We are a self-directed, agile learning community in Asheville, NC. We do unschooling in community, with compassion, and power-with instead of power-over. Kids get to be who they authentically are, and to follow their heart and their passions. Facilitators and mentors are also committed to sharing their passions, amplifying the sense of agency and social conscience of our young people, and to guiding and cheering on their self-actualization.
We have a focus on equity and social justice to ensure that self-directed education is accessible and empowering for all people, especially populations that have been historically disenfranchised.
Kids at ZigZag individualize their learning within the context of a supportive, enriched environment. We focus on community, choice, and play, with the guidance of natural rhythms for flowing through our day, as well as agile tools to practice individual intention setting and collaboration. The culture of ZigZag ALC is empowering and dynamic, where kids are trusted to pursue their passions, take risks, and creatively respond to challenges.
Our school model grew out of questions like this:
– If we want children to grow up independent, why not give them practice in self-direction?
– If we want them to be motivated, why not let them pursue what interests them?
– If we want them to be passionate, why not let them engage in and explore what they love?
– If we want them to be creative, why not give them the opportunity to design their own education?
– If we want them to create a better world, why not let them get started now?
The Agile Setting
Children need a setting to develop their social, cultural and emotional intelligence, motivation, self-knowledge, and sense of purpose. Here’s how this looks like at our school:
Self-Direction: Humans are natural learners. When children get to play and follow their passions, they engage deeply, learning more quickly and thoroughly – covering years of content in weeks at the time they choose to learn it.
Intentional Culture: At ZigZag ALC, children feel they are heard, they belong, and they make a difference. As social creatures, we thrive in this kind of vibrant community which builds our confidence, heightens our communication skills, and calls forth our best selves.
Agile Tools: We use practical tools to make these lofty-sounding ideals real and reliable. These tools and practices provide visible feedback, effective self-management, clarity of purpose, and instead of rigid top-down rules, they allow for easy integration of new patterns as needs change.
The Agile Roots
The soil we grow from is trust: in students, in each other, in ourselves. The four assumptions that ground us are:
1. Learning is natural. It’s happening all the time.
2. People learn best when they make their own decisions. Children are people.
3. People learn more from the environment/culture they are immersed in than from the content they are taught.
4. People develop strength and purpose through cycles of intention, creation, reflection, sharing.
The Agile Cycle of Learning
What do you want to accomplish today?
In an Agile Learning Community, we discern and articulate what we want to do, individually and as a group.
What are you going to do about it?
Agile Learners spend their days exploring and inventing – once we know what we want, we create it.
What did you learn from your choices?
Looking back, we develop awareness of what worked and what didn’t, so we can move forward more powerfully.
How can you share it with the world?
We document our work to record, exhibit, and share our experience with others.