For the Love of Learning –Creating Community Outside of School– Epi#32

For the Love of Learning – Epi#32


For the Love of Learning Episode 32

Show Title:

Creating Community Outside of School

Monday September 14, 2015  8:00 pm – 10:00 pm EST
Tuesday September 15, 2015 1:00 am – 3:00 am BST

Special Guests:

Julia Bergson-Shilcock
Sue Patterson
Katie O’Connor


Talk to any practitioner of home or alternative forms of education and they’ll tell you that the most common two questions asked are, “how will your children ever be socialized?” or “how will they ever find friends and and feel connected to a community?” It is true, ‘socialization’ looks very different to a child who learns without school. Commonly, these children interact more with their family and their surrounding community than most schooled children. Children who do not attend school have time to extend their social activities and community seeking by participating in interest groups and local activities, educational co-ops, field trips and outings, joining clubs, and visiting a variety of public places where, it’s guaranteed, there will be other people to socialize with, thus create community. In this episode, we will explore what creating community outside of a school environment  looks like with a panel of engaged facilitators and parents.


Bios of Tonight’s Guests:

Julia Bergson-Shilcock

JuliaJulia Bergson-Shilcock is Co-Director of Open Connections, a forward-thinking, innovative nonprofit educational organization located in Newtown Square, PA.

Open Connections (OC) offers programs for young people ages 2-18. Julia’s main focus areas at OC include: supporting OC families as they create and navigate their educational journeys; overseeing admissions for prospective families; facilitating the parent-toddler program; and developing and running OC’s staff training sessions.

When not at OC, Julia conducts workshops on Natural Learning for parents at area birth centers, yoga studios and other like-minded nonprofit organizations. She also offers educational consulting services for families.

A lifelong self-directed learner, Julia never set foot in a traditional classroom until college. She graduated from Arcadia University with a degree in sociology. In addition to her work at OC, she has worked with hundreds of youth while volunteering in a Philadelphia public school, serving as a private tutor, and leading numerous summer camps.

Julia and her husband, Mike, are the loving parents of three self-directed learners, ages 6, 4 and 1.

Sue Patterson

sueFirst and foremost, Sue  has three grown unschooled “children” who are now 26, 24 and 21. She has had several careers over time, and  moved frequently with the Air Force for over a 20 year period. Sue and her family have lived in many communities from San Antonio, Texas to Anchorage Alaska,  from Dixon, California to Greensboro, North Carolina and many places in between. With each move, Sue and her family connected with families, parents and children joining multiple support groups, homeschool communities and finally started out her when none of the options available fit her family. Sue also frequented  numerous conferences around the country, listening to speakers, meeting other families, sharing stories and becoming versed in the world of home education.
Through these experiences, Sue realized she was raising her kids differently from most parents.

Sue says that she didn’t start out as someone who knew she’d be a homeschooling mom. She didn’t read any books about it or subscribe to magazines on the subject. For all practical purposes, she considered herself a fairly mainstream soccer mom from the suburbs. But it didn’t take long  to realize that school was not a good fit for her family. After trying out traditional homeschooling first, Sue and her family moved into a radical unschooling paradigm.

Sue now runs Unschooling Mom2Mom. Her Facebook group has over nearly 6500 members – and that’s just in one year! Sue is also the Managing Editor for The Homeschooler Post – now sharing articles online for free to help families learn more about learning and parenting.

Sue has a book about to be published called Homeschooled Teens  – where she interviewed 75 teens and young adults from 15-39. Sue also has  a coaching practice, where most of her clients are leaving or about to leave the school system but wanted a coach/mentor to help them through some of their own obstacles and get them on steady ground.

Sue can be reached for a free 20 minute consultation at SuePatterson .com

Katie O’Connor

katieKatie has a B.A. in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. She is ardent about the importance of self-directed learning experiences and works to make such experiences as accessible as possible. She has worked in alternative learning environments such as the Albany Free School and Open Connections.

Katie founded Talking Stick Learning Center in 2006 and currently serves as Founder, Co-Director, and Lead Facilitator. Katie leads the Day Program. Katie is also responsible for all staff training as well as the development of the vision, mission, and philosophy of Talking Stick.



Lainie Liberti

As always, you can find out more about your host, Lainie Liberti at her website and the alternative education & world schooling project she runs with her teenage son at: You can also connect with her on twitter @ilainie & facebook.

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For comments, questions, suggestions or if you’d like to be guest on the show, please contact us here.



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