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“Children come into the world burning to learn and genetically programmed with extraordinary capacities for learning.  They are little learning machines.”

-Peter Gray, Free to Learn

There is a wealth of research to support the philosophy and methods used at SHINE Together.  Here's a taste.

Websites & Videos:

Here is a brief video overview (4 minutes) of self-directed education by Peter Gray, research professor of psychology from Boston College and founder of the Alliance for Self-Directed Education (ASDE).

Read more detail on self-directed education from ASDE, including the four educative drives, the six optimizing conditions, why people choose self-directed education, and how people practice self-directed education. 

Peter Gray's blog, Freedom to Learn, on Psychology Today contains extensive research on the "roles of play and curiosity as foundations for learning" and insight into why self-directed education is needed and effective. 

For a fun, personalized take on self-directed education, watch Hackschooling makes me happy with amazing 13-year-old Logan LaPlante.

Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talks speak to the need for revolution in education.  The first one embodies why SHINE Together was started: 

Bring on the learning revolution!

How to escape education’s death valley

Do schools kill creativity?

Changing education paradigms

Here is an article about unschooling in the St. Cloud Times (featuring SHINE Together’s Mandy Spiczka).

And an interview with SHINE Together’s Mandy Spiczka on the podcast Honey! I’m Homeschooling the Kids.


Watch this episode of REINVENTING SCHOOL with Howard Blumenthal (creator of TV's Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?) featuring SHINE Together's Mandy Spiczka in a panel discussion on pandemic pods and microschools.

Recommended Reading:

Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life by Peter Gray

Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom by Kerry McDonald

The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World As Your Child’s Classroom by Mary Griffith

School’s Over: How to Have Democracy and Freedom in Education by Jerry Mintz

Unschooling Rules by Clark Aldrich

Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything by Laura Grace Weldon

Dear Grandma: Your Grandkids are Unschoolers by Sheila Baronoski


Learn About a Rain Garden Project Completed at SHINE Together:

Stormwater Runoff and Rain Gardens by Kathrine Mersinger as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award Project


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