The Alliance for Self-Directed Education

Today I stumbled across The Alliance for Self-Directed Education. Self-directed education is sometimes also known as “unschooling”. It’s based on the idea that since every individual is unique, every person’s learning path should be different. Self-directed learning “leads different individuals along different paths, though the paths may often overlap” (

ASDE lists four “educative drives” ( that are an intrinsic part of humans, “beginning at birth or shortly after”. These include curiosity, playfulness, sociability, and planfulness. Together, these four drives work to foster education and growth in children. Today’s schools, however, suppress these natural drives, which is why although preschoolers love to play and learn, few high school graduates feel the same way.

To allow the four educative drives to flourish, ASDE lists six “optimizing conditions” with which self-directed education works at its best: responsibility, unlimited time to play, tools of the culture, adults who are helpers and not judgers, age mixing, and a supportive community ( These conditions are provided by adults to help “maximize children’s abilities to assert and learn from their natural educative drives”.

To learn more about SDE, check out the variety of resources available on Doing a Google search on “self-directed education” and “John Holt” will also turn up a vast assortment of material.

Catherine Chen
Catherine Chen

Inspire and be inspired.

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