What is Humano?

Humano is an alternative community with a conscious educational initiative at its core. It is a place where children are completely free to pursue their interests as they wish. The underlying idea of the educational initiative is that children, like all people, are naturally curious and work at all stages of their life to increase their understanding of the world. Little by little, people get exposed to a tremendous amount of information over their lives, and it isn’t necessary to direct them. So it’s not as if they’re never going to learn that they need arithmetic to use money, for instance, or that they need to be able to read in order to read a sign. As life goes on for every one of us, what we’re interested in shifts and changes and becomes more and more sophisticated. We expect that to happen with every single child.

What is the role of adults in the school?

We obviously don’t have a need for people whose main function is teaching. The adults hired by the school community do sometimes teach, but their main purpose is to be here as resources, as people who help make sure the school is running properly, and as role models for what it’s like to be a grownup. There are specific people whom you would be more likely to go to for certain things. Some of them are generalists, some are specialists.  All staff are elected for one year at a time — there’s no tenure — and they are hired for who they are rather than for specific teaching abilities.

How is the school run?

The weekly School Meeting, which includes all students and staff, manages the school and creates policies. It’s a real democratic community, not subject to monitoring by any outside governing body. The idea of the school is that you are responsible not only for your own education here, but also for the whole community. That makes being responsible for your own education a little bit less of a fairytale and more down to earth, because it’s a very real community with very real responsibilities and very real calls for judgement on many, many different subjects everyday for everybody – not just for grownups, but for every child too.

How does the school deal with discipline?  How does that function within its democratic structure?

We will have a judicial system that is essentially an arm of the School Meeting. It will meets regularly throughout the week and investigates written complaints about possible rule violations. The Judicial Committee (JC), as it is called, will be made up of students and a staff member; and will be rotating on each meeting. Anybody in the school is able to make a complaint about anything they think has happened that might be a violation of the rules. The complaint will be investigated, and the committee will decide what they think actually happened. Based on their findings, they may charge someone with having broken a rule. Afterwards, you can be sentenced by the Judicial Committee in many different ways.

How do they learn if you don’t teach them?

We do teach them, but they would learn even if we did not. Learning is natural and happening all the time. Babies learn to crawl, walk, and talk without being explicitly taught these things. They look at who and what exists in the world around them, copy and experiment with what they see, practice and learn the skills they need to grow in independence and connectivity to others. In learning communities that value authenticity and collaboration, it is inevitable that we will teach each other. Sometimes this happens through classes and workshops, sometimes through conversations and modeling, sometimes through play and interaction. But it is always happening. In an Agile Learning Center, we incorporate the Cycles of Personal Development through which students learn how to direct their own learning process. 


How will my student learn the basics?

If something is actually basic knowledge that you need in order to live successfully in this world, you cannot help but learn it. The “basics” will be captured in natural learning, which happens through living. We do not need to force or trick them into learning something basic. Basic knowledge and skills are defined by our current world. Whereas once it may have been basic to know how to saddle a horse, today it is basic to know how to open a web browser. The rich world environment in which we operate sets us up to prioritize knowledge and skills reliably and naturally based on our experiences.


Are there certain levels of math or reading you try to achieve?

Children are naturally curious and capable. In a rich and stimulating environment, we do not have to try to teach them anything: they teach themselves or ask (of each other and facilitators) to be taught. When they need math to play a video game, track sport statistics, bake muffins, budget for a trip, or otherwise navigate the world, they will learn it. When they need to read and write to create stories with their friends, manage their own blogs, use community tools (like kanbans) independently, find out what happens in the next Harry Potter book, decipher notes from friends, research dinosaurs, or otherwise navigate the world, they will learn it. Especially in an environment where facilitators model passionate learning and the community supports–rather than shames–students who learn at different paces, kids stay curious and eager to keep learning.


We do not sort knowledge into traditional subject areas, as doing so discourages learners from interdisciplinary thinking and exploring innovative applications they may invent. Learning is not about amassing data; it is about making connections, deepening understanding, solving problems, creating, and sharing. Facilitators support students in exploring the relatedness and convergence of learning domains, both in school and in the world around us. Sorting or prioritizing traditional subjects is rarely useful from this perspective.

