Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Unschooling in Thailand, one father and one son

Wisit Wangwinyoo is a firm believer of home schooling

December 4, 2008 article by Supawadee Inthawong, about Wisit Wangwinyoo and his son Isara, who is 18. Isara grew up in Thailand but is studying piano in Russia.
"I believe humans have a great potential in learning, but the school system is destroying such potential. If we instead allow the children to grow naturally, they would not have any fear and will learn to be confident and respectful of themselves," said the home schooling author.

The article is inspiring and leans toward peace and understanding.

Wisit Wingwinyoo has blogs in Thai (and one in English about hosting and unschooling another teen, it seems).

Monday, December 15, 2008

catching up on childhood

"My mom didn't let (toy) guns in the house, and I didn't get TV till I
was 18," Modine said. "This is just me catching up."

This was posted on the AlwaysLearning list:

I saw this in our local paper and thought it was very interesting:

It's an article about several college campuses where students are
forming large groups for playing a "Zombies vs. Humans" game, using
foam dart guns.

Most of the students are for the game and those who play feel part of
a team or family, of course. But as usual, there's also criticism from
those who deem it as dangerous or inappropriate. I thought this part
near the end was pretty telling:

"Ultimately, there's something poignant about Humans vs. Zombies. When
asked to explain the appeal of the game, players talk about the
friends they've made. The game bridges divides between men and women,
seniors and freshmen, computer scientists and poets.

And on a campus where students refer to each other as "kids," Humans
vs. Zombies is a chance to bring back a childhood that some never even
got to experience. Growing up with structured activities, safe
playgrounds and schools that ban dodgeball, they didn't get the primal
appeal of the chase out of their system.

"My mom didn't let (toy) guns in the house, and I didn't get TV till I
was 18," Modine said. "This is just me catching up."


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Article about the psychological benefits of video games

How playing a computer game helped me get through the trauma of 9/11
byNaomi Alderman

Schuyler Waynforth wrote:

I found this paragraph particularly interesting:
"But even the overriding force of physical addiction has come under scrutiny. Experiments like Bruce Alexander's famous "Rat Park" suggest that even addiction to morphine may depend on external circumstances. Rats living in tiny metal cages get addicted to morphine. Rats living in a specially designed housing colony, with room to play, the company of other rats of both sexes and abundant food do not."

The article that it leads to is fantastic. It argues that the cause of addiction is environment. It isn't the drugs that are keeping people addicted. It is so totally why unschooling shouldn't lead to drug addiction, even if it doesn't keep individuals from exploring drugs.


Life Learning: Lessons From the Educational Frontier

Hello Sandra,

I thought you and your unschooling contacts would like to know about a new book that will be published just in time for the holiday gift giving season.

Life Learning: Lessons From the Educational Frontier is a collection of 30 essays first published in Life Learning magazine. Details can be found here:

On all pre-publication orders placed before December 1, we will pay the shipping.

I think that homeschoolers will find this collection to be inspirational and reassuring, as well as a useful tool for helping others understand the unschooling lifestyle.

Please feel free to share this message. Hope all is well with you and yours. Thanks!


Wendy Priesnitz, Editor
Life Media

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Unschooling in the New York Times

The Anti-Schoolers

Published: October 15, 2008

"A version of this article appeared in print on October 16, 2008, on page D1 of the New York edition."

Friday, October 03, 2008

Live Science article on World of Warcraft and Unschooling

Kelli Traaseth and Jill Parmer were interviewed by Jeremy Hsu for an article for LiveScience.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Schooled (Indie Film About Alternative Education)

I'm sharing this e-mail in case anyone who didn't get it is interested. To respond to the author, it's a gmail address and the first part is themusiclives4


My name is Erin Umstead, a graduate of Fairhaven School in Maryland,
which is based off of the Free and Democratic model of Sudbury Valley.

I'm writing because I think your community
would be interested in knowing
about a film written and directed by Brooks Elms
called "Schooled."

It's played at education conferences all over the world
because it challenges viewers to fundamentally re-think
the way they connect with children in the classroom
as well as the living room.

If you agree the film's message seems aligned with
the interests of your community, let me know and
I'll give you the details about how they can see it
at a special discount.

Thank you very much for your time!

All the best
Erin Umstead
Community Connections Team

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

John Holt on

(all quotes, no comments:)

How Children Learn: classic of human, kid-centered learning


Earlier this year, a reader sent me copies of John Holt's classic books on children's education, How Children Learn and How Children Fail and tonight, I finished the first of them (and will be reading the other next). It was one of the most profoundly moving books I've ever read, the truest account of how I remember my best learning experiences as a child and an adult.

