Monthly Archives: June 2015
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.
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Making the Choice: When Typical School Doesn’t Fit Your Atypical Child via GHF Press (Amazon)
The Evolving Self: A Psychology for the Third Millennium (pdf) Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.