Unschooling

Life is learning. Learning is life.

photo of Earth
Our School

That’s my philosophy.  This page contains links to my own writing and the writing/videos/art of others on the topic of learning.  I will add more to this collection as time goes on.

Things That Make Sense to Me:

June 20, 2013 Deciding to homeschool is not about if you’ll do a good job by Penelope Trunk, who believes schools are broken and the important thing is getting out of them, not worrying about whether we will do a “good job” homeschooling, because any (or even no) curriculum is better than what schools are doing. I blogged about this here.

June 21, 2013 Education Revolution: Help Us Reach The Tipping Point by one of my favorite bloggers, psychologist Peter Gray. I blogged about this HERE.

April 2, 2013 What’s in a name? Blog post about the misconception that unschooling is unparenting.

February 2013 Is Real Educational Reform Possible? If So, How? by Peter Gray  Fabulous! I blogged about it here.

February 12, 2013 Hackschooling Makes Me Happy: Logan LaPlante at TEDxUniversity of Nevada  When 13 year-old Logan LaPlante grows up, he wants to be happy and healthy. He discusses how hacking his education is helping him achieve this goal.

January 4, 2013 My Top 50 Favorite Posts About Interest-Led Learning, Unschooling, or Self-Directed Learning in 2012 by Christina Pilkinton on her blog, Interest-Led Learning which I just found via a Life Learning Magazine post on Facebook.  I haven’t read all of them but want to park this here and get back to it soon.

February 28, 2012 The Benefits of Unschooling: Report 1 from a survey of 231 families by Peter Gray in his column Freedom To Learn in Psychology Today

9 Essential Skills Kids Should Learn by one of my most favorite bloggers, Leo Babauta of ZenHabits

December 27, 2011 A World Without Schoolteachers  Schoolteachers are going to have change because young people are not going to want to sit and listen to lectures anymore when the whole world of accumulated knowledge is at their fingertips with modern technology. Perhaps tutoring is the way to go.

My own writing:

You CAN Homeschool – written in response to hearing so many people say they wish they could homeschool  12/18/12

Journey to Homeschooling — how I came to the decision, written May 2003, when my oldest was turning 2

I’m committed to homeschooling — August 7, 2006

Learning To Read Without School — a page about my children learning to read

Structures are Buildings — my commentary on structure and schedules, written April 17, 2008

Being Educated — written May 2008

Homeschoolers Tell All — my responses to a survey June 21, 2008

Explaining Joyful Learning — August 19, 2008

In April 2010, in response to someone asking about unschooling, I wrote

There are also many online message boards on the topic where you can join and ask questions and discuss unschooling.

I think a good one to start with is unschoolingbasics but I’m not a member, so I’m basing that on hearsay and the description.  I’ve been a member of AlwaysUnschooled and AlwaysLearning for a long time, but they assume you already agree with the unschooling philosophy and want to discuss how to live that way, not whether it’s a good idea.  Besides, they are so awfully active I don’t read them very often; however, when I do, I’m always inspired.

John Holt is certainly an excellent resource.  I also think TJEd is unschooling too; I consider it unschooling with structure, where the structure is more for the mentor (we have grown up with it and are used to it, after all!) but isn’t necessarily imposed on the student.  “Inspired, not required.”
Dayna Martin’s Radical Unschooling: A Revolution Has Begun is inspiring and a quick easy read.
I also have The Unschooling Unmanual by Nanda Van Gestel, Jan Hunt, Daniel Quinn, and Rue Kream.  It’s a collection of many essays from Why Choose Unschooling and How Do We Know They’re Learning? to Learning to Trust and What About College?
Sandra Dodd also has a book now, which I believe compiles a lot of her website, but has new stuff too.  I haven’t looked at it myself.
You can find many others at amazon by searching for “unschooling.”

If you like watching videos you can find Sandra Dodd and grown unschoolers sharing their experiences online, as well as many other unschooling videos, most of which I haven’t seen because I’m more of a reader than a watcher.  The last link goes to a long video I just watched recently of Astra Taylor, now in her 30s, unschooled until high school, speaking at the Walker Art Center last year, where she spoke about how growing up without curriculum or schedules influenced her creativity and life philosophy.  It’s so thorough and has some great bits of inspiration for everyone, whether you’re an unschooler or think unschooling is crazy, so definitely worth the time.

They’re usually NOT this neat, but our cabinets and shelves are full of materials for the kids to use.

