Learning and Liberation

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania | Series


Ben Rehrman

1 Campaigns | Pennsylvania, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $18,666 for development. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

210 supporters | followers

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There's a truth that our current education system hides from you: kids don’t need school to learn. Learning and Liberation is a documentary series that explores eight people and places that allow young people to grow, play, and learn outside of traditional school.

About The Project

  • The Story
  • Wishlist
  • Updates
  • The Team
  • Community

Mission Statement

We are two teenage unschoolers who truly believe in self-directed education’s power to transform lives and communities. We want to empower young people, parents, teachers, and everyone in between, to reimagine education for themselves and their communities.

The Story

A collaborative project by Ben Rehrman and Genevieve Shade

Education is at a turning point. After 2020, more people than ever before are seeking alternatives to traditional education. Perhaps you’re even one of them. Because of this, this is a significant moment to create media about alternative education.



Self-directed education is a powerful alternative to traditional school. It addresses many issues with school in ways that empower young people. What if school had no homework, no grades, and no standardized curriculum yet still prepared children for successful futures? What if we genuinely trusted young people to control their lives and time? 


We are making an eight-episode documentary mini-series that explores eight people and places that allow young people to learn outside of traditional school. To create this, we will travel around the country for nine months and film and release one episode per month. Here is a map of our route, including every location we plan to film at and some stops we’ll make along the way. 

This project is mainly about the subjects we will cover, but it is also about our journey to get there. We’re both straight out of (unschooled) high school. This is the first project of this scale we’re both attempting. It’s big. It’s ambitious. But from our years as self-directed learners, we have the motivation and skills to take it on. While most 18-year-olds are in their first year of college, we’ll be unschooling college by going out and making a film.

We are currently in pre-production on this project. Right now, we’re doing a lot of work to fund this series, plan and produce it, and research the eight subjects we will cover. Plus, we’re preparing to leave for what is essentially a year-long working road trip! 

We aim to start production in September 2023 and release the first episode in October 2023. The final product will include eight episodes and a pilot, released monthly for free on our YouTube channel. We will also release free high-quality downloads for anyone who wants to screen it.

Five out of nine of our in-person subjects are confirmed at this point in time, and we expect to confirm everyone by the end of April.

What we raise from crowdfunding will be immensely helpful to get us off the ground. We need to cover some upfront costs before we start production, like gear, software, and staff. This money will also help cover the first four episodes. We are seeking money from other sources, but this first sum is an essential first step for this project. It will allow us to produce and release half of the series!

Raising more than our goal will help us cover the cost of making more episodes. Every $2,500-$3,000 more we raise will cover production and post-production for another full episode! This money covers travel costs as we film and edit each episode on the road for two weeks.  

If you are an organization that would like to sponsor this series, please get in touch with us by email at [email protected].


We recognize that COVID is still real and pervasive. We will be masking as much as possible during travel, and testing before we film at individual schools.



Genevieve left school after her freshman year of high school, and she hasn’t looked back since. As a lifelong unschooler, Ben has never been to school. We are two young people with years of first-hand experience with self-directed education. We are uniquely equipped to make this project through our experience as unschoolers.

Both of us have been making content about education for most of our teen years. Ben has produced and published video content about their life as an unschooler since they were 13. They have amassed nearly half a million views on YouTube since they started their channel in 2018.



Since she was 15, Genevieve has published a zine (a self-published magazine or pamphlet) about youth liberation and education called “Youth Liberation Now”. The zine touches on topics of youth rights, education, the history of youth movements, and politics. It has spread widely across the U.S. and internationally through purely grassroots distribution.



Young voices are sorely missing in many conversations about education, and we want to change that. We will be 18 and 19 when we start production on this project. As young people, we have some unique advantages that older people might not have. Perhaps the largest one is that we have the time and flexibility to dedicate over a year of our lives to this singular project. We are also in a position where we can make this series completely free! We don’t need to profit off of this project or paywall it.


Most widespread coverage of self-directed education is sensationalized. Young people who choose self-directed education are portrayed as uneducated, lazy, or socially awkward. As two unschoolers, we know these things couldn’t be farther from the truth. We’re here to provide a genuine alternative to traditional media’s coverage of self-directed education.


We understand that a vast range of people practice self-directed education. We aim to give marginalized people, including people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and children, a platform to speak about self-directed education. We know how important it is to center young people’s voices in conversations about education.


