Episode 37: Self-Directed Education

Chris Wells & Emma Nicholson with guest Marni Kammersell

Release date: July 20, 2023

In episode 37, Chris and Emma talked with Marni Kammersell, a 2e adult, doctoral student at Bridges Graduate School, and parent of three 2e children in Colorado. We started this episode by discussing our concerns about how overexcitabilities are sometimes interpreted in the gifted community. Parents of gifted and 2e children sometimes discover the OEs and stop there without exploring the types of neurodivergence that may be present in their children. We talked about the reality that it’s possible to have a healthy neurodivergent identity without pathologizing oneself.

Marni shared experiences from her journey as a 2e parent of 2e kids who have never attended formal schooling. She broached the idea that people should get to decide for themselves which words apply to their experiences and which communities they choose to associate with. Emma had freshly read Dąbrowski’s book Psychoneurosis is Not an Illness when we recorded this episode and talked about his pioneering work as a clinician who was neurodiversity-affirming before that term existed. In his work, there is a clear message that being different doesn’t mean you’re defective.

We learned about self-directed education, what that means, and how at its core, it is based on trusting children—and trusting all humans because, ideally, we should all become self-directed learners by the time formal schooling ends. Self-directed education and unschooling are grounded in children’s rights and youth liberation, while traditional education often operates top-down from a power over dynamic rather than power with. Marni also talked about the difference between homeschooling and unschooling. At the end of our discussion, we also discussed self-directed education in adulthood.

The Positive Disintegration Study Group was mentioned more than once in this episode. If you’re interested in joining the group, which meets monthly on Zoom, you can write to Chris at positivedisintegration.pod@gmail.com. The group requires a six-month commitment and a small monthly fee.

Bio: Marni Kammersell is a 2e adult and the parent of three twice-exceptional kids. She is also a doctoral student studying cognitive diversity in education at Bridges Graduate School. 

Links from this episode

Wandering Brightly (Marni’s website)

Wandering Brightly (Substack)

Alliance for Self-Directed Education

Unschooling Every Family (Facebook group)

Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewellyn (Amazon)

Free to Learn by Peter Gray (publisher site)

Emma’s review of Psychoneurosis is Not an Illness (D.C. website)