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Agile Learning Centers, Liberated Learners, and Sudbury Schools: What’s the Difference? | Alliance for Self-Directed Education
"An exploration of three popular models for supporting self-directed learners.

Table of Contents
A Brief History
Is it a School?
Core Values
What’s Required?
Conflict Resolution
Who Makes the Decisions, and How?
Classes, Activities, Mentorship, and Asking for Help
Graduation
Conclusion: What’s the Same?"
blakeboles  unschooling  deschooling  schools  alternative  sudburyschools  agilelearningcenters  liberatedlearners  northstar  education  children  2018  democracy  democratic  freeschools  values  conflictresolution  authority  history  decisionmaking  teaching  howwelearn  learning  self-directed  self-directedlearning  agilelearning 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Philly Free School
" I have noticed an interesting phenomenon during the admissions process at the Philly Free School over the past 4 years. Often parents will express interest in the school as a possible placement for their school-aged son, but will not consider it as an option for their daughter. The son is often struggling in his current school. He is too active, or too quiet, too academic, or too physical, and the conventional system is ill-suited to serve this boy’s needs. His sister, however, is often “doing just fine.” She gets good grades, or gets in no trouble, or makes friends easily, or gets along well with her teachers, or all of these. The parents, coming to see the value in a Free School education, think it might be just the thing for their son, but don’t want to rock the boat for their “well-adjusted” daughter.

This is a mistake, and not just for the daughter. Here is why.

1) The daughter is NOT “just fine.” She is sublimating her sense of self, her leadership potential, and her critical thinking skills to fit into a system designed for economies of scale, not the needs of individual learners. She is feeding on the praise, good scores, and honor rolls of a conventional school while starving her inner creator, risk-taker, and out-of-the-box thinker.

How do I know? Because I was that girl. I nailed every test, rocked the distinguished honor roll, participated in clubs, made friends. But where was the deep learning, the hard questions, the healthy skepticism? I didn’t even know I was missing it until college, and by then, boy did I feel cheated. I was so busy meeting and exceeding the expectations of others that I never considered what it might mean to, or even that I had a right to, set and exceed my own expectations. And the toll on girls can have subtle but tragic consequences: according to a recent study by the CDC, teen girls are more likely than their male counterparts to suffer from depression and alcohol use problems.1

We don’t want to sell our daughters short. We want them to excel, to lead, to change things for the better. Developing the personal strength and skill to do these great things takes time, and requires an education that nurtures her leadership potential from the crucial, formative K-12 years. In a May 2013 article in the Harvard Business Review2, Herminia Ibarra, Robin J. Ely, and Deborah Kolb explain: “People become leaders by internalizing a leadership identity and developing a sense of purpose. Internalizing a sense of oneself as a leader is an iterative process.” That is, it cannot be rushed or grafted on after the fact. And while of course we want the same opportunities for our sons, these authors point out that the hill is steeper for girls: “Integrating leadership into one’s core identity is particularly challenging for women, who must establish credibility in a culture that is deeply conflicted about whether, when, and how they should exercise authority.” Accepting “just fine,” or waiting for our daughters to become leaders in college, simply isn’t good enough.

2) Society gets shortchanged. The paucity of women in leadership positions in the U.S. today is a travesty. As Barnard College president Debora Spar3 put it at a White House conference on urban economic development in February, 2012, “Women remain hugely underrepresented at positions of power in every single sector across this country. We have fallen into what I call the 16 percent ghetto, which is that if you look at any sector, be it aerospace engineering, Hollywood films, higher education, or Fortune 500 leading positions, women max out at roughly 16 percent,” Spar said. “That is a crime, and it is a waste of incredible talent.” What inventions would we all benefit from were more women in top positions? We like to think of the US as an enlightened world leader, when in fact we rank 73rd in female legislative representation, behind Bangladesh, Sudan and Pakistan4. What new solutions to age-old global struggles would emerge with female voices being heard, at last, in the halls of power? In 2015, we would like to think that the gender gap is finally shrinking. Sadly, the truth is that women’s advancement has flatlined in recent years3. What improvements to our quality of life in this new millennium would we all enjoy, if women were in charge of the way careers and families support one another? When we settle for a conventional education for our daughters, we all lose. When we give a girl the gift of a Sudbury education, like at the Philly Free School, she gets the opportunity to define leadership for herself, and to go after it with all she’s got.

