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Kevin Currie-Knight on Self-Directed Education

Copyright © 2024 by Ari Armstrong
This episode originally was published on October 29, 2019, and reposted here on May 7, 2024.

Self in Society Podcast #
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Kevin Currie-Knight—professor of education at East Carolina University, author of Education in the Marketplace, and president of the board of New Pathfinder Community School—discusses self-directed education and answers various objections to it.

Time Markers
00 Intro
1:06 Personal experiences with school
6:33 Treating school as a game
9:34 What is self-directed education?
11:40 How much control can a child exercise?
16:14 Guidance versus interference
19:10 What if children just waste their time? School "detox"
24:34 Do children need to be well-rounded?
29:09 How important is culturally shared "core" knowledge?
38:10 Remembering, forgetting, and engaging
45:06 Constraints on teachers; standardized tests
46:09 Committing to a class or project
49:43 Learning about short-term struggle for long-term gain
53:44 Academic-grounded careers, chosen schooling, and certifications
58:24 Certifications as solving information problems; certification versus learning
1:01:37 Planning for long-term goals, including college
1:03:31 College openness to self-directed learners
1:05:13 Subjects of study versus ways of thinking
1:08:12 Discussion of the Objectivist emphasis on concepts and values
1:14:54 The value of "classic' literature
1:21:02 The role of adults in a child’s education
1:22:28 How can busy parents approach self-directed learning?
1:27:37 Summary of Education in the Marketplace
1:30:34 Wrap-up

Books Mentioned
Education in the Marketplace: An Intellectual History of Pro-Market Libertarian Visions for Education in Twentieth Century America, Kevin Currie-Knight
Doing School, Denise Clark Pope
'I Love Learning; I Hate School,' Susan D. Blum
Free to Learn, Peter Gray
• E. D. Hirsch (various book)
The Knowledge Illusion, Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach
The Myth of Scientific Literacy, Morris Shamos
Free at Last: the Sudbury Valley School (and various other books), Daniel Greenberg
Kingdom of Childhood: Growing up At Sudbury Valley School, Mimsy Sadofsky and Daniel Greenberg (eds.)
Deconstructing Penguins, Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone
The Case Against Education, Bryan Caplan

See Currie-Knight's web page and articles, several of which I reference during the podcast.

See also the page featuring Currie-Knight, which contains a link to a podcast episode about his book.

I mentioned Leonard Peikoff's lecture series on education. Peikoff also has out lectures on the value of literature.

I also mentioned the VanDamme Academy. On YouTube there's a documentary about the school and an interview with a history teacher and an art appreciation teacher there.

Alpine Valley, the Sudbury school in Colorado, has its own podcast.

My kid loves Mystery Science and its YouTube channel.

The Core Knowledge Foundation offers school curricula and materials.

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