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Books about SDE, in theory and in practice.
Bryn Purdy, who visited and was invited to work at Summerhill in the ’60s, presents, analyzes, and provides counterpoints on the canon of Neillian beliefs: child empowerment, child democracy, sexual ethics, religion, and the relevance of learning.
Alice Miller: The Unkind Society, Parenting and Schooling
This book takes the work of Alice Miller a step further and discusses how her beliefs about parenting techniques can also be projected upon the work of teachers and other professionals working with children and young people.
Alternative Approaches to Education: A Guide for Parents and Teachers
Among the multiple alternatives presented in this work, specific chapters are dedicated to democratic and free schools such as Summerhill and Sands in the UK, and a basic framework for starting your own small school.
Alternative Schooling and Student Engagement: Canadian Stories of Democracy within Bureaucracy
Nina Bascia, Esther Sokolov Fine, Malcolm Levin
This work documents the progress of alternative schooling in Canada’s public school system, with chapters focused specifically on Self-Directed democratic schools.
Anarchist Education and the Modern School: A Francisco Ferrer Reader
Francisco Ferrer • Edited by Mark Bray and Robert H. Haworth
Part martyr, part visionary, Francisco Ferrer and the Modern School Movement he created have continued to preoccupy educational reformers and political activists despite or because of Ferrer’s execution by a repressive Spanish government in 1909.
Anarchist Pedagogies: Collective Actions, Theories, and Critical Reflections on Education
Edited by Robert H. Haworth
Important and challenging issues in the area of anarchism and education are presented in this history of egalitarian and free-school practices.
Liza Kleinman & Brook Gideon
In this fresh and funny middle-reader novel, the author deftly explores, with poise and insight, the growing unschooling movement as well as the challenges of moving to a new home, making friends, and finding room for differences within a family.
Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community
This book challenges the widely accepted premises that the teacher must be in control of the classroom & that what we need are strategies to get students to comply with the adult’s expectation – and with that, the very idea of classroom management.
Bound To Be Free
Bound to be Free explores the myth that compulsory education is free education, arguing that in fact institutionalized education is detrimental to our freedom and autonomy, whether as children, parents or members of society.
Can't Go Won't Go
The current trend to medicalize or demonize children who refuse to go to school will only add to society’s problems as well as damaging the individual. Far from leading to disaster, removing children from school can become a life-enhancing decision.
Comparing Learning Systems
The good, the bad, the ugly and the counter-productive, and why home-based educating families have found one fit for a democracy.
A 1964 precursor to Ivan Illich’s Deschooling Society, addressing in separate chapters the problems of primary, secondary, and college-level education, as well as the educational establishment’s detrimental effect on society.
Compulsory Schooling Disease: How Children Absorb Fascist Values
This book demonstrates how compulsory schooling, with its apparatus of imposed discipline and control, is dangerous to the mental health and social development of children, and is in fact the cause of many social problems which it claims to cure.
Creating Learning Communities: Models, Resources, and New Ways of Thinking About Teaching and Learning
Edited by Ron Miller
Bringing together real-world information & innovative theoretical thinking on the present & future state of education, from homeschooling & distance learning to autodidactics & learning clubs, a world of true learning communities is envisioned here.
Schools have failed our individual needs, supporting false and misleading notions of ‘progress’ and development, fostered by the belief that ever-increasing production, consumption and profit are proper yardsticks for measuring.
Doing It Their Way: Home-Based Education and Autonomous Learning
An overview of the philosophies of autonomous learning, questioning the prevailing mythology of essential, age-related, ‘balanced’ education and the relevance of school models of compulsory, age-related socialization.
Don't Tell Me I Can't: An Ambitious Homeschooler's Journey
A book about his journey through entrepreneurial unschooling that led him through an early path of conquering devastating setbacks on the way to his accomplishments.
Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling
John Taylor Gatto
Thirty years in New York City’s public schools led John Taylor Gatto to the sad conclusion that compulsory schooling does little but teach young people to follow orders like cogs in an industrial machine.
Edmond Holmes and the Tragedy of Education
A pertinent book about Edmond Holmes, who supervised the first National Curriculum over 100 years ago. On his retirement he wrote a damning critique where he criticized his own work for the last 30 years, condemning how the NC had debased teaching.
Everything I Thought I Knew: An Exploration of Life and Learning
As the debate continues on how to improve our failed education system, the author delves into what it’s like to live, learn, and parent without it.
