"Accessibility" means very different things to different people. In June 2020, I presented at the Alternative Education Resources Organization annual conference on the topic of Making Self-Directed Education Accessible to ALL. Please enjoy the presentation and consider contribution to the mutually supportive bulletin board below.
Dileepa: Websites, Apps, TV, and Radio
Liz: Asking them what they need
Stephanie: online access to stuff
Carl: make natural spaces accessible
Anna: Service animal
Allison: access to spaces that accommodate the range of physical differences
Allison : audio books and resources
Allison : Sign Language Interperters
Allison: Making field trips accessible
Allison: Accommodating need to rest
Kate: Resources (books, websites, etc) that are captioned
Kate: A community of people who understand their needs and are committed to assisting them
carollnash: Your idea of an App is the right direction, except for those who can’t access the internet
Nikki: Text to voice and voice to text technology
Putri: walkway or pathways that is suitable for them to move around
Jordan: People!!! People to help - mentors, facilitators, a center with other children to help.
Peter: access to internet and computer technology
aannnn: There is no universal solution before getting know this person’s learning aims.
Chris: Tobii eye tracking device
Andrew: may require extra funding/support for accommodations
Walker: Having a variety of resources, including physical, recreational, technological, and educational.
Ella: as a disabled self directed learner, it is much more expensive to attempt to cover my needs from home - it can be a financial barrier, though the services in school aren't great, in public school at least they're somewhat free
Allison: Multiple ways of presenting information
Allison: Being open to different ways of communicating for those who communicate differently
Allison: If a learner struggles with their physical behaviors (such as hurting themselves or others) one on one aide or mental health resources
Caroline: Experiential learning
Caroline: Outside play and classes
Caroline: Taking away grades and fear
Reem: safe, well equipped places
Rita: Are services for needs in PS continuing in the home?
Carl: public schools becoming more open learning centers open to all learners
Carl: making sure we are sincerely asking for needs of all people - especially oppressed people. honoring strengths, instead of addressing weaknesses
Carissa: Well-training learning facilitators, including occupational therapists
Nicholas: multiple ways to provide feedback/answers
Jordan: Parents’ time
Walker: doing away with coercive methods of punishments and rewards
Chris: A web of support systems (ie. parents, educators, counselors, supports for individuals who provide services)
Taryn: i cant imagine how sde could not work with someone with cognitive disabilities
Stephanie: changing the way people think we learn - doesn't have to be TAUGHT.
aannnn : Not a challenge if someone's courage is enough...
Peter: White privilege and racism impacts ALL types of accessibility. We need to talk about “the elephant in the room.”
Peter: If you only have time to watch one panel discussion this month, this is the one to watch.
Bettina Love, Gholdy Muhammad, and Dena Simmons have a powerful message for all of us about “Abolitionist Teaching and the Future of our Schools.”
carollnash: Very true that those who attend self-directed public schools are primarily white
Jordan: Online communities
Carl: the Unschooled doc we watched last night
Carl: sincere listening
Carl: Akilah Richards also has a book out
Danielle: partnering with black associations
Anna: lawful in ones country
Caroline: multiple texts from writers of multiple backgrounds and races
Luba: My Reflection Matters group
Kate: Race isn’t a barrier so much as racISM is a barrier. For example, Black and brown kids are more frequently seen as disruptive, “problem” kids, etc
Kate: One of the important points one of the parents in the Unschooled documentary raised, which is really important, is that Black kids in the US don’t have the same safety net to rebound from “failure” that white kids have. The ability to fail and learn from that is important to SDE — but does perceived failure have the same consequences for all youth?
Walker: I find it personally ironic how schools preach “failure, discomfort, and taking risks,” yet schools themselves butcher the meaning all together by making all three NOT WORTH failing, cause if so you start the year all over again.
Allison: More spaces for children whose parents cannot stay home or home lives are difficult
Allison: Free unschooled schools
Allison: Listening to what communities of color need
Allison: And every industry privileges white folx. So it is not as easy (in our current society) for people of color to always pursue whatever interests they have
Richard: Elimination of block scheduling allows for students to get to know each other better, which helps to break down barriers.
