Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Big Book of Unschooling

I recently read Sandra Dodd's Big Book of Unschooling and loved it. It gave me much food for thought about how children learn {naturally and without coersion}, as well as rethinking my parenting {living by principles vs. rules}.

A few quotes from the book:

"Kids who are in school just visit life sometimes, and then they have to stop to do homework or go to sleep early or get to school on time. They're constantly reminded they are preparing "for real life", while being isolated from it." - Sandra Dodd

"Every time you feel the urge to control a choice, you can ask yourself "why?" and begin to question the assumptions (or fears) about children, parenting, learning and living joyfully tht you are holding on to." - Robyn Coburn

"Given a rich environment, learning becomes like the air--it's in and around us." - Sandra Dodd

"Who can argue with joy, healthy relationships, and learning?" - Susan (DaBreeze21)

"When learning is recognized in the fabrc of life and encouraged, when families make their decisions based on what leads to more interesting and educational ends, children learn without effort, often without even knowing it, and parents learn along with them." - Sandra Dodd

I was immediately drawn to unschooling when I first began reading about it. Unschooling doesn't mean unparenting. It is helping your child find the resources/ answers/ experiences, etc. they need to learn and grow at their own pace. When a child is interested in something, they learn naturally while having fun.

Who says learning has to be dull, dry, and boring? It's only boring when you are forced to learn something you have no interest in. What, then, is the point?

Growing up, I was a good student. I made good grades, did my homework, and passed my tests. But it was all for nothing. I learned what was needed to pass a test and them promptly forgot it. Today I can tell you very little of what I learned.

I have learned far more since graduating high school because I am able to pursue things I am interested in. Things I need to know, I can learn rather quickly. Why should it be any different for our children?

To learn more about radical unschooling, please visit:

6 comments:

Ariadone said...

Wow, this again is interesting to me. I have found one Xanga blogger who is unschooling. Isn't it very Thoreaux ? Hope I can find this book over here too.
I was the schoolmanager who asked about homeschooling, remember me ? I have now also found some families in the netherlands that are homeschooling but it has to do with orthodox religion. It is not allowed by law in my country.
Thank you for this post. I am curious about the happiness and the social status of these children when they have grown up. Are there any results ( I know: this word is not preferable in this case, but meaby: are there grown ups yet who were unschooling when growing up ? ).
Enjoy your reading.
Godeliva van Ariadone

sarah said...

For your previous commenter: yes there are successful adults who were unschooled. If we forget all about those of previous generations - Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, etc - who were unschooled, and just look at people in the modern world, there are many unschooled kids who went on to be hugely successful in college and then get great jobs. Also, studies show unschooled children have less depression as teenagers and young adults, and once they are in the workforce they rate their happiness higher than most.

I myself was unschooled for about three years as a teenager and can tell you that is the period in which I gathered the skills I needed for my chosen vocation, certainly not during regular school.

Tracy, I know you have been looking into unschooling for a while. I would often start with Rose and then stop again when I freaked out. But last year I was busy moving house during my freak-out time, and when I settled again I realised the anxiety had passed. Now I could never go back to doing "normal lessons." Surviving the transition seems to be the key to success!

Thank you for such an interesting review of a book I now really want to buy.

Angela Shope said...

This is an excellent post Tracy! I totally agree with every word you said. Memorizing all this "stuff" long enough to pass a test makes parents and teachers feel better, we can put a 'grade' in a book and say they have been taught...but it means nothing! And as you said, most kids couldn't remember a fourth of it 2 weeks later and certainly don't remember it throughout the rest of their lives. But isn't it interesting that children learn to walk and to TALK while they are babies and without the "benefit" of textbooks and tests!!! You are right on with this!!!

Blessedmom's Simple Home said...

For years I've said the same thing about learning more since I've been out of high school and for the same reason. I've seen school the same way. I guess I am a bit of an unschooler, although I've always just called myself a homeschooler. It hasnt' seemed to hurt my kids educational ability though. My older two are about to graduate from college with very good gpa's.
Thanks for sharing.
Blessings,
Marcia

Nanny Bee said...

My daughter is another example of successful unschooling. She stopped attending public school when she was in her first year of high school because she was terribly depressed. She did nothing for a few months and then, when her spark returned, she got involved in art classes, volunteering at the Natural Science Center, and other such activities. She got her GED because I was weak on recording learning activities to compile into an official transcript.

At the end of next semester, she will complete her AAS degree in advertising and graphic design. She has maintained a 4.0 GPA.

I did lose sleep when she was in her high school years, worrying that I might be ruining her future by letting her unschool. I now feel confident in saying our experiment was a huge success and I highly recommend it.

Jane said...

I love your quotes and thoughts here. I've been amazed at how much my 15 year old daughter has learned in a wide-expanse of "subjects" because of her passion for raising chickens. I feel like some of the best education we can offer our kids is to be intensely curious with them--of what they're interested in and in following our own passions. And to ask good questions, explore our imaginations, and be in wonder of our world. That state of curiosity and "what ifs" and questing opens the way to connection and relationship, the foundation of true learning, I think. You write: "When a child is interested in something, they learn naturally while having fun." You are so right!