Holt was a dedicated teacher and a very, very keen observer of children from babyhood up. Most of How Children Learn takes the form of notes from his diaries, his later reflections on his failures and successes, and letters and feedback from other parents and educators.

Holt's basic thesis is that kids want to learn, are natural learners, and will learn more if we recognize that and let them explore their worlds, acting as respectful co-learners instead of bosses and it continues...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Open Education

Sugata Mitra and Minimally Invasive Education - Confirmation for HomeSchool and UnSchooling Proponents

This could be an excellent link for skeptical relatives, or for new unschoolers who wonder about natural learning. Many of you probably knew about the "Hole in the Wall" project, but this has follow-up and expansion on what was learned then.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

World of Warcraft and Unschoolers

15 Minutes of Fame: Horde of Unschoolers
, and interview from January 2008, in WoW Insider. I'm sorry I didn't know about it sooner, but now it has 101 comments. Many of them are predictably lame and tacky, but the interview itself is very nicely done.

One of the quotes is:
Are unschoolers actually succeeding in college and later in life? According to Sarah Spooner, senior admission counselor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, they most assuredly are. "These students are really well motivated, have done their homework and done their research," she affirms. "They're the type of students who excel when they get on a college campus because they can keep themselves in check and make sure they're doing well and succeeding."

I would like to have seen it sooner so I could say my unschooled son works at Blizzard Entertainment, but I can say it here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Two father-and-son stories

Both of these boys have moms, but the articles both focus on the father/son aspect. Neither is written from a pro-homeschooling point of view, but the joy of the boys shines through.

Dad lets kid drop out to watch movies

This dad has written a book about it.

Bad Dad? Parents Let Son Drop Out to Pursue Gaming Career

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Homeschooling Win in California,8599,1832485,00.html?xid=feed-yahoo-nation
Time Magazine, August 13, 2008

Pam Sorooshian is quoted at the end:
"[This ruling] gives us a lot more confidence and a lot more sense of freedom," says Pam Sorooshian, an uncredentialed teacher of her three daughters in Las Alamitas, Calif. "We can get back to educating our children and not be distracted."

(She didn't mention that she teaches college mathematics, but that's still not "credentialed" for elementary or secondary education.)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tough school year? Check home schooling

From the Eugene, Oregon Register-Guard
Tough school year? Check home schooling
By Cynthia Whitfield
For The Register-Guard
Published: June 18, 2008 12:00AM

As the school year ends, many parents are thinking ahead to September and a new school year. If all has gone well, most parents expect next year will also work out.

However, parents of children who have struggled through the year may find themselves considering alternatives to public school. One of those alternatives is home schooling.

Summer is the perfect time to explore home schooling. This year, more than 1,600 Lane County children registered as home-schoolers. This number doesn’t include students who learn at home through online academies or correspondence courses, or students whose parents fail to register with the state. Conservative estimates put the total number of home-schoolers nationwide at more than 2 million.

Most parents feel a bit frightened when they first consider home schooling. At a time when a good education is deemed increasingly important, parents want to know they’re making the right choice for their kids. Fortunately, a look at the evolution of home schooling helps potential home-schoolers and the wider community understand the rationale for this growing movement.

This is listed as an opinion piece. It's a very clean history of homeschooling. It's level, and encouraging, with no negativity at all. For me, these two paragraphs were the most striking:
Blacks account for the fastest growing segment of home-schoolers today. Interestingly, while public schools worry about the achievement gap between blacks and whites, home-schooled black children score at the 87th percentile — just as high as home-schooled white children, and significantly higher than the average public school student.

Although parents choose home schooling for a variety of reasons, most home-schoolers believe children learn best at home in a loving environment where parents take into account each child’s strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, learning styles and emotional makeup when designing a program of study. Children learn at their own rate, and they don’t have to wait for the rest of the class to catch up or feel rushed if they need more time on a topic.

