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Off-Trail Learning

103 EpisodesProduced by Blake BolesWebsite

Interviews with innovative educators, self-directed young people, and others who think differently about learning, teaching, and schooling. Hosted by Blake Boles (, author of "Why Are You Still Sending Your Kids to School?" and founder of Unschool Adventures.


Olivia Barnes on Self-Directing as a 16-Year-Old

Olivia Barnes ( has always had a somewhat unconventional education, but after a frustrating year at a well-regarded performing arts school, she decided to take the reins of her education. We discuss Olivia’s decision to spend her 10th grade year doing a hodgepodge of activities she called “self-design school”—including biology classes at a local university, online math, Spanish tutoring, and lots of swimming—what she’s doing now (despite the pandemic), what she would be doing if there were no pandemic, her concerns about college readiness, and three big questions that frame her ongoing self-education.

Don’t miss Olivia’s YouTube channel ( and LinkedIn (

A few more details: The school that Olivia attended in 8th grade was The Saint Constantine School, her math class was, and make sure to google “vaquitas”—they are adorable.

This interview was recorded on February 18th, 2021.

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