Highlights and Snapshots 2020

A non-exhaustive list of happenings from around our global network in the past 12 months!


Akilah Richards did a Fare of the Free Child episode called "From Hella Schooled to Self-Directed" with Antonio Buehler from Abrome! Check it out here.

We told everyone who would listen about Akilah and Maleka Digg's workbook.

Dr. Sundiata gave a talk at the Pathfinder Community School titled "Self-Directed Education For A Sustainable World" that you can watch here and shortly after he gave an interview titled “Self-Directed Education For Our Black Learners” that you can check out here.

Abby Oulton published a piece in Tipping Points that's 20+ pages of quotes on learning//education from women and nonbinary writers, predominantly BIPOC women. It's online here.

Juliana Machado in Brazil hosted "Imersão na Aprendizagem Ágil," and details are at: imersao-na-aprendizagem-agil-tickets.

Published pieces from ALC Network folks to check out this month included Bria Bloom, Juliana Machado (in Portugese), Antonio Buehler, and Alex Khost!

The Brooklyn Apple kids, assisted by some Cottonwood Brooklyn kids, made a video that won inclusion in the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival, online at https://90secondnewbery.com/post/190293537501/surviving-the-applewhites-by-stephanie-s-tolan.

ZigZag ALC in North Carolina was spotlighted by this article: https://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2020/01/22/asheville-unschooling-homeschool-zig-zag-gains-popularity/4419234002/.

Crystal Byrd Farmer held a network call to discuss Social Justice and ALCs.

Tomis Parker, Alex Aldarondo, and Mel Compo worked on details for the planned first international facilitator retreat.

Katherine Chen and the #bookchats call crew finished "The Age of Surveillance Capitalism" by Shoshana Zuboff and moved on to "How We Get Free" by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor.


Heartwood ALC announced plans for their third Liberation and Education Summit, focused on disability and self-directed education.

Some facilitators hosted and published a recording of a call discussing adventures around literacy: https://youtu.be/wTEuRXK1FvA.

A collective of facilitators from Latin American projects launched a series of "Open Spaces" for learning and relationship-building across projects.

ALC Mosaic announced plans to host the 2020 retreat for facilitators from the Southeastern US in early October.

ALC-NYC sent a teen on a month long exchange trip to Educambiando in Veracruz Mexico as part of the teen's graduation project; Educambiando welcomed the teen and hosted him for a life-changing experience.

Abby started a "SDE 101" weekly support call for community parents and caretakers.


Covid-19, already having pushed Flow ALC in Italy online, arrived in the US and then a number of other countries with ALC projects, prompting widespread shut-downs, resource sharing, and new levels of InterALC collaboration.

Alexander Khost at ASDE's online magazine Tipping Points published ALC folks' perspectives as we closed our physical sites. Pieces featured Jenni Mahnaz, Bria Bloom, Crystal Byrd Farmer, Antonio Buehler, and Abby Oulton:

Rubén Alvarado and Abby Oulton kicked off a series of online storytime videos -- on ALC-NYC's Instagram and on YouTube -- with a bilingual reading of Collaboration:


Tipping Points published this beautiful piece from Jenni Mahnaz:

We cheered on Akilah Richards and shared this video of her correcting some Good Morning America ideas about unschooling https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egK34Dv6cEc

Summer retreat, trainings, Heartwood Summit, and other gatherings were cancelled.

The 10-part ALC Network webinar series launched, put together by Abby Oulton, Crystal Byrd Farmer, Ryan Shollenberger, Antonio Buehler, Jennifer Campbell, Bria Bloom, and Anthony Galloway somewhat spontaneously in response to the covid cancellations of so many knowledge sharing events they'd been looking forward to.


As the uprisings in defense of Black lives sparked in the US and spread, Abby -- who took ALC-NYC folks to Black Lives Matter protests in 2014 and took on network leadership out of determination to disrupt hegemony while seeding better futures -- opened the monthly newsletter returning to some basic definitions the global SDE movement had begun debating with new energy. It said: "Self-directed education at its best honors the dignity, potential, and inherent value of each person's unique life. ALCs' practice of SDE foregrounds the role of supportive and intentional relationships in our lives. As much as facilitators guide children growing into their potential and the world, we have to guide the world in growing into its potential, into readiness to support and celebrate all these free people we're raising, including everyone they might love, lean on, or become. Alexis Pauline Gumbs calls this living the future we want into reality 'prophesying in the present tense.' It's our power and responsibility..."

