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Research & Journals
Scientific and academic research related to SDE.
A discussion of ways to improve research on democratic schools and other informal educational environments.
An agentic perspective of self-directed learning as applied to children.
Michael K. Ponton, Christine T. Schuette, and Gary J. Confessore
This article promotes self-efficacy and agency for children to help them develop into Self-Directed learners.
Autonomous and informal education under threat: Summerhill, UK, Sudbury Schools in The Netherlands and home education
A brief introduction to legal challenges against Self-Directed Education in schools and home.
Children Teach Themselves to Read
In this article, Peter Gray describes seven principles of how individuals learn to read without formal schooling.
Democratic schooling: What happens to young people who have charge of their own education?
Peter Gray & David Chanoff
A follow-up study of the graduates of the Sudbury Valley School, a democratically administered primary and secondary school that supports Self-Directed Education.
Differences between home educated and traditionally educated young adults
This study assesses whether homeschooled young adults’ needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness are better satisfied as compared to young adults who were not homeschooled.
Enthusiastic Students: A Study of Motivation in Two Alternatives to Mandatory Instruction
Donald A. Berg, Jennifer Henderlong Corpus
Research study using Self-Determination Theory as a framework for understanding motivation in a Self-Directed learning community and a home school resource center.
Evaluation Of A Temporary, Immersive Learning Community Based On Worldschooling
This article describes the evaluation of a temporary, immersive learning community for Self-Directed teen learners, Project World School (PWS), which was based on a new, pedagogical approach to learning called worldschooling.
Exploring Unschoolers’ Experiences In Learning To Read: How Reading Happens Within The Self-Directed Learning Environment
Through interviews with twenty eight unschooled adults, the author explores how reading can be learned naturally, without adult intervention; and how this may effect later motivation for reading, writing, and other academic endeavors.
Framing Unschooling Using Theories Of Motivation
Dr. Sherman utilizes research surrounding multiple theories of motivation to defend the practices of Self-Directed Education in unschooling.
Free Alternative Schools in Germany
In this essay the roots of Free Alternative Schools (FAS) are depicted and their history in Germany over the last 40 years is sketched.
Freed to Learn: Five Fundamental Concepts of Democratic Education
Leo J. Fahey
Leo J. Fahey identifies five aspects that he argues are fundamental to a democratic education: self-direction, emotional readiness, student choice, learning to learn, and community self-governance.
Grown unschoolers' evaluation of their unschooling experience
Peter Gray & Gina Riley
This peer reviewed research article summarizes the unschooling experiences of 75 adults who were unschoolers for at least the years that would have been their last two years of high school.
Grown unschoolers' experiences with higher education and employment
Gina Riley & Peter Gray
A sample of 75 adults, who had been unschooled for at least the years that would have been their last two years of high school, answered questions about their subsequent pursuits of higher education and careers.
How my now six-year-old daughter learned how to write her name, recognize numbers, read some words and draw: A narrative
This narrative examines how the author’s young child learns basic skills without being directly taught to do so.
How unschoolers can help to end traditional reading instruction
A professor of Early Childhood Education describes how his children learned to read without formal instruction.
Indigenous Ways of Teaching and Learning as Unschooling: Relevant Studies and Contemporary and Indigenous Definitions of Unschooling
E. D. Woodford
Looking at Unschooling through the lens of indigenous living and learning.
Is There A Curriculum In This House?
The author, speaking on unschooling, seeks to help us redefine and reclaim the concept of curriculum as an internal path toward learning.
Laying the Foundations for Democratic Behavior – A Comparison of Two Different Approaches to Democratic Education
This article investigates the question: In what ways and to what extent can alternative models of education support the development of democratic skills in children?
Legacy of trust: Life after the Sudbury Valley School experience.
Daniel Greenberg & Mimsy Sadofsky
This book describes a study conducted in 1991 to determine what became of Sudbury students after they left.
Letting The Child Work: Real Learning, Real Play In School
This article gathers arguments that support play as not only a pleasure but a necessity for growth, learning, and mental health in children.
No School Left Undemocratic: Experiencing Self-Government In A Free School
This ethnographic work examines democracy in action, at a free school in Canada, and highlights the skills learned that promote good citizenship and self-confidence.
Other Education in Practice
A short exploration of democratic alternative schools around the world.
Pedagogues for a New Age: childrearing practices of unschooling parents
Rebecca Zellner Grunzke
This dissertation compares the childrearing practices of parents whose children are engaged in unschooling, homeschooling, or traditional schooling.
Play as the foundation for hunter-gatherer social existence
Hunter-gatherer cultures promoted the playful side of their human nature, which made possible their cooperative, egalitarian ways of living.
