That’s the North Star slogan, adopted for Liberated Learners centers, and now the title of Ken Danford’s new book: Learning is Natural, School is Optional: The North Star approach to offering teens a head start on life. From the book page on Ken’s new website:
For as long as there has been compulsory schooling, students have asked, “Do I really have to go to school through 12th grade? Isn’t there some other way?”
The conventional answer, “No, there is no other way. You just have to make the best of it,” didn’t satisfy Kenneth Danford and Joshua Hornick. In 1996, they left their public school teaching jobs to help students live, learn, and grow in a different environment. The method is simple, powerful, and relatively easily accessible, but most teens and families need some support to choose this path.
Here is the story of North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens, which has provided this support to hundreds of students over the past two decades.
In this combination memoir/how-to, you will learn that this “other way” is actually an opportunity for young people to get a tremendous head start on adulthood. Not only do these young people generally start college early, gain meaningful work experience, and travel or pursue interesting passions, they also have the time and space for self-exploration. They develop intrinsic motivation, self-awareness, and maturity beyond their years.
This other way to live and learn is not a trick. There is no catch. There is no secret trap. One simply has to want more out of life than settling for traditional school, and have enough immediate support in their family and community to take on this challenge.
It’s one thing to know there’s another way. It’s something far more moving and profound to make this other way possible for any interested family. As Danford shares his experience facilitating young people and their families in this pursuit of “unschooling,” you may be surprised and inspired by the information and stories in this book.
Empowered by this knowledge, you, too, may even find yourself telling teens in your life, “Hey, there’s another way! I’d like to help you!”
The professional indexer who worked on the book, one of the first random strangers to read it, shared this with Ken (posted to his Facebook page):
The book is amazing. My two daughters did well in school, but they were often bored and miserable. They would have been great candidates for self-directed learning, but we didn’t really have that option in the Milwaukee area. I was intrigued to learn how progressive Michigan is on education. One of my favorite things about indexing is how much I get to learn in the course of indexing a book. Please feel free to pass along to the author my comments about his book. He’s a real visionary.
Congratulations Ken! We are thrilled to have this resource for people who are interested to work with young people outside of the traditional education system.
Alison is a staff member at the Princeton Learning Cooperative in New Jersey and on the Board of Trustees for Liberated Learners. Alison has been working with Princeton area homeschoolers since 2003 and is excited to be part of Liberated Learners as it brings the principles of Self-Directed Education to young people all around the world. Contact Alison at firstname.lastname@example.org