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Resources related to “What is Self-Directed Education?” and “Is ALC for my self and my family?”

Trusting Children to Learn

Marley Richards (age 12) helps us see education from from a child's perspective.

Posted by Alliance for Self-Directed Education on Friday, March 10, 2017


These videos were shared by the new and exciting Alliance for Self-Directed Education.

There’s more at Self-Directed.Org

What is Self-Directed Education?

Peter Gray describes Self-Directed Education. Learn more at the brand new home for the Alliance. http://self-directed.org/

Posted by Alliance for Self-Directed Education on Thursday, December 8, 2016



These Sir Ken Robinson talks are classics for those interested in what our school system is, where it came from, what it does, and how it is/isn’t related to education.

Here’s the RSA Animate video on changing paradigms.

Of course, all his videos are pretty spectacular…


The ALC-NYC website–nycagile.org–has a pretty great video resource page, too…

ALC Specific

The Agile Learning Centers network website has information about what the model is and the philosophy behind it. It’s got a lot of information, put together by the original ALFs over the course of three summer sessions. Use the “Education Model” tab at the top to jump to the topic most interesting to you.

Also on the Network website is an FAQ page with questions that tend to come up at information sessions. It was mostly written by Art, Lacy, and myself.


(This is dormant now, but documents the early years at our flagship space!)


The NYC Community had staff contribute to, edit, and project manage the network’s first Facilitation Guide.

We also transcribed this Parent Sharing at ALC-NYC Summer ‘17. Shout out to a rising ALF who participated in the training for her fantastic photos 🙂

Fiiinnnalllyyy we have Ryan’s version of the ALC Origin Story, for your reading pleasure, with Tomis and Nancy’s both coming soon!

Instagram: Lacy from Mosaic ALC

Lacy microblogs her adventures with littles down in Charlotte, NC on this gorgeous Instagram account!


Instagram: ALC-NYC

The NYC facilitators share snippets of their days here! Take a peek 🙂


Instagram: ALC Heartwood

Lots of other ALCs have fascinating social media accounts. I especially appreciate Heartwood’s, because they frequently share Anthony’s offering notes and tool upgrades…which always give me plenty to think about.



Free To Learn

by Dr. Peter Gray

This is a book I recommend to those new to Self-Directed Education as an accessible, well-written introduction by one of the most foremost experts on the topic.


Anthropology of Childhood: Cherubs, Chattel, Changelings

by Dr. David Lancy

A little more dense than Free to Learn, this book is a great for those interested in how human ideas about childhood have changed over time and how the influence of such changes on our ideas about education.


Far From The Tree

by Andrew Solomon

While in every relationship the individuals involved are magnificent, strange universes, sometimes reading striking illustrations–such as these case studies in which parents reflect on their relationships with their distinctly different children–helps me reflect on my perspective and relationships.


Super Parents, Super Children

by Frances Kendall

This one is slightly more obscure…It’s a parenting book lent to me by a friend back when I was first practicing facilitating. I read it in two subway rides, and it helped me put language to some of my ideas about responsibility, consequences, and engaging with young people in a way that’s more about empowerment than control. I honestly haven’t read it a second time, and I couldn’t point to what specifically I learned from it; however, I distinctly remember it clarifying my language and thinking in helpful ways.



There are tons of other resources relevant for Self-Directed Education, Agile Learning Centers, facilitation, self-reflection, how we learn, schooling versus education, etc. 

Sometimes they’re clearly related (like Akilah Richards’ amazing podcast, Blake Boles’ work, and anything on Adventure Playgrounds). Sometimes they’re less obvious (like The Little Prince movie, bell hooks’ writings, Neofuturist shows, and the Bronx Zoo lion sign explaining how cubs learn through play). Always, though, discovering a new resource makes me smile. What are your favorites?


How to Love

by Thich Nhat Hanh

I relate to facilitation as a practice, because my facilitation is connected to my work being in relationship in ways that recognize, cherish, celebrate, and make space for the continued blossoming of the best in all involved. This is a book I keep on hand (and frequently replace quietly when curious minds pocket the copy I have at school), along with it’s companion booklet True Love, because it has lots of light, clear action steps tied to the kind of love I’m trying to practice.

Here’s the Brainpickings synopsis.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk

by Adele Faber, Elaine Mazlish, Kimberly Ann Coe

A popular book within the ALF community, this one was introduced to us early on by a parent who had found it helpful in her relationship with her kid. It’s come up at trainings since, suggested by both facilitators and parents, most recently for the insights about problem-solving. (Ok so I haven’t personally read this one yet. But it gets rave reviews from folks I trust, so it makes the list…My communication texts were scattered but included NVC and active listening for sure.) 


Emergent Strategy

by adrienne maree brown

Part of how I came to this work was through exploring how change happens in individuals and societies. At some point, “how can I grow and support the growth of other humans?” spiraled out to “how can I seed and nurture the growth of new communities?” This is my current favorite on the topic!


Calvin and Hobbes

by Bill Watterson

So I was wondering what to put in this last slot. I had classics like Freire, Dewey, and Vygotsky in my head. Inklings to list resources on Reggio or Montessori philosophies. The work of Dr. Monique W. Morris or Rev. angel kyodo williams. Erich Fromm. bell hooks. Ta-Nehisi Coates. Zora Neale Hurston. 

Then I stopped thinking and knew what to write. Watterson had so much right about the unseen richness of kids’ inner lives, the serious work of play, learning through living, and how warped our relationships with young people can become if we focus on our roles rather than our relationships. Do I love the gender dynamics and how white everyone is? No. But I can’t even count anymore the number of children I’ve played Calvinball or discussed mortality in the woods or laughed while sled-riding with…and I’m so glad to be Abby rather than Miss Wormwood at our school.


aka How To Think Like An Unschooler

I first came across this piece with the above title. The [more elegant than the page I recall] version linked to below has the more straightforward title “Learning/Sex”…which makes it sound more like an essay than a thought experiment IMHO. Either way, it’s a piece worth checking out.


What happens when Unschoolers grow up?

I get that question a lot. For some, anecdotes and self-reflection guide them to sufficient answers. For those who love research (like me!) Peter Gray’s post here links to the results of a study on outcomes for grown unschoolers. And it’s fascinating…


Lockhart’s Lament

On maths, both in reality and according to conventional schooling…