How do you create learning opportunities from the world around you?


This first task is an open call and we'd love input from anyone! Let us know what you do to harness learning opportunities in your day-to-day life. You can post your answers here or send us a personal message.

Task Discussion


  • Claire Bangser   July 25, 2011, 4:02 p.m.

    We (Brandon and Claire) have set off on our journey to explore this question! So far, we've been mixing some traditional learning methods (going to libraries and museums, interviewing experts, touring learning centers and 'unschools') with some quirky projects that we've just made up to see what we get out of them. It's all a big experiment and we're having a lot of fun with it.

    Before we started our journey, we mapped our interests, skills, goals, and ways we were hoping to grow through the trip. We drew big, complex mind maps, not linear lists, so we could visualize our minds more fluidly and make broader connections. We both came out with some big themes we wanted to explore: alternative education was a big one -- what are ways that people are changing the concept of 'school'? Where does our project fit in and how can it be useful to young people that aren't content to spend 12-16 years of their lives in classrooms?

    Brandon is a naturalist and the Pacific Northwest is a great place to explore flora and fauna, so this is another theme... We have used books and 'apps' to identify animals and plants that he doesn't recognize... for me it's like having a personal ecology teacher at my side!

    More than anything, we're finding that this trip is a lot about the process of reflecting on what's happening all around us. We might have some specific themes that we're looking to explore, but we also have a million other types of information and interesting people coming our way at all times. So we're focusing introspectively on processing the information in ways that expand our thinking and challenge us creatively. Brandon has been getting more into art and journaling. I have been pushing myself to do more writing and using radical mapmaking to visualize information in new ways (for example, mapping my own curiosity path in a city instead of mapping roads and buildings) - reading books by Denis Wood in public libraries to get ideas!

    We're also asking lots of people the same three questions along the route:

    1. What does 'success' mean to you? / What makes you thrive? (one or both, depending on context)

    2. What skill or attribute to you value most in yourself, and how did you learn it?

    3. What skill or attribute do you think young people today should learn to be successful in the future?

    Talking to lots of random people has been the most rewarding thing for me so far. We have seen an unprecedented level of open-ness and generosity from so many people, mostly because they are curious about these two grungy 20-somethings that have lots of stuff on their bikes! Everyone wants to know where we're going, what we're doing, and offer their tips and personal stories. The experience has been incredibly rich so far, and we have only just begun...

  • Alison Jean Cole   July 18, 2011, 8:37 p.m.

    I'm trying my best to learn from people that "do". I've recently started participating in traditional crafts and trades, "blue-collar" work as some may say. Through these experiences I'm becoming significantly more useful than I would if I were sitting in gradutate school comparing meta-data.

    I'm working on a handmade master's instead: http://www.grungefarmer.org/handmade-masters.html

    It's is a self-directed learning endeavor that weaves together a wealth of graduate level free & open courses with apprenticeships and skill building in a particular area of practice.

    Right now I'm working on a permaculture farm in my town and learning to weld, pour concrete, and hone some basic carpentry skills.

    I'm having the best time ever!