This would be a good article to share with friends or relatives who could use simple, soothing information about unschooling.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Hey, Teacher, Leave My Kids Alone—Debating Issues Related to “Unschooling” has a section called "Daily Lesson Plan", under Learning Network, Teacher Connections. This one isn't new, but was just sent to me by Crystal Miller, an unschooling mom in Albuquerque.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Hey, Teacher, Leave My Kids Alone
Debating Issues Related to “Unschooling”

Michelle Sale, The New York Times Learning Network
Tanya Yasmin Chin, The Bank Street College of Education in New York City

Grades: 6-8, 9-12

Subjects: Civics, Language Arts, Social Studies
Interdisciplinary Connections
Overview of Lesson Plan:In this lesson, students will gather opinions about unschooling and the value of learning inside the classroom and in the real world. They then conduct a debate and reflect on the value of unschooling for their own education.
Review the Academic Content Standards related to this lesson.
Sandra's first-pass comments:

This lesson plan can range from a one-hour in-class activity to a week or so of follow-up, if all the suggestions are used. On one end of the spectrum I envisioned as I read it all, it could help students see the learning they do outside of school, but at the other end it seemed aimed toward helping them see that unschooling should be illegal. As a civics class lesson plan, these future voters will have a whirlwind tour of reassurance that their own schooling was justified and other methods should be voted away. (It also could be a Language Arts or Social Studies lesson; it's an interdisciplinary-connections lesson plan, which is admirable.)

Another lesson in it all, unfortunately, is the self-supporting nature of the sources.
I asked _______________ people my question. The three most interesting answers I got were these: _______________; _______________; _______________. What I can conclude from all of the information is _______________.”
That is filled out after five minutes of interviewing other kids in the class. That's quite a limited survey, in time and scope, but it seems to reflect what I've seen of journalism's approach to unschooling, too. Find two or three people, ask them six or seven questions, write as though you know everything about the subject. Then interview two "experts" who know even less about unschooling than you've just learned, and use their most damning soundbites to "balance" your article.

If anyone who has used this lesson plan or been in a class where it was used comes by, I'd love to hear how it was implemented and steered.

The extended activities and further questions to be used if it went from single lesson to unit would open things up better, although the recommendations still seemed to lie mostly within the school system itself for opinions and information.

The article intended for use by teachers or students in this lesson unit is Home Schoolers Content to Take Children’s Lead By SUSAN SAULNY, NY Times, November 27, 2006

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Otherwise Instructed

Otherwise Instructed: Issues in Education

"My husband and I homeschooled our two children, now both in their twenties. I served on the boards of the Massachusetts Home Learning Association ( and the National Home Education Network ( Before homeschooling our children, I was a classroom teacher in both public and private schools. Since homeschooling, I have become even more interested in the process of learning and the role of schools in our society. The papers listed on this website are the result of two my research projects."

Nicky Hardenbergh had provided links to copies of two papers, one from this year and one from 2004, discussing homeschooling and testing.
One is Validity of high stakes standardized test requirements for homeschoolers: a psychometric analysis
and the other
Through the Lens of Homeschooling: A Response to Michael Apple and Rob Reich

Please see them both at her page,

Old News (newly available)

Unschoolers say they Live, Learn
That 2000 article is also linked on this page, with 2006 articles from People Magazine and Elle Girl Magazine.
Articles on Unschooling

Monday, May 19, 2008

What kids just *know* (those with opportunity to learn)

Katherine Anderson sent this link to the Unschooling Discussion list:
An article: Pro video game/comic books. Though not about unschooling, it's not anti-unschooling either. Also has an interesting comment on types of knowledge and the things you might be asked in the real world versus on a school test.

It's a May 12 column by Jim Mullen, called "You're damaging your brain with practical skills," but what it really addresses is how many truly practical skills young teens pick up from computer use. Here's the clincher moment, before he goes into a stream of great examples:

Dad stops typing and yells across the room to Billy, "What do you call those things that hold Web sites?"

Things that hold Web sites? Does he mean a bookmark? Does he mean an ISP? Does he mean a Web host?

"Server?" Billy guessed, not lifting his eyes from his IQ-draining game, which was wrecking his life.

I wonder how many professional basketball players and football players would have known the answer?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Video Games and Parenting, by an unschooled teen

Zachary Sanders interviewed me recently, and has written up something extraordinary. For parents to write these things isn't bad, but it all comes to life from the point of view of one whose game time was once measured and monitored.

First, the intro by Zach's mom:
This two-part essay was written by my unschooled teen son for his Composition I college class. Zach has been radically unschooled for the past five years and relaxed homeschooled prior to that. He's never been to school except to play clarinet in a band and beginning this last January he decided he wanted to enroll in a writing course at our local community college. Video games are his number one passion with writing a close second.

