Learning and Liberation

Kids don't need school.

What if learning were consensual?

What if learning were respectful?

What if learning were joyful?

Learning and Liberation is a documentary series that explores the people and places that allow young people to grow, play, and learn outside of traditional school.

Coming Fall 2023

8 Stories

Free on YouTube

8 Episodes

15-30 Minutes Each

Created by two teenage unschoolers who have firsthand experience with the power of self-directed education.

Genevieve Shade (she/her)

In November of 2019 I sat at a desk in my ninth grade homeroom feeling bored, anxious, and frustrated. My eyes were heavy with fatigue. I glanced at the clock: 7:50 AM. Depression and anxiety settled over me as I realized I wouldn’t have time to work on the projects that mattered to me outside of school. Eight hours of school plus homework felt draining and overwhelming. Every day felt like an absurd chore, and this day didn’t feel any different. 

I made a promise to myself there that I would find some way to leave school. I kept that promise and left school to start unschooling in 2020. I can now say that this was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Since leaving school, I’ve made lots of art, made deep connections with people, read books that I love, written about the things that I care about, fueled my obsession with alternative education, and perhaps most remarkably, made a widely-read zine called “Youth Liberation Now”. The zine touches on topics of youth rights, education, the history of youth movements, and politics. Through purely grassroots distribution, it has spread widely across the US and internationally. 

Beyond my accomplishments (perhaps most importantly), I am happier without school. I am doing work that I want to be doing and spending my time on the things that make me happy. My life feels full and meaningful in a way that it did not when I was in school. Far from restricting my future options, I feel that unschooling has widened them. I didn’t need school, and neither do you.

Ben Rehrman (they/them)

I’ve been unschooled my entire life. As far back as I can recall I’ve been doing what I wanted, expressing myself how I wanted, and learning whatever I wanted. Unschooling has allowed me to live my life the way I want to live it, a way that wouldn’t be possible if I was in a school. It’s hard to imagine where I would be if I wasn’t unschooled. I doubt I would still have such good connections with my friends and loved ones, the hours to work on the creative projects I spend my time on, or the ability to live my life the way I want to live it. 

In March of 2019 I made a YouTube video explaining unschooling, and since then it’s become one of the most viewed online videos about unschooling. After the video got popular, through comments and conversations, I realized there are a lot of people really interested in this way of living and learning, and many who would like to seriously pursue it. Since then I’ve been making media about unschooling to try to share my experience and help others.

My films have been shown at various film festivals, showcases, and widely spread online, something that I’m very grateful for. I hope that they’re able to show audiences what being a self-directed teenager really looks like and what a life-changing form of education self-directed learning can be.

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