We mean this in every sense of the word. This project is for everyone. We genuinely believe in the message of this project and want to share it with as many people as possible. This means releasing the series for free on YouTube and providing easily accessible downloads for screenings for anyone who wants them. This series is meant to be a free resource for everyone who encounters it.


This project is about more than just us. It’s about you. It’s about the community we will build making it that you’ll be a part of. We couldn’t do this project without your support, and we honestly can’t thank you enough.

Here are some ways you can support us if you can’t donate right now, ranked by how easy they are to do:

I can click one (or a few) buttons:

I can do one thing that includes some typing:

I can click two (or a few) buttons:

I can do two things:

  • Sign up for our mailing list on our website.
  • Share our project directly with someone you know who you think would be interested! DM someone our post, or send an email to someone telling them about our project.

I can do something that goes above and beyond:

  • Are you a filmmaker who will talk to two young filmmakers and answer some questions? Reach out us through email at [email protected].
  • Can you start talking to people in your community to organize a monthly screening of the series starting in October?
  • Do you want to house/feed/entertain us while we are traveling? Send us an email at [email protected]!


Use the WishList to Pledge cash and Loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an Incentive directly.

Production (episodes one through four)

Costs $9,000

The costs of filming our first 4 episodes, including travel and lodging.


Costs $350

The cost of an original theme song and an audio library.


Costs $1,000

The costs of assembling, editing, and finishing each episode.

Insurance and legal

Costs $450

The costs of forming an LLC and film insurance.


Costs $2,200

The costs of paying additional people to assist with pre-production and social media.


Costs $5,000

The costs of buying a camera, audio gear, lights, hard drives, and all accessories needed.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

About This Team








GENEVIEVE SHADE (Director/Producer)

Genevieve (she/her) is a Pittsburgh-based multidisciplinary artist and creator of the zine “Youth Liberation Now” (YLN). YLN touches of youth rights, education, the history of youth movements, and politics. Through grassroots distribution, YLN has spread across the US and internationally.

Beyond YLN, Genevieve is a fine artist, writer, and researcher. Her film photography work was shown at the Mattress Factory in May 2022. She is also a printmaker, painter, and people’s history enthusiast. One of her latest projects is a collaborative research project with her mentor Shaun Slifer, focusing on 1970s high school student activism in Pittsburgh.

She is very passionate about education, having experienced five different models of education throughout her life. In 2020 Genevieve decided to leave public high school (one of the best decisions she’s ever made), and she has been happily unschooling for the past three years.









BEN REHRMAN (Director/Producer)

Ben (they/them) is a filmmaker and lifelong unschooler from Eastern Pennsylvania. As a teenager, they started a YouTube channel to upload educational and autobiographical videos. These videos gained traction online, steadily growing an audience for their work. Ben is interested in narrative and documentary film, having made multiple short films.

Unschooling and self-directed education are some of their primary creative inspirations. From informing audiences about the basics of self-directed education to making autobiographical videos about their life to show what unschooling is like, to interviewing other people in the space, unschooling has driven their work.

Their films have been official selections in The All American High School Film Festival, The Sun Valley High School Film Festival, The Saul Zaentz High School Film Festival, and the SE Pennsylvania Teen Filmmakers Showcase. Videos on their youtube channel have garnered almost half a million views, making them one of the most viewed video sources about unschooling.


ZOE DE PEDRO (Assistant Producer)

Zoe (she/her) is an unschooler living in New York City. She has participated in various forms of self-directed education throughout the past decade, including a democratic free school for five years, and settled on unschooling in the summer of 2020. Zoe loves all types of visual art and craft, and uses her skills in her organizing for climate justice with Fridays For Future. Zoe is always on the move between classes, gatherings, protests, and whatever else.


KOMENCANTO ETERNA (Research Assistant)

Komencanto Eterna (she/her) is a 20 year old organizer and ethnographer based in Columbus, Ohio (Shawnee land). After starting college at 15 hoping to find a liberatory learning environment, Ko saw clearly how our society is designed around adultist and oppressive modes of education across both K-12 and higher education. In 2021, Ko founded the Queer Teen Activist Collective 614, which sought to introduce youth liberationist thought into the adultist LGBT+ advocacy space in Ohio. Ko also organized the world's first general assembly on youth liberation in December of 2022, which brought together organizers from four different countries to discuss the state of our movement. Now, as a freelance researcher and journalist, Ko seeks to amplify the voices of queer, trans, disabled, and BIPOC youth in their struggles against adult supremacy.

Current Team