3) The son gets mixed messages. Is the Free School a real school for real learners, or a last chance ranch for kids who can’t hack it in regular school? Is his future just as bright as his sister’s, or do his parents think she is bound for big ideas, while he should start thinking about manual labor? Conversely, perhaps the mixed message is that he deserves the right to direct his own education and chart his own course, whereas she ought to accept direction by others and passively accept her place in a traditional system where the status quo continues to rule the day. Either way, the parents are missing an opportunity to show that they believe in the Free School model of education and trust their children, boys and girls alike, to create a path to achievement only they can imagine.

The school itself will also benefit greatly from the contributions of these young women. Though the school enjoys a nearly even balance of male and female students, I believe some girls are still missing out. I hope that the parents who consider the Philly Free School for their sons will also think about it for their daughters. The sky’s the limit on where that can take us. In the words of the Bard, “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”"
gender  schools  freeschools  phillyfreeschool  children  boys  girls  lcproject  openstudioproject  learning  unschooling  society  parenting  2017  michelleloucas 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Deep Snow Press | The School
"The School: Humanity’s New Future

In the foothills of the highest mountain in Europe, in a valley with glacier-fed springs, surrounded by ancient megaliths and natural power spots, there lies a school where the future of humanity is now being forged. A bright future.

A dream? A reality!

For three decades now a Russian visionary Mikhail Shetinin has been shattering both mainstream and ‘alternative’ views on education, while creating humanity’s new future. At his School, the children have designed, built, and decorated their own campus. They cover the entire high-school curriculum in one year and get official Master’s degrees by the time they are seventeen. They cook their meals, do administrative work, and write their own textbooks. They contemplate the meaning of the Universe and swim in mountain streams. They dance, draw, sing, and pick strawberries in the surrounding fields. They can shoot from an automatic rifle and fight with swords. They master ancient folk crafts by awakening their ancestral memory, which goes deeper than any written history now known to us. The girls choose not to wear miniskirts, make-up, or flashy jewelry. They have no interest in TV or video games. They do not prepare themselves for ‘life’ — they live every moment they breathe. They do it all with a mission to reclaim our true essence and to bring back to planet Earth the era of awareness and peace... The School will fill you with tremendous inspiration as you witness the enormous creative power revealed in each human being.

Get a glimpse of the fourth dimension!

We have carefully prepared a “3 in 1” version of this remarkable documentary. It includes the DVD with two versions of the film: with English subtitles (preserving the beautiful Russian soundtrack and the resonant voices of the children) and with English dubbing. Plus, included is a 16-page full-color booklet with the full transcript of the film (you’ll want to refer to it again and again), and with never-before-published photographs of the School! All-region DVD (NTSC). Running time: information-packed 30 min, distilled from hundreds of hours of footage.



The School is just so out of the ordinary, we now receive a stream of inquiries from people aged 8 to 73, wanting to enroll in this School! This was our own instant reaction too, age notwithstanding. You certainly won’t find another place like that anythere on the Earth. Teenage children having a strong desire to be in the School are welcome to visit it in the summertime. The location of the School is given in the film. Knowledge of at least some Russian is strongly recommended! There is no formal admission process, everything depends on the child’s own desire and ability to establish a connection with Mr. Schetinin and the students."
schools  education  learning  documentary  unschooling  deschooling  mikhailshetinin  freeschools  russia  alternative  via:cervus 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Freie Demokratische Schule [Free Democratic School] - Kleine Dorfschule Lassaner WinkelKleine Dorfschule Lassaner Winkel
[text from Google Translate]

"Trust
At our school, trust is the basic quality. It permeates the living relationships between large and small people, on which the work, the game, the life and learning are based. At the same time, the adults trust in the ability of the children to find their own learning rhythm and stand by them carefully.

