Saturday, November 12, 2011

Canadian article on unschooling

Unschooling: Legitimate pedagogy or foolish fad?
Why some scholars are adopting an educational philosophy that eschews formal lessons and any form of structure – and why others think it could be dangerous.

by Tim Johnson

This article is critical and a bit alarmist, and some of the examples they gleaned from the parents they interviewed are lame, but unschooling is difficult to understand even for those who want to, and easy to MISunderstand for those who want to revile it. —Sandra

Monday, November 07, 2011

Two other TV interviews of the Bentley family

KGUN9 (Tucson, AZ) Interview on Radical Unschooling, July 2010

Unschooling Bentley Family on The Today Show, October 14, 2011

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Unschooling Bentley Family on KTVU FOX 2 Unschooling segment, November 4, 2011

Unschooling Bentley Family on KTVU FOX 2 Unschooling segment, November 4, 2011

Lisa Cottrell-Bentley's family:

Friday, November 04, 2011

WomanMagazine, U.K.

For a larger image, click (and then click that one again):

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fox Carolina article

"More parents choose to 'unschool' kids"
by Diana Watson

Posted: Oct 31, 2011 9:29 AM MDT

The article quotes Kelly Lovejoy and refers to Jeff and Kelly Halldorson's family, but I wish it had been edited better.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Unschooling: A natural way to learn

September 30, 2011, Portland Family:
Unschooling: A natural way to learn, by Carisa Brewster

Friday, September 30, 2011

Survey needs homeschoolers' responses, please

Roya is Pam Sorooshian's daughter. Please help her out with this! Pass it on. (The photo is Roya and her mom.)

Note: The survey is set up for U.S. families only. Sorry to the many others who will come by here!

Dear Homeschooler,

My name is Roya Dedeaux. I am currently working on my Master’s degree in Counseling at California State University, Long Beach to meet my goal of becoming a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT). I was homeschooled from the age of ten, when my mother removed me from the public school system. From that time, I have been interested in how our alternative education has impacted us as a culture.

As I began my studies in the Counseling field, I became more and more aware of how many therapists are unaware of the diversity that the homeschooling population includes. I also heard many anecdotal stories of homeschoolers who felt they could not go to therapy because they were afraid that the therapist would not understand their lifestyle.

I decided to use my current studies to benefit the homeschooling culture that I grew up with. The purpose of my study is to measure adult homeschooler’s mental health needs, and their attitude towards seeking therapy. The results of my thesis will hopefully be used to benefit the homeschooling population by providing much needed information to the mental health profession. If there are any significant barriers for homeschoolers to seek therapy, this survey will isolate those as well.

I found your homeschooling organization’s email address from an online search. To qualify to take this survey, you need to be over the age of 18. Additionally, you need to have EITHER been homeschooled yourself, OR homeschooled your own children. Any types of homeschooling methods, religious affiliations, or mental health needs are welcome. It should take approximately 25 minutes, is completely anonymous, and at the end you are qualified to win one of 2 $50.00 electronic gift certificates to!

Please feel free to pass this survey along to any other adult homeschoolers you know. I have two goals: 1st, to get 1000 responses, and 2nd, to get responses from every state!

Thank you in advance for your help and support of a fellow homeschooler.

--Roya Dedeaux


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Unschooling — Is This A Cure For Our Failing Education System?

Unschooling — Is This A Cure For Our Failing Education System?,0,3987396.column

The beginning of the article:

If we were to start from scratch, how would we create the best possible learning environment for our children? Would we organize children in neat rows of uncomfortable desks and chairs, segregated by age and alphabetized? Would we try to squeeze seven diverse subjects into a six-hour day? Would every child be forced to learn the same information at the same time and then get tested immediately to make sure it stuck?

Obviously, no. But the factory-style school system is the system currently in place, and many families are deciding that they want something different, something more natural for their children. A few leaps beyond homeschooling is unschooling, a concept with a definition that is different for every unschooled child. Perhaps one-third of the thousands of homeschooled children in Connecticut are unschooled.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pat Farenga posted this moments ago:

Today is the official opening of the revised site. All the back of issues of Growing Without Schooling are online for free, as well as many articles, videos, and recordings by and about John Holt. I've also added lots of books, research and support for unschooling teens (including college admissions) and children.

