An Ode to the Handy Person’s Secret Weapon

As nearly everyone knows, duct tape is like a secret weapon when you’re trying to fix things.  It’s also becoming the medium of choice for many artists and crafty types.

“I don’t believe in a lot of things, but I do believe in duct tape. — Miles Straume on LOST

“Duct tape is like The Force: it has a light side and a dark side and it binds the galaxy together.” — Carl Zwanzig

“Man, I love duct tape. I love how it tapes. I love the sound it makes. I love saying it. Duct tape. Duct tape. Duct tape. Duct tape. Duct tape. Duct tape…” — Deadpool

When one of our new members came in with a set of duct tape armor she had made herself, we loved her creativity and independence.



Everyone had to get in on the duct-tape-armor action:


Gotta see for yourself how we create such a safe space for teens to explore and be all of who they are?  Give us a call or come to an event.  (Bring your own duct tape!)


How to Get a Job at Google

“G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless. … We found that they don’t predict anything.” — Laszlo Bock, Google

The New York Times interviewed one of the world’s most successful companies to see what they’re looking for in the people they hire.  Laszlo Bock at Google said some things that may surprise many, but they sound pretty familiar here at Open Doors.


Read on to see how Google scouts out the very traits fostered by the self-directed education we facilitate here at Open Doors.  As the article summarizes: “Beware. Your degree is not a proxy for your ability to do any job. The world only cares about — and pays off on — what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it). And in an age when innovation is increasingly a group endeavor, it also cares about a lot of soft skills — leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn. This will be true no matter where you go to work.”

LEGO Google

Come see for yourself how Open Doors helps teens become self-directed and lifelong learners with a world of options.  Join us for one of our regular events.

Teen Shares of the Week

In yesterday’s post, we shared a wonder-filled poem, and asked if you had shared something amazing with a teen you care about that day.

But as we were reviewing our last week at Open Doors, we remembered that our teens have shared some pretty amazing things, too.

Like this:

And this:

And this, found by a Brony member:

New wonders never cease when you’re surrounded by a bunch of creative and fun teens.  Come find out for yourself, or support our teens.

It is Enough

It Is Enough
by Anne Alexander Bingham

To know that the atoms
of my body
will remain

to think of them rising
through the roots of a great oak
to live in
leaves, branches, twigs

perhaps to feed the
crimson peony
the blue iris
the broccoli

or rest on water
freeze and thaw
with the seasons

some atoms might become a
bit of fluff on the wing
of a chickadee
to feel the breeze
know the support of air

and some might drift
up and up into space
star dust returning from

whence it came
it is enough to know that
as long as there is a universe
I am a part of it.

Have you shared something amazing with a teen you care about today?  It always matters.  Come see us at Open Doors to learn more, or support our presence in the lives of teens.

Just Make Pots


Years ago, The Utne Reader published an article about an informal social experiment that was done with two high-school pottery classes.  The first class of students was told that they would be graded on how perfectly they could throw a pot by the end of class.  The second class was told that they would be graded only on the quantity of pots they threw throughout the class — they would get credit for their misshapen pots, as long as they made lots.

By the end of the semester, the class that was graded on quantity, not quality, was throwing much higher quality pots than the other class.  Because they risked nothing with mistakes, and they spent hours at the wheel, they gained the necessary experience to master craft and beauty.

At Open Doors, our focus is this kind of experiential learning, with no downside to creating our own “misshapen pots.”  Instead of being limited by an expectation of perfection — which only gets in the way, especially when one has little experience to build on — our members are free to delve into what works and doesn’t work for them.  The difference is amazing, and it leads to young adults who love to learn throughout their whole lives.

Come see the difference for yourself.  Join us at one of our regular events.

Free! Natural Learning Talk

Come on out to Open Doors this Thursday (tomorrow) and hear a free talk about natural learning and how it works.  Amy Carpenter Leugs has spoken at the Toronto Unschooling Conference and at the We Shine Unschooling Conference in upstate New York.  Now we have a chance to hear her in Grand Rapids.

Natural Learning:  Can We Really Learn without School?

All teens and tweens are great learners, if they can build upon their strengths and interests. Featured speaker Amy Carpenter Leugs is a former teacher and the mother of three boys, ages 10 – 19, who learn without school. How is it done? Can teens succeed in life without school? Come join us at this free event and find out. Light snacks will be served, and we’ll have some fun, too!

Thursday, March 20, 2014, 7-8:30 p.m. at

Open Doors Center for Self-directed Teens | 1324 Lake Drive SE, Suite 1 | Grand Rapids MI 49506

616.965.6968 |

Creating and Sharing Value

Our Open Doors members are in a unique position to learn how to participate in the adult world.  Because their time and energy are not drained by school, they can focus on creating and sharing value with the communities that matter to them.  By doing so, they build self-knowledge and learn what it means to contribute.

Our teens also learn some entrepreneurial skills in the sense that they may spend a lot of resources — time, energy, and sometimes money — without any guarantees of a positive response or success.  Managing risk in that sense is an enormous part of adult life, and our teens are gaining experience with it.

An example:  one member is an avid gamer, and so a community that matters to him is the online gaming community.  Recently he decided to write regular guides for his favorite game, the wildly popular and challenging League of Legends by Riot Games.  Instead of writing compositions for an audience of one — his English teacher — this member writes guides that could add real value to hundreds of other gamers’ lives, guides that may be read multiple times for the content, guides that may be commented on, argued with (!), and eventually improved.  The staff at Open Doors is watching this member improve his grammar and sentence structure in a self-directed way, because he wants his guides to be readable and direct.

Here’s a link to his latest guide about a new League of Legends champion, Vel’Koz.

Though the guide may seem technical to you, we wouldn’t be surprised if you pass by several people today who would be able to read it and use it.   It’s true — there really is no learning like real-life and self-directed learning.  Come find out more at one of our events!

As in Princeton, So in Eastown

The Princeton Learning Cooperative is based on the same learning model as our center at Open Doors here in Eastown, Grand Rapids.  Sit back with a cuppa and watch all the happy learning going on!

To see how it works in person, come to an event, or give us a call.  If you love what you see and want to help, you can donate here.

Long Winter

So much I’ve forgotten
the grass

the birds
the close insects

the shoot—the drip
the spray of the sprinkler

the heat of the Sun

the impossible

the flush of your face
so much

the high noon
the high grass

the patio ice cubes
the barbeque

the buzz of them—
the insects

the weeds—the dear
—that grow

like alien life forms—
all Dr. Suessy and odd—

here we go again¬
we are turning around

again—this will all
happen over again—

and again—it will

Timothy J. Nolan

Learning, art, and culture — this poem by an established poet suggests how they are all around, even in our longing –especially in our longing — for a glimpse of green.  Want to connect with more folks who love artists/learners/longers?  Come to our events.