A Bibliography for Lifelong Learning Enthusiasts
If you want to know more about self-education, your best bet is to start reading. Over the years, I’ve kept a list the best self-education books and blogs. Now I’m sharing them in the hopes that you’ll find something new and maybe add a suggestion or two of your own. Use these resources to evaluate your education, find the tools and resources you need, and learn effectively on your own.
If you know of a book or blog that should be added to the list, please leave a comment below. Note that the list is focused primarily on material that discusses adult / teen self-education or learning theories that apply to both children and adults. I left out many worthy homeschooling books because there are already many lists dedicated to that topic.
Theoretical Books on Self-Education
Theory-oriented books examine education as a whole and provide the foundation of understanding that self-education advocates share when they examine issues related to learning. If you’re still developing opinions about the nature of learning and the proper role of educational institutions, this is the place to start.
Deschooling Society (Ivan Illich) – A case for radical changes in the education system, including the disestablishment of traditionally structured schools and the development of more informal “learning webs.”
Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Paulo Freire) – An education critic argues against the theory of “banking,” claiming that a student is more than an empty vessel waiting to be filled with knowledge from a teacher.
Experience and Education (John Dewey) – Dewey contends that experience is vital to education.
How Children Learn (John Holt) – Early unschooling advocate John Holt argues that learning comes naturally and that the best education is often gained outside of the classroom.
How Children Fail (John Holt) – According to the author, “most children in school fail…in fact if not in name.” This book explores the reasons why.
Instead of Education (John Holt) – This self-education classic examines how people learn on their own, outside of traditional schools.
Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (John Taylor Gatto) – A former New York State Teacher of the Year takes a look at the dark side of forced education.
A Different Kind of Teacher: Solving the Crisis of American Schooling (John Taylor Gatto) – A look at some of the problems of compulsory schooling and what it takes for a person to become truly educated.
Practical Books on Self-Education
When you’re ready to embark on your own self-education journey, practical books can help. Whether you want to study the classics, quit school in order to pursue a passion, or publish a scholarly paper, experienced guides can walk you through the basics of learning independently.
The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education (Grace Llewellyn) – Thousands of teenagers have turned to this unschooling classic in search of guidance. Former teacher Llewellyn’s advice is aimed at teenagers but is invaluable to anyone interested in self-education.
The Art of Learning (Josh Waitzkin) – A chess champion and martial arts master shares his insights on how to learn effectively.
Self-University (Charles D. Hayes) – An in-depth autodidactic guide to giving yourself an education in all of the major disciplines.
The Independent Scholar’s Handbook (Ronald Gross) – A practical guide for self-educated learners wanting to become recognized experts without connections to academic institutions.
The Well-Educated Mind (Susan Wise Bauer) – Step-by-step directions on how to give yourself a classical education.
Self-Education Idea Blogs
Four years ago I felt rather alone. Now, a small but growing army of self-education bloggers has begun to form. Find out more about lifelong learning from conscious drop-outs, former teachers, and learning-oriented psychologists.
The Feeling of Thinking – A Psychology Today blog by successful high school drop-out and author of Buccaneer-Scholar James Bach.
The Art of Self-Education – Lifelong learning enthusiast Race Bannon shares the self-education tips he picked up from experience with dozens of exciting careers.
Wide Awake Minds – Ryan McCarl, a graduate student studying education, blogs about his thoughts on teaching, learning, and self-education.
Freedom to Learn – A Psychology Today blog about the importance of play in learning from psychology professor Peter Gray.
Buccaneer Scholar – James Bach’s personal blog about his experiences with self-education.
LiteMind – A unique blog from Luciano Passuello examines the most effective ways to use your mind.
Self-Education Resource Blogs
The internet is home to millions of educational resources, if you just know where to look. Resource blogs can help you find the best no-cost courses, websites, and learning materials.
ZaidLearn – Hundreds of lifelong learning resources, tools, and tips from e-learning manager Zaid Alsagoff.
Mission to Learn – Lifelong learning advocate Jeff Cobbs shares his education resource finds (Also, check out his packed learning resource newsletter).
Open Culture – A popular blog covering free, open-access learning material from editor Dan Colman.