Do you prioritize certain subjects?


In lots of ways. We do not have priority-tracking mechanisms explicitly built into any of the tools we use. That said, students have hacked and adapted the tools, for example building “swim lanes” into their kanbans so they can prioritize their intentions. Sometimes they create new tools. Often they set personal goals that they have realized on their own or through conversations with facilitators. They prioritize activities that move them towards their goals, like most of us do when we want something, and they reflect often on how they are choosing to spend their time.

How do students prioritize their interests and goals?


Children today are swimming in a flood of information. They get exposed to a greater diversity of ideas, issues, cultures, facts, problems and opportunities in a month than most people got in their lifetimes just 50 years ago. A single Sunday New York Times contains more text than a literate person read in their lifetime 100 years ago.

Kids today carry in their hands devices with instantaneous access to almost the entire documented history of human knowledge. Then we tell them to put down their devices; we lock them in classrooms and spoon-feed them bits of information, isolated and out of context. We tell them that they need to memorize things they could look up in an instant. Then we grade them on whether they can regurgitate the current politically correct answers on a test. The assumption behind this question is upside down.

Traditional schooling cuts students off from the flow of information available to them and divides selections of that information into little boxes disconnected from their lives (English, Math, Social Studies, etc.), then presents this information as if students would never have encountered it otherwise. Knowledge is something holistic and integrated, and students are integrating it all the time — whether or not they are in school.

The real question today should be: In this staggering flood of overexposure, how will my child learn to filter to what is important from the unimportant, to focus on their domains of passion, and to determine “good” information from “bad?” These are the important skills for a modern child…skills they will not get from some school board doing the

If I don’t make them take a variety of classes, how will they get exposed to new fields? Isn’t there a chance they’ll miss out on discovering a passion if they aren’t required to try new things?

Children today are swimming in a flood of information. They get exposed to a greater diversity of ideas, issues, cultures, facts, problems and opportunities in a month than most people got in their lifetimes just 50 years ago. A single Sunday New York Times contains more text than a literate person read in their lifetime 100 years ago.

Kids today carry in their hands devices with instantaneous access to almost the entire documented history of human knowledge. Then we tell them to put down their devices; we lock them in classrooms and spoon-feed them bits of information, isolated and out of context. We tell them that they need to memorize things they could look up in an instant. Then we grade them on whether they can regurgitate the current politically correct answers on a test. The assumption behind this question is upside down.

Traditional schooling cuts students off from the flow of information available to them and divides selections of that information into little boxes disconnected from their lives (English, Math, Social Studies, etc.), then presents this information as if students would never have encountered it otherwise. Knowledge is something holistic and integrated, and students are integrating it all the time — whether or not they are in school.

The real question today should be: In this staggering flood of overexposure, how will my child learn to filter to what is important from the unimportant, to focus on their domains of passion, and to determine “good” information from “bad?” These are the important skills for a modern child…skills they will not get from some school board doing the filtering for them.

How do they learn to operate in the real world?

By engaging with it…consistently. Our students recognize that the whole world is their classroom. They grocery shop for cooking project ingredients, spend time in local parks, call restaurants to ask about hours and shops to ask about inventory; they organize field trips around their interests, attend conferences and meet-ups, create entrepreneurial opportunities, and participate in community activities. They can do all these things and more on any given school day. In fact, they are encouraged to.

You let kids do whatever they want?

Not exactly. Our communities have very clear expectations and boundaries that the children agree to in order to participate at an ALC. These include productively engaging with the group process, respecting the space, and respecting each other. Pursuits must be safe and legal. We clean the messes we make and follow a simple conflict resolution process when those messes are relational. We collaborate to build positive cultural norms rather than lists of rules.

Our students have a lot of freedom as they get clear about what they truly want to create for and of themselves. With clear boundaries and agreements, they also have the support they need to feel safe using that freedom to question, experiment, explore, and grow.