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Learn, baby, Learn!: The Education Revolution in America


Trekker Stephen hard at work

When you read this dispatch, you will become a part of history! You will join the movement of 'alternative education.' Alternative education means finding new ways to learn outside of the typical 8AM-3PM classroom. It's about going out and experiencing the world, learning how to learn what you want to learn.

The Odyssey and you, now, are part of the history of alternative education because we have found a new way to look at history. We're learning about people in US history who don't get talked about in traditional history classes, and we use the Internet, not books, to do it. It's just about the coolest thing in the world.
Stephen's at it again.  Now, he's cartwheeling through Colorado!

It is no secret, but just in case you have not already figured it out, most of us here at the US Trek are insane about alternative education. All of the trekkers have had some experience with alternative learning, whether it be rafting down a river, travelling outside of the US, or learning how to drum, and we all agree that our experiences going off the beaten path have changed our lives for the better. We learned things that you just cannot get out of a book.

Neda and I travelled to Boulder, Colorado to speak with young people who are involved with a project called Cultiva! They work each week tending to Cultiva!'s 2-acre organic garden (organic means the garden is grown without pesticides or manufactured fertilizers), donating their produce to the homeless and selling it at the local farmer's market.
Chase talks about the importance of learning by doing and working for the community with Cultiva!

Neda and I met up with Chase and Gaby because we wanted to hear why they decided to take time away from their typical school schedules to work with Cultiva!

Chase told us, "It teaches me more, because I learn better by doing something than just reading about it." Gaby said "it's a good thing for me to do something for the community".
Chase takes a break from chatting with the US Trek to sell some tulips at the Boulder farmer's market

Chase and Gaby agree that they learn a lot more than if they were just sitting in a normal classroom.

Alternative education did not really take off until decades after 1850, when the Compulsory Education Act was passed, which set educational standards for every school in the US. (You can blame that act for the big standardized test you have to take.)

Since then, many parents and students have felt that they should be in charge of their own education. The Free School Movement started in the 1960s when people began to feel that traditional schools didn't focus on individuals.
That's Trekker Stephen with Cultiva!-ists, Chase, Ramona, and Gaby

New schools started to pop up throughout the country. Some even allowed young people to participate in the hiring of their own teachers and decide what they wanted to learn.

Today, there seem to be a million types of alternative education, like alternative schools, outdoor education projects, and homeschools.
Check out the name of the plant next to Stephen in the Cultiva! garden

If you want to learn about off-the-beaten-path learning experiences, the National Coalition of Alternative Community Schools can help. They connect young people with alternative education opportunities. There are some pretty fun people who work there and you can call them toll free at (888) 771-9171 to get some ideas!

You're done reading. Now go outside and do something different. Make yourself stronger and LEARN!!!


Please email me at: stephen@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Stephanie - Speak up! Let your voice be heard
Irene - Righting a national wrong as old as our school system