It Depends

Joel HammonUncategorized

chalked text "open to new OPPORTUNITIES."

“It Depends.” I say this alot.  I’m the staff member at Princeton Learning Cooperative who initially meets with interested families. They come with lots of questions about PLC and I almost always respond with some variation of, “it depends.” The reactions families have to hearing this over and over again range from mild amusement as they start to understand how … Read More


Katy BurkeUncategorized

Landscape photo of field of grass with trees and setting sun in the background

In the world of education, somewhere between “lecture” and “group project” is an overlooked, misunderstood, crudely-practiced, and often-omitted wonderful little learning method called “modeling.” It’s as simple as it sounds. A “model” of the work desired (a piece of writing, a performance, a technique, etc.) is presented and the learner observes, contemplates, and seeks to imitate in some meaningful way. … Read More

Going Down the Rabbit Hole of Learning

Alexis SellersUncategorized

View from behind of a jack rabbit in a field, ears on alert

When I describe the Learning Cooperatives as a self-directed education center, it’s not uncommon for people to need more of an explanation. Truthfully though, it’s as simple as it sounds. We are a center that encourages self-direction in education. But what does that look like? I’ve been attending some of the Black Lives Matter protests, where we are asked to … Read More

A Dumping Ground?

Joel HammonUncategorized

All of the members and staff in our weekly all group meeting

The idea that if kids aren’t in a traditional school something must be wrong with them is pervasive. This is demonstrably not true, but it is a powerful idea in our country.

Getting Through “The Dip”

Joel HammonUncategorized

Two boys sitting on a couch at PLC, one leaning forward with two thumbs up, the other lounging back

In a perfect world, young people would choose self-directed education, figure out what they want to do with their lives, use their time well, make progress…and all the rest. But real life is more messy than that.

Relationships are the Heart of It

Joel HammonUncategorized

The painting teacher offers feedback to a student working on an oil painting.

Positive, healthy, and caring relationships are at the heart of raising and educating our children. Of course. Relationships can be complicated, but the truth of this idea is not. Humans are social animals and the quality of those social relationships has to play a large part in all aspects of our lives. I read an article in the New York … Read More

Good Stress, Bad Stress

Joel HammonUncategorized

A girl reacting with surprise and angst

Our members often describe PLC as a low-stress environment compared to their previous schools. Many of the common stressors in school are simply not present at PLC: competition for grades, mounds of homework, inflexible rules and regulations. We consciously try to reduce that kind of stress as much as possible. But one of the common concerns people have about self-directed … Read More

But My Child is Not Self-Directed

Scott GallagherUncategorized

A part of a Voronoi diagram (red) and Delaunay triangulation (black) of a finite point set (the black points), on a yellow background

At The Learning Cooperatives, we talk to a lot of parents who have kids struggling in school, but who also have anxiety about the self-directed model we use. One of the reasons parents give for deciding against sending their kids to us is this: “My daughter isn’t self-directed at all.  She needs structure to get her to do anything. She … Read More

Why Are Our Kids So Worried?

Joel HammonUncategorized

The word Anxiety spelled out with Scrabble tiles

Ask any educator, guidance counselor, local therapist or parent and they will tell you the same thing — the rise in anxiety and depression among young people is alarming. At first glance, this is puzzling. I can hear my grandpa’s voice in my head saying, “What, exactly, do kids these days have to be anxious about?” And it is true in … Read More

Common Sense Standard (CSS) #3

Katy BurkeUncategorized

Group of PLCers having fun together in the music room

(See the first post in this series – Common Sense Learning.) Education should be shaped around the students, not the other way around. When I taught in a public high school, my colleagues and I were often given opportunities to write curriculum for our respective departments for a fee. Not only did it seem like the curricula were continually being written … Read More