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Our Team

Joana Esteves (she/they)

Director and facilitator

I grew up in two very different cultures and took part in two widely different school systems. During my first 6 years of school in Sweden, I played and learned with 30-60 others of mixed ages, I was encouraged to follow my curiosity, to explore independently, to problem solve, to love learning and I grew to trust that my voice mattered. After this I moved to a Portuguese school with over 2000 students and a very different approach. I was expected to know history dates and math formulas by heart and I was expected to take tests. All these were new for me but what I had learned in those early years gave me the tools and confidence to meet the new challenges with curiosity.

The contrasts in my early school experiences left a huge legacy, I know how different it can feel to be allowed to follow our own interests and be trusted in this process! It opened up a big hunger in me for understanding more about the process of learning and the conditions that support brave, vulnerable, inclusive engagement with each other and our world. I have facilitated learning experiences for groups of young people and adults, I have worked in a home ed forest school, immersed myself in various learning adventures and co-founded a walking school for community exploration, peer supported self directed learning and relationship weaving with the natural world around us.

Living in a body recovering from post traumatic injury, has brought embodied awareness and trauma informed practices to the front and an increased sensitivity to the different experiences each one of us might have even when this isn’t visible on the outside.

I have a big dose of curiosity within me and I love nurturing it. This has led me to dive into exploring various subjects such as transformative conflict practices, group dynamics, power and privilege, biology through an academic lens, natural history and nature connection through an experiential lens, canine behavior with agency and consent in the centre, psychology, singing, activism, carpentry, climbing and so much more! I can’t wait to continue to court curiosity with everyone at MLC and to learn from and with you all!

Caitlin Harrison (she/her)

Director

Participating in a consent-based, self-directed learning community is a wish I have held in my heart for years. This desire was first discovered in the vivid dreams I had as a very young person about advocating for children’s rights (a pair of magical ice skates were involved), and was nurtured further throughout my adult life in my experiences as a teacher, nanny, friend and parent.  I believe that being in relationship with young people is one of life’s most profound honours. I approach it as sacred work.

I have been unschooling and deschooling alongside my daughter, Nora, and husband, Brenton, for the past 8 years, and now we are ready to join forces with you all and co-create an environment that supports everyone to flourish and have tons of fun. Within the past year I have discovered that I am neurodivergent, and I am really grateful for this revelation and the ways in which it will support our work together. My sensitivity allows me to be aware of and responsive to the cultural, social and emotional climates we are creating as a community.  I have a particular interest in education environments’ hidden curricula.  Deeply connected to my sensitivities and curiosities is my personal commitment to social justice, which imbues my life with a courageous responsibility for decolonial learning, while addressing power imbalances, prejudice and discrimination. 

I love to swim, sing, hike, bake without a recipe, read, dance, and listen to peoples’ ideas and dreams. I delight in spontaneity, storytelling, and theorising. I love research and daydreaming. And I look forward to being with you All!

Sophie Lovett (she/her)

Director and facilitator

I am a mother of two boys, Arthur (10) and Orson (5). Arthur has never been to school, and has led me on this self-directed education path – including co-creating the ideas for this learning community. Prior to motherhood I was a secondary school teacher, specialising in English, Drama, Media and Film. I was always intent on empowering and enabling young people, but that was always challenging within the mainstream system.

Over the past decade I have delved deep into lived research and reading around alternative parenting and education. You can find some of my thoughts on this at www.raisingrevolutionaries.co.uk. I am also co-chair of the trustees of Phoenix Education, and have been super inspired by the people I have met through the Freedom To Learn network who have created self-directed, consent-based learning communities across the UK.

Arthur and I have been dreaming up our own self-directed learning space for a while now. He loves the unschooling ethos we follow at home, but yearns for the opportunity to learn and grow in community. He has tried a few different local settings, and whilst they all have much to offer they do not fulfil his need for self-direction, agency and consent. Much of this is driven by his (and my!) neurodivergence: we envisage this space being fully accommodating to neurodivergent young people, recognising their superpowers as well as the challenges they face.

Through all of my work, I am passionate about empowering people to build a better world, and I believe the roots of this lie in the ways we raise our children. By seeking to step into power with young people – rather than wield power over them – we can begin to disrupt the damaging status quo and create a fairer, more sustainable future for us all.