Connectivity
People are deeply connected to and dependent on other creatures. We ourselves are nature, and to respect and love them is a central concern of life and learning at the Little Village School. We learn the communion with people, plants and animals as a basic necessity, and thus a community culture is practiced at the "Kleine Dorfschule", based on solidarity, caring and responsibility towards the entire community.

Living democracy
The small village school is based on democracy, freedom and human rights. The daily practice of self-determination and participation in decisions concerning the school community enables learners to understand and understand the essence of living democracy at all levels. It is from such an understanding that there is a willingness to take responsibility for themselves and others.

Freedom
The "Kleine Dorfschule" is a place where people learn freely and self-determinedly. We see freedom as a prerequisite for the development and healthy growth of young people. Already Leo Tolstoy (as a pedagogue), Maria Montessori and Célestin Freinet assumed in their work that children need freedom, in order to be able to learn and to develop optimally.

Peace in the
face of dissatisfaction and fragmentation in the present times, we understand the development of communion, co-humanity and nonviolent conflict resolution as a major concern of our school. To live peace requires the respect and appreciation of diversity and equanimity - in coexistence with people as well as with the whole of nature."



"Life and learning are inextricably linked. Living learning can only unfold in an atmosphere of freedom, security, and relationship-an experience that is confirmed today by the findings of brain research and education.

Every child is curious. Inquiring, it conquers its world. From our point of view, young people bear all their potential, which wants to develop freely - beyond anxiety, pressure, and adult-oriented teaching methods. Learning at the Kleine Dorfschule is a creative, lively process, determined by the children themselves.

They are supported by learning companions as well as people of their trust in developing their personal strengths and creatively mastering crises. In the learning groups age-mixed, interdisciplinary learning is the hallmark of the school day. There is a variety of different learning forms, such as courses, learning agreements, individual learning plans, learning in working groups or in free projects, etc. Instead of evaluations and censors, there is careful accompaniment and lively feedback culture. Learning comes from inner motivation: the children follow their own impulses - they learn, play, read, build, calculate, explore, make music according to their individual rhythms. Instead of assessments and censors, there is careful accompaniment and lively feedback culture. Learning comes from inner motivation: the children follow their own impulses - they learn, play, read, build, calculate, explore, make music according to their individual rhythms. Instead of assessments and censors, there is careful accompaniment and lively feedback culture. Learning comes from inner motivation: the children follow their own impulses - they learn, play, read, build, calculate, explore, make music according to their individual rhythms.

The learning culture is based on the following principles:

• Holistic education ("learning with the head, the heart and the hand")
• Free development of the personality within the school community
• The development of a living relationship culture
• Practical democracy, equality, participation
• Connectivity, sustainability, ecological responsibility
• Mutual respect and appreciation
• Integration of the social environment (village life, factories, workshops, workshops, etc.)

In this way, the learning fields are embedded in the lifeworld of the children from which they originated. Thus a reconnection takes place: Important cultural techniques are not considered as abstract tasks, but as exciting learning possibilities in the flow of daily life. Experiences in other democratic schools show that the learners acquire the same competences and a level of knowledge as is done at regular schools, only in their individual temporal rhythms."



"Internal structure

The small village school Lassaner Winkel has a number of characteristics that are characteristic of the democratic schools:

The school meeting
This is a community decision-making forum at the "Kleine Dorfschule", which meets at least once a week. The school meeting consists of the pupils as well as the staff of the school. Here, all members of the school community have the opportunity to discuss current organizational and content concerns, questions, problems and to decide. Regardless of age and function, everyone has a voice.

The formation of responsibilities and working groups
In order to be able to cope with and coordinate the numerous activities of the Little Village School, the task of the school assembly is to form responsibilities. It decides in which areas workplaces and responsible persons are needed. Responsible persons are children or employees, who take responsibility for specific tasks and areas.