The much awaited Autono.me platform for free or fee-based offerings went live at https://a.utono.me/! Project was made possible by collaboration of Alexander Khost, Dan Ports, Nat Cauldwell, Emily Samuel, Crystal Farmer, Amber Irvin, James Khost, Oliver Khost, and Bria Bloom. The webinar series wrapped! Karen Duek, Jennifer Campbell, and Mel Compo started transcriptions, recordings were sent to Educambiando for adaptation and translation for the Latinamerican ALCs, and Crystal Byrd Farmer began managing an archive of the recordings, transcriptions, and resources from the webinars created at https://www.patreon.com/agilelearningcenters.


InterALC online offerings concluded after 15 weeks, as the centers offering the bulk of them adjourned for their summer breaks, many of them having run programming thorough their previously scheduled breaks and beyond the original "last day" of their school years to support kids having stability and community through the first wave of deaths and lockdowns.

Amber Sawyer, Mel Compo, Spencer Babcock, and Jenny Lemker wrapped up hosting ~52 hours of weekly support calls they'd started in September of 2019! They made plans to rest for July and August then restart calls in September.

Rubén Alvarado and Abby Oulton sent out a survey to assess what kinds of aid and support facilitators and projects needed as the pandemic wore on.


Anthony Galloway posted on Slack to share some rad videos from a discussion he had with Mikala Streeter and Lora Smothers sparked by reflections on his webinar (there's three parts):


ALC-HIMIA: Facilitando futuros deseados! online event took place. The invitation was: "Co- sentimos que entramos en un tiempo óptimo para crear imágenes de realidades que deseamos: claras y verdaderas. Asimismo, procesos subsecuentes que nos permitan cristalizar y materializarlas. Honrar, agradecer y dejar atrás el pasado que no sirve más. Accederemos a conversatorios, pláticas, herramientas, ideas e información para facilitar el futuro deseado. Este evento sucede parcialmente en la Economía de la Generosidad, ofrecemos algunos espacios de Regalo. Toda la información boletos y las solicitudes de becas en www.alc-himia.org" https://www.alc-himia.org. Online event. Organized and Facilitated by Isela Mondragón, Alex Aldarondo, and Rubén Alvarado. La Orquídea's Primer webinario internacional de composición musical (WIMC) ocurría, para músicos, estudiantes y aficionados. "Diseñamos una semana llena de aprendizaje totalmente en línea, con compositoras y compositores de distintas partes de México y del mundo!" http://laorquideacfa.com/webinario-de-musica-y-composicion/ Centers in the US started publishing their covid plans for the 2020-2021 school year. Highlights included this one about being mostly outdoors from Abrome http://www.abrome.com/blog/2020/6/10/abrome-releases-contingency-plans-to-reopen-amid-covid-19, this one about being in small groups indoors and remote from Gastonia Freedom School http://gastoniafreedom.org/safe-in-community/, and this one that's a conditions-responsive hybrid based from ALC-NYC https://nycagile.org/2020-2021-plan/.

To support folks whose plans included a lot of outdoor time that was -- to put it mildly -- a change from their norm, Alexander Khost put together this article about how he has packed his outdoors-all-day bag in Brooklyn for the past few years:


While the ALC Network includes people and projects around the world, most of the folks who host regular calls and projects for us are based in the US and follow a fairly conventional "school year," so September meant calls and groups that had paused for July and August slowly started up again.

Also, Akilah Richards' new book Raising Free People started arriving in folks' mailboxes and local bookstores!

Jennifer Campbell and Abby Oulton joined the organizing team of the Alliance for Self-Directed Education to support their transition towards becoming an organization that centers the needs and desires of marginalized folks, internally and externally. The Alliance hired Crystal Byrd Farmer for a series of workshops to help them get started.


The ALC-NYC student newspaper shared their website with the network. Check it out at https://newspaperalc.wordpress.com/ To access past editions you'll need the access code "Newspaper" to prove you're not a bot :)

Crystal Byrd Farmer's new book The Token: Common Sense Ideas for Increasing Diversity in Your Organization started arriving in folks' mailboxes and local bookstores.


Tomis Parker published a call for nominations to join the ALC Network board. Rubén Alvarado translated the call and shared it in Spanish.

Rubén also began gathering information from Spanish-language ALCs, preparing content for updating the Starter Kit in early 2021 with Abby Oulton.

Rubén and Abby also began negotiating with publishers and the covid logistics of international shipping to get Raising Free People translated and published in Spanish.

After months of articles and online essays, Dr. Katherine Chen and the #bookchats crew returned to reading books with Black Software by Charlton McIlwain.

Tomis Parker, Jennifer Campbell, and Bria Bloom contributed to the composition of the Alliance for Self-Directed Education's anti-oppression statement. Abby Oulton began re-writing their website to reflect this new commitment to self-directed education for liberation, distinct from the emerging movement of mostly white folks in the US advocating individual-oriented self-directed education with the goal of giving their kids a market advantage as future entrepreneurs.


Is unfolding as this report is being written!

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