Monthly Archives: June 2015

Self-Directed Learning: Documentation and Life Stories with Guest, Wes Beach

gtchat Wes Beach 05292015 graphic


Our guest this week was Wes Beach, the author of “Self-Directed Learning: Documentation and Life Stories”; the latest title from GHF Press. Wes Beach is an author, a speaker, an educator with 54 years of experience, an advocate of alternative education and homeschooling. After years discouraged as a teacher in public schools, Wes founded Beach High School and continues to serve as its director today.

BHS exists to support young people who find that a traditional high school does not provide them with what they want or need. There are almost 1,500 graduates of BHS who, without benefit of a traditional high school education, have gone on to reach the goals they have chosen, including reaching the highest levels of formal education and entering the professions.from Wes Beach, Author Page on Amazon

Wes defined self-directed learning as “choosing goals and pursuing them in ways independent of externally imposed schedules and curricula. It uses methodologies similar to homeschool methods. Not all homeschoolers use self-directed learning, but many do.”

Self-Directed Learning details how to document the independent education process. According to Wes, this involves “Lots of details: course descriptions, reading lists, evaluative/explanatory narratives; anything that is scriptive and convincing.” Record keeping is imperative.  Wes added, “It helps to keep track of activities of all kinds on an ongoing basis. It’s amazing how easy it is to forget things. Learning outside traditional education requires more detailed transcripts – but can be more powerful, convincing, effective. Portfolios and references can be useful, too.”

Many self-directed learners avail themselves of opportunities afforded by community colleges. In addition to easing the financial burden of four year institutions, they also provide a way to take classes for credit that can later be transferred to four year colleges. As Corin Goodwin of Gifted Homeschoolers Forum pointed out, “Community colleges – and local universities – can be great for young asynchronous kids who are academically advanced but young.”

How do four year colleges & universities feel about self-directed learning and does non-traditional schooling put applicants at a disadvantage? Wes answered the question this way, “No. In fact, many universities actively recruit homeschoolers, particularly self-directed learners. Self starters are prized by colleges. One of my current SDL students applied to 30 (!!!) colleges and was accepted by 21. She’ll go to MIT.”

Self-directed learning has strong appeal for gifted students. Wes stated that “gifted learners appreciate the opportunity to pursue self-paced, high-level, in-depth learning; including esoteric subjects and unique approaches.” A full transcript may be found at Storify.



Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented and sponsored by is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7E/6C/5M/4P in the U.S., Midnight in the UK and Saturdays 11 AM NZST/9 AM AEST to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our new Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media    Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at:



Children in Charge: Self-Directed Learning Programs

Better Than College: How to Build a Successful Life Without a Four-Year Degree (Amazon)

Cool Colleges: For Hyper-Intelligent, Self-Directed, Late Blooming & Just Plain Different (Amazon)

Doing School: How We Are Creating a Gen of Stressed-Out, Materialistic Miseducated Students (Amazon)

Genius Denied: How to Stop Wasting Our Brightest Young Minds

How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where & Why It Happens (Amazon)

Making the Choice: When Typical School Doesn’t Fit Your Atypical Child via GHF Press (Amazon)

The Art of Self-Directed Learning: 23 Tips for Giving Yourself an Unconventional Education (Amazon)

The Evolving Self: A Psychology for the Third Millennium (pdf) Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence (Amazon)

Cybraryman’s Self-Directed Learning Page

Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania (Amazon)

Rethinking Education: Self-Directed Learning Fits the Digital Age

Why I Choose to Unschool My Gifted Children

Forging Paths: Beyond Traditional Schooling

Deschooling: Shift Your Mind

Education Needs a Digital-Age Upgrade


Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

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