Self-Directed Education 101

What we've been reading, watching, and thinking about at Alpine Valley School this week.

This week we brought you a blog post with all the fundamentals of self-directed democratic education. Whether you have only a few minutes or a few hours, we curated our favorite resources into this guide so you can easily share the best our community has to offer in terms of explaining, and going deep on, our model of education. Here's a preview of the full post:

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.

Learn More: 

If you have 5 minutes: 

READING: 

WATCHING: 


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This post on Twitter (above) really captured our interest this week. No one likes to be bossed around or infantalized - why do we think it's okay to treat children this way when adults actively resist being "molded"? We appreciated seeing someone else out there in the world who sees things the same way we do and shared their experience on social media.

Also, we came across two different articles from our fellow self-directed Democratic school community this week. Here's the info on both:

Your choice of education could save your child's life: A blog post from the Open School in California. Preview: I believe young people feel isolated because they lack community, time, and freedom. They are chronically over-scheduled, taught to pass tests and not to explore their interests. They are not allowed to freely socialize, not allowed to learn self care, not taught how to self-regulate their bodies and emotions, not allowed to seek justice in meaningful ways, not allowed freedom of speech and expression, not allowed to say “no” to an authority figure.

Wanted: A Few Good Females: A blog post by the Philly Free School in Pennsylvania. Preview: [Your] daughter is NOT “just fine.” She is sublimating her sense of self, her leadership potential, and her critical thinking skills to fit into a system designed for economies of scale, not the needs of individual learners.


The Power of the Democratic Process in Schools

Jerry Mintz has been a leading voice in the alternative school movement for over 30 years. In addition to his seventeen years as a public school teacher and a public and independent alternative school principal, he has also founded several alternative schools and organizations and has lectured and consulted around the world.

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Alpine Valley School will be hosting an informal meet and greet beginning at 9AM! Come and learn more about self-directed democratic education in the Denver area by touring our facility, meeting our staff members, and chatting with graduates of our program. Space is limited, so please  reserve your spot  if you plan to attend!

Alpine Valley School will be hosting an informal meet and greet beginning at 9AM! Come and learn more about self-directed democratic education in the Denver area by touring our facility, meeting our staff members, and chatting with graduates of our program. Space is limited, so please reserve your spot if you plan to attend!

Marc Gallivan