It’s true, for years at the Campbell house, we have let our nine year old child do lots of dangerous things. Camden loves to light fires, run our commercial gas stove, drive our side by side, bike without a helmet (yikes), she enjoys working with Niall’s uber sharp knives, she surfs BIG waves alone and probably scariest for most parents, she manages her own education. We don’t grade her, we don’t test her, she assesses herself through rubrics, with feedback from peers and co-learners along with the response she receives from the audience on Expo Nights when she showcases her work. As long as Camden is working on something passionately, we don’t worry about it, we know if she is engaged, she is learning. The more mistakes, the better. In the Campbell house and at Buckeye Friends where Camden goes to school, success is in the doing, failures are celebrated and mined for the rich experiences they are because lots of mistakes are optimum for developing the mind. We learn from our mistakes is not a cliche, it’s how the human brain works and at Buckeye we work hard to create an environment ideal for brain development.

There are many things that lead up to our embracing project-based-self-directed-learning, yet, one could argue, Gever Tulley, the award winning author of 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do) had the biggest impact. 

After years of research, I knew I wanted innovative education for Camden and when I decided to create Buckeye Friends School, I took our fledgling team to one of the top innovative schools in the world, Brightworks in San Francisco for training. It was there in their Summer Institute that I met Gever and proceeded to insert myself as a friend and mentee in his life. 

I will always be thankful that Gever took me under his wing; unveiling the myths around education and changing the paradigm is difficult in the extreme, having an expert with many years of evidence has been a game changer for both me personally and for Buckeye.