In his essay, Zach writes about how it felt to be a child who wanted to please no one more than his mother but also a child who's passion I did not value or respect. Parts of Zach's essay were difficult for me to read but I knew the truth of it already and I knew that he had an important message to communicate to the mothers and fathers of the world. The sting of reading about the damage my old ways inflicted on my child were soothed in the knowledge that I've seen the error of my ways and have worked hard to repair our relationship I now know the beauty, peace, and extraordinary amount of learning, embracing his interests has brought to both of our lives. (

Zach's article is here:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

New in French and Spanish

Sylvie Martin wrote:
Hello Sandra,

here is the presentation of the book :
It's in librairies since yesterday !! I have mine !! I'm so excited !!!

In the presentation, I'm not responsible for the yellow square ! I'm NOT the best french specialist of the topic !! aarrgghh..

Sylvie (Eliott le Magicien (97), Tom le Héros (99), Lilou la Fée (02)

Sylvie, you might easily know more about unschooling than anyone else in Franch. Someone has to be first! From that page:
Sortie à 16 ans du système scolaire, Sylvie Martin-Rodriguez a
créé un site Internet ( où elle écrit et
traduit des articles sur le respect de la liberté des enfants dès leur
naissance, afin de lutter contre les idées reçues concernant les
chemins de l’enfance. and the photo to the right

Yesterday a Spanish translation of "How to Raise a Respected Child" was put online by Laura Mascaró, who says she might make a few changes after others read it who can translate better.

"Cómo criar a un niño con respeto" por Sandra Dodd...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Los Angeles Times, April 3, 2008

Defending home-style ABCs

Religious and secular families unite over legal battle on credentials
By Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
April 3, 2008

Madison Browning, 8, spent a recent school day coloring, playing on swings at a park and whirling to Japanese string music at a cozy dance studio. Caedyn Curto, 13, studied biblical scripture at his family's kitchen table before tackling decimals, completing a biology test and revising a journalism essay.

The Browning and Curto families, both of whom live in the South Bay, have embraced very different styles of education. But they now find themselves on the same side of a battle to continue teaching their children at home in the face of an appellate court ruling that home schooling in California must be conducted by credentialed instructors. ...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

"I love unschooled teens!" —Autodidact+Piano

In the online newsletter of the Victoria Home Learning Network is an article on unschooled teens, featuring Abbi Traaseth's recent piano accomplishments. There's a video. Autodidact+Piano

A quote from the article:
My friend Abbi is 13 years old. When I sent her this post to review and approve, she wrote me back saying “I just wanted to say thank you for your beautiful words, and I hope they help to inspire other Unschooling parents to see the joys of their children learning what they like, and at their leisure.”

Links to the Victoria Home Learning Network:


Saturday, March 15, 2008

"Boy Saves Sister from Moose Attack with Skills Learned in Warcraft Video Game"

Quoting two blogposts; follow links to read more!

Boy Saves Sister from Moose Attack with Skills Learned in Warcraft Video Game
Posted Dec 10th 2007 9:06AM by Terrence O'Brien
Filed under: Computers, Video Games
This 12 year-old Norwegian boy saved his sister and himself from a moose attack using skills he picked up in the online role playing game 'World of Warcraft.'

Hans Jørgen Olsen and his sister got into a spot of trouble when they encroached on the territory of one of these antlered cold weather staples (otherwise known as a moose). When the beast went on the offensive, Hans knew the first thing he had to do was taunt it so that it would leave his sister alone and she could run to safety. "Taunting" is a move one uses in World of Warcraft to get monsters off of the less-well-armored team members.

Once he was a target, Hans remember another skill he'd picked up at level 30 in 'World of Warcraft' -- he feigned death. The moose lost interest in the inanimate Hans and wandered off into the woods. When he was safely alone Hans ran back home to share his tale of video game-inspired survival.

Make fun of video games all you want, but if one can teach you a skill that saves your (and your sister's) life, then we'd say that was a video game worth playing.

From Internode Gaming Network

I might not have brought the whole article here, but it was already reported from another site and not quoted. Several interesting things are said, so I'm putting both.

World of Warcraft Skills Save Boy From Moose
By Chienne - Sat Dec 8, 2007 11:57am

All the anti-gaming activists, listen up. When people claim to "learn things" from video games, they're not just talking about a bit of extra hand-eye coordination from first-person shooters. They're not referring to gaining knowledge of economics from playing real-time strategies. They're not even suggesting the improved matching skills from all those Shockwave titles with the coloured dots.

They're talking about a 12 year old Norwegian boy, who survived a moose attack - using skills he learned in World of Warcraft.