Rule-finding as the task of the school community
In order to ensure the protection of all children as well as of the school community as a whole, rules are needed that can be internalized by all parties involved. To act responsibly also means to respect and respect rules and limits that are important for the individual and the school community. The rules are drawn up by children and employees at the school meeting. Through the experience of the common design of rules that arise out of the needs of the individual and the community, their meaning becomes clear to all parties involved.

Violence-free common conflict
solution At the Kleine Dorfschule, we consider conflicts as a creative learning field, which all parties concerned turn to constructively. Thus, disputes can be conducted without violence, and there is the possibility of turning to a clarification council. As a matter of principle, all children and employees can always seek protection from the Council. It consists of regularly changing members, whereby the different perspectives of a conflict can be directly experienced and the sense of justice can be strengthened.

Participation, Participation
At the center of the Small Village School - as at every democratic school - is the principle of participation and participation. From the very beginning, children and young people have been learning how to shape living democracy. Codetermination is understood here neither as an instrument of the enforcement of the power of the most talkative nor as a partial co-decision-making possibility, but as a principle full of participation and as an instrument of joint responsibility and equal decision making."
schools  germany  via:cervus  democracy  democratic  democraticschool  freeschools  education  unschooling  deschooling  sfsh  community  participatory  howwelearn  trust  children  learning  responsibility  participation  holistiic  freedom  mutualesepect  connectivity  sustainability  experientialeducation  experieniallearning  lcproject  openstudioproject 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Free From the Start: One Child’s Progressive Path to Educational Freedom | Alliance for Self-Directed Education
"To be honest, I wasn’t thinking about schools, and I wasn’t looking for a book recommendation. But a few months before my son was born, the man that my ex and I chose as our sperm donor/dad suggested a book. Reading it changed everything.

The book was Free at Last: The Sudbury Valley School, by Daniel Greenberg, and it introduced me to self-directed learning. Greenberg’s basic principle is that children are compelled to learn what they need to learn when they need to learn it. Left to themselves, they do an amazing job of determining not only what they like, but what they need, and they instinctively know the best for them to go about learning it. This concept made immediate sense to me, and I was inspired.

Not only did I buy a whole bunch of copies and start handing them out to friends, but even before my son, Timothy, was born, I decided that I would trust his learning instincts. It wasn’t always easy—there were times I wanted to teach him things I thought he “should” know—but I kept at it. When he was five, for example, he said he wanted to learn to read, so, together we went online and looked for reading workbooks. He chose one, I ordered it, and he used it to teach himself to read. It was effortless.

Before long, it was time to find a school, and I searched for a school with a self-directed philosophy. Unfortunately, there were none nearby, so we found a “progressive” school that was child centered with only 10-12 children per class. The children were sweet, Timothy had a lot of fun, and it was a good choice.

Kindergarten went without a hitch, but in first grade, it became evident that Timothy was far ahead of his classmates in both math and reading. This could have been problematic, but his first grade teacher was excellent; she quickly was aware that he needed more advanced assignments. She kept him very engaged.

Second grade was a different story. Timothy became bored academically, and he craved social time with other children. As the year went on, instead of getting closer with his classmates, there seemed to be less and less group time, and Timothy began coming home from school increasingly upset. Together, we realized that he needed a change.

Meanwhile, a self-directed learning school had finally been founded in Manhattan, and almost as soon as the Manhattan Free School opened its doors, we visited. Despite my personal hopes, Timothy wasn’t that interested, and—remembering to try to let him figure out for himself what was best—I didn’t push. But when second grade started to go so badly, he asked to see the school again. After a day’s visit, he knew he wanted to switch. He has been there for almost five years.

After the first year, however, the school almost didn’t make it. The director and staff had been having both interpersonal and philosophical disagreements, and the school itself had cash flow issues that left it unable to pay staff and overhead. Closure seemed imminent.

The same man who recommended the book that would change my life came to the rescue. He volunteered to run the school for free if the parents would let him transform the school based on a concept he called agile learning. The parent body agreed, and the Agile Learning Center concept was born. The man with the idea was Arthur Brock, Timothy’s dad.

