If you're an unschooler, or a homeschooler, or interested in alternative learning, and are even *slightly* involved in any of those communities online, you've most likely heard about the Good Morning America segment on unschooling.
Unschooling has been moving steadily into the mainstream awareness in the last few years. I've seen a marked increase in people talking about unschooling since I started paying attention to that type of thing a few years ago. But never have I seen this level of attention.
In case you haven't seen it yet, here is the ridiculously biased, negative, and over-edited segment that appeared on Good Morning America yesterday:
I didn't even finish watching it the first time I tried to. I just kept cringing at how horribly ABC was slanting things, and just imagining the reactions it would get...
Sure enough, if you read just a few of the 830+ comments on this piece, you'll see just what I was afraid of! There are multiple lovely unschoolers commenting positively in the comments section, but there are also a huge amount of ignorant, uninformed, and downright nasty comments. I always attack schools, never people who go to, or went to, school, but even if I did think schooled people were "losers" (discounting the fact I don't think life is about competition, and don't believe you either "win" or "lose", PLUS know a large amount of seriously awesome schooled folk), I can't imagine ever making such vindictive and cruel comments! Why do people feel a need to do that?? Do they feel better in their mediocre life choices if they can believe firmly and with great smugness that there are people out there who chose MUCH worse paths in life than they did... Is it because, if they admitted that there were better, more joyful ways of living life, then much of their own life has been wasted?
Today the Bieglers, the family in the first clip (whom I've met, though don't know well. What I have seen of them has led me to believe that they're intelligent, kind, and caring people!), where given a chance to speak briefly live on Good Morning America, without all the editing. It was MUCH better!! They were articulate, passionate, and just did a great job. I wish they'd been given longer to speak.
Sadly, I'm afraid the feedback from the general public was just as negative.
The first video was on Yahoo homepage (not sure if it still is?). Twitter and blogs are abuzz with talk of this new-fangled thing called "unschooling" (I keep patiently pointing out to people that it's not new at all!). I have never seen this much attention paid to unschooling before.
And I have to say, it's kind of scary.
I've been watching hits come in on my blog from people searching stuff life "unschooling cons", "unschooling negatives", "unschooling sucks"...
Suddenly the masses are being exposed to something that challenges everything they've always taken to be The Way Things Are (and The Way Things Should Be). Many people don't seem to be reacting well.
Yet, at the same time, I think that publicity is important. I liked reading some comments from Wendy Priesnitz on Twitter, one of which reads: "In the 70s, people were scandalized by idea of homeschooling; now [they're] scandalized by unschooling. This will pass. Evolution happens." I really do think that publicity is good. I WANT more people to know about unschooling, I want more people to understand it, I want more people to accept it, and I want more people to do it. So how can I be against publicity, even if it isn't as positive as it could be? At least we're getting the message out there! And for better or for worse, the message is most certainly out there now.
The Bieglers are going to be on the Joy Behar show on CNN tonight, so you might want to tune into that.
Several unschoolers have written great responses to ABC's portrayal of unschoolers, so I want to share those:
Unschooling Stephanopoulos: Good Morning America Fail From Swiss Army Wife
Unschooling: How Good Morning America Got It All Wrongfrom the Huffington Post
Unschooling on GMA from Child's Play
What do you think of the segments? What do you think of the huge amount of publicity unschooling is getting? Does it make you excited to know more people are finding out about it, or scared it just opens things up for stricter government regulations?
P.S. I'm going through old blog posts and comments and putting together an Unschooling FAQs page... I figure I've answered so many questions, I should gather it all in one place to make things easier!