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220. Relationship as the Basis of Education with Jim Bailey of Rocky Tree Sky

The most important thing adults can provide young people in their learning journey is a caring relationship. That is the fundamental belief that drives Jim Bailey in his work as co-founder and executive director at Rock Tree Sky, a self-directed learning community. In this episode, Jim and Annalies discuss adults’ roles in making space for young people to tap their innate curiosity and problem-solving skills.

At Rock Tree Sky, adults roll up their sleeves and get inspired along with students. They act as guides, not knowledge holders– after all, most young people hold the world’s knowledge on a phone in their pocket. Rock Tree Sky is a learning space free from constant evaluation and purposefully designed for building relationships.

Jim also gets into some of the nuts-and-bolts of running this kind of organization. For example, Rock Tree Sky partnered with its local California school district to create an independent study model: Young people can get public funding to attend Rock Tree Sky twice a week. In return, the school district gets more enrollees and more per-pupil funding. Tune in to learn more about this model and what Jim is working on for the future.

To learn more, visit:

We unbox:

  • The role of adults in young people’s learning journey.

  • Rock Tree Sky’s learning facilities and philosophy.

  • Partnership with school systems and inspiring conventional teachers.

  • Thinking about assessment, especially in order to get public funding.

  • Making these spaces financially accessible for all families.


Produced by NOVA Media


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