Underrated

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

Stories Worth Repeating

Katy BurkeUncategorized

Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, during which he delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech, calling for an end to racism.

In my last post, I raised a question that has been asked of me many times over, “Why are we learning this?” It’s a question that I’ve had a hard time answering myself, leading me to ask why we study anything at all. After pondering this for many years, I was led to an answer well worth the journey. But … Read More

The Conveyor Belt to Success

Katy BurkeUncategorized

factory with boxes coming off of conveyor belts

Around this time of year twenty-three years ago, I was a senior in high school fretting about applying to college. The whole process was intimidating, but what plagued me the most was that I didn’t know what I wanted to study. I didn’t know that because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, and I didn’t … Read More

Common Sense Standard (CSS) #2

Katy BurkeUncategorized

Image still from Ferris Buellers Day off, in front of Picasso exhibit

(See the first post in this series – Common Sense Learning.) Children want more autonomy as they grow…and that’s a good thing. One of the greatest struggles I felt as a public high school teacher was working with kids who didn’t want to do what I was asking them to do.  Often times, I couldn’t justify why my task list for … 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

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

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

Support and Stand By

Katy BurkeUncategorized

In a previous post, Rethinking the Gaps, I argued that in trying to close the skill gaps that we fear children hold, we actually juxtapose pressuring kids and overprotecting them. We simultaneously push kids to check all the customary boxes while denying them the natural experiences of taking risk. Though we do it for good, this results in feelings of … Read More