Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Unschooling, Blogging, & Visions of the Future... Some Clarifications.

There have been some interesting comments on my last unschooling post!  And several things said lead me to want to elaborate on a few things...

Each post I write is fairly self contained.  I usually focus on *one* thing.  It's a single post amongst a much larger body of writing to be found on this blog.  So I do not try and talk about absolutely everything that could be related to anything I'm saying about the main point of the post.  That would lead to very long, rambling, and unpleasant to read posts.  I also don't tend to add disclaimers.  I think that much of the time, disclaimer type comments thrown in are distracting and weaken the impact of a post, so I only add that type of comment when it actually seems to make sense to do so.

Because I didn't mention something in one post, does not mean that I've never thought of it/about it before.  I love hearing from readers and getting a variety of opinions!  But I do feel slightly insulted when people post comments telling me I must have NEVER EVER thought of socioeconomic factors, or that I must have never thought of the fact some families are single-parent.  Really?  I always feel bad when I get comments like that.  So please do bring up aspects that you feel might have been overlooked in a post, I just ask that if it's something very obvious, like the fact that many people have a low income, you assume the best: that I have considered it myself, so don't approach it in a way that suggests I must have never thought of it!

When I say "unschooling should be available to everyone",  I think it's important to note the "should".  I also say that I believe every child is capable of being, and deserves to be, in control of their own education.  What I've never said is that unschooling is currently available for every individual, because it's not.  But instead of saying, as many seem to, that because it's currently not available for every individual unschooling (and freeschooling), isn't the answer (not sure how that logic works), I simply see there being lots of work that needs to be done to make freedom-based education available for all!  I feel like that's what I'm working towards, both with local projects I'm involving myself in (and I should point out that the local people working for educational freedom are very conscious of social factors and very involved in social justice work) and the advocacy for unschooling that I do.  I see myself as part of a movement towards a far more egalitarian future, and since I think education is a very important part of that movement, and something I'm passionate about, that's what I'm focusing on right now.  Note that I say part of a movement towards an egalitarian future.  Because I don't talk much about my other social/political views on this blog, perhaps it's easy for people to forget about them, and maybe think that when I talk about universal unschooling I'm envisioning this exact same way of living, only with unschooling instead of school.  That could not be further from the truth.  I'm talking about entire social transformation, radical decentralization, autonomous communities, etc.  And within that framework, I see unschooling as naturally becoming the default.  And a good way of moving towards a different way of living is building/creating as many positive alternatives to the current way of doing things as we can, I believe.  Showing in as many ways as we can that other realities are possible and attainable.  I see unschooling and freeschooling as part of this.

Also, I feel like I throw in the word "freeschooling" a lot, and I'm not even sure all of my readers know what that is, so I apologize for that, and do plan to write a post on it eventually (the shortest and least complete answer I can give is that freeschooling is basically unschooling in a building, or close to it).  Basically why I like mentioning it is because I see freeschooling as a great answer for families that are unable to stay home with their kids when they're young, and for teens who really prefer to spend their days in a group environment.  I think it would be marvelous if there was a freeschool in every community!

I hope this clears up a few things, clarifies some of what I've said in the past...  I always strive to be as clear in what I write on this blog as I can!


  1. What many of us (like you) are talking about is cultural/social reform (yes, "transformation" is a good word) as much as educational reform. One cannot/will not happen without the other. Seeing life as a series of isolated silos comes, I think, from schooling; in fact, all aspects of life are interrelated. Therefore, transformational change will happen in all aspects. I think you're doing a good job of helping people understand that...but the realization doesn't come easily to most people.

  2. I'm so glad that people like you have the patience to deal with naysayers, I just want to tell them to bite me!
    That anon. comment was ridiculous, I hate when people hide while insulting.

  3. I'm glad you're gonna write about freeschooling. Free schools are awesome.

  4. Yeah, especially as she was criticising you for something tiny like where to put the full stop (period). I have a degree in English and a Master's degree (or will officially in a month) and if someone had asked me if it should go before or after inverted commas, I wouldn't have had a clue what to do. I sometimes get really mixed up between North-American English and British/Irish/South-African/New-Zealand/Australian English practices (the latter also differ between each other, which confuses me even more sometimes).

  5. Ah, well that I can see. There's probably nothing so noble as working towards a better vision of the future. I just got back from a one-week student teaching experience in Chicago. I taught at Emmitt Louis Till Math and Science Academy, a school on the south side of Chicago that is very impoverished and pretty dangerous. Those students need good teachers, they really do. But what you have to say makes me think (mostly in just a philosophical way) if becoming a teacher at this point in time is going to help society and today's children (like those at Emmitt Till) or is it just perpetuating a problem?

  6. As long as there are public schools that are not "free schools", we need great teachers who respect children and care about their freedoms in those schools. Change happens from the ground up. If all the teachers start to give children more freedoms and choices in their classrooms, and that method is proven successful by a myriad of educators, then the top guns will have to give it a second look. If you are called to teach - then TEACH. Just my two cents as a former educator in the public school system in the U.S.