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The New Schools

The New Schools

By The New Schools

Empowered Parents, Innovative Educators, Happy Learners!
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Travis Adams - Every Child Can be an Entrepreneur

The New SchoolsMar 05, 2021

Matt Beaudreau - Acton Placer Founder and President

Matt Beaudreau - Acton Placer Founder and President

Matt Beaudreau

Show Notes:

Matt Beaudreau is the Founder of Acton Academy Placer Schools. He is also the co-founder at Apogee Strong Mentorship Program. He helps driven entrepreneurs open student-led campuses for real education and Freedom.

Key Takeaways:

00:00:13 Favorite thing about working about young learners.

00:05:28:17 Examples where you said “No, I can’t do this. I don’t like it.”

00:13:32:21 If you’re a parent who is frustrated right now and cannot handle big changes right now but wants to do something different, what would be your advice?

00:21:12:19 Tell us about your new program.

00:28:31:12 What is your prediction of what will happen in K-12 with all the change happening in the world?

00:32:27:04 If you could create a metaphor for comparing conventional schooling with what we're doing in Acton?


The  kids will make you fired up. That’s your “why” and that’s your reason.

I would tell parents, “Listen to that inner voice that’s telling you ‘I went to conventional school, I turned out fine.’” I don’t want “fine” for my kids, I want them to be able to create a magical world for themselves and to live this amazing story.

We get stuck into making decisions and parenting based on:

  1. If it’s going to be too hard or not. And
  2. What do other people think?

Social Links:

Website |

LinkedIn |

Instagram |

Twitter |

Facebook |

Feb 10, 202238:17
Joseph Connor - CEO of Schoolhouse

Joseph Connor - CEO of Schoolhouse

Show Notes:

Joseph Connor is a startup founder, attorney, and teacher.  He is the co-founder of SchoolHouse, a micro school company. Joseph is a teacher and lawyer who loves helping great educators start schools.  Joseph founded SchoolHouse, an at home micro school company, and helped them scale to over 50 schools in 9 states.

He started his career as a teacher and school leader at KIPP and Rocketship Education.  He has also worked as legal counsel for school organizations and companies, including Match Education, AltSchool, the Notre Dame Ace Academies and Primer.  He has a passion for helping great teachers broaden their reach.

Key Takeaways:

00:04:18 What are some of the drivers for Families and Educators to do something different?

00:08:55 Struggle between public and private school.

00:18:37 What do you predict will happen with K-12 as the world changes?

00:24:28 What will be the most successful model of school?

00:28:44 What would you want to do next?

00:33:54 If you could offer a metaphor comparing conventional school with Schoolhouse..?


Parents want a school that reflects their family’s values and their community’s values. And when there’s none in that school, that’s I think when they start looking for alternatives like microshool, homeschooling.

Unless public schools are able to adapt to some of the innovations, you’ll see a decline in the traditional public schools here in America as parents increasingly reach out to those different options.

Social Links:

LinkedIn |

Twitter | and

Website | and

Feb 01, 202238:36
Catherine Fraise - Confident Learners

Catherine Fraise - Confident Learners

Catherine Fraise is the  Founder and President of 100 Roads, the Founder of Workspace Education, and WorkspaceSKY Teens. She has worked in education for 30 years.

WorkspaceSKY Teens is a brand new destination for learning just for teens. Teens choose academics from anywhere, join an advisory and enjoy incredible social networking opportunities.

100 Roads is a research-based 501c3 organization supporting the development of co learning communities globally.

Workspace is a 32,000 sq ft Maker and co-working space designed to help families implement education their way, in a vibrant learning community. Parents can teach, bring in teachers and experts, or choose from a database of tutors and teachers, online classes and curriculums as well as a smorgasbord of classes that appeal to all kinds of learners.

Check out their website for more information:

Key Takeaways:

00: 01:43 Life Story

00:17:40 Drastic move from Connecticut to Montana

00:25:30 Can it take the place of regular school?

00:35:49 In-Person Experiences and Kids’ Personality

00:41:48 Social Life of Kids

00:44:28: Comparing Workspace Education and Workspace Sky Teens with Conventional School

00:57:09 Cath’s Personal Creativity Process


I went into education because I wanted to reform it and change it.

What we should be really looking for is engagement.

Gen Z is the loneliest generation... if you want to conquer loneliness, you just really need one great friend.

Any parent can actually teach.

It’s not about the academic pathway, it’s about who they are, what they care about, and how they fully and authentically express themselves in the world.

You have to trust yourself as a parent.

Social Links:


LinkedIn |

Facebook |

Sep 05, 202101:14:18
Victoria Ransom - Founder & CEO of Prisma

Victoria Ransom - Founder & CEO of Prisma

Show Notes:

Victoria Ransom is the founder and CEO of world's first co-learning network that fully replaces regular school. Prisma is an educational startup providing its own live learning platform for 4th-8th graders (approx. age 9-14). It is Learner-centric, self-paced, outcomes-driven, interdisciplinary, and hands-on. Beyond the reading write and arithmetic, learners also enjoy Clubs, service learning, family events, and more.

Victoria is a homeschooling mother and lifelong entrepreneur. She was also the Founder & CEO of Wildfire, a social marketing software company, which she led to profitability in just one year and built to 400 employees. Wildfire was acquired by Google in 2012 for $450M. Victoria joined Google, leading Wildfire and later Google Express.

Key Takeaways:

00:25 What is Prisma all about?

06:44 How are you able to bring the magic of in-person to online schooling?

13:55 Three examples of amazing hand-on projects.

18:46 What’s your prediction of where this is all going?

26:44 How are your kids? What school are you choosing for them?

28:02 Tell us about Synthesis.

31:03 How do you find Coaches?

34:31 If I’m a curious parent, how much is it and how many students?

38:02 What’s your prediction on what learners will do from 9th to 12th graders?

40:20 How are you making sure that your learners are getting enough exercise and physical movement and free play?

42:35 Where are you geographically?

45:10 What’s a metaphor to compare Prisma to Conventional School?


It’s about working together to solve real-world challenges, discussion, collaboration and sharing ideas.

We literally design a custom schedule for each kid.

Give kids, especially 4-8 graders, some amount of scaffolding and not “do whatever you want” because that’s overwhelming to many kids.

Will this suit everybody? No. But could it suit a lot of people. You get to have a flexible model where you could still do your schooling no matter where you're living and you get to connect with and get to know kids from all over the United States and all over the world.

This is about preparing kids to thrive in their adult lives and to contribute to the world. It's not to get good test scores.

Work is changing so much and so now school has to change to meet that.

We are looking for people that are really, really good at building relationships with kids, really good at giving rich feedback - because we don't have grades at Prisma.

Social Links:





Jul 24, 202152:19
Tiersa McQueen - Unschooling and Conscious Parenting

Tiersa McQueen - Unschooling and Conscious Parenting

Tiersa McQueen is a full time working mother of four and a proud unschooler. She is a graduate of Howard University and works full-time in corporate retail as a Location Planner. She’s an advocate of Unschooling and Conscious Parenting.

Check out Tiersa’s Twitter and YouTube Channel for great content and more insight on unschooling and self-directed education.

Key Takeaways:

00:00:18 Evolution Into Unschooling

00:09:47 Advice to Parents

00:16:57 The mindset of respecting children

00:29:01 Raising independent and free children

00:32:42 Benefits and opportunities for people of color and Black Parents who do Unschooling.

00:38:28 Debunking the Myth: “I can never Homeschool because I am Not A Teacher”

00:43:27 Deepening relationships with children


“The unschooling philosophy was like learning by doing and having experiences.”

“You have to figure out ways to live life and be in the world.”

“Children understand why it would be necessary for them to know. And then they just do it on their own.”

“Once children have the why, they learn so quickly.”

“Children aren't as unreasonable as we think they are. They're more reasonable than we give them credit for.”

“I didn't want to fall into the same trap that our boomer parents fell into, which was advising us for a future that didn't come, that didn't happen. A place that doesn't exist anymore.”

“Children are going to evolve. I don't want to always focus on the future.”

“Parents are the first teachers.”

“Parenting is hard. You need people and there’s no way you’ll know everything.”

