Free Resources for Self-Directed Education

I want to share three items with you that can help you and your children learn in your own ways.

The Modern States Education Alliance

Unlike MOOCs (massive, open, online courses) where you don’t earn college credit even if you successfully complete the course, the “Modern States’ initial program, ‘Freshman Year for Free,’ is intended to let students earn up to one year of college credit without tuition or textbook expense.” This nonprofit group has partnered with universities and professors to create “high-quality freshman college courses that include online lectures, quizzes, tests, and other features. Textbooks and materials will also be provided online, free of charge.” You earn college credit by taking a CLEP or AP exam related to your online courses—and Modern States will also pay your exam fees!

In a conversation with David Vise, the executive director of Modern States, I learned that there is no time limit for when you can start and stop the classes or take the exams, and Modern States is open to anyone: unschoolers, homeschoolers, alternative schoolers, public and private school students, working adults, retirees, and so on.

How to Homeschool

Ray and Dorothy Moore—the authors of Better Late than Early and other books—were important figures in the Christian homeschooling movement not just because of their outspoken willingness to work with all factions to keep homeschooling diverse and inclusive, but also because they were researchers in the Federal Dept. of Education who concluded that children needed play, a secure family situation, and gentle instruction based on a child’s needs, not the curriculum’s demands, to best learn and grow into adulthood. They noted in their research and writings throughout the 1970s to the 1990s that delaying academics and letting children form solid bonds with their families and friends serves children’s learning better than forcing them into ever-earlier school service. They also helped promote the work of Charlotte Mason to the homeschooling community.

Dave Exley put on a series of conferences in Florida called How to Homeschool the Primary Years that featured some of the popular Christian speakers of those times, such as the Moores and Ruth Beechick, and he has converted ten of the workshop videos into digital versions you can view for free here. However, the Moore and Beechick keynotes and interviews are long and require more work to be digitally remastered, so Dave is asking for donations to complete them.

As noted on the site, “What’s old is new again… The same concerns and doubts we had when we began homeschooling 30+ years ago are still evident in many parents of young children today.”

National Public Radio Programs about Homeschooling

The Reality, Controversy, and Efficacy of Modern Homeschooling

I learned about this first program because my colleague from The Alliance for Self-Directed Education, Kerry McDonald, was a participant—and she does a great job explaining self-directed education. I like Kerry’s description of self-directed education on this show (SDE) because it cuts to the nub of the matter: “It (SDE) is based on a model of learning, not on a model of schooling.”

It’s an overview of the current issues and controversies about homeschooling, which are, truth be told, the same ones I’ve been asked about since the 1980s: What about getting into college? Are they academically behind if they go back to school? Do homeschoolers become social misfits? Are parents qualified to teach their children? What happens if homeschooled children are mistreated by their parents? The demographics of homeschooling have certainly changed over time, but the underlying issues are persistently the same.

The second NPR program is on WGBH in Boston. It started with a good profile of the Bay State Learning Center and how it helps homeschooled teens that aired yesterday (6/8/17). I know there was a second show this morning on homeschooling and I hoped to listen to it online, but so far I can’t find the online links to either show. When they go up, I'll add them to this post.