17
Jul
2017

Move over, Rigor

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 […]

3
Jul
2017

What Does it Mean to Be Educated?

Blake Boles has been writing and speaking about self-directed learning for over a decade, most recently for the Alliance for Self-Directed Education.  In his article What Does it Mean to Be Educated?,  he offers a somewhat historical perspective of where we are in the long-term arc of public education in the United States.  As Blake points […]

20
Feb
2017

What Happens to Self-Directed Learners?

Even in the world of alternative education, North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens is a hard program to fully grasp. Now in our 21st year, those of you who have met me or spoken with me about the model probably most remember my mantra, “It’s not a school!” It’s easy to remember what we “don’t […]

2
Jun
2016

Building Community

No one person is an island. We all rely on others for emotional sustenance as well as most of our basic physical needs. The best (easiest) way, I believe, to meet those requirements is through collaboration while participating in community. Our consumeristic culture, unfortunately, is driven by competition which is completely antithetical to cooperation and […]

13
Apr
2016

Opting Out in a Bigger Way

Schools throughout NJ are gearing up to give another round of the PARCC. Families are rightly opting out of these tests. Tests measure a very narrow range of skills and abilities – they can’t possibly measure what we value most in young people: creativity, inspiration, kindness, curiosity, collaboration. In fact, the focus on standards and […]

9
Mar
2016

Why an “Alternative” Learning Center?

The key word here is “learning.” Learning is a biological imperative. Humans learn or die. Well, we also learn and then die. But before we die, we continue to learn right up until the moment we lose our sentience. The learning begins in utero and results in our mastering kinesthetic miracles such as breathing, walking […]

23
Jan
2016

Changing a Life in Eight Minutes

Just as I was packing up to head home from North Star late one September afternoon, the phone rang in my office. “Hi, this is Angie. I’m in California, and I really need some help!”  Yikes, I thought. It had been a full day of talking to people, and I had somewhere to go. “Well, […]

23
Sep
2015

Trusting in Trust: One Parent’s Practice

Being a parent is rough, right? Let’s not talk about the physical challenge of growing and birthing a whole human being, and let’s not talk about the ongoing physical challenge of nursing and cleaning and feeding and caring for that tender little creature for YEARS and YEARS and YEARS. (Which holds true whether you’re a biological […]