作者:[美] 彼得·格雷


Differences Between Self-Directed and Progressive Education
(Section 6)

(22)Kohn’s “cartoon” characterization of Self-Directed Education is not quite right—because children do, on their own, regularly choose to do things that aren’t fun in an immediate sense and because staff members don’t just stand around observing and beaming; but, yet, it is not too far off the mark. And it does work. Don’t trust me on that; read and think skeptically about the evidence. Follow-up studies of graduates of schools for Self-Directed Education and of grown unschoolers have shown that people, who educated themselves by following their own interests, are doing very well in life. You can read much more about this in previous posts on this blog, in various academic articles (e.g. here, here, and here), and in my book Free to Learn.

(23)Self-Directed Education works because we are biologically designed for it. Throughout essentially all of human history, children educated themselves by exploring, playing, watching and listening to others, and figuring out and pursuing their own goals in life (e.g. here and Gray, 2016). In an extensive review of the anthropological literature on education cross-culturally, David Lancy (2016)) concluded that learning—including the learning that comprises education—is natural to human beings, but teaching and being taught is not. Winston Churchill’s claim, “I always like to learn, but I don’t always like to be taught,” is something that anyone, any time, any place, could have said.

(24)Children’s educative instincts still work beautifully, in our modern society, as long as we provide the conditions that enable them to work. The same instincts that motivated hunter-gatherer children to learn to hunt, gather, and do all that they had to do to become effective adults motivate children in our society to learn to read, calculate with numbers, operate computers, and do all that they have to do to become effective adults (see Gray, 2016). Self-Directed Education is so natural, so much more pleasant and efficient for everyone than is coercive education, that it seems inevitable to me that it will once again become the standard educational route.

(25)Coercive schooling has been a blip in human history, designed to serve temporary ends that arose with industrialization and the need to suppress creativity and free will (see here). Coercive schooling is in the process now of burning itself out, in a kind of final flaring up. Once people re-discover that Self-Directed Education works, and doesn’t cause the stress and harm that coercive schooling does, and we begin to divert some fraction of the billions of dollars currently spent on coercive education to the provision of resources for Self-Directed Education for all children, Self-Directed Education will once again become the standard educational route. Then we’ll be able to drop the capital letters. And then we won’t need progressive education to soften the harsh blows of coercive education.


(26)And now, what do you think? Do you agree with this analysis of the difference between progressive education and Self-Directed Education? Do you agree, or not, that Self-Directed Education will replace coercive education in the not-too-distant future? This blog is, among other things, a forum for discussion, and your views and knowledge are valued and taken seriously by me and other readers. Make your thoughts known in the comments section below. As always, I prefer if you post your comments and questions here rather than send them to me by private email. By putting them here, you share with other readers, not just with me. I read all comments and try to respond to all serious questions if I feel I have something useful to add to what others have said.

One thought on “Differences Between Self-Directed and Progressive Education (6)”

  1. Tuesday, 03 November 2020 10:34


    (22)科恩对自我导向教育的“卡通”描述并不十分正确,因为孩子们自己经常会选择做眼前不好玩的事情,而且工作人员不会只是站在旁边观察和微笑。 但是,这也离目标不远。它确实有效。在这一点不要相信我,要对证据持怀疑态度。 对自主教育学校毕业生和成年非学校学生的后续研究表明,通过追求自己的兴趣进行自我教育的人在生活中表现的非常好。你可以在博客的前几篇文章各种学术文章( 例如这里)和我的免费学习中了解更多。


    (23)自我指导教育之所以有效,是因为我们在生物学上就是为此而设计的。纵观整个人类历史,孩子们通过探索、玩耍、观察和倾听他人,寻找并追求自己的人生目标来教育自己(例如:here and gray,2016)在一篇关于跨文化教育的人类学文献综述中,大卫·兰西(2016)总结道:学习-—包括包涵教育的学习,对于人类来说是自然的,但教与被教不是。温斯顿·丘吉尔曾说过:“我总是喜欢学习,但我不喜欢总是被人教导。”这句话是任何人 在任何时间任何地点都可能说过的。












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