Hans Jørgen Olsen and his sister were walking in the woods near their house when they were confronted by the antlered beast, who was a bit miffed at the invasion of his turf, so it attacked them. Olsen reacted quickly, with the sort of reflexes that only come after spending days in Azeroth.

His first task - protect his sister. How to do this? Taunt the beast! The boy yelled at the animal until it was distracted enough to leave his sister alone, so she could run and get help. Downside of this plan - the moose was now paying some grumpy attention to Hans. What was he to do?

Feign death. "Just like you learn at level 30 in World of Warcraft."

I kid you not. Beast, seeing that the boy was no longer interesting, wandered off to greener pastures and to do whatever moose do in Norway. Hans jumped up and ran home to join his sister and tell the whole world about his adventures.

Now - before you criticise a 12-year old for having spent enough time ingame to get to level 30, stop and think. Had he been a lower level, he just wouldn't have had the skillset to survive. Think about that, and maybe pop a copy of WoW on your Christmas list, if you live somewhere with an abundance of moose.

Both posts have lots of comments!

I have no reason to believe the kids are homeschooled, but for anyone thinking games aren't good for anything but "eye-hand coordination" should look again! (There are some recent links and lots of older ones here.)

Friday, February 15, 2008

City on a Hill Press

Class Dismissed
By Rachel Tennenbaum
Imagine waking up on a Monday and driving up to Berkeley to check out a new art gallery opening. That night you play some video games and crack open a book before hitting the hay. Think this sounds like a day off for a college student? It’s actually the school day of a 9-year-old. No, it’s not a fantasy Ferris Bueller-style: It’s a daily reality for thousands of young learners who call themselves “unschoolers.”

Unschooling. Some call it a counter-culture, but others just call it natural learning. It’s an offshoot of homeschooling coined by educational philosopher John Holt, but it varies from traditional homeschooling in the sense that there is no curriculum. None. No math, no English, no science, no history. You just live.

This article is a fun read, and I know several of the people named and quoted, so it was especially interesting for me. I'm glad the author didn't leave it at "You just live," because that alone would be wrong and misleading. "Just" is such a dismissive little word...

But read the rest. Unschoolers don't "just live." They live large. They live expansively, and richly and joyfully. Those are the things that make it work.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

France: Sylvie Martin-Rodriguez's book will be out soon

Sylvie Martin-Rodriguez, an unschooling mom, lives with her family in the small town of Mijoux, in the Jura mountains near Switzerland. She and her friend Jeanine Barbé have been translating unschooling articles from English and corresponding with some of us here for a few years. Their website is here: Chroniques de Louves.

Sylvie's book will be published this Spring (exact date not yet known).

If you have friends, relatives, or contacts in France, please consider passing on this news!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

'Unschooling' lets children lead their own education

Herald &
Central Illinois
Saturday, December 4, 2004 11:49 PM CST

'Unschooling' lets children lead their own education

This article isn't new, but it quotes Richard Prystowsky, and because of that I'd like to have it here where others can find it.

Here's that part of the article, but the whole thing is brief and good.

Professor Richard Prystowsky, department chairman of math, science and engineering at College of the Redwoods in Eureka, Calif., has written several articles on homeschooling, and he and his wife homeschooled their two younger children. Because they had chosen a family-centered lifestyle, neither felt comfortable in sending their children to strangers to be educated in what he calls an "impersonal" system.

"I am not opposed to public education," he said. "I am opposed to the systemic nature of public education. That's a crucial difference."

The current system of schooling, he said, developed with the industrial revolution and is too autocratic. If teachers and children had the freedom to be creative, to let students take the initiative, and if standardized tests and curriculum were abolished, public schools could better serve students' needs.

He's especially critical of segregating students by age and expecting small children to sit at desks and all learn the same thing.

"What in the world could be further from the real world?" he said. "People talk about socialization, but is that how you want to train somebody, segregate them by rank and age and pay attention to one thing for 42 minutes at a time? What professional do you know who spends his days like that?"

School reform, he said, must begin with completely changing the current system.

"Reform that does not address the systemic nature of the problem is not going to address the problem," Prystowsky said. "I want to see teachers in public education free and creative to do the work they need to do. I want to see students free to help direct their own learning path."

If all children weren't expected to learn the same material at the same rate and could instead pursue subjects they were truly interested in at their own pace, he said, there would be far fewer discipline problems.

"In my tradition, the Jewish tradition, we have an important teacher, Rabbi Hillel," Prystowsky said. "He used to teach that you begin with the learner, where the learner is. You go to the learner and you start (teaching) from there."