Have you heard about Freedom to Grow?
When you work hard for a great cause and you want to make a diference
What if the best way to do school was UNschooling?
Indeed, this is what Freedom to Grow UNschool in Athens, Georgia has been striving to do since 2010.
The students at the school who are 6 to 12 years old are registered as home schooled by the state but still attend classes that are nothing like you’ve heard of before. This school is dedicated to providing a learning environment focused on “individuality, democratic participation, and student directed learning.”
Lora Smothers, the current director of the learning center, graduated from Emory before going on to UGA and her current position in 2012. These students are free to choose what they want to do on a daily basis and teachers do not have to follow the traditional curriculum full of standardized tests.
Their core values include: “ all children can learn and that all children want to learn”, “learning should be self-directed”, “the world is our classroom”, encouraging imagination and creativity can sometimes get messy or that physical movement and the outdoors is a crucial part of life.
What does this have to do with Emory?
Last semester, three freshmen reached out to Lora as they believed fundamentally in those values and were ready to help.
Brady Goodman-Williams, Christopher Lee McDougal and Matt Ribbel created Freedom to Grow Emory (FTGE) on our campus which is an organization dedicated to the promotion and support of this school. After lots of discussions with Lora they came up with three fields where Emory undergraduates can come in to make a difference: marketing, fundraising and the development and implementation of a summer camp at the school.
Today 22 like minded students have joined them to help them make a difference by bringing in their motivation and skills. Our organization works directly with Lora, separating into three groups within the organization, to meet each of these needs.
Today they want to show the world how this educational method has so many amazing benefits by putting in and improving our marketing skills and who’s better at this than our generation who grew up with social media and internet?
Through first-hand experience and real-world problem solving, those undergraduates involved with FTGE will be introduced to the education system, policy, administration and, particularly, the growing world of alternative education. At the university level, students often aren’t granted exposure to alternative educational forms. As we work to support the mission of FTGU, we will also gain a valuable understanding of the work and educational philosophy by which the UNschool and related institutions adhere.
So what is “unschooling” exactly?
Every day the students get to choose what they want to learn and how. For example, Lora once told us that a kid wanted to study penguins so they studied the anatomy of penguins, literature around penguins, what is the relation between humans and this animal…
Another fun example is last semester when the kids worked on the theme of circus for 6 weeks. They studied everything from the history, physics, maths, literature to how to make a circus happen in real life. The kids put on a show for their parents in the end.
This is why today, Freedom to Grow Emory sees this new innovative and fun way of doing school as the best way for kids to grow and see learning in a different way. Let’s show Georgia, the US and maybe the world that UNschooling is so much better than a traditional education.
The kids at Freedom to Grow UNschool today want us to create a week long summer camp revolving around Star wars to attract new families and have fun for an entire week. As members of Freedom to Grow Emory who work closely with this school we also want to meet this kids and we would love to make this project a reality so don’t forget to look up at more information.
If you are interested and please donate because we can all make a difference.
If you’re interested in donating, visit:
You can look at the TEDtalk by the school’s director (Lora) about this school:
Check out the school’s website: http://www.freedomtogrowunschool.com/