Social Links:

Twitter -


YouTube -

Books Mentioned:

Untigering: Peaceful Parenting for the Deconstructing Tiger Parent by Iris Chen

The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives by William Stixrud

Podcast Mentioned:

Fare of the Free Child Podcast

Jun 26, 202153:19
Chrisman Frank - Gamification at Synthesis School

Chrisman Frank - Gamification at Synthesis School

Chrisman Frank is the co-founder and CEO of Synthesis, an enrichment club that teaches complex problem-solving and decision-making for kids 7 to 14 through online team games. His co-founder Josh Dahn developed the Synthesis concept while running Ad Astra, a small lab school he built for Elon Musk on the SpaceX campus.

Before Synthesis, Chrisman was engineer #1 at ClassDojo, a K-12 network that reaches ~30 million teachers, students, and families every month.

Key Takeaways:

00:18 Why Children are the BEST

03:21 Elevator Pitch for Synthesis School

15:29 The Impact of Covid in Online Learning

20:13 Learning Through a Game Design

33:25 Synthesis and Jiu Jitsu


“Kids crave complexity.”

“Complex problems don't have right or wrong answers.”

“Continue innovating. Give kids these unbounded complex problems, let them practice solving that and you learn the kind of meta skill of solving problems.”

“The motto at Synthesis is Embrace the Chaos.”

“I don't think the world is going to change less for our kids, when they grow up. I think it's going to change faster. The future will belong to people who are most rapidly able to adapt to change.”

Social Links:

Website -

Twitter -

LinkedIn -

Synthesis School:

Website -

Jun 11, 202140:44
Angela Hanscom - Balanced and Barefoot

Angela Hanscom - Balanced and Barefoot

Angela J. Hanscom is a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of TimberNook—an award-winning developmental and nature-based program that has gained international popularity. She is the author of Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children. Hanscom is also a frequent contributor to The Washington Post and in 2019 won a Small Business of the year award for the State of New Hampshire.

Key Takeaways:

00:29 What is Timbernook?

03:52 What tips do you have for people who don’t have forests nearby?

07:23 Benefits of Play

11:46 What would a School Schedule look like to get maximum play opportunity?

23:07 What can you do with a smaller urban setting?

24:47 Timbernook Training and Outdoor Classes.

32:36 Forest School versus Timbernook versus Anji Play

35:25 Iconic Timbernook Experience

37:41 Metaphor to describe Timbernook versus Conventional School


“The occupation of a child is play and outdoor play has been incredibly at risk in the past 30 years to the point that's affecting development in ways we never anticipated.”

“I still think it's really important for kids to have outdoor play time, no matter what their environment looks like.”

“I would say after the pandemic, this work has moved from important to critical.”

“So I think for me, it's critical to development. Like it's affecting their senses and muscles and when we overly restrict their ability to play and move, that's when we're starting to see some issues. “

“The number one issue that we have to treat as therapists right now is balance. We're seeing more and more kids uncoordinated and becoming clumsy.”

“It's ideal to find a place where you can create an outdoor classroom and leave things out there.”

“Our mission is to get them playing in more advanced ways and to enrich that experience. “

Social Links:





May 28, 202143:06
Peter Gray - Learning Through Play

Peter Gray - Learning Through Play

Peter Gray is the author of Psychology, an introductory textbook now in its sixth edition, and, most recently, Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life. It discusses how to bring more play into kids’ lives, the catalyst that led him to explore play’s benefits, his theories on play as a primal mode of education, and advice to inspire play.

His past research had to do with basic mammalian motivational mechanisms, and his present research has to do with children's play and its educative value.

Key Takeaways:

00:42 The origin story of Dr. Gray’s Career

15:13 Free Play

20:39 Fear on letting kids to play outside

39:14 Founding the Alliance for Self-Directed Education

49:36 Montessori - Work VS Play

53:04 Online Play


“I've always felt like I wanted to do things that would help make the world better.”

“With every 10 years, kids have less time to play than they did the previous 10 years.”

“Unfortunately, we set the pattern and it spreads and it starts maybe upper-class and it seeps down to affect everybody. I used to be able to say that working class people, and even people in some poverty, that the kids had more freedom to play in the United States than wealthier kids did, but I don't think that's true anymore.”

“The other that played a role in why children aren't outdoors playing is the fact that we developed a set of irrational fears about how dangerous it is outdoors.”

“When children are playing on their own, they're making their own decisions about what to do. They're solving their own problems.”

Social Links:

Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life Book


May 14, 202101:13:31
Lenore Skenazy - Raising Free-Range Kids

Lenore Skenazy - Raising Free-Range Kids

Lenore is the Founder of Free-Range Kids and President at Let Grow, the national nonprofit promoting childhood independence.

After her newspaper column “Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone” created a media firestorm, Lenore got the nickname “America’s Worst Mom.” She went on to write Free-Range Kids, the book-turned-movement. Second Edition coming in June! She has been profiled in The New Yorker, and lectured everywhere from DreamWorks to Microsoft to schools across America -- and let’s not forget the Bulgarian Happiness Festival. On TV, you may have seen her on The Today Show, The Daily Show or her own reality show, World’s Worst Mom (cancelled after one season, but suddenly available on YouTube!).

She lives in New York with her husband and beloved computer. Her kids are gainfully employed.

Key Takeaways:

20:18 Mad Magazine and World’s Worst Mom

25:00 Free-range Kids Blog

36:37 Exposure Therapy

38:52 Working with Dr. Peter Gray, Daniel Shuchman and Jon Haidt

53:02 The Free Range Parenting Bill

57:45 Advise to Scared Parents

01:01:21 Metaphor to compare Overprotection and Free-Range Parenting


“That's like my giant psychological insight that I wish everybody shared because it holds the possibility of changing everybody really fast, making everybody much more lighthearted, much more calm, much more confident kids, more mature and grateful and parents more free time. And all it requires is letting go.”

“It's almost like a part of the game. What's the worst, the very worst thing that could happen?”

“Punishment was restricting your freedom and to preserve your freedom, you persevered, you discovered your own resilience, you held it in, you hid the scars in every which way. And, I think that's what is missing from childhood that is hurting kids.”

“Overprotection is not an unalloyed good. It's not like it keeps getting better, better, better, better, better. The more we protect, the more bumpers we put on everything.”

“Rather than changing minds, change behavior.”

“The Let Grow project is a revelation.”

Social Links:

Lenore Skenazy

Twitter -

LinkedIn -

Let Grow

Free Range Kids

I let my 9-year-old ride the subway alone. I got labeled the ‘world’s worst mom.’ Article

Apr 30, 202101:09:23
Jeff Sandefer - A Hero's Journey

Jeff Sandefer - A Hero's Journey

Jeff Sandefer lives a dual life as an entrepreneur and a Socratic Guide.

As an entrepreneur, he founded his first company at age 16 and went on to found or co-found seven successful businesses.

As a Socratic teacher at the University of Texas, Jeff’s students five times voted him the school’s Outstanding Teacher and Businessweek named him one of the top Entrepreneurship professors in America. Jeff went on to co-found the Acton School of Business, an MBA program perennially ranked by the Princeton Review among the best in the nation. In 2012 The Economist honored him as one of the top fifteen Business School professors in the world.

Jeff is a graduate of the Harvard Business School, where he served for over twenty years on the school’s governing committees. He was a longtime director of the Philanthropy Roundtable and National Review magazine and one of the youngest members ever elected to the Texas Business Hall of Fame.

Sandefer has worked with entrepreneur-teachers to build a nationally acclaimed entrepreneurship program, winning numerous teaching honors in the process. But ask him about success, and he makes it clear that money and awards aren’t what matter.

Key Takeaways:

00:09 What is your favorite thing about working with young learners?

00:47 What is Acton Academy?

02:23 Acton's Origin Story

07:15 How prescriptive is Acton in terms of methodology and rules?

08:38 What makes a successful Acton Academy affiliate?

16:02 What do Acton Learners do after graduation?

20:05 Acton and Montessori

36:05 Metaphor on comparing Conventional School with Acton


"We want them (young learners) to be game-makers in their own lives, and we hope that they find that hero's journey in life, that they find a calling that will change the world."

"We are parents who wanted something better for our children."

"You just can't imagine what young people can do. And adults often underestimate that."

"It's whether our graduates need college at all. They can get into high-end colleges, but the question is, do they need to go?"

"It's the growth mindset. Heroes never give up."

