I’m Peter Gray. I’m a Research Psychologist who studies children’s natural ways of learning. My research and that of others convinces me that children come into the world biologically designed to educate themselves. They don’t need imposed schooling. In fact, I’ve become convinced that imposed schooling, as it occurs in our standard, everyday schools, does much more harm than good. It undermines young peoples’ natural ways of learning. It leads them to associate learning with stress and anxiety. It promotes shallow learning for the sake of passing tests rather than deep understanding. For this reason, I joined with others to help form the Alliance for Self-Directed Education. You can find lots of information about Self-Directed Education on the Alliance’s website, but here are the basics: I’ll begin with the termeducation. Unfortunately, for many people this term has been distorted by its being linked for so long and so closely withschooling. But education is not the same as schooling. A useful definition of education is this: It’s the sum of everything a person learns that enables that person to live a satisfying and meaningful life. By this definition, of course education is a wonderful thing! It’s a necessary thing. It’s something we all want and need. We couldn’t, after all, live a satisfying and meaningful life without it. Self-Directed Education, then, is education that derives from the self-chosen activities and life experiences of the person becoming educated, whether or not those activities were chosen deliberately for the purpose of education. Self-Directed Educationcaninclude classes or lessons, if they’re freely chosen by the learner, but most Self-Directed Education does not occur that way. Most of it comes from everyday life as people pursue their own interests and learn along the way. The motivating forces include curiosity, playfulness, sociability, and the general desire of every person to do well in life. Self-Directed Education necessarily leads different people along different paths, though the paths may often overlap as each person’s interests and goals are in some ways unique, and in some ways shared by others. Self-Directed Education can be contrasted toimposedschooling, which is forced upon individuals regardless of their desire for it, and is motivated by systems of reward and punishment. Imposed schooling is generally aimed at enforcingconformityrather than uniqueness, and it operates by suppressing, rather than nurturing the natural drives of curiosity, playfulness, sociability, and self-direction. Research has shown repeatedly that Self-Directed Education works beautifully if young people are provided with the conditions that optimize their natural abilities to educate themselves. These conditions can be provided at a fraction of the cost of our coercive, state-controlled schools. They’re already being provided by many homeschooling families who’ve adopted the approach commonly called “unschooling”, by resource centers and co-ops for self-directed learners, and by schools that have been designed explicitly to support Self-Directed Education. The members of the Alliance invite you to learn more about Self-Directed Education, and about the supports available for it, by visiting our website atself-directed.orgWe also invite you there to join the Alliance. Together we can create a world where children are truly free to learn.