North Star Is A Place For Liberated Learners

September 9, 2008 at 2:00 pm 1 comment

I teach (and by default learn) at North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens, and it is one of my favorite places to be. The excitement and enthusiasm for learning and do-ing there is infectious and inspiring. Based in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts, it is a community learning center for teens who have left school for one reason or another. Recently an article about it was published online, so I thought I’d share it with you here. Here’s an excerpt:

Elizabeth arrives at 9:00 and together we go upstairs to the tiny room with comfortable chairs, a bookcase, art postcards on the walls. We walk past a few other teenagers who are curled up reading, or sprawled out on the couches getting the morning sleep that they missed at home because they wanted to grab the ride that would get them here early. We smile good morning at the small group about to begin its arcane discussion of Logic principles. It’s still quiet here at this hour, but there’s a nice feeling of easing into the day.

Elizabeth and I talk for a few minutes about where she is in the story she’s writing and what might happen next. She spends some time writing a new scene, offers to show me what she’s written, and we talk some more.

The day continues like this, with me welcoming one teenager after the other into this small, comfortable room. There’s Christopher, who has hated school since kindergarten and whose writing and reading aren’t at grade level; here he dictates his writing, and listens as I read aloud, finally getting a chance to absorb a book that challenges and moves him. There’s Josephine, who doesn’t just talk about writing a novel but actually works on it several hours a day; there’s Jackie, who declares that she isn’t good at anything academic but will offer astute observations and analyses if you toss the right questions her way. And once a week, in a larger room across the hall, there’s the workshop of young writers, ranging in age from 14 to 17, who come together to write.

This is my particular corner of North Star, a resource center that offers an alternative to middle and high school for teenagers in Western Massachusetts. As its literature says, North Star makes homeschooling a viable option for any interested teenager in the geographic area…

Read the full article here.

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Entry filed under: General Free Schooling, Learning, Related To Free Schooling, Teaching.

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