Social Links:

Website -

Acton Academy -

Courage to Grow by Laura Sandefer 

Apr 18, 202143:54
Garrett Smiley - The School of the Future

Garrett Smiley - The School of the Future

Garrett Smiley is the Co-Founder of Sora Schools, an education startup based in Atlanta. Sora is a virtual, project-based high school where students explore their interests, learn however is best for them, and gain exposure to future careers and fields of work

Prior to Sora, Garrett co-founded a charity which built wells in developing nations called Drops of Love. Garret also directed a university startup incubator called Core Founders at Georgia Tech, and started an education non-profit that worked with foster children to develop financial literacy called Flip. Garrett studied Computer Science at Georgia Tech. Garrett also worked as a Venture Partner at Contrary Capital where he scouted, invested in, and mentored startups in the Atlanta area

Key Takeaways:

00:21 What’s your Elevator Pitch?

00:58 What’s your Origin Story?

07:54 All About Sora Schools

14:15 What are your typical students there?

15:42 What’s the application and first day like in Sora?

19:32 Requirements in order to graduate from Sora

22:00 Roles of the Adults in Sora

25:34 Getting into College

27:01 Is Internship part of your high school experience?

32:49 Metaphor comparing Sora School and Conventional Education


"How do you solve a system issue, you create another system, right?"

"We take a really different approach to education, but we don't instead make people sit and, you know, control their seat time, if you will."

"They should have in-person interaction, but why are we shipping kids off at school just that they can receive a human YouTube video lecture?"

"We're hoping to create a lot more paths out of high school. So families have more options."

"Before COVID happened, we were having to do meet ups. So we're hosting meetups every once in a while they are going to museums together, and this is something we want to continue to do."

"It's so funny. People don't realize, like this is a fairly recent invention, like in the grand scheme of things of what we consider schooling is still novel and, and it worked. But unfortunately, the whole world has changed."

Social Links:

LinkedIn -

Twitter -

Sora Schools -

Website -

Apr 02, 202140:06
Charles Wheelan - Learning Journey Around the World

Charles Wheelan - Learning Journey Around the World

Charles Wheelan is the Founder and Co-Chair of Unite America. He is a senior lecturer and policy fellow at the Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College, a former correspondent for The Economist. He has been selected as one of Dartmouth’s ten best professors by three different graduating classes. He teaches courses on education policy, health care, tax policy, income inequality, and related topics.

Wheelan teaches the Practicum in Global Policy Leadership in which he travels with students to examine an international policy topic. In years past, the class has visited India, Israel, Jordan, Liberia, Turkey, Rwanda, Madagascar, Northern Ireland, Brazil, Liberia, and Colombia.

From 2004 to 2012, Wheelan was a senior lecturer in public policy at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

Unite America is a political organization dedicated to bridging the growing partisan divide and fostering a more representative and functional government. From debt ceiling standoffs to single-digit Congress approval ratings, America’s political system has never been more polarized—or paralyzed—than it is today. Unite America grew out of Wheelan’s 2013 book The Centrist Manifesto

In 2013, Wheelan published Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data (W.W. Norton). Shortly after publication, the book reached the New York Times bestseller list for hardcover nonfiction. The New York Times called the book “sparkling and intensely readable.” The same year, he published The Centrist Manifesto, which calls for a new political party “of the middle.

Key Takeaways:

01:23 Nine Months. Six Continents. Three Teenagers.

07:00 How was the planning of your trip?

14:17  What were your biggest challenges on the road?

20:54 What does this do for your family?

24:08 Taking economics students traveling and learn by experience

27:13 Advice to families who want to try the same learning journey

33:30 Alternative schooling and college

38:58 Learning is all about the journey


“Find your comfort zone to bite off as much as you think you can chew.”

“Plan far in advance and don't let the planning overwhelm you. Just take one challenge at a time.”

“You have to be completely mobile while carrying all of your stuff.”

“I think people can choose their own path, but I would urge as many people as possible to take a gap year. Just just one form of being unconventional because too many of the students I see are burned out or they just feel like they've been running on this education treadmill for too long.”

“I'm a big believer in the journey, not the destination.”

Social Links:





The New York Times: Meet a Family Who Spent 9 Months Traveling the Globe, Pre-Plague

Mar 19, 202144:58
Matt Barnes - The Education Game

Matt Barnes - The Education Game

Matt Barnes is the  Co-Founder and Parent Coach at The Education Game. Over 25 years, he has led hospital departments, distributed $500m in philanthropy, run an education reform nonprofit, served on nine educational boards from university to pre-K, and now coaches parents on navigating the education system. His aim is to help every parent grow kids who are curious, competent, life-long learners.

Matt did quit his job to become a stay-at-home father. After three years as a full-time-dad, he had a new appreciation of the traditional role of mothers and also understood the pressures behind the women’s liberation movement -- as he often wanted to burn his “manzier.”

It was in 2014, when Matt launched The Educational Makeover, a learning lab that studied parent decision-making, mindsets, and capacities. Then he launched “The Education Game” in 2020,  a speaking, coaching, blogging, and podcast platform that inspires parents to embrace a 21st-century learning model that shamelessly deemphasizes grades and academic compliance while radically emphasizing learning, problem solving, and student-engagement

He served as Houston’s representative on a national research initiative exploring the challenges facing Boys and Young Men of Color which later became President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative.

Key Takeaways:

00:30 What is Education Game?

02:26 Actionable Advice to a Frustrated Parent

16:21 What’s your Origin Story?

23:20 What about College?

47:34 Baby Steps to Starting in Alternative School

58:55 Screen Time during COVID

01:07:13 Metaphor Comparing Conventional School to Alternative


“Learning happens all the time. You can't stop your child from learning.”

“Standardization doesn't fly in the 21st century.”

“Starting a business teaches you so much.”

“The people that were hardest to manage were the people who were just average.”

“Once your child actually starts to adopt a mindset that they are learners, there's far less work to do.”

Social Links:

Website -   ;

LinkedIn -

Mar 12, 202101:27:54
Travis Adams - Every Child Can be an Entrepreneur

Travis Adams - Every Child Can be an Entrepreneur

Travis Adams is the Chief Executive Officer of MyFirstSale and lives in Tyler, Texas. Travis has a passion for igniting the creativity and uniqueness inside of kids.

He owns a summer camp called Camp Huawni and has started and grown multiple companies, including Apex Fun Run (with Scott Donell), Affair Recovery, and Grow My Camp.

Travis and his best bud, Scott Donnell, met at the Acton School of Business where they discovered their shared passion of inspiring kids. Travis is most passionate about his wife Mandi and their three sons. He also loves to surf.

Key Takeaways:

00:10 Favorite Thing Working with Young Learners

00:09 Why did you and your wife decide on Acton for your kids?

00:23 Why do you see ADHD as a positive thing?

00:31:54 Metaphor for Acton versus Conventional School


“Every kid is unique. Each kid is literally one of a kind throughout history. And as you get to be around them, you get to see that come out.”

“Loving to learn because if they love to learn, we know, and there's plenty of scientific evidence behind this that they'll take off.”

“Our kind of big goal is we want to launch a million kid businesses. And we also, what we do is we empower kids to take on the real world, because we all know that not every kid is going to be an entrepreneur, but every kid can learn to be entrepreneurial. “

“My hope is there'll be way more confidence about their (children’s) trajectory based on their journey and way more plugged into their own wiring that they're going to make every step count.”

Social Links:

Travis Adams



YouTube - MyFirstSale Virtual Business Fair

Mar 05, 202138:46
Jesse McCarthy - Montessori Education

Jesse McCarthy - Montessori Education

Jesse McCarthy, founder of and host of The Montessori Education Podcast, has worked with thousands of children, parents, and teachers over the past 15+ years — as a principal for infants to 8th graders, an executive with a nationwide group of private schools, an elementary & junior-high teacher, and a parent-and-teacher mentor.

Jesse received his B.A. in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and his Montessori teacher's diploma for 3- to 6-year-olds from Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), the organization founded by Dr. Maria Montessori.

Key Takeaways:

00:01:38 What is the Montessori Discipline course?

00:08:33 Effectivity of Self-directed Education and of Montessori.

00:17:51 Most Important Innovation in Montessori

00:22:58 Do you think it is true that Montessori gives you an advantage in terms of success, innovation, confidence, creativity?

00:30:34 What does it mean to help parents achieve inevitable success?

00:35:06 Different Certifying Approaches

00:48:00  How did you decide to become a Montessorian?

00:52:39 For the Kids, after a year of not being in their Montessori environment, what do you predict is going to happen to them?