Regarding unschooling and neglect… On the contrary, unschooling requires more from parents as far as connection, attention, time…  I have often thought it would be easier, in some ways, to just follow a curriculum, to be told what to do.  Then again, I don’t spend any time trying to find a curriculum to fit my child nor do I have to make any effort coaxing them to do anything because it’s “time.”  There are probably parents who don’t do much with their kids and call it unschooling.  But we have to give a lot.  We have to be ready to answer and research questions.  We have to try not to say “not now” too much.  We have to really pay attention to our kids interests, show interest in them, encourage, participate.  We do not have to contrive lessons based on their interests.  That often turns off learning.  We are facilitators.  We have to provide an environment full of interesting possibilities and really be with our kids.  I tell you that is often hard for me as an introvert who wants to hole up and tell everyone to leave me alone for a while every day, but I’m sure that imposing a curriculum would be even harder, and the rewards of a connected mindful lifestyle are huge.

Now here’s what others have to say…

Unschooling FAQ – This is a good quick basic summary about unschooling.

Joyfully Rejoycing — In her intro to my favorite unschooling website, Joyce writes, “This site is about unschooling. And it’s about parenting more peacefully. But overall it’s about living more joyful family lives. If I had to summarize it the message would be “Put the relationship first and then figure out how to fit everything else around that.” I like the way she has questions listed in the margins so you can zero in right to the topic on your mind.

Sandra Dodd: Radical Unschooling — In her site intro she writes, “Learning for fun is the most fun way to learn, and to live. I have gathered much and written some to inspire you to revel in your own learning, in your children’s learning, and in your friends’ curiosity and happiness in the face of a world of information!” There is so much to read here that I doubt you will ever read it all.  I know I haven’t, and I’ve read a lot of it.  Don’t quickly dismiss  the ideas shared here.  It takes years to digest them.  I’m still pondering them, and probably will continue even as my children embark on their adult lives.  The ideas are not all Sandra’s, btw, but a compilation of writing and comments she has collected from many people over many years.

The ABCs of Unschooling

Grown Unschoolers — This is a list of blogs and websites written by adults who were homeschooled.  I haven’t read many of them yet, but I’ve read others, and I find it very reassuring to see what became of some real homeschooled and unschooled kids.

Astra Taylor is a grown unschooler who gave a talk to Walker Art Center in October 2009.  The video is very long, but she has a lot of thought provoking things to say about learning.

Sir Ken Robinson discusses how creativity is hurt by schooling.

Best Homeschooling contains many good articles, including the following:

Homeschool Curriculum for Preschool and Kindergarten — This is so good, I printed it out for reference (and I rarely print things.

Just Do The Math by David Albert, in which he discusses the amount of time actually spent learning in school.  Fascinating note: “…a child could learn math – all of it grades K through 12 – in eight weeks.”

Stella, unschooled since she left preschool, writes about her experience beginning college at 16.

Socialization is easier for homeschoolers who have freedom from schedules!

Your husband is not on board with homeschooling?  Here is the Unauthorized Dad Handbook for Unschooling Moms 🙂

In March 2010, I attended Jeanne Faulconer’s unschooling workshop at the VAHomeschoolers Conference.  A few weeks later, Tisha, who admits she hadn’t understood unschooling until Jeanne’s workshop, wrote The Unschooling Closet.

In April 2010 Good Morning America broadcast Extreme Homeschooling (Day One, Day Two), a poorly done report about unschooling, which resulted in not only over 1000 comments, but also a flurry of blog posts, some of which are below.  It inspired me to write too: unschooling in the media.

Here’s what the family wished GMA had shared.

Lee Stranahan’s rebuttal on The Huffington Post

Unschooling Stephanopoulos: Good Morning America Fail by swissarmywife of living life radically, right now

Unschooling and Unjournalism on The Moderate Voice

Crunchy Chicken doubts unschooling — this is followed by 211 comments, some of which are more good reading

a mom of a 5 year old responds to doubts

I think Sara of Walk Slowly Live Wildly was inspired to write Unschooling: A Life of Freedom after the GMA episode, but I really ought to post this at the top of the list.  Her article is both a fantastic overview as well as an in depth looks with many links to further reading.  One of the links she shares is Astra Taylor’s video, which I’m going to list separately, it’s so good, so be sure not to miss it!

Here’s a response to the crazy comments made after many blog posts inspired by the GMA episode, which says, in part, “If you haven’t come to Holt, unschooling, et cie on your own, don’t look to me to distill the collected thought and effort behind that philosophy into a few paragraphs on a blog post for you and then labor to convince you to buy my goods like a streetcorner whore or storefront preacher.”

Unschooling is Not Unparenting

And the Zombie Princess might have listed some more responses to the GMA episode that I hadn’t gotten around to reading.

Ken Robinson: Bring On The Learning Revolution! May 27, 2010

QUOTES about unschooling

“Children are not the people of tomorrow, but people today. They are entitled to be taken seriously. They have a right to be treated by adults with tenderness and respect, as equals.” -Janusz Korczak
“What about home schooling? You know, it’s not just for scary religious people anymore.” -Buffy the Vampire Slayer
“Curiosity is insubordination in its purest form”. -Alexander Skarsgard

Finally, you can always check my homeschooling and unschooling bookmarks to which I add more all the time.