Taryn: deschooled podcast
Taryn: sorry deschool yourself podcast
Liz: Alternative ways of knowing being and doing by Four Arrows and Bell hooks community and learning (can’t remember exact title)
Walker: honestly I’d see SDE working beautifully for neurodiverse students
Jordan: The Fare of the Free Child
Carissa: Yes @Allison!
Rita: Bettina Love, "We Want to Do More than Survive"
Anna: societies/communities/individual response to young people being out and about during “school hours” on “school days”
Allison: Interesting, I feel like there are more male presenting individuals in self-directed education
Allison: I hear this a lot even in the self-directed community but how the education discriminates against boys. Maybe let's frame it as the education system discriminates against children who are more active and need to move to learn
Anna: “you are female you’re not supposed to be interested in this topic”
Caroline: Teachers and adults need to stop always greeting with “hello boys and girls”. It’s gender polarizing. Take out gender identifiers in the classroom
Jordan: Women have historically been more often supported financially than men, so it may be that girls are more willing to take risks with their education than boys are.
Putri: gender: i think sdl allows boys and girls to grow according to their gender needs
Holly: Our library is full of so many opportunities and resources! Physical location and online resources
Danielle: zoom closes the gap for geographic barriers
Liz: Only have they have reliable wifi @Rita
Peter: In the U.S., we have a long history of “red-lining.” It created segregation throughout our country.
Caroline: We need public wifi
Kate: Universal, free broadband access
Kate: Well funded libraries in all communities
Kate: Accessible public transportation
Carl: making internet univerisally available
Carl: encouraged sdl learning centers at workplaces so parents can have their children nearby
Carl: universal basic income
Rita: Using the environment as the context for learning
Stephanie: overnight camps like Not-Back-toSchool camp
Stephanie: the low residency type of model that places like Goddard use. A little bit of in person contact can make online or phone contact more meaningful.
Thousand & Carmen : online resources
Thousand & Carmen : hub of resources
Thousand & Carmen : churches too 🙂
Anna: through devices such a smart phones and tablets and computers
Anna: Device is made available to individuals who have no cost availability on their own
carollnash : Better maintained roads
Walker: This might seem out of place, but in context to food deserts and SDE centers, having gardens promoting Permaculture, a sustainable method of agriculture in harmony with nature, could pose both a cost efficient, environmentally friendly means of providing kids in food deserts abundant and even nutritious foods grown at the centers.
Allison: Providing free or low-cost HEALTHY food. Food affects how we feel and learn so much
Kate: Language as an accessibility issue is important too — in the US, for example, a lot of parents don’t speak English, so having resources available in the languages spoken in homes is crucial
Kate: Multi-lingual SDL centers
Jordan: Google Translate
Caroline: Google translate
Rita: The Granny Cloud as a model for kids teaching each other
Emma: Learn quickly with Supermemo/anki
Emma: Access to media! Books, movies, tv shows, video games, anything!
Thousand & Carmen : DeepL!!!
Chiao ling: Leo
Holly: video only based lessons
Carl: refocusing how we enable learning facilitators - relying less on formal training and more on talents and abilities that are diverse and inclusive
Carl: guerilla learning
Micki: I have my school on the Learn Worlds platform because they’re international and I can have all my classes translated in to several different languages.
Stephanie: If you speak a language other than English, then create literature review (website, podcasts, etc reviews) in your language.
Stephanie: Unfortunately, in terms of language, google translate only helps if you have enough English to recognize that an article is something you want to read!
Chris: Would appreciate it if people could also share resources that are also printed or published in other languages
Max: Homeschooling is not technically illegal in Germany...
Chris: Urging and petitioning international organizations to place pressures on governments
Allison: Petition to change laws
Carl: changing public schools
Carl: parents and kids have power to change public schools if they band together
Kate: Self-directed learning spaces that work outside of school hours, for those who want to experience SDL but have reasons that they can’t leave public school
Max: Very exact knowledge about the laws and know the difference between regulations and laws for example. Know the penalties. For example in Germany not complying with school attendance is actually just like fall parking
carollnash : Using documents supporting self-directed learning from the past that haven’t been rescinded.