“Montessori is very structured in the sense that, there are choices you can have. And within those choices, you're free. But outside of that, there's a real wall and you cannot go pass that and it might sound kind of dictatorial, but that wall gets bigger and bigger as the children grow up and get more freedom.”

“Improvement means that something wasn't going that well before we needed to change it.”

“Most of us had crappy education. So with Montessori, the idea is to spend a lot more time on the foundational elements.”

“When I fail, it's awesome because I know I'm going to learn something.”

Social Links:

Jesse McCarthy



How Do I Become A Montessori Teacher? Podcast

Feb 12, 202159:29
Clark Aldrich - Educational Simulations

Clark Aldrich - Educational Simulations

Clark Aldrich has been called a 'guru' by Fortune Magazine and a 'maverick' by CNN.  He and his work in educational media have been featured in hundreds of sources, including CBS, ABC, The New York Times, USA Today, ESPN, AP, Wall Street Journal, NPR, CNET, Business 2.0, BusinessWeek, and U.S. News and World Report. He has been quoted by President Obama and invited to speak at the Koch brothers' annual education summit.

Aldrich is the creator of Short Sims, a revolutionary pedagogy that combines the best practices of gamification, microlearning, and traditional conanchtent.  Aldrich develops custom Short Sims through, including for Visa, Department of State, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Center for Army Leadership.

He has degree from Brown University is in cognitive science. Hetrains designers based on his newest book, Short Sims: A Game Changer (April 2020). Clark Aldrich Designs is a boutique education company, founded by Clark Aldrich, which works with corporate, military, and academic clients

He published research, beginning in 1999, outlined the failure of formal education approaches to teach leadership, innovation, and other strategic skills, and then advocated interactive experiences borrowing techniques from current computer games as media to fill these gaps.

Key Takeaways:

02:19 Clark and how he got connected with the Sandefers and Acton.

06:08 Do schools Overcontrol Learners instead of Allowing and Trusting them to go with things?

18:19 What is Short Sims?

40:29 Why should you look for alternative schools?

50:44 Metaphor on Conventional School versus Short SIM


"You want to trust kids as long as possible to pick them up on their own. But at some point do need to guide them towards it."

"I hope we get to a point where you can take college classes more easily virtually and be on the same fund and only the ones that you want and not the ones that you don't want and put together your degree."

"The other thing to recognize increasingly is that entrepreneurship is the new college degree."

"And it turns out all these important skills that we're talking about, like leadership, stewardship, relationship, management, innovation, creativity, security- all these are not linear at all."

"The goal of education is to find out what you're really good at, find out what you care a lot about, and then figure out how to connect the two."

"One great way for anyone over 12 or 13 years old, to figure out where their passion is of whom are they envious. It's one of the great drivers."

"Everyone needs to stand on the shoulders of giants that came before us. Learn from each other and then just start. It's an incredibly interesting way of changing ourselves and also changing the world."

Social Links:

Clark Aldrich

Website -

LinkedIn -

Twitter -

Feb 05, 202101:00:06
Jessica Lahey - The Gift of Failure

Jessica Lahey - The Gift of Failure

Jessica Lahey is a teacher, writer, and mom. Over twenty years, she’s  taught every grade from sixth to twelfth in both public and private  schools. She writes about education, parenting, and child welfare for The Atlantic, Vermont Public Radio, The Washington Post and the New York Times and is the author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed. She is a member of the Amazon Studios Thought Leader Board and wrote the educational curriculum for Amazon Kids’ The Stinky and Dirty Show. Jessica  earned a B.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of  Massachusetts and a J.D. with a concentration in juvenile and education  law from the University of North Carolina School of Law. She lives in  Vermont with her husband and two sons. Her second book, The Addiction Inoculation: Raising Healthy Kids in a Culture of Dependence, will be released in April 2021.

Key Takeaways:

00:25 Her favorite age group of learners to teach and why

07:24 How learning opportunities get lost when parents rescue their children

00:09 The effect of helicopter parenting on motivation and learning

11:01 The red flags about our parenting and teaching that we might need to take a look at

12:50 The difference between directive and autonomy-supportive teaching

17:52 Getting support in non-directive and free-range parenting styles

31:35 What parents should look for in a school

36:00 Her take on self-directed education

42:12 Screentimes and how students are learning differently during COVID

53:26 Building intrinsic motivation


“Kids who have had what's called autonomy-supportive parenting, teaching, coaching tend to have a little more comfort with frustration, tend to be the kind of kids who can take a breath, figure it out and push through without having to sort of go to someone else for the answer.”

“What is great for learning is frequent formative assessments. It helps the kid exercise a little bit of metacognition, because they're on a constant basis having to reevaluate what they thought they knew and what they didn't know.”

“The reason that so many colleges and universities are switching, moving away from lecture-based teaching and towards small group teaching is that we know it works better.”

“There's all sorts of emotional engagement that has to happen. It's not just about interpersonal relationships, but engagement and relevance and all that stuff. That's where the secret sauce of teaching is.”

“Being more controlling of kids has the opposite effect. It undermines their motivation to want to do the things that we're trying to get them to do. Giving control to kids will help them feel less out of control.”

Social Links:

Download Jessica’s Bibliography: Click Here

Jessica Lahey

Website -

LinkedIn -

Twitter -

Instagram -

Jan 29, 202101:10:11
Amir Nathoo - Raising Well-Balanced Learners

Amir Nathoo - Raising Well-Balanced Learners

Amir Nathoo is the CEO and Co-founder at Outschool. Outschool is a marketplace for live online classes for K-12 learners. He led the development of Square Payroll and also served as CEO and co-founder of

He holds an MEng in Electrical and Information Sciences from The University of Cambridge and he has a young son.

Key Takeaways:

00:17 Amir’s Elevator Pitch and Motivations Behind Founding Outschool

03:05 Impactful Learning Outside Regular School

05:28 Handling Screentime and Technology

14:44 If you could re-engineer school for the 21st century, what would that look like?

17:59 The Dramatic Impact of the Pandemic on Outschool

32:35 Tips for Parents in Choosing Online Classes

37:59 Amir's Education and Transportation System Analogy


"I have a strong belief that we can design our interactions with our kids and our family's lives to handle any challenges."

"I recognize it's challenging and all kids are different. So I think we should resist the idea of overgeneralization that we can just come up with a recipe and that this is gonna work for all kids."

"There's this word hybrid. And I would say it again and again. Hybrid- combine different modes of learning in order to achieve good balance."

"The reality is what's a great class for one kid is not necessarily the best class for another kid. And so the most important thing is to find the perfect class for your kid and find the right group."

Social Links:

Amir Nathoo

LinkedIn -


Website -

Instagram -

Jan 22, 202146:37
Vijay Shah - The Limitless Potential of Learners

Vijay Shah - The Limitless Potential of Learners

Vijay is currently the  co-founder, director, and a Socratic Guide at The Humanist Academy.  Has  two Master's degrees, one in from The University of Chicago (Divinity  School), and another in School Leadership and Administration from  National Louis University. His professional experience includes teaching high  school history and math teacher in inner-city Chicago, he's also been  an assistant principal, principal, an adjunct professor (at Loyola  University), and he worked briefly with National Geographic  leading  student expedition trips across the world. One of his most formative experiences was when he spent two years in India studying philosophy and literature at an  alternative residential institution near Mumbai. Most importantly  though, he's the loving father of 3 adorable kids, all 5 and under, has a  wonderful wife, amazing parents, and a very close knit extended family  that have been his backbone and support throughout his life.

Key Takeaways:

00:22 What’s your favorite thing about working with Young Learners?

07:02 Vijay’s origin story on how he decided to do something different.

17:14 Advice to Frustrated and Afraid Parents

23:51 All About the Humanist Academy

27:00 How do you deal with religion?

31:15 How do you train guides?

35:02 How has your school been affected by COVID?

43:25 The Business Fair

44:58 Metaphor that describes conventional schooling versus what you do.


“Let's take out two things. Industrialized education and behaviorism. This idea that children need adults to jam information into their incompetent, incapable  empty vessels. They are full of wisdom, knowledge, and genius, and we need to allow them to, to thrive.”

"Every human being, I believe, is in this world to find their place and to learn about the world and themselves and make an impact - have some meaningful contribution."

"We're all human beings. We're here for a higher purpose. There's a spiritual element to who we are as beings. And I think that brings out, personally, that's the greatest part of what we are."

"Children are far more capable than we can ever imagine."

