❤️ a few favorites
Blake Boles is open-minded, interested in everything, courageous, and passionately committed to individual development. I would expect good things to happen for young people who had the good fortune to hang out with Blake for a while.
—John Taylor Gatto, former New York State Teacher of the Year
Your work with my son has been paramount in his young adult growth and development. What stood out for me were the stories you shared of specific experiences that spoke directly to his own heart and life. The humor, lightness and laughter you weave into the support sessions you offer is also a great gift.
—Laura Carpine, unschooling mom
I dropped out of high school, and now I’ve got a master’s degree and I work in higher education. I created an online college class for students with non-traditional educational backgrounds. I was looking for assigned texts for the class and found The Art of Self-Directed Learning. It is the only required text in the class.
—anonymous visitor to blakeboles.com
He basically has no home and just works for our kids to experience life outside the box, moving from amazing place to even more amazing place with kids in tow.
—homeschool group leader in Washington state
❤️ from parents
When my daughter was in 9th grade, I helped her leave the traditional education that wasn’t serving her in order to create a new path that would. It was a tremendous and at times terrifying leap, for both of us. Blake’s role as Izzy’s mentor and champion, and thus inadvertently my own, grounded and informed our nascent steps as shirkers of all that was considered non-negotiable in our community (a 4.2 GPA, sky-high SATs, admission to an impressive college). As the months passed and I watched my previously depressed and disheartened child claim her full boldness and courage, Blake was the steady and encouraging presence that walked with her when she felt alone, encouraged her when she was full of doubt, and held her accountable when her noble path veered into back-to-back Netflix shows. Today, she’s stepped into her highest self. Blake was just what she needed to help her find her capacity to get there.
We spent a lot of time and energy trying to figure out where our son would fit in the school system. His freshman year at his public high school, in spite of being on the football team and in honors courses, was not thriving. Thankfully, we were pointed to Blake Boles and his Unschool Adventures program. This has fundamentally changed the way we see Ben’s education and our role in helping him find his way. It was the best decision we could have made for him. He has spent the last three years exploring his passions, working, and community building in Mexico and Colorado. He will be attending college in the Fall, knowing who he is and what he is passionate about. Blake knows how to motivate, guide and inspire youth to be in the driver’s seat of their futures.
Dear Blake, [my daughter] was saying that she is so grateful for the opportunities you offer unschooling teens. I think you are a wonderful model of someone who is doing what he loves: being with young adults, mentoring, being a leader, traveling. It is lonely sometimes being homeschooled. The young adult years are especially full of self-doubt but for homeschooled kids it’s probably worse. Having the chance to meet other teens who don’t play by the same rules as everyone else is so reassuring.
We have known Blake since my daughter first signed up for one of his teen Writing Retreat programs in 2009. He’s one of those people who has stayed in our lives because he continually has relevance and meaning to us and often to others around us too. Blake is inspiring, relatable and very knowledgeable. He cuts to the important things emerging adults need to empower them. Blake encourages them to chart their own path and take responsibility for their own meaningful life course by asking the questions that count, and giving guided direction to help them do what they need to do to get there.
The content of your coaching was so unexpected and so welcome. I benefited greatly from being the lucky one who got to talk with my son after each session. Our horizons have been broadened because of you and we are grateful!
❤️ from Unschool Adventures teen participants
In the eight years I’ve known Blake, he’s inspired me to climb Machu Picchu, write a novel, become proficient in Argentine tango, and make many lifelong friends. He presents opportunities, encourages me to be bold, and helps get out of my own way as I’m figuring out what to do next in my life. I once spent a good chunk of time talking about inflation and world currencies on a bus in the middle of Argentina with Blake. This is the kind of experience you should expect working with him. He knows his stuff, and he is good at sharing it. If you’re looking for someone who is genuine, compassionate, educational, and life-changing—I recommend working with him.
Blake is a very genuine person and one of the easiest people to communicate with who I’ve ever met. One of the most meaningful conversations we had took place on his Unschool Adventures New Zealand trip, where he helped me push myself to see how far I was willing to defend my values in a very fun and engaging way, which helped me sort out some deeper inconsistencies in my thoughts. Our time together has, without a doubt, made a positive impact on my life.
