About the Alliance
The Mission & Vision of The Alliance


The Alliance for Self-Directed Education (ASDE) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to creating a future in which Self-Directed Education (SDE) is embraced as a cultural norm and is available to all children, everywhere.

A Fundamental Premise


A fundamental premise of the Alliance is that young people are people, with dignity, preferences, individual self-expression, needs that include a need for a safe and supportive social system, and rights to conditions supporting their fullest development. Children’s rights are human rights, but many contemporary practices and policies prioritize adult comfort and interest in datafication over the well-being of young people. One example is the widespread practice of mandating participation in top-down schooling systems focused on sorting, competition, and control. An environment in which someone cannot say “no” and have that boundary respected is one in which consent does not exist, which is why we refer to such school environments as “coercive schools.” Imposing coercive schooling systems violates the rights of children and families. Coercive schooling systems represent at best arbitrary interference with the liberty of protected parties, and at worst, institutionalized rights violations with explicit genocidal intent. If there were evidence that some system of coercive schooling were necessary to ensure dignity, promote self-reliance, facilitate active participation in community, and generally support the best welfare and development of those it is imposed on, mandating such a system might be justifiable. As explained elsewhere in this website, there is no such evidence and there is much evidence to the contrary.

Many of our organizers came to self-directed education through asking what approach to education does honor young people’s rights and support them in the fullest development of their personalities and talents. We learned from young people, the experiences of generations of people raised outside the bounds of coercive schooling, and research on child development; we ended up here, and as we’ve kept learning the choice has just gotten clearer. Further, considering that young people, like all people, live embedded in social systems where the denial of respect, opportunity, and power to some groups diminishes the possibilities available to all, creating a world where SDE is an option for all necessarily includes creating a world where impact of a matrix of domination no longer distorts and constrains the options young people self-direct among. This is work we are committed to continuing to learn and grow in service of.

Why an Alliance?


The term Alliance in the organization’s name emphasizes its commitment to bringing together various organizations and individuals who are already actively practicing, advocating for, and enabling young people’s self-determination in their lives, learning, and paths. While our focus on Self-Directed Education in a world of compulsory coercive schooling leads us to most often focus on and collaborate with SDE-aligned schools, learning centers, homeschoolers, unschoolers, world schoolers, and other folks a narrow definition of “education” would include with minimal pause, the organizers of the Alliance understand education as a holistic and experiential lifelong journey. As such, we also celebrate chances to collaborate and align efforts with those in all kinds of spaces — libraries to makerspaces to community gardens and beyond — who share our principles and vision for a more liberated and empowered future for youth everywhere.

This movement, both away from coercive schooling and toward Self-Directed Education, has been around for decades. Still, most people still don’t know about Self-Directed Education, supportive resources and research can be challenging to find, and a variety of barriers from policies to prejudices still stand between us and the future we’re imagining.
SDE Wings

The Alliance was formed to give lift to the movement by offering an introduction to and information about Self-Directed Education, broadcasting in a variety of formats about the many SDE efforts currently underway, and actively supporting projects that seek to make SDE an option for everyone.

The Alliance is financed entirely by donations from individuals and organizations who support the cause of Self-Directed Education. All members of the Board of Directors are volunteers, who receive no financial remuneration for their work for the Alliance. Donations to the Alliance are tax deductible and allow the Board to cover basic operating expenses and occasionally hire freelance consultants to manage projects that would not be feasible on a purely volunteer basis.  Donate Now

Read about our initiatives.