Self Directed Education in Community

Pathfinder will be a dynamic learning community supporting self-directed education for ages 5-18.  

Each student will be: 

  • free to choose their daily activities,
  • responsible for their choices, actions, & education,
  • and empowered to participate in fair and transparent school governance.



We value the human rights of all people, including children.


People learn to make good decisions by being trusted to decide for themselves.


Community limits on behavior should be clear, transparent, and consented to. We also value consent decision-making, and consent to participation in activities.


We value conscious culture creation, and balance the needs of the community with the needs of the individual.

What is Self-Directed Education?

"We believe that education is the sum of everything a person learns that enables that person to live a satisfying and meaningful life, and that people come into the world equipped with everything they need to educate themselves."
- Alliance for Self Directed Education

Self-Directed Education can include organized classes or lessons, if freely chosen by the learner; but most Self-Directed Education does not occur that way. Most Self-Directed Education comes from everyday life, as people pursue their own interests and learn along the way. The motivating forces include curiosity, playfulness, and sociability—which promote all sorts of endeavors from which people learn. Self-Directed Education necessarily leads different individuals along different paths, though the paths may often overlap, as each person’s interests and goals in life are in some ways unique and in some ways shared by others.

Read more here at ASDE.

How does it work?

Time to Play, Time to Learn

Studies show that play is deeply involved in child development and learning: Play improves memory, creative problem solving, and self-regulation. Strong bodies, good coordination, social skills, and imagination are natural consequences of free play.

Additionally, since all pursuits are considered equal, students at self-directed schools have an amazing opportunity to focus on tasks for hours on end, creating worlds and mastering complex skills from woodworking to goat farming to algebra.

Age Mixing

Children learn best from other kids who are just slightly ahead of their own abilities. In a mixed age setting, older students have the opportunity to mentor younger children. Age mixing also allows for nurturing relationships between older and younger children, and is an effective anti-bullying strategy.


The Hudson Valley Sudbury School (HVSS) in Woodstock, NY is an alternative, private school for students ages 5 to 18. HVSS is based on the educational philosophy first developed by the Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, MA in 1968. Video made by

Our Vision and Mission At Pathfinder

Our vision is to help children grow into curious, confident, capable adults with the self-understanding, resilience, and initiative to act with integrity in a changing world.


Our mission is to provide students with a firsthand experience of effective governance, an enriched physical and social environment, and a safe space to explore and develop their many diverse interests and passions.

"We believe that, in any educational setting, young people have the right to decide individually how, what, when, where and with whom they learn; to have an equal share in the decision-making as to how their organizations - in particular - schools, are run, and which rules and sanctions, if any, are necessary."

International Democratic Education Network