I could not be living the life I am currently living without SelfDesign, and that is the honest truth.

Ten years ago, I was living in B.C. and had delightful little girl who was 5.  She was bright, intuitive, and incredibly artistic.   She was deeply attached to her family, and very happy at home.   And she made it very clear to us that there was no way she was going to school.   I had taught junior high and was unsettled about the deep disinterest and jaded attitudes of my students.   So I began to research alternatives in education, and stumbled upon SelfDesign (formerly Wondertree).

SelfDesign is a B.C. based organization that supports home learners.   They employ a squadron of mentors who work families, and report on their learning to the Ministry of Education.    They stand in the gap between the amazing learning that goes on naturally in SelfDesign families, and the B.C. Ministry of Education's need to tick off learning outcomes based on curriculum.    As an added bonus, B.C. families receive funding for their children's education (yes, Manitobans, funding!).

Over the years, we have had some amazing SelfDesign mentors become a part of our family.   I observed and reported weekly on what I noticed my children were doing, thinking, learning, pondering, and exploring.   My mentor wrote back with observations, encouragement, and ideas.   I loved having a partner who was keenly interested in my children, and it certainly helped that they really trusted my kids to learn and grow in their own way, at their own pace.   It takes courage to choose the path less travelled.   I can't remember how many times our mentor grounded me and helped me to really see the incredible unfolding of my children.

SelfDesign has grown exponentially since I first began my journey with them.    They began with a K - 9 program, but are currently also a global community, and have offerings for high schoolers through Self Design High.    My daughter is now in grade 10, and participates in a beautiful online high school program called EOS, offered by SelfDesign.   She is loving her current mentors and the way they are opening up the world to her, and is engaged with the work because it feels like her own exploration, not an imposed one.   And although I don't believe a high school diploma is essential to a productive and healthy life,  SelfDesign High will be offering her an internationally accredited diploma.

I can honestly say that every single person I have met that works as a part of SelfDesign has inspired me to be a better person.   I don't know how the organization has managed to attract such an array of beautiful people, but perhaps it has something to do with this:   SelfDesign has a track record of saying yes when a need is encountered.    Yes to be the support, the inspiration, and the courage to embark on new and wonderful things.    And here is the truly exciting part.... they have said Yes to us!   To helping Winnipeg create it's own learning community, shored up by the bigger and growing community of Self Design.    

So my deepest and heartfelt thanks goes out to SelfDesign... for believing in my kids, for making things possible, for partnering with us here in Winnipeg, and for giving strength and courage to follow the path less traveled.     


Everything starts with a dream, right?   

Who knows when the seeds of a dream are actually planted.  When do ideas begin to take root?    I suppose for us, the dream has been germinating for a long time.   It began in our long-gone-by days at a desk in school, and grew as we watched the beautiful unfolding of our children.  

 But the seeds began to sprout in earnest when a group of us asked each other one day, why couldn’t we?   Why couldn’t we gather people around our beliefs about learning?   Why couldn’t we start a learning community right here, in Winnipeg?  And why couldn’t it be fabulous?

So we began to talk about it.    We talked with each other.   We talked with people who are already doing it, elsewhere.   And now we are talking to you.   

We dream of a community of kids and teens and adults who love to explore and talk and try things and experience life, and who enjoy doing it together.   Some of them are jamming together in a band or working on a play; others are gathered on couches and talking about their week; some are in small groups discussing the greek roots of science or how to start an astronomy club or a community garden, and a group is in the workshop tinkering with an enthusiastic university engineer student.   We see students meeting with someone to help develop learning plans, or tap into work-study programs or travel experiences, and expand or define their desires for their own lives. 

We dream of mentors who trust that kids know what they need to learn, and that they are already on an amazing journey of discovery when mentors come into their lives.   We see a community that is not about disseminating information, but about self-discovery in a space where you can feel safe, with peers and adults who trust your process.    We dream of mentors who fundamentally trust kids and believe they know what they need and what they want, and will help them think through how to get it.  And we dream of kids and teens excited by and engaged by their lives, living in a warm and vibrant community.

It’s a big, beautiful dream.   And when you start talking about your dreams, isn’t that when they start unfolding?   So here we are, at the beginning of the story, talking about it.   The dream will grow, and change, and evolve.  And whatever comes our way, it’s going to be a fantastic ride.    It really is.



    Welcome to three65's blog.   This collection of entries is a telling of our story as it unfolds.  Here we gather our thoughts about learning and growing a community.


    December 2012