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Education Model

Below you will find a list of books and other resources that inform our educational philosophy and practices that we seek to maintain at Rock Tree Sky. You can also learn more about our education model by reading our frequently asked questions page. You may find some of these books in our lending library on campus.


Free to Learn ​by Peter Gray 
In Free to Learn, developmental psychologist Peter Gray argues that our children, if free to pursue their own interests through play, will not only learn all they need to know, but will do so with energy and passion. Children come into this world burning to learn, equipped with the curiosity, playfulness, and sociability to direct their own education. Yet we have squelched such instincts in a school model originally developed to indoctrinate, not to promote intellectual growth.


The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education by Grace Lewellyn 

An estimated 700,000 American children are now taught at home. This book tells teens how to take control of their lives and get a "real life." Young people can reclaim their natural ability to teach themselves and design a personalized education program. Grace Llewellyn explains the entire process, from making the decision to quit school, to discovering the learning opportunities available.

How to Talk So Kids will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
This book serves as a practical handbook for communication between parents and children. Not only are the tools in this book simple to grasp and incorporate into your own practice, the lessons brought forth extend beyond communication with your children and are useful in navigating all relationships. Some key insights offered in this book include learning to "understand the difference between helpful and unhelpful praise," "use alternatives to punishment that promote self-discipline," "express your strong feelings without being hurtful," and "cope with your child's negative feelings, such as frustration, anger, and disappointment." 

The Yes Brain by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.  
This book is part neuroscience part practical guide for better understanding and supporting children (and grown-ups for that matter!). 

​The authors offer strategies to support kids in cultivating a Yes Brain. A Yes Brain is defined as comprising of these four fundamentals- balance, resilience, insight, and empathy. It is suggested that operating with a Yes Brain is is what allows people to "approach life with openness and curiosity."  

"With inspirational anecdotes, fun and helpful illustrations, and a handy Yes Brain Refrigerator Sheet to keep your family on point, The Yes Brain is an essential tool for nurturing positive potential and keeping your child’s inner spark glowing and growing strong—and gifting your children with a life of rich relational connections, meaningful interactions with the world, and emotional equanimity."

The Whole Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.
Another book that is part neuroscience part guide book for parents. This book explores the science of "how a child's brain is wired and how it matures."  And, throughout the book the authors provide twelve strategies for recognizing challenging behaviors as opportunities for supporting your child's brain integration and growth. It's not rocket science, its brain science! But it is all explained in ways that are both easy to make sense of and apply to everyday experiences. 

Dumbing us Down by John Taylor Gatto
Thirty years in New York City’s public schools led John Gatto to the sad conclusion that compulsory schooling does little but teach young people to follow orders like cogs in an industrial machine.

Self Design: Nurturing Genius Through Natural Learning by Brent Cameron
SelfDesign, a methodology developed by Brent Cameron over the past 23 years, is much more than another take-off from traditional teaching methods. It is instead a philosophy and a practice based in the belief that children are natural learners. Cameron uses individualized strategies, specific language tools, and a focus on the positive to shift the very premise on which education is built. Through his stories of learners and families he takes the reader on a tour of a new paradigm for learning-the art and science of SelfDesign.

Meaningful Making: Projects and Inspirations for Fab Labs and Makerspaces by Paulo Blikstein
This book contains project ideas, articles, and best practices from educators at the forefront of making and hands-on education. The Stanford University FabLearn Fellows are a group of K-12 educators teaching in Fab Labs, makerspaces, classrooms, libraries, community centers, and museums--all with the goal of making learning more meaningful.

What Schools Could Be by Ted Dintersmith

Innovation expert Ted Dintersmith took an unprecedented trip across America, visiting all fifty states in a single school year. He originally set out to raise awareness about the urgent need to reimagine education to prepare students for a world marked by innovation--but America's teachers one-upped him. All across the country, he met teachers in ordinary settings doing extraordinary things, creating innovative classrooms where children learn deeply and joyously as they gain purpose, agency, essential skillsets and mindsets, and real knowledge.




Education Reimagined 
An inspiring manifesto signed by some of the biggest players in the public and private education worlds. "We see the current school-centered education system transformed into one that's truly learner-centered. It is a future with thriving learners surrounded by engaged and dedicated educators, parents, and communities. We offer our vision as a beacon for all those dedicated to transforming education in America."

Freedom to Learn by Peter Gray

Children come into the world with instinctive drives to educate themselves. These include the drives to play and explore. This blog is primarily about these drives and ways by which we could create learning environments that optimize rather than suppress them.

The Overprotected Kid by Hanna Rosin
A preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery—without making it safer. A new kind of playground points to a better solution.

Raising Free People and Fare of the Free Child by Akilah S. Richards
The Raising Free People Network uses tools from the unschooling and deschooling movements to address and solve big issues in education, leadership, and personal development. Akilah S. Richards is co-founder of the RFP Network and the host of the Fare of the Free Child Podcast which puts out weekly episodes centering Black people, Indigenous people, and People of Color (BIPOC) in liberators living and learning practices. Conversations explore unschooling and SDE, as well as parenting and the "fears and the fares (costs) of raising free black and brown children in a world that tends to diminish, dehumanize, and disappear them."

Carol Black
Carol Black is a writer and filmmaker, creator with her husband Neal Marlens of the Emmy-award-winning series The Wonder Years and director of the documentary film Schooling the World . She studied education and literature at Swarthmore College and UCLA, and after the birth of her children, left her career in the entertainment industry to become involved in the unschooling and alternative education movement and later to make independent nonprofit films.  She has two grown daughters, neither of whom has ever taken a standardized test.


The Alliance for Self-Directed Education

Imagine what would happen if, instead of sending children to coercive schools where their natural ways of learning are curtailed, we provided them with the resources that would allow their creativity, playfulness, and other natural ways of learning to flourish. That is Self-Directed Education (SDE); education that derives from the self-chosen activities and life experiences of the learner.


Useful Tools

Conflict Resolution Guide

Gender Unicorn

Healthy Mind Platter

What to Say to Kids Instead of "Be Careful!"

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