Durckworth Steiner Illich Montessori Gatto Freire Llewellyn Harvey
RADical Design for LEARNING
MAS.967 - A Survey Seminar and Action Laboratory at MIT Media Lab Bookmark and Share

Organized by Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum of MIT Media Lab's Lifelong Kindergarten
TA'd by Amos Blanton, also from Lifelong Kindergarten


Wtf is going on? Why are people limping out of 20 years of schooling without directed motivation, a solid internal compass, or a commitment to passionately pursuing their interests? Let's examine why in a cozy, edgy, authentic seminar where we balance theory with real-world action (praxis). We'll study the radical learning greats such as Illich, Papert, and Llewelyn, with focused readings and videos followed by discussion. Whenever possible we'll try to have the authors or their direct students available for Q&A&Q. And through hands-on labs and projects we'll design and enact experience-based transformations, like improvised music, consciousness altering strategies, electronics workshops etc. We can't wait to see you realize your wonderful ideas!

The Facebook Group
A shortcut to this webpage: RadLearning.org
A place to post Designs and update group Wisdom: RadLearning Wiki
Group email:


Grading: You design it yourself
Meeting: Tuesdays 3pm-6pm, dinner served at 6pm, and labs arranged at different times
Room: For the seminar - E14-493, 4th Floor New Media Lab Building
Open Hours: Mon & Wed 1pm-2pm

Weekly: Readings and Media, Design Activity, Lab

  • Write down what you notice when engaging in the readings and media: Specifics from the text. What puzzles you? What constructive ideas do you have for your own way forward?
  • Do the design activities for your own progress, not to impress anyone. For example, when assigning yourself a grading mechanism for the first week, do it in a way that will help you, not to do a "good job" for the "teachers"

    Semesterly Project -- Develop and enact a learning experience. Iterate (at least once)
    Places you can hold your final project:
  • Any place you choose
  • An MIT class that is already taking place
  • The Lego Lerning Lab E14-445
  • Mini Maker Faire Cambridge, May 7 from 12-4 at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School
  • Sprout

    Week 1 (2/15): Learning Experiences: What can they be?
  • Introductions all around
  • Course overview
  • Guest Speaker: Bilal Ghalib, The Two Hands Project (documentary about makers and hacker spaces)
  • Discussion: Learning Experiences
  • Activity: What's your most powerful positive learning experience? Negative?
  • Activity: Design your grading system. Place on Wiki by 3/1 at noon
  • Dinner provided by Eric and Jay. (Vegetarian) Chili with bread, corn chips, sour cream, and cheddar.
  • Lab: Awareness Exercises with Jeff Lieberman, Sat 2/26, 3-5pm

    Week 2 (3/1): Unschooling
    Media Artifacts and Readings:
    1. Llewellyn "A Nice Little Story" from The Teenage Liberation Handbook. Further Reading: Teenage Liberation Handbook, Guerilla Learning Handbook.
    2. Not Back to School Camp Website and Video 7 minute mark to 14 minute mark
    3. Holt Interview While Playing with Children in a Garden. Further reading: How Children Learn, How Children Fail, Teach Your Own
    4. Illich "Why We Must Disestablish School" p.1 through the first paragraph on p.4. From "Deschooling Society". Further Reading: Deschooling Society, Tools for Conviviality.
  • Guests: Unschooler (Liam) and Counselor (Amos Blanton) from Not Back to School Camp
  • Dinner provided by Alex and Ethan
  • Lab: Skill Share, Thursday 5-6pm, E14-445 (Lego Learning Lab)


    Week 3 (3/8): Post-Constructionism
    Media Artifacts and Readings:
    1. Singer, D., and Revenson, T. (1996). A Piaget Primer: How a Child Thinks (Chapter 2, pg 12-18)
    2. Papert, S. (1980). Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas (introduction)
    3. Resnick, M. (2007). Sowing the Seeds for a More Creative Society
    4. Lifelong Kindergarten Video page: Click next twice to get to the "crickets" video (optional: watch other vids)
    5. optional: browse Seymour Papert's home page
    6. optional: browse Mitch Resnick's home page
    Guests: Nobuyuki Ueda
    Dinner provided by Natalie and Jie
    Lab: SKill share continued

    Week 4 (3/15): Designing Toolkits for Learning
    Media Artifacts and Readings:
    1. Some Reflections on Designing Construction Kits for Kids (PDF)
    2. LilyPad Arduino Projects Video
    3. LilyPad Website
    4. Scratch Website especially including Support Materials
    5. Klutz Website

    Guests: Mitch Resnick, Leah Buechley
    Dinner provided by Josh and Katy
    Lab: Design Blocks, Mod Kit

    Week 5 (3/29): Critical Pedagogy
    Media Artifacts and Readings: Freire, Duckworth
    1. Duckworth's Critical Explorations (Section 4 from Wikipedia)
    2. Critical Pedagogy
    3. Optional: Freire's book "Pedagogy of the Oppressed," Duckworth's book "The Having of Wonderful Ideas"
    Guests: Student of Duckworth -- James Croft
    Dinner provided by ___________
    Lab: "Going to the movies"

    Week 6 (4/5): "Punk Rock" Learning Environments
    Media Artifacts and Readings:
    1. Hacker Spaces video
    2. The NuVu Studio website
    3. Sprout
    1. Computer Clubhouse
    2. Hole in the Wall
    3. El Sistema
    4. Drishya
    5. The Blue School
    Guests: Mitch Altman from Noise Bridge, Saeed Arida from Nuvu
    Dinner provided by ___________
    Lab: Visit Sprout

    Week 7 (4/12): Alternative Schooling Models
    Media Artifacts and Readings:
    Check out some of the videos here
    Guests: Bakhtiar Mikhak
    Dinner provided by ___________

    Week 8 (4/26): Transformative Gatherings
    Media Artifacts and Readings: Alex Grey, Burning Man documentation, Education as Transformation (Katz)
    Guests: Sam Cassat, Sean Stevens
    Dinner provided by ___________
    Lab: Visit an Unschool, the Sudbury Valley School (April 30th, 1pm-4pm, 2 Winch Street, Framingham, MA, leave MIT at noon)
    Attend a Transformative Gathering (Do this during the semester) -- Example Frost Burn, Dances for Universal Peace (March 4, 12 and 18, and April 1, 9 and 15), Quaker Meeting (Sundays), Critical Mass (March 25th, April 29th, 5:30pm Copley), etc.

    Week 9 (5/3): Final Project Presentations & Cupcakes & Dance Party
    Dinner provided by ___________

    Week 10 (5/10): More Final Project Presentations & More Cupcakes & More Dance Party
    Dinner provided by ___________