HoltGWS Home
Growing Without Schooling magazine, unschooling and homeschooling information, and the learning advocacy work of John Holt and his associates are here. Documentation and support for self-directed learning.

St. Louis Kids Magazine, February 2011

This article isn't new, but it seems I didn't link it here or on my site, so today I'm adding links. Michelle Cox wrote the articles (is credited for the third one, but I think she designed them all).

In February 2011, St Louis Kids Magazine (online and I'm not sure whether on paper) did a three-part series. Their local featured-family mom was Valorie Helt. In the bottom of the first part, Ren Allen was interviewed. The second section was an interview with me (Sandra Dodd), and the third was about state law, Valorie's family, and the opinion of an expert (who was largely supportive, and they let me respond to the dismissive ideas).
Unschooling in St. Louis

Why a Former Teacher Kept Her Own Kids Out of the Classroom

Debating How Kids Learn

The end of the third part of the series:

Basically, it is a method of education that doesn’t use curriculum or formal lesson plans, but rather lets children learn based on what interests them. (Read more about what unschooling is in Part 2 of our series.)

Not surprisingly, the method has its critics.

Dr. Keith Sawyer is a professor of psychology and education at Washington University in St. Louis. He is a well-published author and leader in the field of learning sciences and a regular speaker on school reform and how people learn.

Sawyer said that some of ideas behind unschooling have merit. “It’s true that most students are bored in school, don’t like it and don’t find it motivating. Even talented students - not just drop-out students - report being pretty bored in school,” he said.

“One of the unschooling premises is that children shouldn’t be made to learn something they don’t want to learn, and research does support the idea that kids learn far better when they are intrinsically motivated (motived by the love of doing it) versus being externally motivated (by grades or money).”

Additionally, Sawyer said that research supports the idea that more effective learning occurs in authentic and situated learning environments - environments in which individuals are learning to use knowledge in a real world setting.

“Classrooms are detached from a real world context, so I can understand how unschooling has the benefits of learning in a project-based, real-world settings,” he said.

However, he said that while there is research to support some elements of unschooling, the fundamentals are misguided.

“The whole purpose of schooling is to create a learning environment which will accelerate and support the most optimal kinds of learning. It is true that people can learn by themselves, but they will learn more effectively where the goal of the learning environment is to help them learn in the most effective and efficient way.”

Sawyer said that is why societies developed structured learning environments, which have been around since the onset of reading, writing and literacy. “Even before we had formal schools, we had apprenticeships and religious instruction so that people could learn to read and teach the Bible,” he said. “The notion that people will learn best when completely removed from any designed learning environment isn’t valid.”

Sawyer acknowledged that there are significant issues with school settings today and that reform is necessary. “I have no problem with parents who are working to find alternative designed learning environments, but to say we don’t need ANY kind of designed learning environment is ridiculous,” he said.

Dodd disagreed, saying, “Our entire life created a learning environment for our children, every day, at home or out in the world.”

She added that there was a time when only scholars had access to tablets and writing, so a student needed a scholar to share those materials in order to learn. “In 2011, access to the written word is everywhere,” she said. “In a family with books, magazines, a library card and the Internet, that is a world of literacy unprecedented in any time before this.”

On the practice of “radical unschooling,” where the methods of unschooling are more of a lifestyle and are also applied to parenting practices, meaning no bedtimes or limits on access to media, Sawyer said that’s a completely different topic. “That’s not just unschooling, it’s unparenting,” he said. “It’s a huge leap from unschooling to unparenting.”

Dodd countered that it takes more parenting to be with a child directly as he lives and learns, no matter what time it is, than it does to parent by the clock and tell a child to go to bed regardless of what he’s doing.

“I understand that it’s difficult to understand unschooling,” she said. “Even for those who want to understand it, it takes awhile. I would never speak of something I had never seen, nor write about a country I had never visited, nor review a food I had never tasted.”