"What's beautiful about the Acton model is that we don't have teachers  that give answers. We have guides who ask questions and nurture  curiosity.

Social Links:

Vijay Shah


Humanist Academy

Website -

Facebook -

Instagram -

Jan 16, 202152:49
Aaron Eden - Re-humanizing Education

Aaron Eden - Re-humanizing Education

Aaron Eden’s mission is to re-humanize how we work, learn, live, and lead. Aaron is Executive Director at the Institute for Applied Tinkering, the parent organization of Brightworks which is consistently listed as one of the most innovative schools in the world. He is also a founding partner at Eliad Group, a transformation design firm, where he works with schools and businesses around the world to shift from command-and-control to co-creation as the basis for purposeful, innovative endeavor.

He helps start new schools that are trying to re-humanize education, and help existing ones transform to new paradigms of learning. He also coaches parents and learning facilitators that are working to support Self-Directed Education in non-formal learning environments.

Key Takeaways:

1:30 Parents - Reconnect with your Why

10:00 Aaron talks about Adult Power

28:00 Advice to Frustrated Parents

32:40 Two Things to Look for in a School

41:30 Entrepreneurial Enterprise Program

45:05 How do you help students without forcing yourself to be in the process?

52:00 Screen Time, COVID and meeting Learners’ Social Needs Health

1:05:02 How do you see College for your kids?


"I believe every human being should be allowed to do whatever it is they're choosing to do as long as it's not hurting somebody else or them in the very short term."

"The most important thing is that we are consistent in our relating with our kids."

"I would say the underlying philosophy of all of the work that I do, whether it's in corporate spaces and like high-performance teams and all of that, or kindergarten or graduate school, it's all the same, which is that when we shift from a language of blame and judgment to a language of need and appreciation, we all get more of what we want."

"What I think is the beauty of all of this is that the recipe is the same for every challenge, which is to be honest about why we care."

"Every kid, every human can choose, how they want to do things and enrich their life."

Social Links:

Aaron Eden





Education Reimagined - Accelerating Innovation: Education Disrupted, Education Reimagined online conference, WISE and Salzburg Global Seminar

Re-Humanizing Education: Keynote, Inspiration Fest, Goa, 2018

HOMEBOUND PARENTING - Tools for Thriving (Video Playlist)

RE-THINKING ADULTING / Self-Directed Education Short Topics (Video Playlist)


Re-Humanizing Education - Off Trail Learning podcast with Blake Boles [audio]

Educators Who Inspire Spotlight Series [video]

Jan 08, 202101:14:09
Jerry Mintz - International Democratic Education

Jerry Mintz - International Democratic Education

Jerry Mintz is the Founder and Director of the Alternative Education Resource Organization. He was the first executive director of the National Coalition of Alternative Community Schools (NCACS), and was a founding member of the International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC).

In addition to several appearances on national radio and TV shows, Jerry’s essays, commentaries, and reviews have appeared in numerous newspapers, journals, and magazines including The New York Times, Newsday, Paths of Learning, Green Money Journal, Communities, Saturday Review, Holistic Education Review as well as the anthology Creating Learning Communities (Foundation for Educational Renewal, 2000).

Key Takeaways:

00:24 Jerry’s Favorite Thing about working with the Young Learners

01:15 Origin Story of Jerry’s Journey to Alternative Education

12:06 Options to Alternative Education

19:09 Demand for Alternative Education in this time of Pandemic

23:17 Democratic Process for Learners

33:12  International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC) and Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO) Conference

36:01 Frustrated Parents who wants to start something new

40:00 Metaphor comparing Conventional to Alternative Education

45:53 Requirements for a School to be in AERO


"So the whole idea is to make a learner centered approach available to students everywhere. And what I mean by learner-centered, is a program that listens to what the students are interested in and build on their interest rather than curriculum-driven, which is an old model, which is just very, very antiquated. It had its purpose at some point, maybe. But this will help you become a lifelong learner."

"If kids are natural learners, forcing them to learn things they're not interested in extinguishes their natural ability to learn."

"Children are natural learners. If you know that they're the ones who are bringing the curriculum to you, all you have to do is be a good listener."

"When you have not stopped kids' ability to learn, they learn at lightning speed. Unbelievable speed."

Social Links:

Jerry Mintz


Jan 01, 202151:43
Esther Wojcicki - How to Raise Successful People

Esther Wojcicki - How to Raise Successful People

Esther Wojcicki is famous for three things: teaching a high school class that has changed the lives of thousands of kids, inspiring Silicon Valley legends like Steve Jobs, and raising three daughters who have each become famously successful. What do these three accomplishments have in common? They are the result of TRICK, Esther’s secret to raising successful people: Trust, Respect, Independence, Collaboration, and Kindness. Simple lessons, but the results are radical. Esther Wojcicki is a leading American educator and journalist. Mother of YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, Fulbright scholar Janet Wojcicki, and 23&Me founder Anne Wojcicki, as well as a teacher and mentor to James Franco and Lisa Brennan-Jobs, Esther is widely heralded as the most successful parent and educator in the United States.  Esther offers essential lessons for raising, educating, and managing people to their highest potential. She is the author of Moonshots in Education (2014) and best seller How to Raise Successful People (May, 2019).  She is co founder of (2020) an innovative way to empower students by gamifying education using a peer to peer model.

Key Takeaways:

00:30 Esther’s Favorite Thing about Working with Young Learners

09:28 The Challenge for Educators with New Technologies

18:23 COVID and Alternative Education

25:32 Important Skills for Children to Have

35:19 Two Different Kinds of Bad Parenting

37:00 The Courage To Be Different and Vulnerable

45:50 How can Teenagers meet their Social Needs?

47:56 Metaphor comparing Traditional Education with Self-directed Education


"Young learners, they're incredibly creative and you would never be able to predict what they're going to ask or do or say. And I love that. Unpredictability and I love their creativity."

"You don't learn to be kind unless you are treated with kindness."

"When you trust the child, they then feel good about themselves. And then they trust themselves."

"An innovation comes from taking a risk. So you cannot be innovative as long as you're unwilling to put yourself in this sort of vulnerable position."

“The social, emotional skills are more important than anything. And those are the skills you, parents, can teach while your kid is at home now.”

Social Links:

Esther Wojcicki

LinkedIn -


Dean: HarmonyPlus; Palo Alto High Journalism

Founder: Creative Commons; JournalisticLearningInitiative 

Advisory Council: How to Raise Successful People; ThriveGlobal Blogger;


Books: Moonshots in Education

Dec 25, 202054:56
Samantha Jansky - Mindfulness and The Learning Environment

Samantha Jansky - Mindfulness and The Learning Environment

Samantha Jansky joined Acton Academy as a Socratic guide in 2012, just a few years after its inception. Leading the Elementary school for 4 years, Samantha created systems that fur-ther empowered young heroes in a truly learner-driven environment. She then moved on to specializing in Learning Design Creation (curriculum) and wrote and published the entire Elementary School Learning Design used by the world-wide Acton network of over 100 schools.

Samantha’s ultimate goal has always been to serve others and she has done so in the public, private, and non-profit spheres. She raised over $3 million to build primary and vocational schools in Haiti, ran a local campaign in Colorado, and was on the ground level of a health and wellness start-up in Santa Monica.

Samantha graduated with honors in International Relations from the University of Denver and studied French and political science at L’institut d’Etudes Politiques (ScienePo) in Rennes, France. As a new mother, Samantha looks forward to rediscovering the wonders of the world through her daughter’s eyes and building a world-changing learning community working side by side with her long-time colleague and close friend, Janita Lavani.

Key Takeaways:

00:18 Samantha’s Favorite Thing about Young Learners

01:33 The Origin Story of Samantha and Acton Academy

08:12 What is more important Mindset or Preparation?

09:52 Role of Parents on the Kid’s Journey

17:31 What does Samantha feel about COVID and the pressure on their local area?

20:20 Strategies for Hands-on Learning at Home

24:12 Tips to Empower Parents to Think Out of the Norm

29:20 Three Words to Describe Ascent Acton Academy

34:28 Metaphor on Conventional versus Alternative Learning


"I think the hardest place for parents to step back is social struggle."

"A lot of the times we end up projecting from our own experiences from childhood. There's a lot of fear around. How your child will be impacted emotionally from a social interaction gone wrong or however we perceive it. And,  I think some of the most powerful learning experiences are when parents talk through those, they don't ignore them."

