We like to say that we are all PhDs because we use a different acronym – Paradigm Hacking Directors! In reality, we have a broad set of skills and experiences and we each contribute in our own valuable ways. We are the people behind the programs, blogs, and special events. Introducing the creative, passionate, intelligent people who contribute to We Learn Naturally.
Tanya Collins Appleton
Director of Learning in the Woods
I am a survivor of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and I grew up with a limited understanding of empathy, intelligence and my own power. Fortunately, wise and loving mentors have always seemed to find their way into my life. As a result, I am a hopeful and voracious learner and have been fumbling my way in and out of activism for many years. Parenthood has and continues to be a profoundly transformational experience for me. As a parent I realized I’d been neglecting two fundamental aspects in my quest for personal, relational and social change…. HEALING and COMMUNITY. As a parent, as a child care worker and in all my relationships, I work to take responsibility for my own feelings, healing and needs. My growth now needs to happen in the context of authentic communities that strive to be awake, compassionate and to hold each other accountable. I’ve found such a community with We Learn Naturally. I see children and youth as whole people with inherent dignity and I aim to work with them skillfully and mindfully, as their equal and as their ally.
Areas of interest: Trauma informed healing and living, Non-Violent Communication, Self-Directed Education, Creating consent culture, Conscious and respectful parenting and child care, Nature connection, Anti-Oppression, Decolonization.
Mother, Activist & Researcher
I am a freedom fighter, passionate storyteller and fierce believer in the power of love. As an unschooling mom of four, I have the
Areas of interest: Self-Directed Education, children’s rights, NVC, marginalized youth, nature-based healing, accessing ancestral wisdom, family preservation, respectful/conscious parenting, connection-based healing.
Human, Mom, Chief Envisioning Officer (CEO) of We Learn Naturally
I love theory and science related to health, healing, learning, and unstructured play. I feel energized when I can support others as they learn, grow, heal, and discover. I appreciate depth in my relationships and in my work and I’ve created a life for myself where the two can intermingle a lot (and I like it that way). I find myself surrounded by thoughtful, wise, creative people and then I do my best to observe and learn from them. I used to think this was luck and privilege and now I think it is also the result of making conscious choices that are in line with my values and express the changes I wish to see in the world. I have poured my resources into creating and founding We Learn Naturally, Learning in the Woods, City School, The Barn School, Educational Alternatives Conferences… and the ideas just keep coming!
Areas of interest: Attachment Theory, Self-Directed Education, ACE Scores, Self-Directed Healing, Healing in Community and Natural Settings, Nonviolent Communication, Natural Child Development, Creative Processes and Learning Processes
“It may seem strange, I suppose, for many of us to understand that we, at best, stand on the planet as equals with all the other people, including young children. We are each fully formed, fully valid, fully functional human beings no matter our age. Naturally, we have different lots in life, different blessings and challenges, and are on our way to different places, but we always remain, most of all, worthy of being loved for being exactly who we are.”
– Teacher Tom
I’ve always found my place with kids. It was no surprise that I became a teacher. As a new mom, I began to learn what beauty happens when I wait. Learning to wait and watch my own children simply being is an ongoing challenge that fills me with peace each moment I manage it. I am learning to trust children with their learning. I am trying to remember how often I can trust them with so, so much more. I am transforming, working to unlearn much of my teacher training. I teeter between biting my tongue and coming to the ‘rescue’ (read: managing for them what they often can accomplish on their own), and then run through scenarios in my head wondering if I should have done the other. I don’t feel confident and I am really trying to be ok with that. I question everything. I remind myself that there are so many right ways to be and do. I am a community builder. I reach out. I invite. I welcome. I wonder. I observe. I am open to it all. I discuss. I seek to understand. I connect. I support. I try to be a support whenever I can, sometimes (often?) to a fault. I make things complicated. I am trying to simplify, trying to slow down. I alternate between bringing all. the. calm. and a nervous intensity. I check in, over, and over. I bring love. Always love.
Areas of interest: Respectful parenting, connection, mindfulness, nonviolent communication, self-directed education, moving slowly, creating consent culture, and experiencing nature.
As a feminist and proud survivor of much adversity, I am thrilled to now be focussing my life on facilitating and nurturing healing environments and relationships. With my background in philosophy and child and youth social work, my passions are firmly rooted in the exploration of and freedom from childhood trauma.
I am a radical unschooling mom of three kids, spending most of my time with them in nature, unstructured and free. Alongside my trio, I love watching and participating in risky play and
Areas of interest: Healing of trauma, compassion based approaches, nonviolent communication, self-directed education, empowerment and vulnerability, consent and nurturance culture, emotional regulation and brain science, and ethics and philosophy.
“To be yourself, in a world that is doing it’s utmost, night and day, to make you just like everybody else, is to fight the greatest of human battles and to never stop fighting.”
A self professed tree-hugger, you can often find me (hear me!) playing my penny whistle or drums for the local flora and fauna. I am a radical unschooling mother, eternal student, passionate creator and determined paradigm shifter. My favorite time is spent with my kids and together we have worked to cultivate deep trust in each other. Although I am challenged by our culture of adultism, I deeply desire to amplify my children’s voices, trust their innate wisdom and support their choices, allowing them to be guided by their own internal compasses. I am passionate about contesting institutional spaces and systems, with a focus on compulsory public education. I am especially interested in supporting folks who desire to consciously parent. Through the study and practice of Nonviolent Communication, I have been developing a growing awareness of the possibilities that exist when I respond to my children and myself with compassion. As I wander this planet, I feel an aspirational drive to shift spaces that are disconnecting into spaces that are safe for connection and creation. Paradigm shifting is challenging work that meets my need for radical change and so I am committed to a mindfulness practice which helps to keep me grounded, hopeful and stronger in my resolve. Being a part of the We Learn Naturally community meets my needs for meaningful change and personal growth.
Areas of interest: Social justice, AOP, conscious parenting, unschooling, self-directed education, mindfulness, NVC, critical pedagogy, children’s rights, community development, quantum physics, metaphysics, energy work, art