Stephanie: "personalizing the law" is another way of thinking about it!
Micki: Collectively study the law and figure out how to get what is needed/wanted with out technically “breaking” it
Emma: I wish there were workarounds in China
Liz: There are homeschoolers flying under the radar in China. There is an article about it in Economy magazine. Ill try to find it.
carollnash : Idea, use all the buses for SDL instead of transporting them to schools
Allison: Online schools
Kate: Robust, FREE, well-maintained public transportation networks are important
Kate: I know of several communities that used their school buses in creative ways (as Wifi hotspots, to distribute meals and books and packets of schoolwork) during COVID-related school closures. This could work even when schools aren’t closed!
Stephanie: volunteer drivers
Stephanie: Dandelion Dance Company connects participants who can't get to practices with volunteers who drive them. It 'S a win win - the volunteers have time and love the connection with the kids and th dance company and the kids can participate!
Allison: Access to other families homeschooling or unschooling
Jordan: Other SDE families can help to carpool, but finding those families is an accessibility issue
Kristy: Sri Aria, Malaysia : online
Peter: More community schools are needed.
carollnash : Transform the buses into public unschools
Kristy: Sri Aria, Malaysia : online learning
Sidney: Geriactivists (older/retired folks who want to do something to make the world better) volunteering to host self-directed learners in their backyard playing/learning spaces.
Max: Free Public Transport (Luxembourg Public Transport is free since March 😉 )
Carl: neighborhood learning centers in walking distance
Kate: Parents as a barrier is another reason why SDL centers in the afternoons or weekends could be helpful — so that youth whose parents aren’t supportive of them leaving public school can still have access
Allison: True free access for youth to attend weekend or afternoon self-directed spaces
Chiao ling: especially in Asian area
Andrew: "The Gardener and The Carpenter" by Alison Gopnik is another good book
Dileepa: Free to Learn by Peter Gray
Dileepa: Khan Academy
Dileepa: Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Nicholas: Broken homes, latch-key kids without parental guidance — parent/student kits, outreach
Allison: More youth rights
Max: Make SDE an option in public schools
Holly: Proof of concept. The more we share GIna Riley's and others' data on the legitimacy of SDE. The more we can create social proof, the more accepting.
Luba: Intros to parents who are ok with SDE and their grown offspring who turned out ok
Thousand & Carmen : virtual classroom experience simulation for parents
carollnash : Even if you do provide the resources to people whose parents don’t support SDL the young person ultimately feels guilty and goes back to what their parents want them to do. This happens in most cases
Walker: Although he doesn’t support SDE, Alfie Kohn is a great resource for parenting.
Jordan: Why Are You Still Sending Your Kid to School? By Blake Boles
Emma: Put a proposal together and try to have a calm talk with them. If it doesn’t work, you can try to convince them gradually while you nature your own patience and figure out how you can manage your own time best
Kate: Transforming public schools to incorporate at least some aspects of SDE will definitely make it WAY more available
Luba: Teenage Liberation Handbook
Carl: Grace Llewellen's books. Peter Gray's Free to Learn
Carl: the asde website
Stephanie: Parents block it often because they are afraid. Afraid their kids won't "succeed" without a diploma. We can talk ALL the time about SDL can result in a "good" life to start normalizing that. Judy Arnall'S books...Unschooling to University is helpful for sure
Thousand & Carmen : SDL youtuber/ channels
Chris: Bringing SDL into parents' professional places (ie. During PD) as a potential way to navigate the "parent" barrier for their children
Holly: The Dip, by Seth Godin
Sidney: Childcare, finances and concern about kids’ prep for the future seem to be the big three parental concerns we have to address to free the kids.
Caroline: Newer, better teacher continuing education
Luba: Seth Godin’s manifesto, Stop Stealing Dreams
Carl: Ken Danforth's book and liberated learners website
Rita: Genius Hour - although it's not enough.
