New to Self-Directed Education? Start Here!
If you’re new to the concept of self-directed democratic education, this blog is for you! The purpose of this post is to provide you with a variety of resources focused on self-directed democratic education (aka the Sudbury School model) that you can peruse at your leisure depending on how much time/interest you have. You can take a quick surface-level overview, or you can go deep - the choice is yours. Here’s where we’re going to start:
The Elevator Pitch:
What is self-directed democratic education?
A model of education that centers around emulating the real world and allowing students to operate with maximum autonomy, while also participating in a diverse community with a well-established system of law and order. Students choose for themselves how to spend their time and pursue those activities that interest them.
A slightly longer definition:
(This is Dr. Peter Gray’s definition)
Education, broadly defined, is cultural transmission. It is the process or set of processes by which each new generation of human beings acquires and builds upon the skills, knowledge, beliefs, values, and lore of the culture into which they are born. Through all but the most recent speck of human history, education was always the responsibility of those being educated. Children come into the world biologically prepared to educate themselves through observing the culture around them and incorporating what they see into their play. Research in hunter-gatherer cultures shows that children in those cultures became educated through their own self-directed exploration and play. In modern cultures, self-directed education is pursued by children in families that adopt the homeschooling approach commonly called “unschooling” and by children enrolled in democratic schools, where they are in charge of their own education. Follow-up studies of “graduates” of unschooling and democratic schooling reveal that this approach to education can be highly effective, in today’s word, if children are provided with an adequate environment for selfeducation—an environment in which they can interact freely with others across a broad range of ages, can experience first-hand what is most valued in the culture, and can play with, and thereby experiment with, the primary tools of the culture.
If you have 5 minutes:
An Animated Primer on Self-Directed Education (YouTube video ~3 min)
“What If” (YouTube video ~2 min)
A “Typical” Day at Tallgrass Sudbury School (YouTube video ~4 min)
What is Alpine Valley School? (YouTube video ~4 min)
If you have 15 minutes:
The Sudbury Model of Education (Blog Post ~13 min read)
An Alpine Valley School Resume (Blog Post ~10 min read)
Children’s Freedom: A Human Rights Perspective (Article, ~10 min read)
What do you get out of self-directed education every day? (YouTube video ~13 min)
Sudbury Valley School (YouTube video ~9 min)
Fanning the Flames of Natural Curiosity (YouTube video ~6 min)
When you are ready to go deep:
Free to Learn (book, Peter Gray)
When Kids Rule the School (book, Jim Reitmulder)
The Meaning of Education (book, Daniel Greenberg)
Frequently Asked Questions episode (podcast episode ~40 min)
How to Raise Free Range Kids (podcast episode ~44 min)
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments if you have a favorite self-directed democratic schooling resource that we should include in this primer! Thanks for reading.