Timothy has flourished. People who don’t understand self-directed learning environments often are concerned about students missing out on certain “important” topics, but Timothy understands math concepts, reads and writes. He grasps and retains a myriad of scientific concepts, and he enjoys memorizing historical facts so much that he knows more about some history than I.

Most parents of self-directed kids will tell stories of their childrens’ experiences and accomplishments that sound amazing against the backdrop of traditional education. But it’s really because self-directed students have the time and support to pursue their interests. Often, they grow the most in areas that are not tested for in traditional education.

Since he was very young, Timothy’s passion has been computers; he started coding when he was around 6 or 7, and now—at age 13—he teaches others, he built a computer last year, and he has a small group of tech support “clients”. He currently is most motivated by spending time learning to be social and collaborative. He is trying hard to understand how to make and keep friends. It hasn’t always been easy, but it is super important to him, and he’s starting to figure it out.

Being in an environment that is not forcing an unnecessary academic curriculum, but rather is giving him the freedom to spend his days interacting with both students and adult facilitators has been perfect.

He has found that he loves facilitating conflict resolution for younger children, he likes collaborating on projects, and he enjoys being a sounding board for his friends when they need someone they can trust.

When I was pregnant almost fourteen years ago, I did some crazy things. I ate food combinations that made no sense, I had fits of glee and anger, and I slept in bursts and starts. Of course, I knew that I was bringing into the world someone who would change my life, but I didn’t know that reading a book would change both of our lives.

Being committed to self-directed education (and parenting) has been both nerve-wracking and exhilarating. I’ve had my moments of concern, but when I take a step back and ask myself if my son (now a teenager) is learning, on his own terms, the skills he will need to be a successful and happy man, the answer is 100% yes."
self-directedlearning  self-directed  sfsh  progressive  schools  education  learning  howwelearn  agilelearning  sudburyschools  academics  content  2017  mercercarlin  manhattnfreeschool  freeschools  arthurbrock  unschooling  deschooling  agilelearningcenters 
april 2017 by robertogreco
MPs condemn free schools policy as incoherent and wasteful | Education | The Guardian
- a wholly disastrous policy. We need schools under local democratic control, cooperating not competing
freeschools  from twitter_favs
april 2017 by iand
Children in Charge: Self-Directed Learning Programs | Edutopia
"The Radical Model

Villa Monte is a government-approved "school" in Switzerland that is just reviewing its 30-year history. It has no teachers, no exams, and no report cards. Children from 4-18 years of age arrive every morning and decide entirely for themselves what they want to do during the day, whether they prefer to roam the woods, cook, practice for a theater play, or program a robot.

Children learn at their own pace. Some are able to read by age five, others by age ten. The differences are fully accepted, and children are not forced to learn a concept they might not be ready for. As a result, the children of Villa Monte have historically exhibited far lower levels of distress and anxiety compared to children in the regular school system.

The adults -- paid staff and sometimes parents -- are there to answer questions and provide emotional support, but otherwise do not interfere with the children's self-driven learning process. They minimize any praise or criticism. But there is one rule: "You should not do anything to other children that they do not like." There is no pedagogical concept, just the individual path of each child that determines the daily routine.

It is not surprising that children who have gone through Villa Monte report having had a very happy childhood. But are they able to survive the pressure in today's society? The alumni surveyed in a recent study reported that they did face a knowledge deficit when pursuing apprenticeships or college studies, but that "content deficit" is typically made up within six months. Every student learns social competencies, self-esteem, and how to learn independently -- three important 21st-century skills -- and graduates have gone on to become artists, engineers, and IT entrepreneurs.

