Six Optimizing Conditions

for Self-Directed Education

Six Optimizing Conditions

The Alliance for Self-Directed Education lays out “six optimizing conditions” for self-directed education. Here’s how The Circle School meets them.


    • Responsibility. With no preset or centrally planned schedule of activities or classes, determine your day in your very own way. As Jyles said, “I just come here and I live my life.”
    • Freedom. Indoors or outdoors, alone or together, stirring or still, silly or serious, for minutes or months, choose your adventures, change your mind, choose again! Do what brings you joy of life, and be mindful or reminded of the community around you.
    • Access to Tools. 8 acres, woods & creek, 85 interesting people, lots of self-service stuff: computers, art, science, library, games, music studio (with recording booth), cooking kitchen, playroom, all-gender restrooms, blacktop for wheels, amazing sledding hill.
    • Nonjudgmental Support. No required classes, homework, grades, tests. Full-time adult staff of six anchors the culture, listens with care, facilitates access, catches what falls through the cracks, and thrives on being in community with kids.
    • Age Mixing. Kids 4-1/2 thru about 19 years old, and adults from 21 to beyond counting, all in community together. All resources available based on competence; no arbitrary age restrictions. Lots of mixed-age friendship.
    • Healthy Community. In a world confronting narcissism, nihilism, and alienation, community is vital. Equal voice, shared responsibility, rule of law, daily housekeeping chores, take turns on Judicial Committee, run for election if you like. Agency in community!


Access to tools
Age mixing

Keep reading for links to lots more!

Request a free information packet, including Practicing Life, chock full of stories, answers, and more.

Come to a public information event, if conveniently scheduled.