Luba: I am calling it independent learning
Walker: I don’t mean to selfishly promote my work, but the Academia Manifesto: https://www.youthrights.org/blog/the-academia-manifesto/
Nikki: Finding online community with similarly minded people who are also unschooling (peer support) <<< (check peerunschooling.net)>>>>
Liz: Carlo Ricci calls it Willed Leraning
Liz: The new term is school leaver—an empowering term
rogerdennis : or school refuser
Ella: when I left school I had some teachers tell me I was throwing away my future, because I was doing "well" in school
carollnash : Yes, even teachers who support SLD can get upset with young people don’t do what they tell them. They then resort to punitive control measures.
Rita: Many teachers believe that if they don't teach kids, kids won't learn!!!!!!!!!! I have this conversation a lot!
Kate: Teachers themselves face so many barriers — research shows that over the last couple of decades teachers have increasingly less autonomy over what and how they teach. The systems themselves (especially standardized testing) are such a barrier.
Holly: I think there are teachers with so many good intentions that want to teach critical thinking and SDL, but the system gets tighter and tighter and holds them back
aannnn : such a thing always happens in human history while new things occur....
Holly: Be a living example of a confident person who is different. Talk about why you are proud of being different.
Reem: Why School? Micheal Rose
Thousand & Carmen : likeminded friends
Thousand & Carmen : community
carollnash : Yes, not having friends is often a reason for people to return to standardized education
Liz: @ carolnash…it is the main reason and it is the price that some are willing to pay to socialize
carollnash : @Liz Yes, wanting to be with friends is definitely a really important reason people leave unschooling. However, parent pressure (just thinking your parent wanted something else for you) is still the greatest pressure.
Caroline: We need to get rid of state testing so teachers are freeer
Max: Give them the possibility to network with other unschoolers / self directed learners << peerunschooling.net >>
Jessica: public places for children to socialize
Allison: Yes more media that shows even homeschoolers favorably. Most media shows kids in schools
Kate: Making public spaces more youth-friendly — especially for Black and brown kids who are more likely to be harassed by law enforcement for “hanging out” in public spaces” — is important
Luba: Other families see unschooling as cool; depends on how you talk about it
Liz: Instead of asking children how old they are or what grade they are in start asking, what are you passionate about?
Max: If you can be as public as possible about it and invite people to experience SDE themselves
Reem: Sports unite
Stephanie: online / in person small groups that build relationships
Micki: Supporting adults in their own personal process of growing up, in my experience a LARGE part of adults who are causing problems are adults who have not emotionally and spiritually grown up
Stephanie: Micki - yes. Deschooling is more for parents and other adults than for kids.
Chiao ling: Play group
rogerdennis: Remind people that walking into a library is (usually) self-directed learning
carollnash: Young people try to say that it’s their own choice, but it’s their own choice to leave because they feel their parents think they are not doing enough.
Ella: find community! other youth who hve left school to connect with, as far as support :)))
Liz: @Carol. Yes, and it might be that the parents have issues with their own confidence and feel they are not enough. If parents experience SDL and recognize they are enough, they may be more inclined to let go of control.
Carl: Fear is an obstacle to living life
Rita: kids not becoming enough is a fear parents have and it keeps them from taking their kids out of school. There are so many, "What ifs"
Iris: I think can help for some parents to see that colleges want unschoolers.
Jordan: Encourage all kinds of unschoolers to share their stories - through platforms like PUN
Jordan: Or other places <<grownunschoolers.com>>>
Allison: Stories from unschoolers of all backgrounds
Richard: Environments that create a sense of belonging are critical to SDL.
Caroline: We just need to “mainstream” the language of the fringe
Luba: Yes, mainstream the language. It matters a lot how things are framed. (Example: I tried to make my hub’s website as welcoming and understandable/relatable as possible: www.thehub.community)
carollnash: It is true that the group of early adopters turns off some people. Initially, our unschool had a number of scientists who wanted time to investigate their theories. When they saw most others were artist types, they thought the unschool wasn’t for them.
Allison: Particularly let's uplift the stories of non-white and low income unschoolers
Taryn: my family had to climb over the culture bridge in order to pursue sde. we could have chosen to let it be a reason for inaccessibility for us or take the leap of faith- it takes a lot of courage.
