Thursday, September 17, 2009

Unschooling in the news

A week or so ago, we got a surprise call from a local newspaper looking to interview my mom for an upcoming article about homeschooling. After checking with Emi and I that we were okay with being in the paper, she said yes. The reporter did a phone interview (which kind of annoyed me because I couldn't interject more :-P), and my mom did her best to get across the concept of unschooling. The photographer came today (actually he just left), and got shots of Emi with her Japanese learning book, me with my tribal peoples book, and both of us talking with each other. The fact that a 'studying at the kitchen table' shot wasn't even mentioned made me very happy. :-P and now we're left to see how the article turns out.

Lately, unschooling has been in the news a lot, and because of that it seems a lot of unschoolers are talking about about whether or not the exposure is a good thing! I've seen people say that because the mainstream media never properly grasps unschooling, they shouldn't bother. Or, that the extra exposure opens unschoolers up to more hassling from people who don't understand. The message behind both of these things being that unschoolers are better off staying under the radar, not letting themselves be interviewed, and just generally keeping quiet about things.

I see and understand those points (I'm really worried about how the article we're in will turn out!), and I definitely understand if a family simply doesn't want their personal lives laid open and judged by the careless hand of a reporter, but I don't personally agree with them. If we (unschoolers) want to always be considered the "freaks" of the educational world, the ones held up as the far extreme of the spectrum, then laying low is a good thing. Otherwise, I don't think it is! Knowledge and exposure are the first steps to understanding, and I think unschooling really does need more understanding! Yes, every time that an article about unschooling comes out there will be many people who are horrified by the idea, and proceed to call it child abuse, neglect, plain idiocy, etc. etc. etc... However, there are also always a handful of people who are interested, no matter how badly the article is written. A handful of people who decide to Google it themselves, who look into it and realize that this is the educational path they always wanted, but simply never knew it existed! For those people, having unschooling more "out there" is a wonderful thing. And since Emi and I are too old to get hassled by the government (Quebec has pretty shitty homeschooling laws), our family is the perfect one to do it!

Now I'm just left to worry if it'll be absolutely horrible... If it's not too bad, I'll link to it once it's published! :-P



  1. I've expressed similar opinions before about wanting to stay under the radar. But now I tend to agree with the point you make: more exposure means more people who really want or need unschooling get to discover it.

    I hope the article comes out nice! But like you say, at least people will see the word and try Googling it regardless!

  2. Idzie, please stay out there. I am one of the ones Eli is talking about.
    By chance a friend mentioned unschooling as a side comment. It stuck, I started looking and have been reading blogs/lists/tweets almost non-stop since.
    Being able to read accounts/experiences not only from the parents but from "products" of unschooling like you and Eli is so incredibly powerful and exciting.

    So thank you for sharing. Thank you for taking the risk of opening up and putting yourself out there. Thank you.

  3. Will you post a link to the article when it comes out? I would be interested in reading it.

  4. Can you ask to see the article before the reporter publishes it? That's a good way to make sure it's conveying what you want.

  5. In the 70s, the media didn't understand homeschooling, let alone unschooling. Some of us decided to seek out the media on the theory that, even if they didn't get it right (and they seldom did), it would help further our cause. It did. (Hope you'll tweet the link when it comes out!) Oh, and we editors reallllly don't like to be asked to show you the article; they'll say no. ;-)

  6. Hey I'm from Québec too! :) Well, I now live in Ottawa, but I'm originally from Montréal!

    I think that you're right, and I agree with you. Change is slow - it takes time to change the mindset of people, and to change culture. But it's never going to happen if you don't even talk about it. Think about other instances in history where change has taken place: when women were allowed to work, to vote, when unions were created for the work force, when children stopped having to work... Or even when people accepted that the sun was the center of the galaxy! :P It took people who stood out, who talked about it, for it to happen. I'm not advocating violence or strung outburst, or name-calling or any of the sort. But just, talking about it. It's good :)

  7. I hope the article will turn out nicely and if it does and you post it, my mum and I will definitely will be reading it.
    And I agree with you; unschooling needs to be more out in the open, especially for those people who are looking for that specific schooling way. That's actually how we found out about unschooling, my mum came across it on one of her blogs. If that person didn't have the guts and courage to write about it, we would have never come across unschooling. so it's good that unschooling being more talked about, it's better than good. It's great!


  8. Reading this post, I was thinking, "Being under the radar's a bad idea, though ignorant people bite. Why not introduce the media to (general) homeschooling and elaborate on its different types"? Like that, people would get a glimpse of unschooling but give it less animosity. The other, less "radical" methods aren't as overwhelming.

    Is my idea a good start? That, I don't know, but I'm starting to doubt it. My idea might give people more reason to over-worship traditional curricula and other schoolish things. And unschooling, like other homeschooling types, needs its own article.

    (P.S. People new to unschooling should take my advice on the next paragraph. What I learned helped me. I hope it helps others.)

    Actual unschoolers' articles (thank goodness for Wendy Priesnitz and her magazines ;) ) give it the best exposure. Their writing made me more open, since they know how to debate common arguments. Mainstream articles cannot. They aren't as personal, not to mention the ignorance.

    Like with this article

    I think that was the one I read in '07, when first hearing of unschooling after reading TEENAGE LIBERATION HANDBOOK reviews. The article's so-so, and the comments were the "Oh how are they going to learn math IF THEY DRAW ALL DAY"? type. It made me question unschooling. I believed, but my faith wobbled. Why not when being used to mainstream schooling? Gladly, I didn't loose all faith. At least I disliked school enough to find this little baby: It argued against the MSN article.

    Additional stuff: I hunted the MSN article a few minutes ago, just for this discussion. They "graded" unschooling, and the highest percentage (25%) gave it an "F"; "learning? Sounds more like goofing around to me". The lowest (14%) was an "A"; "kids should be free to learn where they want and how they want". I'm amused!

    Sorry I elaborated on ignorance. Temptation compelled me.