Interviews with movers and shakers in the world of experiential and alternative education.

Catherine Gobron on Promoting Inclusivity in Self-Directed Learning

Catherine Gobron, co-director of Lighthouse Holyoke (lighthouseholyoke.org), a self-directed learning center for teenagers in western Massachusetts, talks about serving an economically and racially diverse community that’s hungry for educational alternatives. Catherine describes her time working at North Star (which served as a model for Lighthouse), her decision to start her own center, and the “bridge” approach that Lighthouse takes to facilitating self-directed learning by beginning with more structure. If you’ve ever wondered if this mode of education is only for the highly privileged, you’ll enjoy this conversation.

Mikala Streeter on Exposure

Mikala Streeter, founder and principal of The LIFE School (thelifeschool.co) in Atlanta, Georgia, talks about her ambitious new progressive school and the challenges of exposing teenagers to new areas of knowledge while also promoting interest-led learning. We focus on math specifically as an area that teenagers resist when taught directly, but they become receptive to when related to their interests. For anyone wondering how to balance self-directed learning, educator-facilitated learning, and college prep, The LIFE School provides an inspiring model.

Ken Danford on Thriving Without School

Kenneth Danford, executive director and co-founder of North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens (northstarteens.org), talks with Blake about supporting teenagers who don’t like school, what “self-directed learning” means, the value of dropping out of junior high, nature versus nurture, parenting, and the challenge of funding a small alternative education organization.

William Deresiewicz on Excellent Sheep

William Deresiewicz, author of Excellent Sheep and former English professor at Yale University, talks with Blake about the reaction to his controversial book, helicopter parenting and overindulgent parenting, the meaning of a “real education,” the benefits of a small liberal arts college experience, how someone who doesn’t go to college might replicate the experience (or not), two lesser-known colleges that are on the right track, and why reforming college admissions policies can improve K-12 schooling.

Ethan Knight on Gap Years

Ethan Knight, executive director of the American Gap Association (americangap.org), talks with Blake about the value of taking intentional time off in the young adult years, his self-designed gap year in Asia at age 19, what’s missing in the traditional college experience, and tips for staying safe on your own global adventure.

Will Richardson on Learning in the Internet Era

Will Richardson, author of “Why School?” (willrichardson.com), talks with Blake about information abundance, Minecraft, helping young people harness technology intelligently, why students should be allowed to use cell phones during tests, and how teachers and schools can adapt to the Internet era.

Misha Golfman on Wilderness Semesters

Misha Golfman, founding director of Kroka Expeditions (kroka.org), talks with Blake about leading unconventional semester-long wilderness expeditions for teens, growing up in Soviet Russia, lessons learned as a public school teacher and Outward Bound instructor, and how extended time in nature enables deep personal transformations.

Alan Webb And Sarah Jane Bradley on Creating Your Own Master’s

Alan Webb and Sarah Jane Bradley, organizers of the Open Master’s community (openmasters.org), talk with Blake about designing meaningful and affordable alternatives to traditional master’s degree programs and the stories of those who have done it.