Everywhere All the Time: A New Deschooling Reader
Edited by Matt Hern
A collection of deschooling pieces, with contributors Ivan Illich, Emma Goldman, John Taylor Gatto, John Holt, Grace Llewellyn, Leo Tolstoy, Vinoba Bhave, Gustava Esteva, Madhu Prakash, David Guterson, Zoë Readhead, Pat Farenga and many more.
Field Day: Getting Society Out of School
Is institutionalizing our children for six hours a day, five days a week, for twelve years really the best we can do? And how did we get to this point where we assume that’s a defensible idea?
Free At Last: The Sudbury Valley School
This best-selling description of the school is bursting with the excitement of life at Sudbury Valley. Free at Last is also chock-full of stories that illustrate the many unique features of this highly original model.
Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything
Laura Grace Weldon
With data from neurologists, child development specialists, anthropologists, educators, historians and business innovators, this book turns many current assumptions about school-based education upside down.
Free to Learn
Developmental psychologist (and ASDE co-founder) Peter Gray argues that in order to foster children who will thrive in today’s constantly changing world, we must entrust them to steer their own learning and development.
Freedom and Beyond
John Holt’s brilliant and evocative 1972 Freedom and Beyond marks a significant turn in thinking about schools, when it began to become clear to many that ‘schools’ and ‘schooling,’ would be unable to hold the great forces of learning.
Freedom in Education
Elizabeth Byrne Ferm
Elizabeth Byrne Ferm (1857-1944), principal of the Modern School at Stelton NJ, a utopian-anarchist colony, proposes an educative practice distinct from pedagogy, one where the task of the educator is to get out of the way of the self-directed child.
Freedom – Not License!
A. S. Neill
The headmaster of Summerhill answers parents’ questions on a variety of topics associated with rearing children.
Get Out of the Way and Let Kids Learn
This book challenges basic assumptions of traditional education and offers suggestions for ways to allow children more freedom, more agency, and more control over their own education.
God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn
A book on unschooling, written from a Biblical Christian perspective.
Growing Up Absurd: Problems of Youth in the Organized Society
A 1960 runaway bestseller on “the disgrace of the Organized System, of semimonopolies, government, advertisers etc. & the disaffection of the growing generation,” which inspired much of the ’60s youth resistance.
Growing Without Schooling Volumes 1-3
John Holt and various authors
These issues have Holt’s direct correspondence with families that were homeschooling families with a variety of approaches, their growth, legal challenges, and sharing of resources. His book reviews at the end of each issue are great.
Homeschooling Our Children, Unschooling Ourselves
McKee guides us between her roles as classroom teacher & homeschooling parent as awareness gradually emerges that edu. & schooling are very different things. A clear examination of what children need & why even well meaning schools can’t supply it.
How Children Fail
An enduring million-selling classic, including insights into how children investigate the world, into the perennial problems of classroom learning, grading, testing, and into the role of the trust and authority in every learning situation.
How Children Learn
“Learning is as natural as breathing.” In this delightful yet profound book, John Holt looks at how we learn to talk, to read, to count, and to reason, and how we can nurture and encourage these natural abilities in our children.
In Defense of Childhood: Protecting Kids' Inner Wildness
Virtually every arena of kids’ experience is now subject to some form of outside control. Lamenting risk-averse parents, overstructured school days, and a lack of playtime and solitude, this book is a clear and compelling plea to save childhood.
Instead of Education: Ways to Help People Do Things Better
Holt’s most direct and radical challenge to the educational status quo and a call to parents to save their children from schools of all kinds, laying out the foundation for unschooling as the vital path to self-directed learning and a creative life.
Challenging the often held notion that Holt’s work was romantic and impractical within the context of compulsory schooling, enabling readers to appreciate the view that individuals outside the education system can change what is happening within it.
Joy Baker: Trailblazer for Home-Based Education and Personalized Learning
Joy Baker believed that she could do a better job of educating her children than the State could, in spite of its good intentions. Chris Shute tells the story of her bitter encounters with the Authorities and eventual win of freedom for her children.
Jump Fall Fly from schooling to homeschooling to unschooling
Lehla Eldridge and Anthony Eldridge Rogers
How one family abandoned traditional education, embraced the freedom of childhood, self directed learning and play to better prepare their children for a rapidly changing future.
