TED Conversations

Juliette LaMontagne

Founder & Managing Director, Breaker


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What are the advantages/disadvantages of learning models that exist outside of traditional educational institutions?

With the growing number of alternative learning pathways and opportunities to better serve the needs of individual students, what's working best? And what can we learn from the failures and tensions? Where and how have the models in the margins effectively disrupted the status quo?

I'll add to the conversation my current initiative, Breaker - driving alternative learning and social innovation by mobilizing interdisciplinary teams of young creative collaborators to design product solutions to global challenges.

This Live Conversation will start on Feb. 15, 2012, 1:00pm EST/ 10:00am PST


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    Feb 15 2012: I'm trying to work out what is the best educational option for my 4-year-old daughter. We are military and about to move to either Washington D.C. or Virginia Beach. I don't even know if Homeschooling will ever be an option for us, and I don't know how it differs from state to state. She was born in California. We currently reside in New York, and eventually Virginia this fall. Once there it looks like we'll be staying put. The military has mentioned "military schools". I'm apprehensive about the public school system. Then there's homeschooling co-ops. And some of my friends have chosen Waldorf. Do you have to have an education degree to homeschool? How do homeschooling co-ops work? Is that a viable alternative to public schools?
    • Feb 15 2012: You do not have to have an education degree. My parents are both well educated, but neither had an "education degree" and neither taught me, and I'm about to graduate successfully from graduate school (homeschooled all my life!).
      The regulations do vary by state, so do some research. Also, the school districts like to have a lot of information, but this is not necessarily required. Local homeschool listservs or co-ops can help you research this and other alternatives.
      Homeschool groups, listservs, and the like can also be a great resource about different ways to homeschool and different approaches to take.
    • Feb 15 2012: Hi Maia. I home-schooled my daughter for 4.5 years. It is an awesome alternative to public school. We homeschooled our daughter in California. They had a charter school that was under the umbrella of the public school system so we were able to choose her curriculum and taught her the core subjects at home. If she wanted to take art, music, science fair type projects, etc, we would take her to the campus and she would be able to do those projects at the school. We would meet with a credentialed teacher once a month to review what we were going to do for the month and how well we had met our previous month's goals. We would also submit samples of homework assignments, our attendance records and grades. Those were all entered into her cum folder and kept as a permanent part of her record.

      Charter schools are also a great alternative to the public system. Through research, you can find what the charter emphasizes and then find one that fits your child's needs/personality. My daughter attended the last 2 years of her high school experience in a liberal arts/leadership charter high school that has molded her into a fine young woman. Many of charter schools are under the auspices of the public system but they seem to have more flexibility and you have more input.

      I have been profoundly grateful for both of these experiences for I had put my daughter in a traditional public school and she was lost and so unhappy. They both challenged her to the extent that she needed and yet both encouraged her and nurtured her. All of her needs were met--not just the academia.

      You asked about having a degree to homeschool. That is generally not required. Co-ops are a fun way of finding adequate curriculum and also a fun way for the kids to get together and learn in the same way. They are kind of like classes--only smaler in size.

      Good luck in finding the school that is the best fit for your child!

      Catherine Kelsey
    • Feb 15 2012: Maia: We have friends who are in the Air Force who homeschool their kids. They are a wonderful family and their kids do great! Don't let the fact that you're in the military prevent you from homeschooling your children. When you move, the school moves with you. :)
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      Feb 15 2012: Some states are tougher than others to HS in. CAlifornia and NY are really difficult: loads of paperwork to provide to the state. My state, Texas, is very easy~ no real burden and we could be doing the bare minimum (we don't). In my city, Austin, the HS Community is very connected via the internet. My daughter and I found lots of like-minded individuals to co-op with. I certainly didn't feel up to the language arts portion of her education, but was happy to trade for science and math (more my speed). Waldorf is a type of pedagogy: you might explore Enki (sp?) if you are looking in to cooping using Steiner inspired curriculum. Good luck!
      • Feb 15 2012: Colorado and Nebraska are pretty easy, too. Colorado requires testing every two years, and that's about it. Nebraska requires a submitted "curriculum" at the beginning of the year and it has to have a health-based class included.
    • Feb 15 2012: On Waldorf homeschooling, check this out: http://www.waldorfhomeschoolers.com/ and the founder of the site, Dr. Kytka Hilmar-Jezek, who homeschools/unschools her three children, very inspirational speaker. Her 19 year old son, Zack Jezek, is a 'proof' of her unschooling success. You can also listen to in depth radio interviews with both of them on http://whattheexpertsknow.com/ (as well as other visionary educators)
    • Feb 15 2012: I know several military families that homeschool. Check in with the local school system as soon as you can. They can tell you what to do. For military families, homeschooling can provide stability the kids wouldn't otherwise have.

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