In this episode of MEP, we have Blake Boles, who’s a writer, adventurer, educator and entrepreneur. He tells us about his passion for self-directed learning, and his work helping young people challenge themselves and connect with each other.
Blake Boles builds exciting alternatives to traditional school for self-directed young people. He directs the company Unschool Adventures and is the author of The Art of Self-Directed Learning, Better Than College, and College Without High School.
Blake and his work have appeared on TEDx, The Huffington Post, USA Today, The New York Times, BBC Travel, Fox Business, Ignite, NPR affiliate radio, and the blogs of The Wall Street Journal and Wired.com.
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 philosophies of unschooling, Blake custom-designed his final two years of college to study education full-time. After graduating he joined the Not Back to School Camp community and began writing and speaking widely on the subject of self-directed learning.
In his previous lives, he has worked as a high-volume cook, Aurora Borealis physics researcher, delivery truck driver, math tutor, outdoor science teacher, EMT medic, summer camp director, market researcher, web designer, and windsurfing and tree climbing instructor. He keeps a running goal (and failure) list. His biggest passion is sharing his enthusiasm and experience with young adults who are blazing their own trails through life. He is 32 years old.
02:11 Blake’s background
04:13 How do you define self-directed learning and why do you think it’s so important?
06:03 Do you think this teenage young adult demographic that you’re focusing on the last couple of books, is that the sweet spot for starting to really cultivate this or is there an age that you can really start to build a learner into this self-directed learning?
10:25 Traditional schooling seems to undevelop learners into these dependent thinkers, thinking inside of the box instead of igniting our natural sense of wonder and curiosity. Do you think this is overplayed, or does your research and reading suggest a pattern here?
13:40 This Hogwarts for Unschoolers model, why don’t you talk about that concept and what you’re trying to achieve with it?
15:44 I’m interested in hearing more about what a student’s experience would be like in that 3-month period, let the audience get a feel for what the model would look like.
19:34 Can you let the audience in on a failure that you’ve experienced and how you’ve been able to grow from it?
22:39 What’s the book that’s most influenced you and why?
John Taylor Gatto’s A Different Kind of Teacher: Solving the Crisis of American Schooling
23:30 What about your favorite documentary?
24:07 If you could have dinner with one person you admire, past or present, who would it be and why?
Blake Boles at the 2014 Homeschool+ Conference: Hogwarts for Unschoolers