Blake, I wanted to let you know how much of an unschooler I’ve become! I deferred my admission to the University of Maryland (as a safety net) while my sister and I look into going to college directly in Argentina or Chile. I’ve become certified as a ski patroller and will become a CPR instructor next. I’m starting a tax prep course that is taught bilingually—the main audience obviously being Hispanics—but I’m sneaking around the system to get a super useful Spanish lesson. Thank you again for starting / encouraging / fueling this independent unschooler-ness. It’s been working out awesomely. You rock.
To put it in its simplest form, Blake is the person who inspired me to begin unschooling, which in turn has brought me to the awesome, happy, self-directed life I’m living today. His knowledge and experience in the field is immense, but his true asset lies in his ability to take that knowledge and relate it to individuals with very different, very specific dreams, goals, and interests. Blake is a challenger and is never afraid to say or do what needs to be done in order to push you to new levels of thinking and doing. That being said, you have to be ready to take the reigns and put in the work to get to all those great, crazy places.
Your mentorship has been shaping my present and future in such a powerful proactive way that I had to email again. I just finished my first year of college. Thanks to your encouragement to share my story at Hunter College, I was invited to speak at Columbia University, then at TEDx at Christopher Newport University, and also at some children’s hospitals. I’ve also been invited to speak at several ceremonies and conferences to represent the Jewish community. Now I am the president of Hillel (Jewish Student Organization on campus) and the Virginia leader of Curvy Girls (international scoliosis peer-support group), and I’m preparing for physical therapy school. I got an internship! This internship is because of you as well. I met this physical therapist while I was speaking in NYC. Networking has been fantastic. I emailed her asking to learn from her. Now I’m here in Florida. Thank you for giving me the chutzpah to go for it! Without the initial start you gave me, I don’t believe I would have gotten these opportunities. Generally, I wouldn’t finish the project that I started. If you hadn’t given me the opportunity of a self-designed challenge with a community along with yourself to encourage me, I don’t know where I’d be right now. Again, thank you! Gracias! Merci!
Because of Unschool Adventures I’ve found a new love for so many things: dancing, hiking, being in new places and experiencing new things. It’s hard to put into words how much my world has been expanded.
I don’t even know what to say. My trip to Spain was one of the best experiences of my life. I’ve never had learned so much and had so much fun all at once. Blake ran this trip so well that I didn’t feel homesick once, and I met such genuine, kind-hearted, and unique people… the types of people that I never thought were possible.
This was my first Unschool Adventures trip and it completely blew me out of the water. I have been such a timid person in regards to pursuing friendships, reaching for my goals, and advocating for my personal needs up until now. Living in a different country and communicating in a new language took my world and turned it upside down. I feel like I’m really living now. Blake has a knack for bringing out the honesty in people and getting us to truly think about what we want and need, and I thank him for helping me reach that part of myself.
Unschool Adventures has provided me with truly life-changing trips that have made me a more confident, motivated, and inspired young adult. I am in awe of the world. I have made life-long friends, and I have enough travel experience under my belt that I could travel anywhere by myself.
Unschool Adventures has given me the best experiences of my life. I would not be the same without you, and I am so grateful for the opportunities for learning, growing, acquiring skills, and becoming a truly independent person that you have given me. Thank you so much.
I reflected for a while on the retreat and everything that I got out of it, and also on who I was and what I wanted before spending those six weeks in Ashland. I don’t think I would be so ready to go to college if not for your retreat, nor would I be nearly as undaunted by the future as I am now. The world doesn’t look like a vastly terrifying place full of creepy people. . . Would I have explored that territory if you hadn’t given me and everyone else that push? Probably not, at least not for a while. Not to mention my self-motivation has increased very noticeably. I still find myself making lists and outlines of my goals, to this day. . . Mostly though, I feel less like an ignorant kid who has no idea what she wants, and more like an actual person pursuing her goals. I feel safer in my choices, because like you’ve talked about many times, my goals are actual goals, and not just vague ideas of what I kinda want to do. . . Thank you for helping me realize that it’s absolutely possible to create my own life.