"This kind of play encourages so much creative thought and innovation. It requires collaboration. It forces really important conflict resolution to happen in a very natural way."

"(On alternative education) I think less about what would be lost if you did it, more would be lost if you didn't do it?"

Social Links:

Samantha Jansky LinkedIn -

Ascent Acton Academy:Website -

Instagram -

Dec 18, 202041:26
Blake Boles - Unschooling and College

Blake Boles - Unschooling and College

Blake Boles  is an Experiential Educator who has organized big trips for teenagers through his company Unschool Adventures since 2008. He is a California native and a frequent traveler, hiker, and biker. 

Blake Boles is the author of The Art of Self-Directed Learning, Better Than College, and College Without High School. He hosts the Off-Trail Learning podcast and has delivered over 75 presentations for education conferences, alternative schools, and parent groups.

Blake and his work have appeared on The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, BBC Travel, Psychology Today, Fox Business, TEDx, The Huffington Post, USA Today, NPR affiliate radio, and the blogs of Wired and The Wall Street Journal.

In 2003 Blake was studying astrophysics at UC Berkeley when he stumbled upon the works of John Taylor Gatto, Grace Llewellyn, and other alternative education pioneers. Deeply inspired by the philosophy of unschooling, Blake custom-designed his final two years of college to focus exclusively on education theory. After graduating he joined the Not Back to School Camp community and began writing and speaking widely on the subject of self-directed learning.

Key Takeaways:

00:11 The Origin of Blake Boles’ Self-Directed Education journey.

6:22 Self-Directed Education in Europe

9:14 Meeting parents who have fears on Alternative Education.

13:22 Homeschoolers Unschoolers, and Alternatively School Students getting into the most rigorous and the most elite colleges.

21:50 Options for Students pursuing Alternative Education.

28:34 Community for Students who go for Alternative Education.

35:26 Popularity of Alternative Education due to Pandemic.

41:08 Metaphor that describes Self-Directed Education versus Traditional System.

43:00 What is Blake’s ideal trajectory for his future kids considering all his experiences?


I don't want to say, “be more authentic to sell yourself to top colleges,” no, “be more authentic because that's a meaningful way to go about your education.”  

 You don't need a high school diploma to get into any top private, liberal arts college in the United States.  

…there's so much destruction that the mechanics of school can wreck upon family relationships. It turns parents into homework cops. It poisons all of the otherwise casual discussion that might exist around a dinner table.  

Its very hard for me to make to make blanket recommendations about “Is it better to homeschool or unschool or to go to an alternative school?” It really depends upon the time and the place and the opportunities available to that young person and that specific young person's personality and needs.  

Any venture into the world of alternative education begins with a research process, that both parents and young people should participate in and you go explore, you go meet people, you go knock on doors. And that is really what's going to inform whatever we call that the next right step.   

You do enjoy this increased level of freedom and autonomy, but you also have to take the responsibility and sometimes, the anxiety that comes with self-employment also. And so that's what being a self-directed learner is like, it's a lot like working for yourself.

Social Links:

Blake Boles:

LinkedIn -

Website - 

Dec 11, 202049:37
Heather Staker - Blended Learning

Heather Staker - Blended Learning

Heather Staker is a researcher and author in the United States  who has spent 15 years studying innovation in education and the rise of  blended learning as the enabler of student-driven learning.

She is the co-author of the Amazon bestseller Blended: Using Disruptive  Innovation to Improve Schools (San Francisco: Wiley, 2015); The Blended  Workbook (San Francisco, Wiley, 2017); and the popular report How to  Create Higher Performing, Happier Classrooms in Seven Moves: A  Playbook for Teachers (Christensen Institute, 2017).

Heather has been a featured presenter in over 125 radio, television,  podcast, webinar, and live events worldwide and in legislative hearings in  the United States as a spokesperson for student-centered learning.

As the founder of Ready to Blend, Heather leads a team of 150 facilitators  in the United States, Middle East, and South America who have certified to  deliver blended-learning workshops to their teachers. She holds a BA magna cum laude in government from Harvard University  and an MBA with distinction from the Harvard Business School. She is the  mother of five children and lives in Austin, Texas.

Key Takeaways:

00:14 Heather’s favorite thing about working with Young Learners

03:19 The Story behind the foundation of Ready to Blend

10:49 The Role of Adults in a Blended Learning Environment

16:37 Advice for Families and Educators who wants Change in the Current System

21:57 Is this Pandemic the best time to go non-traditional for learning?

26:47 Alternative Education, Is it an advantage or disadvantage to get into an elite university?

32:47 Metaphor that describes Blended Learning


"Try to honor their (children's) own path and help them find their gifts that they want to lean into."

"One piece of advice is to do your due diligence about the micro school networks that are emerging right now, because it takes a substantial amount of intellectual property to create a really good curriculum or to know how to curate it correctly."

"Most children want to feel like they're successful every day and they want to feel like they're having fun with friends."

"For parents that are really wondering what to do right now with their high school students, I think this is a window of opportunity to be more experimental and still assume that they're on track for college."

Social Links:

Heather Staker

LinkedIn -

Twitter -

Amazon -

Ready to Blend

Website -

Facebook -

Podcast -


Blended: Using Disruptive  Innovation to Improve Schools (San Francisco: Wiley, 2015)

The Blended  Workbook (San Francisco, Wiley, 2017)

Dec 04, 202038:23
Kenneth Danford - School is Optional

Kenneth Danford - School is Optional

Kenneth Danford is the Co-founder and Executive Director at North Star: Self- Directed Learning for Teens in Sunderland, Massachusetts. He has been working intensively with teenagers and their families since 1991. He is the founding Board Member of Liberated Learners through which he consult with others interested in the North Star model. He was a middle school social studies teacher in Prince George’s County, Maryland, then in Amherst, Massachusetts, left to found North Star. He had a Masters in Social Studies from Brown University and lives in Montague, Massachusetts, with family. Lastly, he is the author of “Learning is Natural; School is Optional,” book.

Key Takeaways:

00:00:13 The change in Learning Experience and how it all started.

09:01 The Little Clubhouse as an Alternative Way to Live for Learners.

14:58 Recognize the Terror and Hardship as a way to face Frustrated Afraid Parents.

20:06 North Star and Liberated Learners Experience Outside of United States

28:08 Get to Know the Forming Community of the North Star: The Staffs.

31:04 Broader Perspective on Liberated Learners.

40:12 Three Different Stories with One Great Mission of Letting Kids Be.

46:47 Managing Distraction Among Kids.

51:37 Dealing with Parents’ Frustration and Disillusioned Lack of Progress on their Kids.

1:03:50 North Star accepting Distance Members.

1:05:34 The Metaphor that represents the learning model of North Star and Liberated Learning Centers.


“We don't make everybody do a little bit of everything every day.”

“The North Star approach offers teens a headstart on life. When I say school is optional, school is optional for learning and school is optional for a credential. “

“Everything I'm saying hinges on the concept that there is an alternative to traditional high school that is functional to go to university or to be included into the, you know, Professional World.”

“When I say school is optional, for me, it has all the tension and emotion of like summer camp is optional. “

“Kids could go to school and like it or not like it. It's going to be okay and it's not going to define their lives. “

“ We believe that kids can do okay just fine, without school, the same way they do just fine, after school or during the summers.”

“Things have to be resolved and not lived with a lot of times. Some things can be lived with, but a lot of things can't.”

“They get to a point where they want to just know that they're doing the thing they're doing for themselves of their own free will and not out of fear or pressure from their parents.”

“Don't compare what your kid is doing to some idealized homeschooling life. Let's compare what your kid is doing in their weekly routine right now, to what it would be most likely going on for them.”

Social Links:

Kenneth Danford

LinkedIn -

Website -

Facebook -

North Star -

Liberated Learner -

Learning is Natural, School is Optional.: The North Star approach to offering teens a head start on life Book 

Nov 27, 202001:12:05
Jana Pappas - Overcoming Challenges

Jana Pappas - Overcoming Challenges

Jana Pappas received her Liberal Studies Bachelor Degree in 1998, then her teaching credential and Masters in Education in 2000. She was a former classroom teacher, leader of teacher education courses, tutor of students with language processing differences, and a homeschooler. Now, she is excited to be joining the Education Revolution by offering Acton Academy in her community.

Jana believes in student-led education, real-life experiences, guiding students to find a fire within them and to follow their curiosity wherever it may lead. She is educated in multi-sensory education, inquiry learning and the foundation of critical thinking - the Socratic Teaching Method.

