Criticisms of Conventional Schooling

Self-Directed Education is most powerful when it is never interrupted. Babies are born self-educating, and develop optimally when their natural self-direction is supported all the way through the growing years. Unfortunately, our current parenting culture and even more, school culture, tends to instill self-doubt and actively steer young people away from their inner wisdom.

It is never too late to recover, but the earlier that a young person can be released from educational coercion into consent-based educational experiences, and the more that their home life supports rather than undermines full trust in their self-educating drives, the better the results.

SDE ‘lifers’ who have been optimally supported in self-directing all the way through without interruption, stand out in their teens as exceptionally capable, responsible, passionate and active people who have little need for the reactive and destructive acting-out that our culture mistakenly believes are inevitable for this stage. They tend to have actual causes, rather than rebellion for its own sake. Life-long learning and adaptability are built in.

Self-Directed Education can be contrasted to imposed schooling, which is forced upon individuals, regardless of their desire for it, and is motivated by systems of rewards and punishments, as occurs in conventional schools. Imposed schooling is generally aimed at enhancing conformity rather than uniqueness, and it operates by suppressing, rather than nurturing, the natural drives of curiosity, playfulness, and sociability.

Alliance for Self-Directed Education

School is the advertising agency which makes you believe that you need the society as it is.

Ivan Illich

I think most kids have a sense that it’s not supposed to be this way. You’re not supposed to hate Monday, or be happy when you don’t have to go to school. School should be something that you love. Life should be something that you love.

Charles Eisenstein

Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth learning can be taught.

Oscar Wilde

We need to stop teaching children that obedience is their greatest virtue.

Dr. Stacey Patton

Modern conventional education is full of impositions on its students – such as what, how, and where students do, learn, behave, attend, participate, and communicate in the ways that the teacher and school define. For certain ages of students, schooling itself is compulsory in modern societies and, thus, imposed. However, the legitimacy of this imposition –how much of this imposition is necessary, useful, justified, and desirable for education itself –has not been specifically discussed and analyzed yet.

Eugene Matusov

I’ll tell you what the real problem is: These people are working under the assumption that they know better about what is good for kids, what kids need to learn to get ahead in this world.

Daniel Greenberg

Children are pawns in a competitive game in which the adults around them are trying to squeeze the highest possible scores out of them on standardized tests … Thus, the drills that enhance short-term memory of information they will be tested on are considered legitimate education, even though such drills produce no increase at all in understanding.

Dr. Peter Gray

I look at traditional schooling as slavery by another name. A lot of the time traditional schooling is about indoctrination and making people think and be a certain way based on whoever is in authority.

Dr Anika Prather

If the skills taught in school are lost so easily, then what happens when people finally finish school and go on to life outside of it?  Won’t the skills be lost then?  If we’re going to force children to stay in school all summer so they don’t lose skills, then maybe we should force all of us to stay in school our whole lives, so we don’t lose skills!

Dr. Peter Gray

In 50 years, I predict, today’s approach to education will be seen by many if not most educators as a barbaric remnant of the past. People will wonder why the world took so long to come to grips with such a simple and self-evident idea as that upon which the Sudbury Valley School is founded: Children educate themselves; we don’t have to do it for them.

Dr. Peter Gray