#146 | The Progressive School: Self-Directed Learning, Democracy, & Play w/ Ian Campbell

In this episode, I speak with community-oriented educator and co-founder of North Texas Progressive Schools (NTxPS) Ian Campbell. We discuss the fundamental principles of self-directed learning and progressive schooling, the necessity of play in childhood development, and the value of instilling democratic values and collective decision-making through education. We also discuss the potent example of collective decision-making through Ian's research into the radical social revolution in Rojava, a Kurdish-held territory in northern Syria.

Ian and I discuss the fundamentals of progressive educational models in modern progressive schools, and how a school practicing self-directed learning would function. To give a precise definition, self-directed learning is “a process in which a student is responsible for organizing and managing his or her own learning activities and needs.” We discuss what education for children looks like when this fundamental principle is encouraged and maintained within a learning environment, as demonstrated in the schools apart of the NTxPS. We also discuss the value of play in the developmental and learning processes of children and adolescents, as well as the impact democratic decision-making in progressive schooling has in an individual’s social development, as well.

Ian Campbell is community-oriented educator and is the co-founder of North Texas Progressive Schools (NTxPS), which promotes progressive education for North Texas families and provides opportunities for collaboration among member schools. School representatives, including students, meet monthly to collaborate on events such as art shows, sports meet-up, field days, and chess tournaments, share resources, as well as spreading awareness of the progressive school movements and education options for families in North Texas. Inspired by the mass organizing efforts of groups as diverse as the Iroquois Confederacy and the mutual aid-based disaster relief done in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, and Maria, Ian has grouped up some like-minded individuals and drew up the plans for a network that would make self-directed education a household name as an alternative to traditional public and private schools. A year later, it has grown into a network of eight schools, with several others working closely but unofficially.

Episode Notes:

- Learn more about Ian and his work with North Texas Progressive Schools at the website: https://self-directedpath.org/ntxps

- Learn more about the social revolution in Rojava at Ian’s YouTube channel ‘Neighbor Democracy’: http://bit.ly/NeighborDemocracy

- The songs featured in this episode are “Za'atar Smoke” and “Collage Pt. 3 Rush Hour” by The Alchemist from the album Israeli Salad.