Unlike school field trips, the Flying Squads do not have a predetermined destination but instead practice the crucial skills of deciding together where to go and how to spend their time. Each day starts in a public space (typically a library) documenting and reflecting on previous time together in a communal journal. The group then sets out into the world to explore common interests as a collective, experimenting on how to build community and deciding how to voice group concerns on the social justice issue of being youth in a city built for adults.
Even in the most caring of school and homeschooling coop spaces, a definitive line is drawn on where children learn and what space and materials are and are not for them. By intentionally not using a learning space or having predetermined tools and materials, Flying Squad participants learn the important value of abolishing these distinctions as the young people involved interact with the world outside on a regular basis, carving out a space for themselves in their city. And as they do so, they learn perhaps one of life’s most important lessons: how to find self-identity while caring for and developing a community with others.Flying Squads – Where Youth Rights Take Flight
We decided that we would experiment with an unstructured day in the city that would give them the opportunity to assert their right to exist as full people in a city that does not fully honor young people, and allow their day to unfold in ways that were not limited by the Facilitators’ feelings of needing to transport the Learners back to our physical home base.
I wrote the following letter to parents October 6, 2019:
“While we love our planned outings we recognize that they have been limiting to the Learners because we typically have a goal to go somewhere and do something specific and time bounded, and then when it is over we come back to Abrome. We are concerned that the Learners are not being given the opportunity to simply exist in the city where they can allow their plans to evolve emergently based on the combined interests of the group. Further, we want to continually push back against the notion that learning is confined to any given space, that learning objectives must be clearly defined, or that children and adolescents should not exist in public spaces during the day. We brought this up as an awareness at Friday’s Check-in and Change-up and we decided that we would experiment with an unstructured full-day outing in Austin on Thursday. The idea is that we go into or meet at a location in Austin, and then check in with the Learners and Facilitators to see how they want to collectively spend their time that day. … If this practice goes well we anticipate doing this once per week.”
Jennifer was the Facilitator who joined four adolescent Learners on that first “Get Lost Day,” and it went fabulously well. We decided as a community that we would continue with our Get Lost Days, which have been a wonderful change of pace for older and younger Learners. These days have stretched us in terms of finding consensus and building community outside of our physical space and away from the tools that we regularly use at our physical home base.
Soon after starting our Get Lost Days, we learned about Flying Squads. Similar to our experience finding Agile Learning Centers, we found that our beliefs and intentions lined up very well with what Flying Squads was doing.Austin joins Flying Squads as a collaborator — Abrome
To see Flying Squads in action, watch Good Day.