The Villa Monte model cannot be easily replicated, but it does point to the fact that children can be trusted much more to take charge of their own learning."
via:mattarguello  villamonte  schools  democracy  democratic  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  switzerland  freedom  learning  howwelearb  unschooling  deschooling  praise  criticism  freeschools  2015 
september 2016 by robertogreco
Philly Free School
"At the Philly Free School, students ages 4-19 explore freely, think critically, and work collaboratively, across ages, to govern themselves and their school. Through self-initiated activities, students learn the delicate balance between individual freedom and community responsibility. Along the way, they develop the internal resources to navigate, assess, and utilize the information and tools needed to thrive in modern society."
freeschools  philadelphia  unschooling  schools  education  learning  children 
june 2016 by robertogreco
The trusts that run the country’s free schools – revealed | Schools Week
database that reveals the trusts running every free school in the country. This data has not been available except by searching each school’s website – not always easy – or finding the school’s annual accounts.
data  schools  education  freeschools  dj 
april 2016 by paulbradshaw
Tory donor complains of misuse of public funds for free school | Education | The Guardian
he government has been accused by a Tory donor of a “massive misuse of public funds” after spending £11.75m buying land for a free school in west London without having obtained planning permission to build it.
freeschools  land 
april 2016 by paulbradshaw
Can a Truly Student-Centered Education Be Available to All? | MindShift | KQED News
"DO FAMILIES WANT STUDENT-CENTERED LEARNING?

Critics of home schooling and unschooling often say only affluent alternative families choose this path. While it’s true that home-schooling families tend to be at least middle class, there are also families who choose it despite economic hardship.

‘The reason there are so few truly unconventional publicly funded schools is that society doesn’t want them.’
When student-directed, choice-filled education was offered free to public school families in New Orleans, a wide array of families chose to attend the school, according to Bob Ferris, a founding teacher and onetime principal of the New Orleans Free School before it shut down in 2005. They had many low-income families and by the time the school closed the school was about 95 percent African-American.

“Black and Latino parents would come to us. Some were quite desperate,” said Chris Mercogliano, the former principal of the Albany Free School, an independent school operating on a sliding-scale model. “Their kid has already flunked out of five schools and they had nowhere else to turn.” Those parents were often skeptical of the model, which allowed students to choose what they studied, had mixed-age groups and looked very little like the schools they themselves had attended.

But over time, Mercogliano said parents couldn’t deny the change in their kids. Students who had been kicked out of multiple schools were suddenly begging to go to school. Staff members were saying positive things about students’ intelligence and unique ways of looking at the world, not calling with the newest problem. All of these things helped parents see beyond the traditional model and appreciate what Albany Free School offered their kids.

Still, very few people are ever exposed to this model, and those who are often find it threatening.

“The reason there are so few truly unconventional publicly funded schools is that society doesn’t want them,” Mercogliano said. “School districts and school boards and school people don’t want them.”

But is that the same thing as families not wanting them? If some kids find success in a more open, choice-based, free environment, isn’t it worth having that option for families that want it? Perhaps the real answer is not to turn all public schools into free schools, but to allow for a bit more variety within the public system so there is something for every kind of learner."
unschooling  deschooling  freeschools  2015  bigpictureschools  student-centeredlearning  learning  schools  alternative  race  class  chrismercogliano 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Free schools that opened in 2015 - Publications - GOV.UK
The University of Birmingham School: impact assessment, 2015
freeschools  data  education 
november 2015 by paulbradshaw
Rochdale College - Wikipedia
"Opened in 1968, Rochdale College was an experiment in student-run alternative education and co-operative living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It provided space for 840 residents in a co-operative living space. It was also a free university where students and teachers would live together and share knowledge. The project ultimately failed when it could not cover its financing and neighbours complained that it had become a haven for drugs and crime. It was closed in 1975."

[See also:

Rochdale College Tapes Part I
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2Wj_ZormPY

Rochdale College Tapes Part II
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW9EnDnsT_U

Rochdale College Tapes Part III
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beFJ44d0xgA

High Society - Rochdale College [1of2]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8w72uUB4rUg

High Society - Rochdale College [2of2]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaimOfvMF4A ]
1968  1960s  1970s  colleges  freeschools  freeuniversities  toronto  canada  education  unschooling  deschooling  community  alternative  lcproject  openstudioproject  via:maryannecasasanta 
july 2015 by robertogreco

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