Key Takeaways:

05 mins - Jana’s story, why she chose Acton, how her first application got rejected and what she did to get it right

29 mins - Her transition from being a traditional educator to a socratic guide

32 mins - Parents helped her call for adventure

35 mins-  Describing her Acton Academy

26 mins - What are quests, what are the students quests

37 mins - Biggest obstacle/Setback

42 mins - How can you prove that you know something?

45:26 - Learning challenges in the learner-driven environment

53 mins - Her experience with adhd/ accommodations

57:44 - Tips for parents

59:14 - Recommended resources


Declarative Language by Linda Murphy

Disrupted Learning by Shannon Tipton

Courage to Grow by Laura Sandefer


“Acton Academy Concord is a place of joy, safety, growing, learning together, failing together, getting back up together.”

“To empower them (students) to get them out of these situations, to tell or to process it in a healthy way is more empowering than keeping them totally closed from it.”

For learners - “Go be a pioneer in your new world, because you're the one who's going to figure that out.”

“Nothing can stop you from knowing something that you want to know.”

“We empower our Eagles to swipe away and those dark places are not where you want to be.”

“There’s not really a failure ever. And you got back up, you took your time to feel your feelings and to recover and then to decide, what was your new strategy?”


Nov 20, 202001:01:57
Kelly Davis - Global Online Learning

Kelly Davis - Global Online Learning

Kelly Davis is the co-founder and the Director of Education for Galileo. She has taught in various countries throughout Asia, and is thrilled to have the opportunity to build a global school, where kids can learn and develop their best values from all cultures around the world. She lives in Taiwan and is originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in America. She left in 2009 to study abroad in Australia and has been abroad since. She has studied as well in University of West Florida, University of the Sunshine Coast, Millersville University of Pennsylvania.

Key Takeaways:

00:38 East meets West for our Online Homeschoolers.

07:34 A day in the life of a Galileo student.

11:11 Addressing the needs of children thru Self-Directed Learning.

12:21 Different Homeschooling Regulations around the world.

15:23 Social Community for the kids and Commitment to Self-Directed Learning.

20:17 Traverse into the application process of Galileo and the starters to Self-Directed Learning.

24:28 Dealing with Parents who have doubts on the Self-Directed Learning approach.

30:18 Know about the diverse Nanodegrees and its role on future skills.

34:13 Let’s talk about how teachers are getting in and how Mathematics is for kids.

39:08 Greatest dream for Galileo as a Self-Directed Online Global School.

41:42 Forced Education versus The Chosen Way.


“So we see a lot of families making this shift and we're interested in what's happening now that they've seen what their kids are, are actually learning when they moved online from public school and the other half would be students that are already homeschooling or unschooling, and they're looking for more structure or more worldly community as well.”

“So we don't want to be a temporary solution, but shifting into a self-directed mindset and helping students see that they can be free and they can have that choice. “

“Every day we're fighting against this current (traditional school), when we went through the system ourselves. So you're not alone, let's unschool together for sure.”

“We know that learning never ends and all knowledge is created equal.”

“We also have a saying for our clubs, nothing is mandatory and everything is inspirational.”

“So I believe that for self directed learning that it's always a learning journey especially in the parents community that we're always sharing what it's like around the world, because everyone has a different experience and it's, we have a parents network as well, where they're sharing  experiences and talking about this works for me. “

“We make sure that it's (Nanodegrees) accessible for everyone.”

“Make everyone aware that self-directed learning is a really amazing way that a child can discover something, that they want to do that they're interested in doing that they're inspired to do.”

Social Links:

Kelly Davis

LinkedIn -

Instagram -


Website -

Facebook -

Twitter -

Email -

Nov 13, 202045:55
Cassidy Younghans - Living is Learning

Cassidy Younghans - Living is Learning

Cassidy Younghans is a Self-Directed Education advocate and facilitator. She was a public school teacher for 5 years before changing her path to focus on Self-Directed Education. She interned at various Self-Directed Education learning spaces including Houston Sudbury School and North Star before founding EPIC Life Learning Community with an amazing team in September 2019.

Key Takeaways:

2:13 Know about Epic Life Learning Community and their vision.

4:31 Overview on different learning modalities like having a one-to-one democracy

12:58 Self-directed education path as a relief about knowing nothing, starting something new and finding out what works for you.

19:26 Agile Learning tools as a method to liberate our learners in decision-making.

30:44 Strategies in facing the fear of the unknown and difficult conversations with parents.

42:47 Are you a bad parent if you just let your kids take charge of their learning?: Considering the balance between deficiency and advancements of curriculum among learners.

47:39 Developmental Transition as a vehicle to an academic curriculum that supports our learners best.

54:00 Certification approach as a culture among kids for boundaries.

1:04:35 The metaphor that best describes Self-Directed Education.


“Cause I think, you know, living is learning and learning is living,”

“Education is not supposed to be this one path all the time.”

“ And it's all about you wanting to be capable. That's going to continue to make you more capable.”

“We just talk about it as a community. We just share out loud what we think.”

“Trust takes a long time and relationships are hurt and conflict is hard and it's not comfortable. So they're comfortable being uncomfortable because we have hard conversations here. “

“So we just are really clear with the learners or we ask them what they prefer so that when they're making the choice to be a part of the class, they know what they're going to be or walking into. ”

“Living is learning your Epic now you never weren't. And you can like, you know, do anything you want to do. You're extremely capable and amazing. And here are the resources. “

Social Links:


Personal Website-

Epic Life Learning 

ASDE Article

Nov 06, 202001:15:50
Michal Leshem - Starting a Microschool

Michal Leshem - Starting a Microschool

Michal Leshem is a Cyber Technology Expert with over 15 years of experience in an elite Intelligence unit of the Israeli Defense Forces. She managed large-scale complex development programs and product integrations that delivered breakthrough results, for which she has received the prestigious Israel Defense Prize from the president.

In the past few years, Michal transitioned to the Education field which has always been her goal and passion. She obtained a Master of Education degree in parallel to co-founding Israel's National Cyber Education Center (CEC). Through her training, she read about Acton’s approach to learning and education and fell in love with it. She worked as a part-time guide in Acton Academy Verona and this year, she became one of the Co-founders and the Head of School of Acton Academy Bergen County New Jersey. Michal is also the Co-Author of “The Exploring Twins” Book Series, an original book series for children grades K-4 who love to read and explore science. She is also a proud mother of 4 wonderful boys.

Key Takeaways:

3:25 The main difference of Acton compared to all the schools that Michal has explored

10:00 Top great things about Michal’s COVID experience

23:30 Michal’s opening pitch to a new family inquiring about Acton

26:50 How they help kids during their adjustment period from traditional schools

28:45 Why Acton guides do not answer questions

39:00 The importance of the right mindset


  • “Always talk about the why.”
  • "Each person can really find their own path, and sometimes this path  has nothing to do with college or university."
  • “Try something else instead of giving up.”
  • “You get smarter as you work on something. It's not about how much IQ you have but about how much you can actually do when you walk into your path.”
  • “For younger learners, structure is very important.”


LinkedIn Profile -

School Website -

Book Series -

Michal’s Blog in Hebrew -

Michal’s Blog in English -


Carol Dweck - The Growth Mindset

Laura Sanderfer - Courage to Grow

Oct 30, 202001:01:19
Michael Strong - The Socratic Approach to Learning

Michael Strong - The Socratic Approach to Learning

Michael Strong is most recently the founder of, a virtual secondary school program.  He is an experienced school creator whose projects include Moreno Valley High School, a charter school in New Mexico ranked the 36th best public school in the U.S. by Newsweek; Winston Academy, a school for highly gifted students in Florida who successfully completed AP exams; and The Academy of Thought and Industry, the high school model for the largest U.S. Montessori network. He is the author of The Habit of Thought: From Socratic Seminars to Socratic Practice and Be the Solution: How Entrepreneurs and Conscious Capitalists Can Solve All the World’s Problems.

Key Takeaways:

1:16 Michael Strong’s common and significant components among the schools he has built.

3:18 Describing Expanseonline program and its role in helping middle-schoolers.

5:40 The trend of online learning and how community building can still be present among kids.

9:09 Advice to conventional parents forced to do homeschooling in this time of pandemic.

13:40 Socratic approach to learning vs. Traditional schooling

17:57  Developing High Level Academic skills of kids and how it can help in lowering the suicide rate.

