Open Connections (OC) is a center and community that practices Self-Directed Learning (SDL). OC was founded over 40 years ago on the belief that young people are born naturally curious about the world. Youth ages 4-18 attend full-day programs at OC two or three days a week. Youth are grouped in vertical-age groupings and have input in designing the content of their programs. Facilitators work with young people to encourage and foster their growth in a developmentally appropriate and individualized manner. There are no tests or grades at OC. In addition to attending programs, OC helps families design what their non-OC days look like, with the goal of creating a purposeful, hands-on, and meaningful educational journey. OC refers to this type of approach as Partnership Education. OC sits on a 28-acre wooded, natural setting outside of Philadelphia.
Natural Creativity is a center and community that practices Self Directed Learning (SDL). The center provides facilities, staff and services to support self-directed learners and their families on their journey through life. Unlike a school, Natural Creativity has no mandatory attendance, does not split young people by ‘grade’ and does no testing of any kind. All performance assessment is through subjective direct observation. Young people from 4 to 18 engage in all manner of activities of their own choosing, individually and in diverse, multi-age, groups. Natural Creativity recently celebrated 5 years of operations and was founded by the co-founder of Open Connections, Peter Bergson.
A national nonprofit based in Washington, DC, Education Reimagined partners with a growing movement of visionary leaders (of all ages) who are forwarding a new future for education in their communities and across the United States. The organization aims to deepen and spread the presence of learner-centered education such that it is available to each and every child in the country, regardless of background or circumstance.
When Education Reimagined says “learner-centered education,” we mean a system of education that recognizes and values young people as unique and whole human beings with the agency to chart and live out their distinct journey of learning. This system is a transformational shift away from the conventional, school-centered education system that asks young people to adapt to a standardized, one-size-fits-all approach to learning.
The Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO) was founded in 1989 by Jerry Mintz. AERO’s goal is to advance student-driven, learner-centered approaches to education. AERO is a hub of communications and support for educational alternatives around the world. Their network includes Montessori, Waldorf (Steiner), Public Choice and At-Risk, Democratic, Homeschool, Open, Charter, Free, Sudbury, Holistic, Virtual, Magnet, Early Childhood, Reggio Emilia, Indigo, Krishnamurti, Quaker, Libertarian, Independent, Progressive, Community, Cooperative, and Unschooling. AERO’s mission is to help create an education revolution to make learner-centered education available to everyone.