Letting Go and Listening

Scott GallagherUncategorized

The traditional school system structure is top down with teachers somewhere in the middle. Everyone knows their role, and can choose to submit or rebel as it suits them.  At The Learning Cooperatives we replace the top down model with a collaborative approach where the teens have much more agency. Not being told what to do can create some culture … Read More

Knowledge: Pay It Forward

Jack FirnenoUncategorized

Knowledge: pay it forward

During my mid-twenties, I played drums in a band where everyone else was ten years older than me. They were good players and songwriters; organized and well-resourced. I became a better player by osmosis, and learned a lot about managing bands and booking gigs. My bandmates also gave me plenty of insight and perspective about — for lack of a … Read More

The Mentoring Effect

Alison SnieckusUncategorized

Katy mentoring meeting

When PLC members move on from PLC, into college, work, and life generally, they nearly always express how much their mentoring relationship has helped and supported them as they forged their path through opportunities and offerings. Mentoring is without a doubt the part of the “PLC magic” that we most value. It’s more important than just about everything. The first … Read More

Well-Rounded?

Joel HammonUncategorized

Auroro studying a flower

In a blog post about misunderstandings, Seth Godin wrote this: And anyone who has been through high school has been reminded how important it is to be well-rounded. But Nobel Prize winners, successful NGO founders and just about everyone you admire didn’t get that way by being mediocre at a lot of things. It got me thinking. It’s nearly an … Read More

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

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

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

It’s Not Funny

Joel HammonUncategorized

If we had a “do-over” on the structure of schools, what would we create? What kinds of things would we focus on? The things on the left side of this image or the right? For most people, it’s a no-brainer—of course kids learn better under the conditions on the left, and these are the things we profess to believe in. … Read More

Empowering Youth with Community-Centered, Self-Directed Education

Alison SnieckusUncategorized

The Alliance for Self-Directed Education is working to unify the many varying alternatives to traditional school that offer programs based on self-directed learning, an alternative to the curriculum-based approach offered in traditional schools. This video sorts the programs into three broad categories. In our learning cooperatives, we use the community-centered approach, which the video describes as “unschooling together”. As with … Read More