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Implementing SDS

Self-Directed Schooling

​​Balancing authority and responsibility for learning requires all those involved be part of this development.

What do STUDENTS do?

Primary Students learn to reflect through observation of adult reflection and growth as well as receiving concrete instruction and guidance through personal, social, and community challenges.

Secondary Students learn this through collaborative attempts with peers and coaches as challenges become increasingly complex and abstract.

Primary Students are explicitly taught about how humans learn as they are introduced to concepts that build the foundation for their own self, social, and societal awareness and development.

Secondary Students are coached to accept their expanding global perspective as they begin to connect larger societal issues to their own personal and social preferences, and strategies for solutions.


Primary Students explore rapidly changing interests as the adults in their life create and maintain an environment which guides a sense of boundaries for health and safety as interests are explored.

Secondary Students begin to settle on fewer focused interests as they begin to compare and contrast abilities of their peers and the role models in their life, shaping their own perspective around their understanding of personal, social, and societal goals to pursue.

Rugby Players
Children Running

What do PARENTS do?

Parents of Primary Students learn to reflect just as students do but through self-guided modules highlighting personal, social, and societal biases that may have developed over time. Acceptance and explicit modeling of changing behaviors in adults is what makes student reflection adaptable to unique learning environments.

Parents of Secondary Students build on their changing perspective as they coach students in developing core skills and concepts as part of an ongoing discussion about human developmental stages.

As parents deepen their understanding of their own personal, social, and societal awareness and development, their role in their child's understanding of human development (appropriate for their age) will strengthen the relevance as students expand their perspective.

Other adults in the child's life who may not be exercising this depth of personal, social, and societal awareness and development serve as distinct opportunities to experience and reflect on the need for personal growth, social awareness, and societal responsibility.

Parents are the bellwether for their child's growth and development. As parents become more in tune with the stages their child(ren) are working through and connect that to the stages they themselves are experiencing, context gives meaning and purpose to the challenges related to a Self-Directed Schooling environment. Put simply: our understanding as adults of how we developed the way we are gives us the clarity and insight into how a child may be developing in one direction or another.

Farmer Taking a Break
Grocery Shopping
Working Mom


Instruction on Social and
Emotional Development

People love learning about themselves!

Self-regulation and Management

People love knowing how to control things!

Standards-Based Reporting
of Interest-Focused Learning

People love picking their own path!


Online Access for Scheduled
Soundboard Sessions

Consistent Access to Internet Needed

Adult Supervision
for Health and Safety

Academics isn’t the only factor to consider!

Be Open to Individualized Life Goals
which may not involve University.

Although universities are still an option!

Is this a 'homeschool' model?

This is not a homeschool model, though it does resemble a few aspects of what homeschooling does entail. Self-Directed Schooling is a philosophy and, as with any philosophy, it serves as a vision by which policies and procedures can be directed - this includes the traditional school setting as much as it does alternative settings.

There is too much knowledge in this world for one person to learn

everything about all there is to know. Left to our own devices, it is common to experience Paradox of Choice - too much choice all at once is paralyzing. Therefore, a school may insist specific skills and concepts be introduced to a child and, as mastery is shown in the earliest stages of a skill or concept, each child can develop through academic progressions as part of a structured learning environment.

However, too often that structure becomes hyper-focused on an extremely limited set of skills and concepts, or progressions become expectations beyond a child's level of achieved mastery. Such a narrow focus can result in a student developing a compliance-based perspective toward learning, rather than one of growth and mastery.

The self-directed schooling philosophy provides students the framework for academic progressions by which students track their progress and report out monthly successes and plans for growth. This can happen when structured instructional progressions widen to include core skills and concepts related to human development.

A child may be in a school where an accredited diploma is the promised reward for mastering a structured progression of skills and concepts. A child may also be in an unaccredited learning environment (such as a home or mentoring facility) where community college, trade school, and entrepreneurship are seen as promised rewards for mastering interest-based progressions of skills and concepts. Regardless, this self-directed schooling philosophy allows for a broader perspective toward the co-existence of both an academic-focused and interest-focused approach to learning.

Study Group on the Grass
Working on a Project
Students on a Break
Working in Cafe

What if a child is not 'interested' in a required topic?

The core skills and concepts of this self-directed schooling philosophy is focused primarily on learning about how we learn. This includes learning how to read, how to multiply, how to analyze, graph, debate, or any number of other academic topics as part of required skill and concept progressions...

Learning how to learn is less about the required topic and more about how an individual person can cope and overcome new challenges.

When the focus is primarily on developing a child's strengths, it can include overcoming any obstacle and the particular topic becomes less important than the core, or underlying, capacity for developing habits and behaviors related to perseverance, temperance, and other virtues.

What becomes more important is how we as adults perceive interest - relevance defines interest; interest guides engagement. If a student is not interested in learning how to read, then it becomes an obstacle related to relevance. Reading, itself, may not be an interest but a relevant topic that requires basic reading skills to enjoy may provide a structure for developing the micro-skills that result in that child engaging in the learning how to read process. The focus now is on rewarding the child for each micro-skill related to that relevant topic to develop core skills and concepts related to self-efficacy and reflection.

Kids Reading Book in Park

How can I learn more about this philosophy?

Email the founder, Greg Mullen, with questions about this philosophy at Greg @

You may also enjoy this blog post from April 2020 regarding the need to shift from the traditional 'passive' model of teaching to the self-directed 'active' model of learning:

To schedule an introductory info session online, visit the Presentations page.

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