A few teens and I met last week to prepare for a talk they will give on May 8th at Hub Ottawa – a co-working community for innovators, artists, professionals, and entrepreneurs. I hope those attending are ready to be blown away.

At our open houses, Compass teens have spoken individually about their experiences in school and how coming to Compass has changed their lives for the better. I have heard their stories when they come in for the first time and sit down in our office with their parents, who display emotions ranging from skepticism of our approach to near collapse at how difficult the schooling path has been. I catch snippets of teens discussing their schooling experiences among themselves while lounging in the common room. But after a little over a year of being in operation, we are starting to move into giving talks that represent the combined experiences – many of them painful or frustrating – of our teens. It’s powerful to hear and, I think, empowering for the teens create a talk that combines their energies, emotions, thoughts, and experiences into a coherent narrative and call to action. And for adults to listen.

Here’s a small sampling of what they told me:

They said that what school taught them was how not to be true to themselves. They were resentful of being coerced to digest material they had no interest in learning and that they did not see as being useful for their futures. They pointed out that traditional education is out of step with the age in which we live.

They said they needed to be allowed to fail sometimes, to explore their passions, and to have the freedom to do so gradually – not all of sudden when they turn 18.

They want their time back, rather than having their evenings and weekends filled up with schoolwork. They don’t want to be caught up in a rat-race of constant busyness orchestrated by others.

My writing their words in this blog does not do justice to the passion and conviction behind them when you hear a group of young people say them. You will have the opportunity to hear them yourself when they present their talk on Thursday, May 8th from 12 -1 at 71 Bank Street, 6th Floor as part of Hub’s Brown Bag Lunch series. To attend, please RSVP here.