Saturday, December 4, 2010

Grown Unschooler Hannah Thompson: "My unschooling experience has taught me to follow my passion without restraint."

I'm happy to present the first, in what will hopefully be a long series, of interviews with grown unschoolers.  If you're a grown unschooler who'd like to participate, please go here.

And now, meet Hannah Thompson, world traveler and aspiring medical doctor.

When did you become an unschooler
I think at birth, but more seriously about 12 or 13 I was conscious of it.

How long have you unschooled/did you unschool?
All of my life

How old are you now?  

If your parents chose unschooling, do you know how/why they made that decision?
The quality of education was going down at my older brothers private school, and because my mother wanted to spend more time with us. 

What do you think the best thing about unschooling is? 
It’s limitless possibilities

What do you think the worst (or most difficult) thing about unschooling is?
Getting the rest of the world to accept that the work done as an unschooler is just as valuable if not more so than those raised in a brick and mortar system. 

Did you decide to go/are you going to college or university?  If so, could you talk a bit about that experience?
I did, I want to pursue a career as an M.D and to do so I have found that a college education is a must. I have applied to UT at Austin and am awaiting reply. There is a lot of administrative work involved as an unschooler, trying to appear credible to a university, but not so much that it’s impossible. 

Are you currently earning money in any way? 

What jobs/ways of earning money do you, and have you, had?
I work as a home health aid for an elderly man and as a nighttime nanny.

Have you found work that's fulfilling and enjoyable?
Yes, and applicable to my future career.

Have you found that unschooling has had an impact on how hard or easy it is to get jobs or earn money?
It’s much easier being unschooled to find a job than if I was attending school. One reason is that with unschooling you actually have time to have a job, and I’ve found that my interpersonal skills which I attribute to unschooling, have made me very marketable in the jobs that I’m working.

Do you feel that unschooling has had an impact on what methods of earning money or jobs you're drawn to?
In a way. The nanny job not so much, but as a health aid I am following my chosen field of medicine and getting a lot of on the job experience that is invaluable. I suppose it’s made me think outside of flipping burgers to make money.

What impact do you feel unschooling has had on your life?
My unschooling experience has taught me to follow my passion without restraint. The freedom of this type of education has given me the time to explore interests and form concrete ideas about what I want to achieve.

If you could go back in time, is there anything about your learning/educational journey that you'd change? 
I would have recorded more of the things I did over the years, so creating a transcript would have been a bit easier.

If you were to have children, would you choose to unschool them?  

What advice would you give to teens looking to leave high school? 
 Consider your options, carefully think of the reasons why you want to leave, and then break into a fast run.

What advice would you give to someone looking to skip, or to drop out of, college or university?
Not everyone or career is suited for college, if what you want can be achieved without it, and you think you can handle that on your own, then of course do what you want.

What advice would you give to unschooling parents (or parents looking into unschooling)?
Unschooling is about helping your child grow and expand their horizons, institutionalized schooling is about prolonging childhood indefinitely, so be your child’s facilitator, get involved with them, find opportunities for them, and let them pursue their own. Just let them grow. 

Is there anything else you'd like to talk about or add?
I have traveled to foreign countries, gained language skills, studied a wide range of material, held a job, created opportunities for myself, and pursued knowledge for the sake of knowledge. All these things and more were my high school curriculum, they helped shape who I am, what I believe, and demonstrate my abilities and intelligence. I may not have a 4.0 average on a ready-made high school transcript, but I also haven’t been practicing for the real world, I’ve been living it.


  1. Thank you Hannah and Idzie for putting this together. Hannah I wish you well in getting your application put through! When I think about such a passionate and intelligent person pursuing a medical career I get excited about the future of medicine.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to do this. I very much enjoyed reading it and look forward to other interviews!

  3. Lovely interview, thank you both for doing this.

  4. I want to wish Hannah good luck, UT Austin is a great school and I really enjoyed my time there hope you are able to get in and enjoy it yourself, although I chose a different route to finish my educational process. Thanks for the interview it was very helpful.

  5. What exactly do you mean "break into a run?"

    1. That is an idiom, meaning to "start to run." A similar idiom would be "hit the ground running" or "go full speed" or "hit the throttle."

  6. thank you, Idzie & Hannah, for this interview. it has certainly been most helpful!

  7. Love the interview idea, even though I thought it was mine and am still slightly bitter to discover someone already doing it. At least that someone is super cool. :)

    And Hannah, nicely said.

  8. Thank you for this post. As a fairly new homeschooler (almost at our one year anniversary) I am very interested in the viewpoints of adults and young adults who have been homeschooled/unschooled. I look forward to more posts!