What I Do
I call myself a born and raised unschooler. (See below) My experience in directing my own learning persuaded me to become an advocate for Self-Directed Education (SDE), youth liberation, and partnership-based parenting. I am an unschooling and free-schooling mom; a writer; a facilitator and founder of PDX Flying Squads, a community for self-directed young people in Portland, OR; co-founder of the Flying Squads Network; and a co-organizer of Portland SDE, a local advocacy and support group in Portland, OR. I also offer parent coaching, workshops on deschooling and facilitating Self-Directed Education, and host discussions for those involved in SDE.
As Executive Director for the international advocacy group, the Alliance for Self-Directed Education (ASDE), I manage communication, volunteers, community-building, and strategic planning. In addition, I coordinate projects and lead specific ASDE initiatives such as the Local SDE Groups.
From early childhood, I negotiated how I would approach my formal and informal education. As a homeschooled child, I played a lot with my friends in our neighborhood, read books (mostly fiction and books about Cheetahs), kept dozens of journals, took frequent trips to the library, played Dungeons and Dragons, spent many hours on the computer, and chose which classes to take at our homeschool resource center and elsewhere. Classes I elected included world languages (Spanish and American Sign Language), marital arts (Aikido and karate), piano, and musical theatre.
At 16, I enrolled in college through the local Running Start program. Continuing my unconventional approach to learning, I entered the Fairhaven program at Western Washington University, where I was allowed to create my own major: Envisioning the Creative Classroom. In college, I spent a lot of time writing and looking into education alternatives. I then worked five years in early childhood education teaching at a play-based center that was trusting of children and believed in individual freedom. Finally, in an experiment to learn what I might be missing from a conventional approach to learning, I entered the graduate school at Portland State University, where I earned an M.S. in early childhood education. That’s a story for another time.
Want to know more about my story? Check out this interview I did with the Alliance for Self-Directed Education.