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Japhy Dhungana on The Value of Global Education

Japhybwlr-200x300On episode #16 of the Real Education Podcast I interview a fellow international trip leader who I met in Nepal last year as we were both leading groups around the country. Japhy works for a well-established travel and gap year company—Where There Be Dragons—and has tons of experience as a leader of young adults and a global traveler and adventurer himself. Enjoy!


Japhy Dhungana, program director at Where There Be Dragons (, talks with host Blake Boles about international semester programs and what young people gain from them, his own path from growing up in Nepal to becoming a climbing bum in Yosemite to biking across the Americas, and how to gain a global perspective even if you’re not able to travel.


Mid-2015 Life Review

What do you do when 2015 has been kicking your ass? Write about it.

Typically I write end-of-year reviews about my life, work, and travels (like this one), but 2015 has been kicking my ass in novel enough ways that a 6-month reflection feels deserved.

Let’s talk work, relationships, and creative inspiration.

Work: Trip-Leading, Hogwarts, Podcasting & More

I kicked off 2015 with a three-fold work resolution:

  1. to take a break from offering Unschool Adventures international trips and writing retreats
  2. to run a pilot program for my “Hogwarts for Unschoolers” semester school idea, and
  3. to explore & create new online offerings.

1.Why did I want to take a break from international trips and writing retreats: the programs that have fueled my self-employed lifestyle for the past 6 years? Partially because I wonder how healthy such trips are for my personal life: leaving for 4-7 weeks isn’t awesome for relationships, leases, pets, and other such luxuries. But mainly, I chose to do it because I finally could. In 2013-14, I managed to put away enough money to let myself live comfortably in 2015 with only minimal income (i.e. from a single program + monthly book royalties). I felt damn proud about that and decided that a sabbatical (of sorts) was in order to figure out the next big steps in my life.

The trouble is: leading groups of self-directed teens is kind of awesome. As soon as I take time away from it, I miss it again. So the past 6 months have been a sort of self-induced torture as I deny myself the pleasure of doing work that I feel I’m good at, makes a real impact on the lives of a handful of young people, and offers an excellent value for a highly competitive price (IMHO).

The key seems to be moderation. Personally leading one long trip a year feels reasonable. Last year included two international trips (which I led) and a Writing Retreat (which I organized but didn’t lead)—that was definitely too much time away for the balance I’m seeking.

It took me until May to finally crack and throw another international trip out there: Simply New Zealand, a 6-week adventure in living simply on New Zealand’s South Island from Feb-Mar 2016. (As of this writing, a few spaces remain. If you know any awesome self-directed teens with fast-paced lives, wanderlust, and the need for a tan, encourage them to apply.)  Continue Reading

Amy Milstein, Maya Milstein, and Maddy Platt on Unschooling in NYC

For episode #15 of the Real Education Podcast I interview Amy Milstein (founder of UnschoolingNYC), her 15-year-old daughter Maya (photo on right), and Maya’s friend Maddy (whom she met at Not Back to School Camp).

I discovered Amy online an stayed with her dynamic family in in New York City in 2012. So many unschooling families live in suburban or small-town environments; it’s refreshing to hear the perspective of a family living in the biggest of the big cities! Teenagers will also enjoy hearing about Maya and Maddy’s experiences at camp. Enjoy.

Amy and Maya Milstein, mother and 14-year-old daughter of a New York City unschooling family, and Maddy Platt, their 16-year-old friend from Canada, talk with host Blake Boles about their day-to-day lives as unschoolers, the advantages and disadvantages of unschooling in New York City, and Maya’s and Maddy’s transformative experiences attending Not Back to School Camp.

Visit Amy’s unschooling blag at


William Deresiewicz on Excellent Sheep

new_portrait_uncropped-207x300If you’re thinking about college, currently in college, a college graduate, or simply interested in the debate about college happening in this country—this episode is for you.

On episode #14 of the Real Education Podcast I interview my friend William Deresiewicz, who I discovered in 2011 when I read two of his bombshell articles criticizing the Ivy League. I mentioned him in my book Better Than College and mailed him a review copy, which he both enjoyed and criticized. The following summer we met in Portland and had a nice conversation, and then his new book (Excellent Sheep – read my review) came out and thrust him into the limelight. This month I finally had the chance to interview him for the podcast.

Enjoy the episode. It’s really, really great.


William Deresiewicz, author of Excellent Sheep and former English professor at Yale University, talks with host Blake Boles about the reaction to his controversial book, helicopter parenting and overindulgent parenting, the meaning of a “real education,” the benefits of a small liberal arts college experience, how someone who doesn’t go to college might replicate the experience (or not), two lesser-known colleges that are on the right track, and why reforming college admissions policies can improve K-12 schooling.