in education and who want to be a part of the creation of a group that is committed to creating a radical environment of choice, freedom, and opportunity for children to learn in.

revolution_smallThe right people for this group are those that are dissatisfied with public and conventional education models and who recognize the need for an education revolution. They will see the value in a self-determined education, respecting a child’s instincts in their own education, and be committed to campaigning for change in how both childhood and compulsory education are managed.

If you are interested in alternative education, home education, life learning, unschooling, children’s rights, or just want to be a part of the solution, I want to hear from you!

Ideally I will find 3-5 people to form a core group of co-founders to bounce ideas around with and to set these ideas in motion with. You can be any age or gender, a parent or not, a businessperson or an artist- as long as you are committed and we mesh, I want to meet you!

If you want to be a part of the team, please send me an email at nanaimofreelearners@outlook.com. I can’t wait to make a change in our community!

3 Destructive Things School Taught You Without You Even Realizing It

Our system is performance-based and not purpose-based. It teaches mimicry and not passion.

Performance-based learning isn’t even efficient. A kid who is excited about cars is going to have a hell of a much better time learning about math and physics if math and physics can be put into the context of what he cares about. He’s going to retain more of it and become curious to discover more on his own.”

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Read more here: 3 Destructive Things School Taught You Without You Even Realizing It

School is a place…

“…school is a place where a child’s life is micromanaged in the interest of the smooth running of the institution. As a result, students learn to comply rather than to act independently. When one complies with the dictates of the institution, these are deemed good choices. When one does not comply, these are deemed bad choices. One quickly learns what choices to make if one is going to get along in the institution. Obedience is still the greatest value held by school. The result of all this is that we create people who don’t know what to do unless they are told what to do. The reason so many kids find graduation and adulthood a scary prospect is that there will be no one there to tell them what to do. There will be no one to obey. The only person who benefits from this system is the future boss who will step in as the authority figure.” -Michael Reist, “What Every Parents Should Know About School” A thought-provoking quote, to say the least. Children do not need to be told how to learn; they are learning all the time!

Favorite ethical education videos

Sir Ken Robinsons famous TED talk entitled, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” is a must-see.

As is 13-year-old Logan LaPlante’s TED talk on HackSchooling.

Jerry Michalski asks: What if we trusted you? What if we trusted our children to learn what they need to know?</p>

Dr. Peter Gray on why free play is essential for children’s healthy social and emotional development and how we can bring free play back to children’s lives.</p>

Hello free learners!

I am so happy to get this blog up and running and to use it as a way to connect with families in our area and to keep everyone up-to-date on the development of Nanaimo’s first ethical, non-coercive and child-led education center- otherwise known as a free school!

If you are a homeschooling parent, unschooling parent, or if you are the parent of a child in a conventional school and find yourself thinking, “this can’t be right!” then you may be interested in staying up-to-date with our plans and ideas to create a place for a radical and paradigm-shifting education experience. The cornerstone of our “school” is the belief that children’s natural-born curiosity is the most effective and important catalyst in a true and lasting education. We believe that children have the ability and right to direct their own education and to learn what interests them at their own pace, without outside interference and with unlimited time, respect and trust.

Our program will be the first school of its kind in our community. Free schools are unique alternatives to mainstream education, offering children flexibility, creativity, independence, and the right to have control over their educational journey. Children will be trusted with full educational freedom; each will decide what to do (or not to do), how to do it, and when to change what they’re doing. They can adapt their lives to their own personal interests, goals, and learning styles. Children and youth will learn together in an ungraded, multi-age setting. When assistance or direction is desired by the individual, knowledgeable, resourceful, and respectful staff will be available to help guide them on their quest to know more.

This project is still in it’s infancy and we are actively seeking supporters and co-founders that can help make the dream a reality. If you share our passion for ethical education and children’s rights in education, we want to hear from you!