One reason that people find the Primer so inspiring is that it paints a vision of an educational experience which succeeds without obviously coercing or confining its students, as ordinary schools so stereotypically do.
This is mostly an outright fantasy: The Primer’s activities are only intrinsically meaningful to Nell because her life is impoverished. Somewhat more deeply, it’s also an illusion because while the Primer doesn’t outwardly coerce Nell, it does presume to manipulate her with various psychological tricks in pursuit of its specific goals, while Nell doesn’t know or share the Primer’s goals.
Stephenson, N. (2003). The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer (Reprint edition). Spectra.