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Catholic Unschooling

A Little Way of Homeschooling, a book by Suzie Andres, with stories of a dozen families, eight of whom are unschoolers.

The link above leads to an interview which is in itself very informative, and here is the link to the Amazon page with reviews and an image of the book (with "look inside" option): Amazon listing for A Little Way of Homeschooling [Paperback]

(Goofing around with the search, I see I'm mentioned in there three times. Wow.
And not a link to my site, which is what I expected might be in there. —Sandra)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Blake Boles, on "The Unschooling Mindset"

Blake came to unschooling from an unusual angle, studying it in college, and fixating on John Taylor Gatto, who wasn't involved in unschooling, but Blake is bright and personable and deeply interested in the subject!

The Unschooling Mindset - Blake Boles from Blake Boles on Vimeo.

Blake's blog:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Crazy and sane, just sitting there.

The 6 Dumbest Things Schools Are Doing in the Name of Safety

My niece, Gina, who was unschooled and is now grown, sent this link. It's at, which is a humor site, but this article isn't very funny. There are links directly to news reports of new, surprisingly not-meant-to-be-funny, controlling and limiting rules in some real American schools and school districts. THIS is where unschoolers come from.

Brie Jontry, who is the unschooling mom of an artistic young daughter, sent this, and I'll keep the note in which it was delivered:
I just read a timely piece in the New York Times titled, "Our Plugged-In Summer." It was timely for two reasons: this post and the general on-going conversation among new-to-unschooling, and the not-so-new, about all the learning that happens as a result of ALL kinds of media and, I recently commented on another list that seeing kids as "plugged-in" isn't helpful for teasing apart concerns about TV and computers. After all, kids (and adults) aren't machines that need an external power supply.

Anyway, here's that article....
"instead of avoiding the Internet while we were on vacation, my family and I made good use of it, and it rewarded us in many ways"

......and, because I often hear Sandra's voice in my head, commenting on my thoughts, here's a link to her page on "Balancing in the Middle Ground"


Those who sent the links are involved with unschooling. Those who wrote the articles are not (as far as I know). —Sandra

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

CNN article on Unschooling and Sudbury schools

Unschoolers learn what they want, when they want

By Jacque Wilson, CNN
August 3, 2011

This is same-old article, and equates Sudbury school with unschooling. They have asked a professional who knows nothing about unschooling to comment, as usual.

This is wryly interesting:
Calls to the National Education Association for comment on unschooling were not returned.

(Thanks to Keith Dodd for sending the link.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

School’s Out...(forever)

Cover story on Good Times

Homeschooling and unschooling. A look at the alternatives in Santa Cruz, by John Malkin

Sunday, July 17, 2011

European Home Education Conference 31 August - 4 September, 2011

I was invited to speak here and can't go (they offered partial airfare, but I just go back from Europe, and I'm speaking in San Diego in early September).

European Home Education Conference. There are English-language speakers, and French, and Spanish. The message I had said in part:
Some information can be found here in English We're going to record a documentary of the gathering and conference and have talks about forming a European and International home education organisation.

31 August - 4 September, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Unschooling Media: Participatory Practices among Progressive Homeschoolers

Unschooling Media: Participatory Practices among Progressive Homeschoolers

By Vanessa Bertozzi
Master’s of Science Thesis in Comparative Media Studies Massachusetts Institute of Technology May 12, 2006

This copy of the report  is hosted on a page by a science educator in India.  I got to meet him last fall in his "lab."  

The interviewer is more artist than researcher, and we had fun interacting with her.

