As the school year begins to draw to a close, big questions remain. Are we doing the best possible job for students? Are there alternative approaches that should be seriously considered? These are not new questions, and, of course, there are many possible answers. Two especially articulate spokespeople for change in the entire concept of school join us on this episode. Blake Boles is the founder and director of Unschool Adventures and the author of Why Are You Still Sending Your Kids to School? and Kenneth Danford is Co-Founder and Executive Director of North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens. This week, we are joined by three students with a direct (and sometimes unexpected) experience with alternative schooling--and they are terrific!

More about this week's guests:

8994575078?profile=RESIZE_400xBlake Boles is the founder and director of Unschool Adventures and the author of Why Are You Still Sending Your Kids to School? The Art of Self-Directed Learning, Better Than College, and College Without High School. He hosts the Off-Trail Learning podcast, and his work has appeared on The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, BBC Travel, Psychology Today, Fox Business, TEDx, The Huffington Post, USA Today, NPR affiliate radio, and the blogs of Wired and The Wall Street Journal. In 2003 Blake was studying astrophysics at UC Berkeley when he stumbled upon the works of John Taylor Gatto, Grace Llewellyn, and other alternative education pioneers. Deeply inspired by the philosophy of unschooling, Blake custom-designed his final two years of college to focus exclusively on education theory. After graduating he joined the Not Back to School Camp community and began writing and speaking widely on the subject of self-directed learning. For more information, visit: 


8994576076?profile=RESIZE_400xKenneth Danford is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens, which has supported more than 800 teens and families to consider leaving school and embark on self-directed learning. In 2019, he published the story of his journey from conventional public school student and public school teacher and reformer to unschooling, Learning is Natural, School is Optional: the North Star approach to offering teens a head start on life. He offers consulting and networking through the Liberated Learners organization. He has been a regular presenter at the AERO Conference for more than a decade and is now a mentor for a course about Self-Directed Education called Another Way. He has been a guest on many podcasts to share his optimism that opting out of school is, in fact, a healthy way to live, learn, and grow. He grew up in Shaker Heights, OH, and has been living in Montague, MA for the past 25 years. His various websites include: 


4995562699?profile=RESIZE_400xHoward Blumenthal created and produced the PBS television series, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? He is currently a Senior Scholar at The University of Pennsylvania, studying learning and the lives of 21st-century children and teenagers. He travels the world, visiting K-12 schools, lecturing at universities, and interviewing young people for Kids on Earth, a global platform containing nearly 1,000 interview segments from Kentucky, Brazil, Sweden, India, and many other countries. Previously, he was a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist for The New York Times Syndicate, and United Features. He is the author of 24 books and several hundred articles about technology, learning, business, and human progress. As an executive, Howard was the CEO of a public television operation and several television production companies, and a state government official. Previously, he was a Senior Vice President for divisions of two large media companies, Hearst and Bertelsmann, and a consultant or project lead for Energizer, General Electric, American Express, CompuServe, Warner Communications, Merriam-Webster, Atari, and other companies.


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Before the virus, more than a billion children and teenagers relied upon school for learning. After the virus (or, after the current wave of our current virus), basic assumptions about school and education are no longer reliable. School buildings may become unsafe for large numbers of students. The tax base may no longer support our current approach to school. Without the interaction provided by a formal school structure, students may follow their own curiosity. Many students now possess the technology to learn on their own. And many do not. is a new weekly web television series that considers what happens next week, next month, next school year, and the next five years. Hosted by University of Pennsylvania Senior Scholar Howard Blumenthal, features interviews with teachers, principals, school district leadership, state and Federal government officials, ed-tech innovators, students, leading education professors, authors, realists and futurists from the United States and all over the world.

Each episode features 2-4 distinguished guests in conversation about high priority topics including, for example, the teaching of public health, long-term home schooling, technology access and its alternatives, the role of parents, friendship and social interaction, learning outside the curriculum, the future of testing and evaluation, interruption as part of the academic calendar, job security for teachers and support staff, setting (and rethinking) curriculum priorities, special needs, student perspectives on the job of school, the importance of play, the psychology of group dynamics and social interaction, preparing for future rounds of a virus (or cyberattack or impact of climate change, etc.), college readiness, higher education transformed, the higher education promise in an economically challenged world, and more. Clearly, there is much to discuss; nearly all of it ranks high on the list of priorities for raising the world’s children.