Product Oriented Unschooling

A design for a Learning process. Despite the name, it's focused on being a design for a school (Generative Schooling) system, though it could work for Home-School-ing also (though group processes could be more of a challenge).

Key inspirations: Project Based Learning; UnSchooling; Yong Zhao's Product Oriented Learning; Constructionism, D And D, The Craft.

Meta: I'm not saying every school should be like this, I'm a strong believer in Diversity through School Choice. But I think we need a lot of schools to work like this.

for Fractally Generative Pattern Language



  • Children are naturally curious, and naturally want to mimic adult role-models. (See Ken Robinson, Peter Gray, Daniel Greenberg, Sudbury School, John Holt.)
  • Children learn when/what they want to. Forcing a subject on them tends to result in low Engagement and retention.
  • People learn at different rates regardless of their interest level.
  • A child might want to spend all their time every day learning a single thing for years, then drop it completely to move on to something else.
  • Few people's attention is best packaged in clock-controlled sessions.
  • Two people's interest in a single "subject" may overlap only slightly.
  • Giving a child no control over their schedule for 12-16 years trains them to be NPC-s. "If you want a citizen, don't raise him like a slave."
  • Educating Kids and Educating Adults is more effective when structured around building things that the person finds Meaningful: Constructionism.
  • Many activities of investigation gain Focus by being time-bound and structured as a Project: Project Based Learning.
  • Rich projects don't fit well within the confines of a traditional single period of the day.
  • Having a "real customer" for a product/project often helps generate the best FeedBack: D And D.
  • People often learn/achieve best when working in groups at least some of the time: Connectivism, Master And Apprentices. People with different skill levels can even work together as Self Organizing peers.
  • Combinations/interactions of software and hardware often create more interesting (and profitable) products/services than either would alone.
  • Desktop Fab is increasingly affordable. But there are a variety of tools that are rather expensive for, and would be under-utilized by, a single person: Hacker Space.


  • Eliminate (most) Standardized Test-s, Curriculum, courses, schedules, age-segregation.
  • Take lots of ideas from the Sudbury School model. Maximize student Agency.
  • Make sure every student has a variety of NoteBook tools, including her own Laptop and a Student Wiki Web. (Paper and photo-capture are also crucial. Likewise Social Bookmarking (actually I think that might be part of the Student Wiki Web.) All digital tools should integrate through a WikiWord As Tag model. 2012-10-10-WritingRevolutionReadingAndOutlining
  • Discuss Current Event-s (both internal, local... global) (document via Student Wiki Web). This shouldn't be pushed, but a teacher (if no student) should make themselves available as an anchor to get this process started. (This can be a trigger for project creation.)
  • Make lots of physical resources available to play, build, etc. blocks/manipulatives, Lego, Lego Mind Storms, Board Game-s, electronics kits/components, Hacker Space/tools, ArtSupplies, Musical Instrument-s... (Maker)
  • When a student gets interested in a subject, let her have an open-ended period of exploration. At some point, encourage/help her to design a project (which will probably kick off a whole series of projects). Try to nudge things in a direction which integrates 3rd party FeedBack (Stakeholder/customer).
    • This is a key hurdle: Nudging vague interest into something meaty.
    • Have some way of easy fast sharing of new project ideas so that students can join together up front during the design phase. Also have an easy way to solicit help later on. (Or maybe if you anticipate need for lots of hands later, you need to gather Commitment from classmates before starting?)
    • Some students may rarely create/lead their own projects, but just help others. This is ok.
    • see also Stimulating Learning Projects
  • Lots of opportunities to demonstrate/present: Studio School. (Record Video to make available to others, offer variety of time slots for parents to attend, etc. - this helps reinforce the Culture model with parents and others.)
  • Let groups of students request teaching in background material as in the Sudbury School model.
  • As appropriate, find ApprenticeShip opportunities for students.

Key question: Certification/Signalling (College Prep and Vo-Tech) (School Reform)

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