WHO IS THE UNSCHOOL FOR?
In theory: everyone! In practice: adults (we do hope to get some programs going for the younger crowd eventually though!). Our programs are especially useful for social change agents, people in sustainability, engineers, designers, communication experts, managers, artists, or anyone else wanting to participate in the world in more significant ways!
Our Masterclasses are perfect for facilitators, consultants and teachers. Our Workshops are perfect for people wanting to up-skill in systems and practical methods for enacting social change. Our programs will help you wrap your head around sustainability as an opportunity, as opposed a "problem," which it is often misrepresented as.
Want to re-configure your brain to develop a 3-dimensional thinking approach, embrace divergent and flexible thinking techniques, and be more free-flowing, connected and expressive? Looking to unleash your creative potential and use design as a catalyst for change? The UnSchool is for you.
What is “experiential learning” all about?
Our experiences dictate our worldviews and make us who we are. The UnSchool works to harness every experience as an opportunity for discovering new things. In our programs, we design experiences that seek to maximize participants curiosity and inquiry, leading them to the acquisition of new skills, knowledge and resources.
When were you founded and by who?
We kicked off our first experiment in experiential learning with a launch party on September 3rd, 2014. Though we’ve thankfully proven interest and demand for our offerings, we are still a startup, rowing through a sea of uncertainties, sorting out the best way to grow and share our model. Our founder, Leyla Acaroglu, came up with the idea to start an experimental knowledge lab for adults after spending over a decade working with designers, professionals and students wanting to make sustainability happen. She discovered that there is a big disjunct between desire and action, and identified that one cause is that the mainstream educative system is siloed and structured in a disempowering way. So, she set about designing a unique methodology and approach to filling the knowledge/action gap.
Why do you charge for your programs?
We are an unfunded startup and thus have to share the cost of producing our programs with collaborators, partners and our community. Each of our programs has a cost associated with it, but we work hard to keep this affordable and accessible to our community. We offer scholarships where we can, work with space and event partners to reduce costs and encourage our fellows to crowdfund their way to our programs.
Are you a non-profit or charity?
No. We are a social enterprise, which means our business model is for profit but our mission and vision are socially motivated. In addition to the fact that our raison d'être is to make positive change, we are all about reinvesting the profits we do earn into socially motivated projects. For example, we fund scholarship places for our fellowships based on profits from previous programs using a pay it forward model. We aim to build social capital through our work and we also do lots of pro bono projects through our design agency, Disrupt Design.
What is this “disruptive design” thing you go on and on about?
Our founder, Leyla, came up with a methodology for intentionally intervening in dynamic systems, in order to leverage change outcomes that seek to address social and environmental problems. This “Disruptive Design Methodology” draws on systems thinking, life cycle assessment, sociological inquiry and design thinking. To us, being “disruptive” is not about messing shit up for the sake of it; it's about having intentionality in decision making, understanding the systems that influence and impact things, and then applying this to building interventions that create positive social change.
What happens at the UnSchool?
So much happens! We run drop in lunchtime classes, we have 1 week fellowship programs that pop-up all over the world, we have masterclasses and certification (coming soon) programs, we design tools for educators, facilitators and creative rebellious change makers and we are constantly pushing the boundaries through experimentation, research and FUN (boy do we have fun)!
What programs would be good for me? I’m a…
You should apply for our fellowship program!
Check out our masterclass in the Disruptive Design Methodology for social change. Also, take a look at our tools and games to see if any of them would be useful in your classes.
...practicing designer / professional that wants to upskill in social change and sustainability
...entrepreneur / intrapreneur
Apply to run an un-school labs (coming very soon!)
WHAT’S THE POINT OF ALL THIS?
Ahhh, that old existentialist question. We are all about making change, challenging the status quo, and activating more problem-loving innovators to see the world's messy problems as opportunities to participate with purpose. So, we exist because there is a need for more boundary pushing, provocative, risky and challenging experiments in change making.
Why are you called the UnSchool?
Because we are all about un-doing the damage that mainstream educative experiences have had on today’s adults. In standard school systems, many of us learned reductionism instead of learning how to see interconnecting parts of a puzzle. We learned to memorize more than we learned to think for ourselves. We learned to write in prescribed structures and to color in the lines. Schools shaped us into neater people, but we live in a messy world.
Mainstream education has traditionally been about control, conformity, and replication of the status quo. Thankfully there are some progressive thinkers working to evolve K-12 education, but for the most part it is still the same. After learning a bunch of stuff throughout 12-20 years of formal education, do we walk way with all the tools we need to be functional, happy and contributing members of the human race? We don’t think so-- in fact the current education system strikes us as really old school and in need of disruption. We are challenging stale modes of learning and the social construction that comes with it; we are encouraging a shift in the way we see, seek and exchange knowledge. Learning, sharing, curiosity, and active participation are lifelong pursuits for us. We are an “un-school” because we are a playful and provocative challenge to the ways in which we “school” and “un-school” ourselves and those we influence.
Are you based on the 1970s counterculture of unschooling?
No. Though the similarity in names is undeniable and we do share a few concepts, we are distinct from 1970s style unschooling as we are focused on disrupting the status quo of knowledge transfer and empowering rapid transfer of human-centric information (such as systems thinking and sustainability). Also, it is key to note that we are specifically an un-school for adults. Kids are great, of course, but we want to un-do the damage of mainstream reductionist thinking, which is currently affecting and limiting emerging leaders and professionals. We want to activate these emerging leaders and professionals to participate in future-forward solutions to the world's messy problems. Children are the future, but we need active agents of positive change *now*.
So, the UnSchool is for adults only, right?
For the moment, yes. We mainly work with people from their mid 20’s onwards, though we may do more kid-centric programs in the future!
Since you are an Unschool, does that mean you don't have classes?
We do run classes and workshops, and sometimes they are even in classroom settings. We find that well crafted classes can be quite effective at allowing knowledgeable people to rapidly transfer their knowledge and experiences to other people in semi-structured ways. In addition to classes, we do lots of experiential learning, where the knowledge is embedded in something else. For example, our programs may invite participants to learn about cognitive biases through a Designercise game, or to discover social influencers through our secret dinner parties. The classes we do hold, whilst they are run in a room with a projector and a lead educator, are still designed to create a particular experience. In our classes, the way the knowledge is synthesized and articulated is designed to encourage rapid uptake and comprehension, so that people walk away with an additional tool in their mental toolset for making change!
YOU ARE A LITTLE BIT RISQUÉ, WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?
We are disruptors of the status quo and are into messing shit up for positive change. We are rebels with a cause, and that makes us a little bit risqué by nature! Yes, we swear and sometimes we make inappropriate jokes (this is part of the reason why we cater to adults and not kids!). But life is more fun with laughing fits, and, in our opinion, it’s better to be risqué than to be normal!
Our parent company, Disrupt Design, keeps things a bit more professional and is available for any corporate needs where swearing is not encouraged, etc.