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Apr 7, 2021

Show Notes

  • Jenna starts the show by describing her family's learning philosophy and home education style. My family has been home educating now for approximately 9 months and we’ve chosen self directed education as our approach to learning. What does that mean exactly? Well, it basically means that our children control what, when and how they learn. We actually refrain from labeling “learning” as we believe as humans we are always learning and there aren’t particular subjects or skills that trump others. Our two children are unique and require very different learning environments, resources, and lengths of time to learn new skills. We respect that and do our best to provide a conducive environment where their educational pursuits can be achieved. We do our best, as their facilitators, to enhance their environment and open the world to them, in the hopes that they can explore and learn without limitations.
  • This week’s episode is a continuation of a conversation with Naomi Fisher, a clinical psychologist and author of ‘Changing Our Minds’
  • Two quick announcements Jenna wanted to share are:
    • The Rogue Learner App will be open for the public to test. It’s an app designed for home educating families to record their learning and daily activities, books they’ve read, and any other pertinent information related to their learning journey. The app is developed to be a quick and fun way of documenting your life. It’s formatted as a photo/diary entry design. You can become a tester for the app and secure a lifetime discount by downloading the app here! 
    • Jenna will be taking a four week break and ending season I of the podcast with this episode. Season II will drop in a few weeks and features interviews with Peter Gray, Sophie Christophy and Summer Jean. Jenna will be working on other projects related to the website, blog and podcast. You can connect with her in the FB group on my Facebook page or Instagram. 
    • Families who’d like to featured on the podcast should reach out to Jenna at She will be working on a series for the podcast where she interviews a few families on a semi-regular basis to find out how they are implementing self-directed learning and what benefits or challenges they’ve faced along their journey. 
  • Jenna asks Naomi about neurodiverse children and autonomy, particularly focusing on children who may not have the ability to self-regulate yet. Naomi says that every child is unique and you can not make assumptions about anyone else's experience based on your own. She goes on to explain how sometimes having a hard rule may benefit children or families because it can actually enhance learning opportunities. In some cases, the ambivalence of having too many choices or a particular choice that they can’t say no to, makes it difficult for them to focus on anything else. (just as we are these days with our phones) She uses the example of eliminating a in-app purchasing mobile game that her son played years ago, as it created a deficit in learning due to his fixation on buying gems for the game. 
  • It’s important to always have the opportunity for change however, because eventually our children will need to make these determinations on their own (in this example, how to self-regulate with video gaming) once they are living on their own. Gradually moving toward self-regulation is helpful in this situation. 
  • One fixed ideology won’t create a world in which we don’t have to be flexible and make changes to our lives. We can’t put our parenting or learning on auto-pilot because family needs are evolving and changing every day. Staying flexible and not prescribing a blanket ideology to your life is important. 
  • Naomi gives two wonderful guiding principles to consider: “ Is what I’m doing helping my child to learn?” and “Is it opening up the world for them?” 
  • Autonomy within what the child can manage at the time is the key, but simultaneously parents must always be willing to challenge their assumptions. Is this really true? For example: “Kids should know how to read by the age of 5.” Is this a schooled assumption? Have you challenged this idea? Have a look at the research. 
  • When we’re talking about neurodiversity, we’re talking about how people relate to the world and how their brains interpret the environment. It generally includes people who have diagnoses of; ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia.
  • Neurodiversity is more than just the characteristics of the person, it’s also about how the world around them responds to them. In this way, the severity of their disability is in relation to how negatively they are impacted by their environment. 
  • School can make the environment more disabling for these neurodiverse children. 
  • With self-directed education, we can look at how a child interacts with the world and create an environment which suits their learning needs. 
  • Special schools for neurodiverse children oftentimes still run on the same principles as mainstream schools; requiring testing, uniforms, keeping a particular schedule, and assemblies to name a few. 
  • So many parts of school aren’t actually about learning - uniforms, dining halls, lining up, school assemblies, sitting in desks, etc. are not about learning, they are about managing a large number of children.
  • Naomi says diagnosing a child for life makes her uncomfortable because we don’t know how they will grow and develop. 
  • Jenna shares a story of a student she had who became ostracized and bullied due to the fact that the teachers openly exhibited their frustration and irritation with his behavior. He was learning inadvertently that he didn’t fit in, that he isn’t normal, that nobody likes him. This is what school life was teaching him about himself.
  • Naomi shares a story of how she was bullied and ostracized after returning to England from DR of Congo. 
  • Jenna shares a story of how she was also bullied when she moved from a large city to a rural town. 
  • Jenna points out that we all have a set of norms for where we live, which can positively and negatively impact our experience living in that environment. 
  • Naomi adds that having those experiences may be the catalyst for looking for different ways to educate our kids. She reflected on how each school she attended did things differently, yet each of them thought they were doing it the ‘best’ way, which is then imposed on the students.


Helpful Resources Mentioned in Today's Show


Changing Our Minds by Naomi Fisher

Rogue Learner Facebook Group



Filmora Editing Software


Unfinished: Short Creek


Private Facebook Group


The Rogue Learner App (limit: 25 testers)

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