Learning All The Time
The essence of John Holt’s insight into learning and small children is captured here. This delightful book shows how children learn to read, write, & count in their everyday life at home, and how adults can respect & encourage this wonderful process
Learning Unlimited: The Home-Based Education Case Files
Fifteen stories — case-files — from the experiences of home-based educating families, collected over the course of thirty years by Roland Meighan.
Learning is Natural, School is Optional: The North Star Approach To Offering Teens a Head Start On Life
In telling the story of North Star’s beginnings, Ken Danford offers inspiration and guidance for how to support young people to leave school and improve their lives through self-directed learning.
Like Water The Extraordinary Approach to Education at Fairhaven School
Fairhaven is a Sudbury School in Maryland and McCaig is one of the founders. He writes briefly of its history, organization, and life inside the school. Quote “Students at Fairhaven do one thing more than any other- they decide.”
Living and Learning in the Free School
Mark W. Novak
This book is an ethnographic study of one of Canada’s publicly funded, Self-Directed learning environments in the 1970’s.
Making It Up As We Go Along: The Story of the Albany Free School
Making It Up as We Go Along is the story of the Albany Free School, a school based on real freedom, real community, real democratic principles, and real affection between teachers and students.
NO! Against Adult Supremacy
A collection of Youth Liberation writing, originally published online by Stinney Distro.
Outra Escola é possível: o Modelo Sudbury de Educação
Luís Gustavo Guadalupe Silveira
Coletânea de artigos em Português sobre o Modelo Sudbury de Educação escritos por pessoas envolvidas com o cotidiano de espaços Sudbury. [Collection of articles in Portuguese on Sudbury Model of Education by groups involved with Sudbury spaces.]
Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Arguing that ‘education is freedom’, Paulo Freire’s radical international classic contends that traditional teaching styles keep the poor powerless by treating them as passive, silent recipients of knowledge.
Punished By Rewards
A landmark psychological critique of basic motivational strategy, this book attacks the strategy of dangling incentives in front of people to affect their behavior.
Raising Free People: Unschooling as Liberation and Healing Work
Akilah S. Richards
Richards examines the ways that her relationships to blackness, decolonization, and healing work all combine to form relationships and enable community-healing strategies rooted in an unschooling practice.
Rethinking Learning To Read
Through the analysis of parents’ experiences and reflections this book begins work on the construction of alternative representations of what happens when a child learns to read.
This book offers a natural learning path for gentle parents who dream of living fully in joy and connection with their children while giving them all they need to be successful, with eight secrets to living a fulfilling unschooling life.
School Free - The Home Schooling Handbook
An alternative to the academically mediocre, often violent, unmotivating, passive education that characterizes so many public school classrooms.
School Is Dead: Alternatives In Education
The result of a conversation with Ivan Illich, a book on the societal problems inherent in having institutional schools, intellectually and emotionally enslaving children and giving them an institutional mindset akin to what criminals get in prison.
Schooling Beyond Measure & Other Unorthodox Essays about Education
In this collection of provocative articles and blog posts, Alfie Kohn challenges the conventional wisdom about topics ranging from how low-income children are taught to whether American schools have really fallen behind those in other countries.
Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational Reform and the Contradictions of Economic Life
Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis
Two economists argue that education is used by the bourgeoisie to control the workforce. They reject the notion that there are equal opportunities for all, because schools reproduce existing social inequalities.
SelfDesign: Nurturing Genius Through Natural Learning
SelfDesign is a philosophy and practice based in the belief that children are natural learners.
Starting A Sudbury School
Daniel Greenberg and Mimsy Sadofsky
This is a basic introduction to the complex process of starting a school. It analyzes various steps that fifteen founding groups have taken to get their schools off the ground and allow them to thrive in the early years.
Stay Solid! A Radical Handbook For Youth
The Purple Thistle Centre, Matt Hern
Stay Solid! provides essential support for radically inclined teens who believe that it’s possible for all of us to hang on to our values and build a life we believe in.
Success Without School, Unschooling my Children From Birth to College
Jean Proffitt Nunnally
Jean Nunnally details her family’s journey of self-directed learning from discovery to practice to success. Her honest stories of meeting doubts, challenges, and fears are both compelling and inspiring.
Summerhill School - A New View of Childhood
Alexander Sutherland Neill
Originally published in 1960, Summerhill became an instant bestseller and a classic volume of education for an entire generation.
Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book Of Homeschooling
John Holt and Pat Farenga
A classic text on teaching children at home, updated in 2003 to reflect new laws, new lifestyles, and the growing new generation of homeschooling parents.
Teaching as a Subversive Activity
Neil Postman & Charles Weingartner
A no-holds-barred assault on outdated teaching methods — with dramatic and practical proposals on how education can be made relevant to today’s world.
Teaching the Restless: One School’s Remarkable No-Ritalin Approach to Helping Children Learn and Succeed
In Teaching the Restless, Mercogliano issues an urgent call for a shift in how our society perceives hyperactive children—away from theories of faulty brain chemistry and toward an understanding of children’s lives.
The Art of Self-Directed Learning: 23 Tips for Giving Yourself an Unconventional Education
A collection of 23 stories and insights, offering practical advice and inspiration to become a more motivated and self-guided learner.
The Case Against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money
This explosive, well-researched book argues that the primary function of education is not to enhance students’ skill but to certify their intelligence, work ethic, and conformity―in other words, to signal the qualities of a good employee.
The Lives of Children: The Story of the First Street School
A look at the short life of First Street School; a New York City free school in the mid-1960’s.
The Modern School Movement
Based on extensive interviews with former pupils and teachers, this Pulitzer Prize-nominated work is a seminal and important investigation into the potential of educational alternatives.
The Pursuit of Happiness: The Lives of Sudbury Valley Alumni
Daniel Greenberg, Mimsy Sadofsky, and Jason Lempka
What becomes of students who attended Sudbury Valley as they pursue their lives as adults? This book explores the lives of students who spent their formative years at the school, examining in depth their values, their character, and their careers.
The Soft Revolution: A Student Handbook for Turning Schools Around
Neil Postman & Charles Weingartner
Inspiring many students in the ’70s to stop complaining about the state of education and do something about it.
The Student Resistance Handbook
The Student Resistance Handbook provides children with information on how they can effectively fight back against their school and work towards abolishing this abusive and oppressive institution.
The Teacher Liberation Handbook: How to Leave School and Create a Place Where You and Young People Can Thrive
A guide about how to leave school and create a place where you and young people can thrive.
The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education
This book tells teens how to take control of their lives and get a “real life.” Young people can reclaim their natural ability to teach themselves and design a personalized education program.
The Unprocessed Child: Living Without School
A work of nonfiction about a child raised with no coercion and no curriculum.
The Willed Curriculum, Unschooling, and Self-Direction: What Do Love, Trust, Respect, Care, and Compassion Have To Do With Learning?
A deep, thoughtful, intellectual look into unschooling. Dives into aspects of unschooling that are not often discussed, provides detailed real-life examples of the ideas, and ties the points together with intelligent conclusions.
Trusting Children: A look at Sudbury Education Around the World
Trusting Children is an anthology that shares the perspectives from different Sudbury model schools on issues of trusting children and trusting the model.
This book presents a provocative challenge to the conventional wisdom of raising children.
A primer on Unschooling and the origins of the self-directed education movement, with answers to many frequently asked questions and tons of references for further research and reading.
Unschooling To University: Relationships Matter Most In A World Crammed With Content
This book explores the path of 30 unschooled kids who went to college and university and outlines how unschooling fits with brain and child development learning stages. It is full of evidence-based material.
Unschooling: Exploring Learning Beyond the Classroom
Academic text exploring Unschooling.
Untigering: Peaceful Parenting for the Deconstructing Tiger Parent
Iris Chen shares her journey of leaving behind authoritarian tiger parenting to embrace a respectful, relational way of raising children and supporting them in self-directed learning.
What Do I Do Monday?
When teachers listened to Holt’s talks, or wrote him letters as hundreds did, invariably they would say something like: “I understand what you’re saying, but what can I do about this in my own classroom? What do I do on Monday?”
What Is Unschooling?
How do children learn without school? Will it work for us? How do I get started?
When Kids Rule the School
The first comprehensive guide to democratic schooling, where kids practice life in a self-governed society—empowered as voters, bound by laws, challenged by choice, supported by community, and driven by nature.
Wild Children - Domesticated Dreams: Civilization and the Birth of Education
Layla AbdelRahim, an anthropologist, writes about people’s attitudes towards humans and nonhumans, expressed through dominance and violence, and the large role schools play in this.
Émile, or On Education
In his pioneering treatise on education, the great French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) presents concepts that had a significant influence on the development of pedagogy in the eighteenth century.
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