Welcome to the World of Self-Directed Learning

You have just entered into a remarkable world of ideas about education—ideas that make enormous sense and are much supported by research, but are little understood or thought about by most people.

Three children studying something on the ground in a garden.

THE MAIN IDEAS DEVELOPED ON THIS SITE:

Children are beautifully designed, by nature, to control their own learning. For most of human history, children educated themselves through observing, exploring, questioning, playing and participating. These educative instincts still work beautifully for children who are provided with conditions that allow them to flourish.

Coercive schooling is not good for children. Schooling that children are forced to endure—in which the subject matter is imposed by others and the “learning” is motivated by extrinsic rewards and punishments rather than by the children’s own true interests—turns learning from a joyful activity into a chore, to be avoided whenever possible. Coercive schooling overrides and suppresses children’s natural ways of learning and creating, and contributes to a general loss of curiosity. It also promotes anxiety, depression and feelings of helplessness that sometimes reach pathological levels. Unfortunately, the forced, “top-down” paradigm currently prevails in all standard schooling, as well as in some forms of “alternative” or “progressive” schooling.

Real alternatives already exist and have been proven to work. These self-directed options include “democratic schools,” in which children direct their own activities and participate democratically in running the school; home-based learning, where children pursue their own interests with the support of parents and others in the community; and various resource centers that offer community experiences for self-directed learners. These truly self-directed approaches have been shown to work well regardless of children’s personalities and socioeconomic backgrounds. They don’t create the problems of forced schooling, and they nurture vital traits—such as initiative, creativity, and love of learning—that will help children thrive in our rapidly changing world. As an added bonus, they are also far less expensive to implement than the current process of forced schooling.

This site is for you if you are a…

Parent who is concerned about how schooling is affecting your child, or who seeks to preserve your child’s wonder and excitement of learning.

Student who feels trapped by schooling.

Researcher or scholar who wants to know the evidence that schooling is harmful for human beings and that young people can educate themselves well if provided with appropriate opportunities.

Journalist or event organizer, interested in featuring an authority who can discuss better approaches to education and children’s needs for freedom and play.

Concerned citizen, looking for ways to improve education for all.