Hogwarts for Unschoolers

What if there were a boarding school for kids who don’t go to school?

The codename I’ve given this project is “Hogwarts for Unschoolers.” (That’s not the final name, just a temporary placeholder. And it’s not actually supposed to replicate Hogwarts from Harry Potter, but rather it symbolizes a super-fun, non-traditional boarding school.)

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The Boarding School Idea

One concept for Hogwarts program is to center it on a 400-acre parcel of land outside of Mariposa, California, in the Sierra foothills roughly an hour from Yosemite National Park. This might look like a semester program (3 months, full-time, residential) for ~25 teenagers (ages 15-18) that runs annually.

Finding property has always been an issue for my dream. But in late 2013, the Hogwarts dream started to become a reality when I was approached by the Roddy family, an unschooling family in Livermore, California, whose teenagers I’ve taken on a few Unschool Adventures programs. The family wanted to invest in real estate that could be used to support teenage self-directed learners, and they thought that my “start-a-school” goal might be a good fit. So we decided to partner up:

  • I would help them find, develop, and permit a property.
  • They would purchase it and retain 100% ownership.
  • After developing the property, I would then pay to lease the property for my Hogwarts program.

In August 2014 the Roddy family closed on 400 acres of mostly undeveloped land outside of Mariposa, CA, which they’re now in the process of developing.

The Online School Idea

By its nature, any sleep-away school or program costs a lot of money. That’s why, for a number of years, I’ve also spent time devising different ways to offer an online experience that young people anywhere in the world could benefit from. This would not be the same quality of experience as a boarding school, but perhaps a fraction of online community could convene on the Mariposa property for short in-person gatherings.

Adventure Semester

In Fall 2015, Dev Carey and I co-directed the Unschool Adventures Adventure Semester, a sort of pilot program for the boarding school idea. It was a ton of fun, and I learned a lot about what such a program might look like.


Timeline

Fall 2015
March 2015
  • Blake and the Roddy family lead the first work party on the Mariposa property.
January 2015
  • Blake and Dev announce Adventure Semester, a 10-week program based in Colorado in Sep-Nov 2015 that will test out some of the ideas behind the future Hogwarts.
November 2014
  • Property development begins: a general contractor, water tank, and septic permit enter the scene.
August 2014
  • 400 acre property outside Mariposa, CA, acquired by Roddy family!
  • I gave a keynote talk at the Homeschool+ conference explaining my Hogwarts for Unschoolers vision:
March 2014
  • Unsuccessful attempt to purchase former B&B property outside Ashland, Oregon.
December 2013
  • The property search begins!

Top photo: Blake Club