Youth autonomy is one of the core pillars of the Abrome community. It is not a talking point. All people should be able to choose how they use their time, have control over their bodies and minds, and have their boundaries respected. Children and adolescents are people, too.

Some people think that giving kids the choice of which learning app to use, or which character they want to represent on a project is autonomy. Others think it is having students ask the questions that will help structure the learning that they will be guided into next. But that is not autonomy, it is the illusion of choice.

Autonomy is much bigger than the pedagogical approach we take to education at Abrome. But fully supporting Self-Directed Education is certainly necessary if we are going to support the autonomy of young people. Young people do not have autonomy if they are made to focus on math or writing at certain times, or if they must perform for adults.

In order for the environment to support youth autonomy it is necessary to shift from thinking how adults should act on young people through manipulation, motivation, or coercion; to how adults can serve as allies to the youth and as partners in their journeys.

“[Youth] are only autonomous when their environment provides them with the space to freely explore and to use their agency to learn. Autonomy is therefore both about the person (who needs to feel that they have the power to change things) and their environment (which needs to give them the opportunity to do so).”
~Naomi Fisher from the book Changing Our Minds: How children can take control of their own learning