Monday, December 25, 2006

The Chicago article from 12/24/06

'You have to trust that the child will learn',CST-NWS-unskul24.article

Christmas-Day editorial attempt to slam unschooling

I didn't see the Sunday column to which he refers, but this is from the middle of a three parter column by Neil Steinberg in the Chicago Sun-Times. There are lots of unschoolers in Chicago who will comment, no doubt. It's fun to see how wrong he has it.,CST-NWS-stein25.article

"No more teachers' dirty looks ..."

There is a brand of contemptuous, snarling, right-wing American rage, a damnation of all things liberal, that has been rather quiet -- sulking perhaps -- since the recent election. In this job, I hear it expressed a lot, or used to, but never felt it much myself. Though there was one moment, I recall vividly, when it cracked through my soul like an arc of electricity. I was listening to a lullaby, "Child of Mine," by 1960s singer/songwriter Carole King.

"You don't need direction," she sings, one assumes to her raggy, unkempt babe, "you know which way to go. . . ."
No, no, no, NO!! If I've learned one thing raising boys for the last 11 years, it is that kids need direction and lots of it, plus guidance, oversight, discipline, monitoring and constant upkeep. Left to their own devices, they will set the sofa on fire to see what happens. They will juggle knives, or try to. They will spend their days eating frozen sticks of butter and slapping their video game controllers until their fingers bleed.

Thus I was a little unsettled by Rosalind Rossi's provocative front page story Sunday about "unschooling," the practice of letting kids drop out of school and, basically, teach themselves whatever they like on their own schedule.

No doubt it works for certain rare -- very rare -- kids. It certainly worked for Roz's main subject, Abby Stewart: a ballerina, well-read, off to Princeton.

But I would suggest that Stewart is more the exception than the rule -- and that rule we shall call the "Toddler in the Woods Rule." It states: Even though an occasional child will toddle off into Craggy Ravine National Park and be discovered, three days later, happy and fit and berry-stained, having sipped dew and made friends with bears, there are 99 others who won't, 99 others who make a beeline for the first cliff and are never seen again. Thus, despite any heartwarming exceptions, it still isn't a good idea to let your children get lost in the woods.

Someone has to say it. Schools are good and necessary. Teachers are good and necessary. Parents are good and necessary. And while it is marvelous -- in the sense of being a marvel -- that certain autodidactic prodigies can thrive on their own, that doesn't mean that "unschooling" would work for all kids or even most kids. They need direction because they don't know which way to go.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

When DROPOUT isn’t a bad word (Boston article)

When DROPOUT isn’t a bad word: Some local teens are thriving by setting their own schedules and learning by doing
The Patriot Ledger

It's one of the best I've seen for a while, even though it follows the pattern of quoting two experts who know nothing of unschooling.

Near the end there's a sentence that doesn't make any sense. I hope it was a file glitch, because it doesn't even have all its punctuation:

‘‘If I feel like I’m ready to spend $40,000 to talk and learn things, but I feel like first I need to do some more soul-searching.

Poor girl being misquoted, but lucky girl having a life rich enough to be in the newspaper. She wouldn't have had that if she'd stayed in school.


Sunday, November 26, 2006

New York Times unschooling article
November 26, 2006
Home Schoolers Content to Take Children's Lead

Pretty good article, but some of editorial touches reminded me of how others see learning. One of the captions within the slide show is "Hayden and Sydney postpone reading by goofing around in the living room while Ms. Walter selects the books." Most photos involve books.

"Gaby tries to practice piano while Hayden and Sydney run around the living room" was another loaded caption. Maybe she was PLAYING the piano, and they were dancing. But an editor decided to put a negative spin on it.

In the International Herald Tribune's running of the story (credited to the New York Times, and not quite as long nor with as many photos) the title was changed to this: In extreme form of home schooling, kids call the shots

What shots? Why should anyone "call shots"? UPI report on NYT story, next day.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Two ends of the spectrum

BellaOnline: The Voice of Women has an article on Unschooling by the site's School Reform Editor by their school-reform editor, Kristen Houghton, who was largely unschooled herself.
Home-schooling special: Preach your children well
11 November 2006
New Scientist Magazine

This is a print magazine is in the U.K. and the article deals primarily with revisionist science and with Patrick Henry College.

Monday, October 02, 2006

MSNBC article A new chapter in education: unschooling

Quotes are from the article which is here.
Comments are by Sandra Dodd.

