We all know those kids...

BigFish Learning Community: Self-Directed Education for Teens  


We all know those kids who for some reason do not thrive in school. Maybe they are bright but bored. Some do not like the social atmosphere or are being bullied. Some have learning differences that are hard for schools to address. Some don’t want hours of homework every night. And many may have a strong passion like dance, small engine repair, or computers and school gets in the way.

When kids say negative things about school to adults, the answer they often get is, “Sorry, kid. You’re just going to have to put up with it. There is no other option. You might not like it now, but if you don’t go to school, you won’t go to college and then you won’t get a good job and you’ll end up penniless and homeless.” The typical choice kids are given by adults is - “Go to school even if you hate it, or you’ll end up a failure.”

Fortunately, these are not the only two choices. What a lot of people don’t know is that you don’t have to go to school to have a successful and meaningful life. You don’t even need to attend high school to go to college. In fact, by not going to high school, you can actually start college early, as many members of our Liberated Learners Network do at 16 and 17 years old.

There is a world of opportunities for teens who do not go to school. What is great about living without school is that teens have freedom and flexibility to design the kind of life and education they want, based on who they are, what they’re good at and where they see themselves going.

In the United States, this idea of learning without attending school is called homeschooling - which is really a bad name for it. It doesn’t mean that you are replicating the structure of school at home or that parents are teaching their own kids, it just means that the family has the freedom to determine what they do educationally.

Many families, even if school is not going well, don’t feel they can take on the responsibility of homeschooling and do not consider it a realistic alternative.  A self-directed learning center provides support for families and teens to make learning without school a possibility. We are a community, a place for teens to go during the day to receive a lot of academic and non-academic support.

The most important service we offer is mentoring. All our members are paired with a core staff teacher who they will meet with at least weekly. Initially, those meetings are planning - if you are not sitting in school seven hours a day, what do you want to do, how do you want to spend your time, & where do you see yourself going?

Our main goal at BigFish is to help teens drive their own educational choices in order to become better versions of themselves. We believe the best way to relate to young people is by not forcing them to do anything, but to be mentors and guides. We celebrate learning and believe all humans are born curious and motivated.

Is Self-Directed Education the right path forward for you?

Do you know someone  ages 11-18 who might want to explore “doing” school in a different way?

Contact us by phone (603) 617-8339 or  email us info@bigfishnh.org