Jordan: I’ll be starting a Q&A series of Grown Unschoolers for PUN
Andrew: I've been spreading awareness on TikTok: https://vm.tiktok.com/JdLj4HS/
Allison: ooh yes continuing to support unschoolers after the age of 18. How to help make college accessible to them if that is their choice
Thousand & Carmen : youtube ad is very effective
"LEAVE SCHOOL" BILLBOARD BRAINSTORMING
Caroline: Omg, I love this idea. The billboards.
carollnash : Great billboard, but maybe show some diversity and show that minorities can leave school too.
Liz: Go fund me?
Jordan: GoFundMe is a great idea!
Allison: Feeling iffy on billboards. Some places do not allow them for good reason.
Liz: That’s what I was thinking, Carol. Maybe more than one student on billboard
Reem: Billboard 👍🏻
Richard: Good point Carol.
Liz: There are also smaller ad places at the Tim Horton’s drive thru in Canada. Probably something similar elsewhere.
Thousand & Carmen : Just a thought Jim, billboard and highway mostly seen by parents who are the drivers. They probably not are the main users of the app and not so receptive. But if the kids able to see them say in the youtube ads!! much cheaper too! fb or tik tok. I really think that they need to know and start to research/ ask questions before they can start talking to the parents I guess...
Rita: How about placards for cars?
Iris: Need parents not to have to know about it and search.
Richard: SDL boot camp - Great idea. Probably a big market for it.
Micki: Let’s take this to Roger James Hamilton’s international GeniusU entrepreneur’s community!!
Rita: Kids want connection!!!!!
carollnash : My daughter’s friends are people she has met all over the world. The problem is that her friends are inaccessible most of the time. Yes, making friends accessible is hard!
chenyuwen : From parents' perspective, is unschooling costly?
Anna: chenyuwhen... Completely depends on what the student desires to learn and cost of materials cost of mentor cost of transportation… Looks like it comes down to cost and accessibility
carollnash : The only thing missing from being part of PUN and using it for unschooling is that it doesn’t automatically give access to public school resources. The reason I cofounded a public unschool was that I thought it was important that public funds went to unschooling.
Holly: So how do you get access to Public Funds through this??
carollnash : Why should those students not get their funding for education from public funds the way others do. It’s great to learn how to fund what’s important to you, but society should support this.
Holly: I agree Carol, I am wondering how you get access to it through what you cofounded
carollnash : We were fortunate in Toronto that our board used to support self-directed learning in a document created in 1968. That document was never rescinded, so we just appealed to that document to get funding.
Holly: That is awesome!
carollnash : It took a lot of effort and communication with the board but it only took one school year to convince them.
Luba: Single-parent families
Allison: Foster children
Iris: Barrier: parents needing to work and needing their kids to be monitored/babysat
Allison: Another barrier to access: Public school children often receive free lunch or breakfast. This needs to be accessible to all regardless of school choice
Ella: SDL for younger kids where all parents need to work is another financial barrier, especially because alt. schools tend to be private (more expensive)
Elaine: Finances can be a barrier in general
Carl: how do we make sdl accessible to oppressed people?
Dileepa: Barrier: The Academic achievement “certificate”
carollnash : It’s even more frustrating that schools are publicly funded and can’t be used by unschoolers!
Carissa: Depends on the library management probably, in terms of how rigid/flexible they are for how people use them
monica: Yes, @Carissa. Here in Calgary, they are so accommodating.
Stephanie: We need combinations of libraries and community centres.
Anna: Pod Share is a membership-based housing solution for young people traveling through certain cities. I see it as a model for many many potential solutions. Education is one arena
Allison: Also think about how funding would be different if we defunded the police. More of those funds could go to making self-directed learning accessible to all through libraries, transportation, affordable housing, etc.
monica: It would be a great to put energy in petitioning the city to let people use community spaces like the library.
monica: Maybe community members could rent a space there for free.
Carissa: That’s awesome @Monica! @Luba, do you think it could be possible to meet with your DC library’s management and explain/demonstrate how their collaboration would bring so much good for your groups of SDE learners? I’m thinking you’ve probably already done that, but if not maybe could help––if they see the good it would do hopefully they would realize they’re hindering learning, and no self-respecting library would do that (again hopefully haha)!
Submit a BARRIER or a SOLUTION