"Controversial home-taught approach lets kids take the lead in learning"
That was the subtitle of the article, which probably came from the editor of the site, and not from Victoria Clayton, the writer. It doesn't make any sense in the "home-taught approach" part, and as to kids "taking the lead," it clearly implies that either the parent "takes the lead" or the child "takes the lead," thereby ignoring how unschooling works.

"But not all unschoolers stick to the plan so religiously."
That followed on a bit about a five year old who had just recently started to read, as though she had had a plan and stuck to it.

A quote from a professor:
“If the parents are highly educated and/or from a higher socioeconomic level, the kids are going to get all kinds of rich experiences because the nature of the home is going to be about books, experiences, education and learning,” says Myron Dembo, a University of Southern California professor of education.
It's possible articles misquote professors as easily as they misquote unschooling parents, but the mention of "education" in that list didn't show very clear thinking, and the fact that he named "experiences" and "learning" shows, again, an ignorance of the very basis of unschooling.

Unschooling isn't easy to understand, even for those who work at it, with children, for months. Those who do get it are enthusiastic. I have yet to see a reporter really get it, even those who spend weeks hanging out with a family.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Kansas City Star article on Unschooling

A new article on unschooling.

What's coolest about it is the expert they quoted was basically supportive!

Someone said "I turned the TV off because I was tired of fighting with the cartoon network"
or something and I think the same person was quoted as saying "I 'strew their paths'".

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Unschooling as a Radical Alternative (yes, there's a typo)
Not new, but new to some people.

That was found when Kelly Lovejoy discovered an article by her here:
Three Stages of Unschooling. The main page of that site is
The International Association for Learning Alternatives

More on Kelly Lovejoy

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Carnival of Unschooling

Unschooling Voices #2 is up at Joanne's place. This issue's topic is "Do you extend the principles of unschooling (trust, freedom, etc) into any other areas of your child's life"?

The topic for September is from Laurie: "I would love to hear other unschoolers thoughts regarding allowance or payment for odd jobs or whatever you want to call it. I see a major benefit from the kids managing their own money but I’m not sure that I want to pay an “allowance” to the kids every week. But if I pay per job, do I pay to have them clean their room or do I only pay for odd jobs? Anyway, I’d love to hear the other thoughts/ideas/methods other unschoolers incorporate".

Go to Unschooling Voices to find out how to submit a post.

Friday, July 28, 2006


Public Broadcasting System (PBS) tv station KLCS sponsors a blog on new media and how it is changing the world. It is called "MEDIASHIFT: Your Guide to the digital media revolution," and the host is Mark Glaser. On July 14th he wrote a very interesting entry about unschooling - he compares the kind of learning that unschoolers are doing to the kind of learning that is going on all over the internet in, for example, gaming and fan fiction online communities. Here is an excerpt:

"The Harry Potter and anime fan fiction writers, the Civilization players, and the Wondering Minstrels would be surprised to be discussed as “unschoolers.” As far as they are concerned, they aren’t participating in an educational activity at all. They are simply having fun and exploring topics that matter to them. But that’s precisely the point. As we talk about informal learning or “unschooling,” there are no rigid boundaries between school and the rest of what we do with our lives. Learning is driven by passion; we follow our interests where they lead; we engage with others who share those intellectual and recreational pursuits; and in the end, we master complex content. For all of these groups, the web is proving to be a most hospitable environment — a new version of Bertozzi’s “curiosity cabinet” full of rich resources and materials but also a social network that links us with others who are following a similar path. As my father told me years ago, “never let schooling get in the way of your education.”

Read the rest of his post at this url:

News sources and resources

Laura is so busy with fun things she forgot this blog was here, and has opened the back door for some others to rev and revive. So I'm dusting off the chairs and turning on the coffeemaker and it's okay if there are few to no customers because it's a big wide internet.

How do you get homeschooling news, if you do, or if you like that sort of thing? I use Yahoo! Alerts, which is why I got to read "Why I'm an Unschooling Mom" by Jan Zeiger, on BellaOnline, a site I'd never even heard of! And from that article there are were other links. Here it is:

If you want to set up Yahoo alerts to your own e-mail, go here: (I get them to show me new articles about Sam Rockwell and Russell Crowe, too. You can get snow reports, sports, custom auto mentions...)

What are some other ways and means for gathering news? Any favorite sites, feeds, lists, or tricks? If knowledge is power, let's empower the heck out of anyone who happens by here.