The study is not new, but I didn't know of any online site for it before. Something there might be of interest to someone. :-) The "informants" credits are:
All the Informants: Eva Kendrick; Pat Farenga; Carsie Blanton; Rob & Lizette Greco; Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko & Randy Kay; Sage, Garrett, Bella, & Emily Adderley; Matt Hern, Selena, Sadie, Daisy Couture, Ashley Doman, & The Purple Thistle punks; Susannah Sheffer & Aaron Falbel; Sue, Marc, Eli & their Jamaica Plain coop; Mary, Mike, Peter, & Richard X; Sandra, Kirby, Marty, & Holly Dodd; Ken Danford, Vlad Blanton, Sphennings Stephens, & North Star; Jason Marsh; Clayton & Vernon Dewey, Danilo X; David Friedman & his family; Denise Perri; Derek Davis; Dan Roy & his mom; Gabrielle Anderson; Heather Cushman-Dowdee & her family; Jeremy Merritt & his family; Jon Shemitz; Joyce & Kathryn Fetteroll; Katie Shuflin-Febuary & Evyn; Katrina Cornell; Loretta Heuer; Nika & Ed Boyce; Roland Legiardi-Laura; Tiara Shafiq; Doug Healy; Billy Upski Wimsatt; & Grace Llewellyn.

Hindustan Times articles on homeschooling

June 19, 2011:

June 14, 2011:

(The image was lifted from the facebook page called India Group for Homeschoolers & Alternative Education, and I don't know how to find a larger copy of it or the other articles on the site. If others come by who can help, please leave comments with links.)

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

"Unschooled" on National Public Radio

Pam Tellew wrote:
My oldest son Sam's radio story "Unschooled" will be airing today (his 17th birthday) on NPR's All Things Considered the last 10 minutes of the hour. It's up online in print (audio later) on the All Things Considered web site

This is something Sam decided to do all on his own. I only got to read it just now and still haven't heard the audio.

With summer on the horizon, many teens are looking forward to a break from school and tests. But for Sam Fuller of Albany, Calif., not much is going to change. Fuller is part of a rare minority of home-schoolers who call themselves "unschooled" — a more unstructured, self-directed form of home schooling. There are about 2 million registered home-schoolers in the U.S., a number that grows by about 10 percent a year. Sam's family can keep Sam and his brother home by registering their house as a private school.

Friday, June 03, 2011

"Wonder Room"

Schuyler Waynforth sent a link to an article on a school in the UK that created "a wonder room." Below this link and quote, I'll link a couple of pages from my unschooling site.

A Wonder Room – every school should have one
The Nottingham University Samworth academy has a room packed with curiosities and puzzles that stimulate pupils' imaginations, and generate a sense of wonder

Chris Arnot
The Guardian, Tuesday 31 May 2011
He firmly believes the idea should catch on. "I think every school should have a place where wonder can be celebrated. Being interested in seeds, literally and metaphorically, I'm keen to see this idea germinate and spread."

There seems little reason why it shouldn't at a time when schools are said to be cutting visits to museums and galleries because of the cost of supply teachers to cover staff absences.

"Your House as a Museum":


Rather than visiting a wonder room on occasion, unschoolers can have the whole world as their wonder room.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Earlier this month I had an e-mail with some commentary and details on the home education situation in Spain.

From Lisa E Mitchell, with permission to share:
I wanted to clarify the situation in Spain, where I live.
Our situation in Spain, fortunately, is not the same as Germany, where they have Hitler's law prohibiting homeschooling.

There are no laws in Spain that specifically prohibit homeschooling, so it's not that we can't homeschool in Spain, it's that it's in a legal void for lack of previous experience.
It's Alegal (not illegal) = one cannot prohibit something that has not, in law, been prohibited.

However, they are still at the stage where they equate school absenteeism to parental neglect,
hence the current persecution of a number of homeschooling families in different parts of Spain.

The Pat Farenga blog post about Spain, in reference to the "Constitutional Tribunal" Ruling last December, 2010 fails to include the fact that in weeks following that ruling in reference to the Spanish Constitution (a ruling that was highly criticised by many, including Madalen Goiria and another homeschooling lawyer mom in Spain, Laura Mascaró, for being highly incoherent, that the legal language in itself was hard to follow, and contradicted itself)

There were several cases of homeschooling families that were found "not guilty", and the judge ruled in favor of the families. Of course the media fails to diffuse this news!

The Clonlara liason in Spain's comment in the comment section underneath the post is correct.