Playing in the zone of proximal development
Peter Gray & Jay Feldman
A qualitative study of self-directed age mixing between adolescents (ages 12–19) and young children (ages 4–11) at a democratic school.
Producing unschoolers: Learning through living in a U.S. education movement
Donna Harel Kirschner
An ethnographic study of the unschooling movement, through a countercultural lens.
Self-Directed Education -- Unschooling and Democratic Schooling
Written for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education, this in-depth article provides a comprehensive overview of SDE, from its evolutionary origins to its modern expressions.
Self-Directed Learning and Student Attitudes
This study examines the experiences of twenty three students, in two different Sudbury model schools, and the correlation between freedom and student attitudes about school.
Self-directed learners change our world: Self-directed learning as a force for innovation, discovery, and social change
Lucy Guglielmino, Elizabeth Gray, Kim_Le Arvary, Joe Asen, Donna Goldstein, Fran Kamin, Monica Nicoll, Nancy Patrick, Krista Shellabarger, Deborah Snowberger
A look at notable, Self-Directed individuals, and their contributions to society.
Sing, O Muse: On the Link Between Creativity and Self-Directed Education
This article discusses five ways in which the concepts of creativity and Self-Directed Education overlap.
Skype interview with Jerry Mintz, Director of the Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO)
Helen E. Lees
This interview address key problems facing the alternative education movement.
Starting a School
Carlo Ricci, Kristin Simpson
This resource is an introductory guide for starting a new school based on the author’s experiences of forming a Sudbury model school in Canada.
Team of Thirty Unschoolers Survey
Judy L Arnall
This survey details thirty children who unschooled from 3 to 12 years and were all accepted to colleges, universities and tech schools. 12 of the 30 went into STEM careers (4 in Engineering).
The Early Learning Center at Jefferson Open School: (Re)discovering the joy of learning.
Ana Mettler and Mary Korte
This article highlights the successes and challenges of developing Self-Directed learning environments for K-12 students within publicly funded school systems.
The Most Democratic School of Them All
Christine R. Traxler
Subtitled “Why the Sudbury Model of Education Should Be Taken Seriously,” this essay by a public high school English teacher challenges the dominant model of education.
The Most Democratic School of Them All Why the Sudbury Model of Education Should Be Taken Seriously
Public high school English teacher Christine R. Traxler challenges the dominant model of education and discusses why the Sudbury model is a much more compelling model for all children.
The challenges and benefits of unschooling
Peter Gray & Gina Riley
232 unschooling families answered questions about their reasons for unschooling, the path that led them to unschooling, and the major benefits and challenges of unschooling for their family.
The courage to let them play
This article explores the question of what gives parents the courage to reject conventional schooling and choose the educational path of unschooling for their children.
The role of Self-Determination Theory and CET in home education
This article explores Self-Determination Theory, Cognitive Evaluation Theory, and intrinsic motivation as they apply to home education.
Toward a critical unschooling pedagogy
This paper outlines the theoretical, pedagogical, and philosophical framework for critical unschooling.
Trusting Children: Lifelong Learning And Autonomy Within The Unschooling Movement
Lorena Sanchez Tyson
The purpose of this article is to explore the concept of autonomy in the context of education and analyze the complex features of unschooling, a particular movement within the home-based education paradigm.
A parent demonstrates how allowing her children to deeply immerse themselves in their passions, especially controversial ones like video games and fandom, can lead to a diverse set of learning outcomes and experiences.
Unschooling and How I Became Liberated
This article is a brief, personal narrative of how the author found his way to unschooling through The Teenage Liberation Handbook.
Unschooling and social justice/multicultural education: (Un)realized potential
Kristan A. Morrison
Research on Unschooling families and whether or how they experience a social justice curriculum.
Unschooling in Hong Kong: a case study
This study describes the experiences of an unschooling family in Hong Kong, where alternative forms of education are discouraged.
Unschooling, Then and Now
Kellie Rolstad & Kathleen Kesson
Authors compare their experiences of unschooling in the 1980s with what it is like to unschool now, in an era when our society has come to distrust children more than ever.
Who Asks the Questions?
If children are to grow up to be responsible adults who contribute to the development of an ideal society, they need to feel able to ask questions of their own rather than simply learning the answers to other people’s questions.
Worldschooling: Homeschooling Away from Home
A review and analysis of five retreats organized by Project World School in 2016, based on pre- and post-experience questionnaires filled out by the participants.
‘Unschooling’ In The Context Of Growing Mental Health Concerns Among Indian Students: The Journey Of 3 Middle-Class Unschooling Families
Emma Emily de Wit, Daniel Eagles, Barbara Regeer
This article illustrates how issues such as parental experiences, culture, and concerns over mental health caused three Indian families to unschool their children and looks at their experiences with the practice of unschooling.
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