Last week we spent a very busy 2 days in New York City and Boston. Here’s a recap of some of our adventures. Bright and early on the first day we took the camera into the bustle of the Big Apple to talk to people on the street and get their thoughts on the state of public education. Universally, they all agreed that things are in bad shape, but nobody had any solutions. When we asked them about homeschooling we got mixed answers from the usual “I could never do that” to “sounds like a bad idea” along with a few that thought it was great. Most people however when asked what they thought homeschooling looked like, presented us with the stereotypical image of mom with the kids at the kitchen table and the kids not being socialized. AAhhhhggg, why is this image so prevalent in our cultural psyche? I hope our film can begin to change people’s minds and open them up to the reality that there are so many choices available when it comes to learning outside of the traditional classroom and it doesn’t look the way they think it does.
Speaking of educational choices, we had a fantastic interview with Jerry Mintz from Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO). Jerry has been a leading voice in the alternative school movement for over 30 years and had a lot to tell us about educational choices like Free Schools, Democratic Schools, and the Sudbury and Summerhill models. He’s a wealth of knowledge and had great things to say about homeschooling also.
We also spoke with Lisa Nielsen, author, educator and owner of the Innovative Educator Blog. Lisa’s expertise is in using technology and social media and finding creative ways of integrating them to provide innovative learning tools for the 21st century. She was filled with brilliant ideas about using all the tools we have available to us in the technological age.
It was a day brimming with fresh and innovative ideas about education and I wish we could have stayed longer, but with a very tight budget and schedule, we hustled out of town at the end of the day and drove to Boston to spend some time with Pat Farenga, author, unschooler and trustee of the legacy of the late John Holt, considered by some to be the father of the modern homeschooling movement. Pat made us really welcome at his home and entertained us with wonderful stories about John and his work. He also very generously provided us with archival photographs, video clips and audio recordings of John in his heyday.
It was a whirlwind of a trip, but so worth the effort. Each of the people we interviewed will add so much dimension and important information to the film. We’re really grateful to them for taking the time to speak with us. I also want to say thanks to Rebecca Israel, a local filmmaker from New York who volunteered her time to help us out, even going so far as to drive with us to Boston. It’s so great to meet people who are as excited about the project as we are. Next, it’s back to our main family for more shooting in May, so stay tuned.