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Mar 31, 2021

Show Notes | Part I


  • Jenna first discovered Naomi Fisher’s work through the Offtrail Learning Podcast hosted by Blake Boles. She then discovered the comprehensive YouTube video produced by The Phoenix Education Trust called The Psychology of Self Directed Learning by Naomi Fisher. Her most recent work, a book she wrote called  ‘Changing Our Minds’  was published in February 2021 and is highly recommended by Jenna as a comprehensive guide to self-directed learning. 
  • Naomi and Jenna had an interview previously that didn’t get recorded due to technical difficulties, but there were a few takeaways from having had that experience which relate to education. One of them was that as it is in schools sometimes, having a time constraint created pressure and stress on my brain and made it more likely for me to be careless and inattentive. Jenna compares this to timed tests in school. 
  • We are all fallible and it’s important for our kids to see us struggling and then our resiliency through times of stress and discomfort. 
  • Being vulnerable and experiencing failure are something we traditionally try and avoid, but embracing it as part of the experience and congratulating yourself on overcoming those moments of rejection are really critical to demonstrating mastery in something. 
  • Naomi started writing her book without thinking about it ever being published. It was such a niche topic that she wondered if it’d even be read. She decided to write it anyway because she knew the process of writing it would be useful to her anyway - she would learn how to write a book through writing a book.
  • Naomi describes her experience writing the book. She wondered if she needed some sort of course or credentials. Sometimes we think we need specific credentials or permission to start projects, but we really just need to get started. Courses are valuable, yet not essential to getting started. 
  • As her son approached school age, she felt strange about sending her son into the school environment and giving up complete control over how he was talked to, what he did, who he spent his time with, after having been so intentional about that during his first years. Knowing her son’s personality and needs, she was worried he wouldn’t comply with the group norms, which would have made school quite difficult for her son. 
  • They chose to unschool because their son was opposed to any structured learning. 
  • As her kids got older (ages 7 and 10), she noticed how increasingly difficult it was to meet both of their needs simultaneously since they had completely different interests.
  • Jenna’s kids are much the same and they’ve been using Galileo’s online school as a resource to help offer diverse clubs and activities that each of her kids can participate in at their discretion. 
  • Our environment greatly impacts what is essential to learn and priority to learn specific skills. For example, if you move to France, French is most important to learn. 
  • Two ways of self directed learning: interest-led (watercolour painting)  and things you need to learn in your environment (like language).
  • As unschooling parents, it’s important to ask ourselves: How can we expand the environment for your child? 
  • Making sure we are giving our children the opportunity to interact in the world and speak with people of varying perspectives, backgrounds and cultures is how unschooling can elevate the educational experience for your family. 
  • Some schools, like Montessori and Waldorf, can actually impose more restrictions than we’re aware of and are based on our perceived beliefs about freedom. When you choose a school for its pedagogical beliefs, you’re often choosing a lifestyle for the whole family. 
  • When you choose a specific school based on your child’s natural interests, learning style and preferred environment, then it can be a great solution.
  • When control becomes visible, then we need to evaluate how we are impeding on our children’s freedom and autonomy. How can we move forward in a way that the parents and children are both getting their needs met?
  • School provides us with certain rules and parameters, so for unschooling families,they must determine on their own, which boundaries and rules are going to work best for their lives. It takes time and flexibility. 
  • Autonomy can actually be encouraged by teaching children necessary skills for living in their culture. Cooking is an example Jenna used with her son. He gained autonomy by learning how to cook a variety of foods for himself when he isn’t happy with selection at dinner. 


Helpful Resources Mentioned in Today's Show


Phoenix Education Trust


Offtrail Learning Podcast


Changing Our Minds by Naomi Fisher


The Psychology of Self Directed Learning by Naomi Fisher

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