Sandra Dodd

A spin-off from the charg. that I “stole” unschooling from native Americans (I didn’t…) and need to credit that (…so I don’t).

I do want to address the idea that going back to one’s vague native roots, somehow, is the very same as unschooling. It has been said before, that before there were schools, everyone unschooled. Sheesh. There have been schools for thousands of years. When school was optional, in the U.S., kids who weren’t in school were farming, herding sheep and cattle, working in factories making thread, cloth, bottles… There hasn’t ever been any leisurely hanging out and doing interesting things with the family before unschooling, I don’t think. And John Holt’s the one who came up with unschooling, as the open-classroom method at home.

It’s an alternative to compulsory schooling, in an age when the legal drop-out age is usually 16 to 18! Requiring people who are old enough to reproduce and make a living to report to school to sit in small, hard desks and prepare for standardized tests is what schools have evolved to do. Parents who keep kids out don’t have the option to have them do full-time work. We’re pretty much required to keep them with us and entertain them much of the time, because that’s the closes match for school.

I know of no ancient or traditional culture ever, anywhere, that has an adult follow kids around and see what they’re interested in and help them learn more. That’s something very recent. :-) And if school were not compulsory, lots of kids could find work, or help their parents full time. Whether that would be voluntary isn’t likely, again, looking at history.

The idea that before there were school everyone unschools turns unschooling to nothing, and makes a fantasy history. I don’t like either one of those.