Gray’s Anatomy of Self Directed Learning

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Gray’s Anatomy Of Self Directed Learning

I “met” Peter Gray in 2020, around the time Harvard constituents sought to dismantle homeschooling and its propagation. The pandemic was affecting a surge in homeschooling practitioners and advocates, and Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Bartholet called for a ban on families’ right to educate at home. In Bartholet’s highly opinionated attack, she charges that homeschooling deprives children of meaningful education and that it’s a potential cause for increased child abuse. Harvard’s School of Government rebutted by hosting The Disinformation Campaign Against Homeschooling. Peter Gray, a professor at Boston College, was one of the impressive panel of speakers. Gray holds a stark contrast to Bartholet: sending children to school is abusive!

The purpose of this entry is not to convince anyone of anything. I’m not one compelled by the desire to be right. My intention, most often, when speaking or writing is to share or enlighten, so I avoid providing context that can manipulate an audience’s way of thinking. But in order to not be misconstrued, I do need to share some clarifying context for Gray’s and my stance on schooling: schools that are teacher directed, government sanctioned, e.g. test-driven, curriculum-bound and standards-based, and amoral, are potentially abusive.

Gray’s Anatomy Of Self Directed Learning

The purpose of this entry is to support the understanding of those amongst you who are uncertain how a non-conventional approach to education can develop wise, well-informed, free-thinking and ethical contributors to an international society. This week on my life-long learning journey, I came across Gray’s fundamentals of self directed learning, which are paraphrased below, and immediately recognized their connection to SĀHGE’s educational philosophy and framework.

Regardless of the age of a student: 

  • Education is the learner’s responsibility. Accountability for our own pursuits is the difference between accepting or resisting a task or obligation. When a task is forced upon someone, the outcome may be half-assed. But when we choose to do something, we take ownership of and pride in the output.
  • There is no need to limit play time. Through play, fun and exploration, we have time to overcome boredom, to learn through experience and to get to know our personal interests and passions. 
  • Play with the tools of the culture. Hunter-gatherer cultures played with sticks, rocks, bows and arrows. The artisans and architects of eleventh century Nigerian Benin played with metals and ivory. Today, we all play with computers and other technologies specific to cultural regions! In light of this reality, it’s important to note here that adults must take a hard look at the relationship with and attitude towards- or against for that matter- computers and gaming that we have for children.
  • Adults are to care not criticize. Exchanges that are non-judgmental foster freedom of expression and build confidence. As parents, care-givers, educators and the like, our genuine role is to support, not suppress; to facilitate, not impede; to encourage, not oppress.
  • Educate in mixed-age settings. We all are capable of learning from others older and younger than ourselves! Ideally, little people get inspiration from other children and aspiration from elders, while adults and elders learn from and build deeper rapport with youth. Added bonus comes when co-learning can happen in common spaces, and the adults get to explore their interests while children edutain each other.
  • Find or create community. Stable, moral, just and equitable communities create the feeling of responsibility for self and others in the community. Additionally, for some families choosing an alternative to traditional schooling, particularly those with one adult in the household primarily, finding your tribe- your support network- will be the most important step you can take.

Education is the sum of everything that a person learns that enables that person to live a satisfying, meaningful and moral life.

No matter our age, we all learn most when engaged in a subject that personally interests us; learning can and must be fun. We learn best when experiences are shared with people we trust and who respect us.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Arden Santana

Arden Santana

Arden has over twenty years of experience in education administration, methodology, and pedagogy. She’s served children, adults and elders across the country through school systems, non-profit organizations, and family-owned and operated counseling and education programs. Arden enjoys reading, creating art with her daughters, hosting guests and loved ones, and traveling.

Keep Reading