Chances are if you are browsing this page you really want to understand more about the philosophy behind ALC Mosaic. We have narrowed down the resource list to several books that we strongly recommend you read before considering enrollment.

First of all, please note the following:

  • We are a Self-Directed Education community. Children are in the driver’s seat of their education. They decide how to spend their time.

  • There is no prescribed (or adult-driven) curriculum.

  • In our environment, children either teach themselves to read through engagement in their specific interests or they ask us for support when they want it and are ready for it. We are 100% confident that any person living in a literate rich world will understand the importance of being literate. We allow reading to emerge for each child on their own timetable.

Here are some key resources we recommend you dive into to better understand the philosophies and key ideas that ALC Mosaic is organized around:

Summerhill by A.S. Neill – This book has been a “gateway” book for many who have started democratic free schools and ALCs. A.S. Neill is brutally honest and shares exactly what he is thinking as he describes the children and experiences at Summerhill, a democratic free school that opened in the 1920s and still exists today. Those who have an education background will most likely be blown away by this book and appreciate the insight he shares. Those who are parents will get a glimpse into another world of what is possible for children. If you want to sample the book you can read an excerpt here and a very excellent forward to the book by Eric Fromm here.

Free to Learn by Peter Gray – If you appreciate logical and scientific thinking and want to see the research that backs our philosophy, this is the book for you. Gray is known as an evolutionary psychologist and is a research professor at Boston College. The book opens with a scene where Gray realizes his son needed a change in schooling, and from there he found democratic education and has been studying and researching this topic ever since.

Dumbing us Down by John Taylor Gatto – If you have always had a sense that public schooling isn’t best for children, but couldn’t articulate the depths of that feeling fully, try this book out. Two of our staff members here that used to teach in public schools but quit found this book quite validating for why they just couldn’t stay in that world any longer. This is a small book and a quick read.

Anything by Akilah S. Richards – While focusing on BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Akilah’s work is essential for understanding the deeper work of liberation that Self-Directed Education can offer us all. She has articles and a podcast, Fare of the Free Child. On her website, she shares that for her family, “unschooling is a tool for decolonizing our education and liberating ourselves from oppressive, exclusive systems.”

Either Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn or Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort – Both of these books address how the adults in our space strive to treat children with respect. All of the adults in our space are continually working on ourselves and not project our stories, baggage or trauma onto the children. We strive to have positive and healthy relationships with ourselves internally, each other, and the with the children.

A Thousand Rivers: What the Modern World has Forgotten About Children and Learning by Carol Black. This is one of our favorite articles about Self-Directed Education.

The Alliance for Self-Directed Education

  • ASDE’s main website, contains a primer on Self-Directed Education (SDE), as well other videos and resources to better understand SDE.

  • ASDE’s online magazine, Tipping Points is full of stories and first-hand experiences from the diverse perspectives that make up the SDE movement.

For those of you are visual, here are two intro videos:

How do they learn how to read?