❤️ from speaking gigs
It was a privilege to welcome Blake Boles to our self-directed learning community for two weeks. In this short time, Blake touched the lives of our students, parents, and staff in meaningful and memorable ways. Blake brought his unique experience, discerning perspective, and energetic attitude on a daily basis. Our students loved spending time with Blake during workshops and outings around NYC and on a hike in Upstate NY. Our parents gave rave reviews of the customized presentation he put together to address their particular questions and concerns about Self-Directed Education. Blake came to Dida as a celebrity and left as a friend – we hope to have him back again soon!
—Danielle Levine, Dida Academy (2019)
Blake’s talk offered more than just great arguments for giving kids more control over their own education—he gave creative, inspiring, and practical advice for children and adults to exploit their strengths and pursue their passions. His talk is still reverberating through the Macomber community.
—Ben Draper, Macomber Center (2018)
Blake came to our Agile Learning Community and gave an inspiring and grounding talk about three young people who have been successful without school. He balanced facts, theory, and real world stories in an excellent way. Our community was extremely grateful for the presentation and many parents left feeling even more confident in their decision to embrace Self-Directed Education.
—Tomis Parker, ALC Mosaic (2018)
Blake’s presentation struck the perfect balance between supporting teens who want to drop out of school to pursue their own interests and respecting those who are happy staying in a traditional setting. This helped the teachers and parents in the audience who weren’t quite ready to accept the message of self-directed education see it as a viable option for their students and children.
—Catina Sweedy, Embark Center for Self-Directed Education (2018)
Blake Boles, a guru of self-directed learning, inspired my community and challenged our thinking as it pertains to parenting and education. I find myself contemplating his questions and wisdom in hopes to discover new ways to effectuate change in our educational system. Simply put, Blake is a terrific speaker with a tenacious mind and spirit.
—Gabriel Cooper, Founder of The Unschool @ San Juan Unified School District (2018)
I witnessed Blake Boles captivate two very distinct audiences in the Bay Area this week – one at our QuantumCamp Berkeley micro-school site and the other at our Palo Alto site. Diametrically opposite poles of the Bay Area! For the bewilderingly infinite array of concerns and anxieties parents have on raising kids and what it means to be successful parents, Blake comes with good news. There are many ways to go, including the inside-the-box approach. But Blake’s real focus is on how easy and accessible the outside-the-box approaches, which may be precisely what your kid is yearning for, are. He leaves you with a you-can-do-it mindset!
—Michael P. Finnegan, Ph.D., Executive Director, QuantumCamp Inc. (2018)
Blake is an extraordinary figure and his presentation at Community Night was not only hilarious but exceptionally motivating for our students. Several of them have been reading Blake’s book. I’ve also talked to kids in advising meetings who were really impacted by Blake’s message and have taken steps to build some of his ideas into their own self-directed learning path.
—George Popham, Executive Director, Bay State Learning Center (2016)
We have organized many public events over the past 5 years, but Blake’s talk on The Art of Self-Directed Learning was easily my favorite. He was funny, insightful and engaging. All of the feedback we received from attendees was overwhelmingly positive.
—Joel Hammon, Co-Founder, Princeton Learning Cooperative (2015)
Blake Boles came to Los Angeles to do a series of three teen workshops for us. It was a wonderful success. Teenagers from all over LA came out of the woodwork to be a part of that week, and left happy, inspired, and energized. Parents immediately started asking for him to come back to do workshops for them. We started plotting his return before he left.
—Anna & Brenna, Urban Homeschoolers (2015)
Blake Boles came to our wide-ranging homeschool group and generated a record turnout! He was an excellent resource on a wide range of topics. Blake’s wisdom is beyond his years and it shows in the way he holds an audience’s attention and is quick to honestly answer all questions. Our organization completely endorses Blake for speaker engagements as well as his fantastic camps and adventures.
—Julie Valvano, President, Teaching Parents Association of Eastside Seattle (2010)