What If You Didn’t Go To School


“If the system isn’t serving you, stop trying so hard.”

After 3 years of teaching History outside of DC, Kenneth Danford became frustrated with the system. Instead of blaming it on large class sizes or limited funds, he realized that the biggest problem was having a captive audience. He saw that the real issue when it comes to bored or “difficult” kids is that they’re required to be in class, they can’t leave and are forced to do something that they may or may not be interesting in.

When a friend and future co-founder gave him The Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace LleWellyn, his life changed forever. He realized that there was actually no downside to not going to school and that quitting school could actually lead to a better life for some kids.

Teenagers who feel trapped in school, are bored, depressed, anxious or fragile, don’t have to be in school to succeed in life and in their careers.

He resigned his teaching job and went on to co-found and direct North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens in Sunderland, MA.

In our conversation, Kenneth shares his mission to help kids in school stop attending school and become independent learners. He relates how he’s coached hundreds of teens and families to embrace self-directed learning and make them realize that they have a choice. In today’s world, you don’t need the highschool credential to go to college or even a fancy college.

Almost 20 years into having his own organization, Kenneth’s students can share many success stories. After attending North Star, some kids moved on to study at Brown, Columbia or MIT showing that there really are no boundaries when it comes to achieving what you want and that the main-stream way of getting an education doesn’t always have to be the best way.

In this podcast episode, we also dive into about the 7 principles that inform the work at North Star. Check them out here: http://northstarteens.org/about/guiding-principles/

Be sure to listen and if you enjoy the episode, we hope you will share it with your family and friends.

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