And I now see that Pat corrected his post and acknowledged he had made an error in his statement that it was "illegal in Spain" in this later post:

In Cataluña, where I live, they passed a reform on the education law in 2009 that recognized "non-presencial" education, saying that it was up to the education board to set up a "regulatory body" to deal with that, create a register of homeschooling families, etc, and we are still waiting for updates in that regard.

I just read on one of the homeschooling blogs last night that in September there will be some movement from the education board in this regard (setting up a register).

Interestingly enough, I also came across a link to one of the Spanish political parties, the "Partido Popular" election information documents (we have national elections at the end of the month), which I am attaching that states on page 85, under the title "Strengthen the relationships between families and schools,"the following "commitment":
"The introduction of the possibility for education in the home, providing a guaranteed appropriate legislative frame and rigurorous follow-up on the contents, socialization and advances of the students that are in this schooling modality"

"Potenciar las relaciones entre las familias y las escuelas
• La introducción de la posibilidad de la educación en casa garantizando para ello un marco legislativo adecuado y un seguimiento riguroso de los contenidos, de la socialización y de los avances de los alumnos que estén en esta modalidad de escolarización."
Of course reading things like "rigorous follow-up" makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck,but I find it interesting that the PP has specifically included this reference to homeschooling (and therefore obviously is seeking votes from homeschooling families....!)

I am relieved that we have people like Madalen Goiria and Laura Mascaró (who was recently voted president of the Spanish Asociation for Homeschooling and then only a few days later resigned over the "can of worms" she encountered (she had been given due warning but thought it was worth giving it a shot just the same). A true shame to lose her input and proactive effort, indeed) ...both lawyers and homeschooling advocates...

A follow-up, also from Lisa:
Here's a link to a blog in Spanish in Spain dedicated to sharing information on the issue in Spain.
and a link that makes specific references to the legal parameters in Spain that would be the ones cited by homeschooling families to support their legal right to choose:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Unschooling School

Maureen Downey: Unschooling school

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Mon, 25 Apr 2011 07:03 AM PDT

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Hampshire Public Radio article, April 29

The New Trend in Homeschooling: Un-Schooling.
By Sheryl Rich-Kern on Tuesday, April 19, 2011

You can listen to the article or read the transcript here:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

in Spain: El 2º Festival Internacional de Homeschoolers

El 2º Festival Internacional de Homeschoolers se llevará a cabo los próximos 20, 21, 22, 23 y 24 de abril en "La Chopera", Ugena, Toledo.
Ugena, Toledo, Spain

El 2º Festival Internacional de Homeschoolers se llevará a cabo los próximos 20, 21, 22, 23 y 24 de abril en "La Chopera", Ugena, Toledo.

Deseamos que el sábado, 23 de abril, por la tarde, nuestros niños puedan disfrutar su propio "Talent show" dentro del programa de actividades del Fihoo 11. Para ello os poroponemos que en cada casa preparéis alguna actuación, para que cada niño muestre alguno de sus talentos, desde trucos de magia, baile, teatro, malabares, música, demostración científica, recitación, lectura, etc.

Cuando sepáis que van a mostrar vuestros hijos, mandadnos un mail a para que podamos organizar todo. El ensayo general lo realizaremos el mismo sábado por la mañana en el escenario de "La Chopera".

Para más información:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

News from India

I have a note from Urmila Samson. So that no one else has to google anything, I've hotlinked it.\
The conference Hema mentioned was at Deer Park Institute, Bir, Himachal Pradesh. You may want to google that. It's up in the mountains, with snow caps as a back drop. Some brave folks went para gliding. There were numerous monastries (I didn't realize we have so many Tibetans studying years and years in the style of ancient Indian universities like Nalanda University started in way back BC). You may find Shikshantar worth googling too. They have an unschooling attitude to Development issues, and have started Swaraj University which is an unschooly college. Another fellow associated with them named Claude Alvares, is putting together a Multiversity, which is a sort of unschooly university. All these people are worth meeting on your next visit to India. Grown unschoolers from the US usually find them and then find us through them! This was an 'un conference' around the themes: Compassion, Courage, Contemplation and Creativity. The Prime Minister of Tibet in exile, Prof. Rinpoche himself addressed us on the 5th and last day. There was meeting of head and heart, community cooking, stuff for children to do and places to visit. Multi generational, multi cultural, multi socio economic...A guy from Egypt who lived on the street overlooking the recent action...You'd have enjoyed being there!



