Opportunities For Teenage Unschoolers and Intergenerational Changemakers

Peer Unschooling Network

Jim Flannery was a high school physics teacher for just a semester before he felt he had to quit school because of how it treated students. Still wanting to help teenagers find their way in the world, Jim created a website, Open Source High (OSH), where teenagers could share info and teach one another. Based on his experiences in high school and college, Jim developed an awareness and appreciation for self-directed education that he wanted to share and develop.

“I started building websites when I was a child (mostly for fun, though I did make a bit of money off of them). I never was formally trained in web design/development. When I started to build the Open Source High website, I had to get myself up to date on the last 15 years of advancement in web technology. This led me to gain enough skill to start working as a freelance web developer, which I've made a living off for the last 2.5 years.”

Jim notes that OSH turned out to be another step in his journey rather than the destination.

“The OSH website that I made never became actually 'school-run', but it felt that way. It was never affiliated with any school. I just saw it was evolving into a site where the youth were making videos for contests I ran, not purely for their own interest, which turned into a process of me putting out a contest/assignment ... them submitting to me ... and then my choosing the winner/grading. It was breaking with the essential ethos, which was to foster self-directed learning.”

This experience made Jim reconsider how he could support teenage, self-directed learners. Jim writes,

“I’ve been working for the last few years on finding ways to help free teens from the controlling system they are in, and I firmly believe that teens supporting each other is a key aspect of their liberation. That’s why I created the Peer Unschooling Network.”

ASDE Teen Forum

I learned about Jim and his work when he contacted the Alliance for Self-Directed Education (ASDE) to see how we could support each other. As a result, Jim is now the moderator of a new ASDE forum for teens. Jim notes, “This is the only ASDE forum intended primarily for a particular age group, but keep in mind that any Alliance member who cares about teens’ rights can participate, and teen members are welcome to participate in any of the other forums, too. Participants over 20 should, in this forum, generally limit their participation to providing support and information that a teen member has requested, and consider waiting until other teen members have had time to respond first. This is not a strict rule, but it follows naturally from our goal of helping teens empower themselves and each other.”

Note: You need to become a member of ASDE to participate on its forums, but membership is free.

Northeast Changemakers Jam

Here is a unique gathering for young adults and intergenerational change makers who want to make meaningful social changes and find support for their work. YESworld.org is sponsoring their third Northeast Changemakers Jam that they describe as “a five-day gathering of 30 dynamic and diverse changemakers for deep learning, listening, systemic inquiry, and community building at Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, New Hampshire, from March 26–31, 2018.

“We are hosting this Jam to support each of us in cultivating the courage and heart-wisdom we need to face and unearth old stories that must be shed — in ourselves and our communities. We are hosting this Jam to build the kind of connection and community of practice we need to sustain ourselves in the beautiful and heart-bending work of making change. The Jam is not a retreat from the world, but rather, an opportunity to face it.”

The application deadline is Feb. 10, so if you are interested go to: http://www.yesworld.org/nejam2018/.