19:18 Learn the 3 Techniques towards Intellectual Dialogue

30:43 Incremental Progress and Expectation on maintaining kid's engagement.

35:41 Develop Critical Thinking in the Era of Disinformation.

41:23 Establishing trust and vulnerability in group dynamics through the lens of Socratic Discussion.

49:55 Identifying the type of student who thrives in the Socratic approach.

53:11 Understanding the balance among diverse human principles.


“Young people are finding lots of social options online. I think there is something about having your core learning community, be part of your social community.”

“Well, we can't get the physical, you know, we can't hug her, we can still have eye contact. it's imperfect eye contact, but it's eye contact.”

“ Our job is to create a deliberate learning community that also includes that community warrants. “

“I think the notions of love and curiosity take you a certain way of loving the workings of your child's mind.”

“We underestimate the value of active engagement elsewhere and overestimate the value of schooling.”

“I think instead of saying, Am I doing it right? Our goal is rich intellectual dialogue.”

“The school game is so much about following rules and it's doing what the teacher tells you.”

“But, you know, in Socratic, as soon as you (as a teacher) start hoping that they'll (children) come up with a certain answer. Totally. You've ruined it. You've just ruined it. “

“Personal identity is not just tattoos and piercings or what clothes you wear. The most important kind of personal identity consists of what kind of convictions do we have? What do we stand for?”

“I think love, curiosity, empathy, conquers all, and victim oppression is never a healthy dynamic.”

The Habit of Thought: From Socratic Seminars to Socratic Practice

Oct 30, 202059:56
Sarah Moore - Worldschooling and Connecting with Children

Sarah Moore - Worldschooling and Connecting with Children

In this interview, Sarah Moore of Dandelion Seeds Positive Living shares her story as a worldschooler and a playful parent. Her credentials include publications and speaking engagements all over the globe, undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, certificates in Child Honouring Course from the Raffi Foundation for Child Honouring and completing the Parenting 2.0 course from Dr. Vanessa Lapointe. She also spent a year observing Teacher Tom, who’s one of the world’s leading practitioners of ‘democratic play-based’ education. She also works with worldwide bestselling gentle parenting author, Elizabeth Pantley.

Sarah has worked with hundreds of children in the classroom setting in addition to worldschooling her own child and currently offering courses to parents and teachers to help them along their peaceful parenting journey. With Sarah’s improvisational comedy training, she is a credible source of creative strategies on cultivating play as adults, fostering cooperation and connection with children and getting them to be actively and happily engaged in academic learning. Are you ready to be a playful parent/homeschooler? Learn the key tips from Sarah Moore’s story!

Key Takeaways:

2:47 - Sarah’s Journey as a Parent

12:48 - Worldschooling her Child

18:22 - Daily Routines

25:20 - Examples of play time in Sarah’s home

23:44 - How to cultivate play as adults/parents

34:21 - Learning through experience

39:03 - Finding the right type of schooling for her child

43:53 - Tips for parents who are busy but want to provide the same type of learning environment for their kids

51:49 - Preparation vs Mindset

56:49 -  Metaphor for the difference between traditional homeschooling to alternative schooling

01:00:46- Advice for parents on Government Regulation for homeschooling/worldschooling


  • "They are more receptive to learning if they had a chance to connect with their big person, with their teacher, they will learn much better if they are feeling connected."
  • "Take what is real, take what is happening, and simply build on to it. So that there is nobody talking out of their feelings, there's nobody talking out of their reality."
  • "See things from a child’s perspective and simply building upon the story that they have in their mind versus trying to encourage a transition that they are not ready for the moment."
  • "It is easy to fill the 'academic bucket' just by simply living life."
  • "School doesn’t start and stop at a certain time."
  • "Our kids are natural-born learners."
  • "Kids learn because they are ready to learn."
  • "The very best curriculum I ever bought was a dry-erase whiteboard."


Oct 23, 202001:11:02
Maureen O'Shaugnessy - Seven Steps to Innovate Education

Maureen O'Shaugnessy - Seven Steps to Innovate Education

Maureen O'Shaughnessy, EdD, is the founding director of Leadership Preparatory Academy, a nonprofit progressive micro-school in Washington State. With a master’s degree in educational administration and a doctorate degree in educational leadership, she has an extensive understanding of the components needed to transform the education system.

Dr. O’Shaughnessy is the author of Creating Micro-Schools for Colorful Mismatched Kids: A Step-by-Step Process that Empowers Frustrated Parents to Innovate Education and has served as head of school and principal internationally in countries such as Kuwait, Hungary, and Ecuador. Weaving in a strong emphasis on service and leadership at each school, she has been an educational change agent across the globe. And now as founder of Education Evolution, she aims to disrupt the education climate as we know it to help ensure each child is seen, heard and valued and met where they are academically, socially and emotionally.

Key Takeaways:

5:26 Hearing out the needs of our children and the role of micro-school in it.

8:51 Getting to know Maureen and how she got into this new movement towards Education.

13:48 Advice on how to deal with frustration in the midst of confusion with their children's education's sake.

18:25 Seven Steps to Innovative Education

31:21 Leadership Preparatory Academy as a Scrappy and Happy School

43:12 Hardest thing about Micro-Schooling

50:28 What metaphor describes Micro-Schooling?


  • "We're talking about adults, adults, adults, but I don't feel like the kids are in the conversation as much as they should." -Shannon
  • "It's (Micro school) just a chance to rethink education and make sure it's working for our learners." -Maureen
  • "You definitely want to get really clear on your mission and you need a tribe." -Maureen
  • "You're never gonna grow. You're never going to improve if you never get starting." -Maureen
  • "Brains don't learn sitting and being talked at, and most of the college classes are memorize and spit it back out again." -Maureen

Social Links


Education Evolution






Micro-School Coalition



Class: Build Your Own Micro-School


Creating Micro-Schools for Colorful Mismatched Kids: A Step-by-Step Process that Empowers Frustrated Parents to Innovate Education 

Oct 23, 202054:16
Anne Olderog - Cultivating Children's Unique Creative Minds

Anne Olderog - Cultivating Children's Unique Creative Minds

For this episode, our host, Shannon Falkenstein, speaks with Anne Olderog, an Acton Founder who has an impressive wealth of knowledge on education. She is also a Partner at Vivaldi, leading projects on growth/innovation strategy, positioning and brand architecture. She works with education companies such as Blackboard or McGraw-Hill to ensure that today and tomorrow’s learners get the very best that education can offer.

Anne holds an M.B.A. from the Wharton School, an M.A. in International Studies from the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as an M.Phil in Management from Cambridge University. She is a Laureate of the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences-Po) in Paris, where she earned a B.A. in Economics & Finance. Prior to her business career, Anne received a B.A. in French Literature at the Sorbonne in Paris and researched policy issues for the French Parliament. She is fluent in 6 languages and consulted major corporations in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany and Italy.

In her (scarce) free time, she enjoys blogging on changes in education, engaging in virtual bike races, training her dogs and losing to her son in ping pong.

Key Takeaways:

2:56 - Anne shares her story on how she started a school for her daughter

15:17  - On encouraging learning

17:44 -  Teaching Compliance VS Self-Sufficiency

19:11 -  Education can be a game

22:44 - Cultivating Children’s unique creative minds and equipping them to be the leaders of tomorrow

24:42 -  Anne’s advice to parents

28:25 -  What Acton Academy Verona is like

39:11 -  Dealing with Covid

48:59 -  Being Vulnerable in front of our children and role model how to deal with challenges, how we can take risks and how we can learn from our mistakes

53:45 -  Anne’s thoughts about college

56:32 - A metaphor that can help parents understand the microschool movement and the big seismic changes in education

Quotes and Tips

  • The best thing we could do for our children is equip them with meta skills that will enable them to be great with people, be great leaders,  create following, articulate their ideas and ultimately be lifelong learners.
  • The best thing you can do as Acton parents is unpush your own buttons.
  • Learning needs to be as engaging as social media or else we’d lose their attention very quickly to video games.
  • Ultimately, we want to educate citizens who are self-sufficient and who are equipped to make their own decisions and really contribute to the society in a meaningful way.
  • Educating is so exciting in itself that we adults simply need to step back and let it shine.

Mentioned Links:

Anne’s Article about Covid19-

Allison Gopnik - Gardener and Carpenter -

Acton Academy Verona:

Oct 23, 202001:00:34