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Lessons from One Stone: What I took away from unschool tour

Lessons from One Stone: What I took away from unschool tour

Lindsay Russell Dexter
July 1, 2016

This week I attended a presentation at One Stone, a student-led and directed nonprofit school. Those at One School call it an  “un-school” because there are no classes or grades, no teachers and no classrooms.

Instead, it is a collaborative school where coaches and facilitators help students explore their interests. One Stone has deconstructed the current notion of education and learning.

I spent 45 minutes learning about the school from  . . . drum roll please. . its students.  It was impressive to see the vigor and passion the students have about their school and academic work. Conversely, I think parents with children in traditional public schools would be hard-pressed to find a “back-to-school night” where they learned about the institution from a student. Rather, most parents are presented with the administrator-approved stump speech.

Most striking to me was learning about One Stone’s emphasis on empathy rather than sympathy. That students should share and understand the human condition rather than just show pity for one another is a remarkable foundation for learning.

After the presentation, I thought about what I had learned from the student’s at One Stone, how the concepts of innovation, empathy and “unschool” could be implemented in Idaho’s public schools. Unfortunately, I drew a blank. Idaho has a long history of stifling innovation and upholding the status quo. Regrettably, the public school reforms made over the last several years have only continued to fund a crumbing system rather than support the student.

I think One Stone is an excellent example of innovation and reforms that are working for children. I can only imagine the caliber of students Idaho could be graduating if legislators were willing to explore concepts similar to those at One Stone. The students at One Stone are doing more than just learning. They are gaining wisdom.


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