AN ADDITION, forwarded by Urmila, who wrote "Here's a link that describes it more clearly. I think Tana and Warren come from Canada.
Hello everyone,

Here is a blog post that Rennie and I wrote for Organization Unbound on our experience of the Learning Societies gathering:

We'd love to hear your thoughts, insights...

Cheers from Chandigarh,

This is a video of Claude Alvares from another conference:

The paper to which he refers is (I think) this: Launching the Multiversity

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

Class Dismissed: Education and the Rise of Homeschooling in America

Trailer and press release below:

Just Released!
First Look at the Groundbreaking Documentary Class Dismissed: Education and the Rise of Homeschooling in America.

Announcing the first look at the upcoming documentary, Class Dismissed : Education and the Rise of Homeschooling in America, which will shatter preconceived notions around homeschooling and the families that choose to educate their children outside of the traditional school system. Visit and be one of the first to view the preview trailer, read more about this compelling new film, and find out how you can be involved.

About the film:

Class Dismissed will be the first full-length documentary devoted to exploring homeschooling as an alternative to the industrial school model. This film will show how homeschooling is not only rapidly growing in popularity, but how it crosses all social and economic boundaries and covers a wide spectrum of the population. It will answer the questions that many people have about homeschooling and break down the myths that surround it.

From home study and kitchen table math, to perpetual recess and park days, Class Dismissed follows the stories of three ordinary American families in their quest to educate their children outside the school system.

As they each struggle to discover what path is best for their children, the social ramifications of their choices come to light, family dynamics are revealed and they come to realize that homeschooling is not just an educational choice, but also a lifestyle choice that affects the very heart of the American family.

Class Dismissed will challenge its viewers to take a fresh look at what it means to be educated, and offer up a radical new way of thinking about the process of education.

About 3StoryFilms:

3StoryFilms, was founded by long time film editor Jeremy Stuart as a vehicle to bring compelling, untold stories to the screen. Jeremy has been working in the film and television industry for over 20 years; editing and producing hundreds of music videos, commercials, award winning documentaries and corporate projects for many notable clients, such as National Geographic and Lucasfilm.

Monday, January 03, 2011


I wanted to catch up with Beatrice Ekoko, of RadioFreeSchool.

Beatrice, tell me about your grown unschoolers series, please, and about what's new on your site.
I'm always interested in hearing from grown unschoolers and so exactly a year ago, I started a focused, ongoing piece on the subject for the radio free school project.

I've had the opportunity to interview or receive guest posts from at least 18 grown unschoolers/ parents of grown unschoolers and have more lined up for the new year.

You can read the interviews on the blog by clicking on the Grown Unschoolers link under Popular Posts.

Most recently I've spoken with Kate Fridkis of and you can read the interview at the blog at
or listen to it at

I have interviewed quite a few and always looking for more!

What are you learning from these grown unschoolers?
That they are mostly all pleased with their education; that they continue to love learning; that they are not afraid of being different or weird, that they are as 'well rounded' as anyone else is, that they are passionate about what they do and that they continue to be self-directed in their lives.
I've learned that many of them are deeply engaged in their own communities—in creating community and basically living lives that they feel are full and interesting and pleasurable.

Tell me about your other projects. What's new on your site?
Radio Free School:
Tantrum space for people who eschew factory learning in favour of unschooling, open source learning, community based, learning without school.

Our family produced this weekly radio show ('for by and about home based learners') for seven years. After a year's hiatus, we are back every so often, but using a 'strictly interview' format only now.

You can listen to up to 220 past shows etc at

Radio Free School blog was started by the un-schoolers at radio free school. We continue to blog about all things pertaining to freedom in learning.

Please continue to visit our blog and add your voice to the comments that help spark new posts that we can all learn from, on our journey to make life and learning one.

Here's an interview Beatrice did with me in 2005:—Sandra