How Unschooling Works

Deschooling is not just the child recovering from school damage. It's also the parents exploring their own school and childhood damage and proactively changing their thinking until the paradigm shift happens.—Robyn Coburn

Robyn expanded on that in October, 2012:
Deschooling works differently for adults than for kids. For kids, it is an automatic process once school and schooly pressures (including from parents) are removed, and they are allowed and supported to make their own choices about how they will spend their time and discover or rediscover their interests. However for parents it is more active and intentional - directing energy to deschooling, not just being out of the school building. It means examining your own choices and reactions, asking
  • "Why did I want to say no to that just then?"
  • "Why does this [kid's activity or interest] make me feel uncomfortable?"
  • "What do I fear? Where is it coming from?"
  • "Whose mental tapes are those running in my head?"
  • "Why do I feel the urge to control my child's experience of thus-and-such today?"
It means consciously examining what happened emotionally in our school years.

My daughter has no deschooling to do, since she never went to school. But I am a recovering valedictorian.I had some unhelpful ideas because of what and how I was rewarded at school. It was not until unschooling that I realized how extremely stressful my school years were, and how extremely focused on external validation I was/am. My husband and I often talk over different insights we have gained as our process unfolds. Discussions on Always Learning often help a lot - even just reading there without posting. Very useful for pinning down the irrational basis of fears.


Don't expect right now to feel smooth. The days spent in school are like living with a broken leg. The days when unschooling runs smoothly are like living with two strong legs. But the deschooling phase between them is like living with a cast while the leg heals. It won't be as bad as school but won't be as smooth as unschooling.—Joyce Fetteroll

More by Robyn Coburn or by Joyce Fetteroll More about deschooling