Bringing Joy to the Classroom

Eileen SmythUncategorized

I was on my way to work recently when it occurred to me I would be early again, and that I was in fact happy about it. Crossing over the bridge into Pennsylvania, I mused on how long it had been since I’d felt sad, pressured, daunted, ground down, or any of the tangle of difficult emotions I used to … Read More

Move Over, Rigor

Katy BurkeUncategorized

Vigor vs Rigor - sprout coming up out of crack in asphalt

Years ago, a good friend of mine said something that just stuck with me.  “I could care less about rigor”—surprising words from an honors-level high school teacher. “What I care about is vigor.” I realized that she had assumed a completely new intention for challenging students in their learning. Rather than trying to get them to work hard at hard … Read More

Teaching Character vs. Compliance

Katy BurkeUncategorized

ready for testing

Educating children can look and feel a lot like raising them.  It is certainly not the same as parenting—I say that as an educator and a parent. However, the purpose of parenting and educating are very much aligned. The word “educate” means “to lead out”—to lead out into the world, into adulthood, into a future. I think it’s important that … Read More

Outcomes for Alumni who Self-Directed their Learning

Alison SnieckusUncategorized

A teen who is interested in costume design, is marking out a pattern for a new design.

When Joel Hammon and Paul Scutt first conceived the idea to create Princeton Learning Cooperative, a number of design elements were modeled on a successful self-directed learning program in central Massachusetts, North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens–see our guiding principles. North Star is now in its 20th year and its director, Ken Danford, recently collected and published data exploring the … Read More

The Importance of Play

Scott GallagherUncategorized

two teens playing a game they made up, called ground stomp

As a writing teacher, I love helping writers free themselves of certain not-so-great writing habits. It’s easy to trap yourself as a writer, going down well-worn paths, following forms and ideas already been done. Once you believe a poem or story should look a certain way, if you’re not careful, all your poems look that way. And where did you … Read More

Freedom to Discover on MLK’s Holiday

Eileen SmythUncategorized

Teens at Bucks Learning Cooperative planning for MLK day program

Self-direction gives teens the chance to show they can make wise and loving choices, that they have a good sense of what’s important and what’s needed in the moment. It also lets them feel their effects on others, and understand both the joy and responsibility that comes with being in charge. This was on full display at Bucks Learning Cooperative … Read More

The Gardener and the Carpenter

Paul ScuttUncategorized

a small tree growing in the forest vs. a hand-crafted wagon wheel

This analogy refers to different styles of raising a child. A “gardener” tends to the fertility of the soil—the access to sunshine, water and minerals allowing for the best development of his charge, while the “carpenter” has a fixed idea of the desired outcome—he cuts, shapes, smooths and joins his raw material until the final product has emerged. The book … Read More

Making Your Way

Katy BurkeUncategorized

The Learning Cooperatives are founded on the concept of making a life for yourself…living your dreams, not someone else’s. But in a culture chockful of prescribed paths and prepackaged dreams, how can we do that? It is probably more of an art than a science, but after listening to the stories of people who are living out their dreams, I’ve … Read More

Don’t Hokey Pokey Your Dreams

Joel HammonUncategorized

My favorite line from our Finding Your Path event in December (see video above) was from Carlos Serrano, owner of Empanada Guy food trucks and restaurant. I’m paraphrasing: You can’t play hokey pokey with your dreams. If you find something you want to do, you can’t be like, “Put your left foot in, take your left foot out.” You have … Read More

What Mentors do that Matters

Alison SnieckusUncategorized

In my work with teens, I know that the foundation of good mentoring is a deep and engaging mentoring relationship. But what exactly do we do as mentors to get and keep that relationship, to make it matter? I came across this blog post from Search Institute that offers some direct insight on how all of us can support young … Read More