Some Considerations about Unschooling

This first part is Sandra Dodd, transcribed from a recorded 2012 interview by Michelle Barone (linked below):

I think anyone can learn to do this but I think it's work and a lot of people don't want to. And there's nothing I can do about that.

And a lot of people say "Well, anyone can unschool."
I don't think "anyone" can.
I don't think "anyone" should.
I think only the people who really want to should.

If somebody said
anyone can own a Mercedes Benz
anyone can own a yacht
anyone can live in Hawaii,
why would they say things like that?
And unschooling is a big deal like that.

It's a big full-life commitment, and it can be, in a way, expensive if one of the parents quits a job to be with the kids.
It can be as expensive as an expensive private school.

So not everyone can do that and even the people who could financially, and have the house for it, and have the extra car for it or whatever and could do it, maybe can't do it because they can't relax enough or they're not curious enough or they're not fun enough. They don't want to be with their child really directly.

And some parents, they want to be with their child as long as their child will be an ideal child, a poster child, a child by the charts. "Act your age" and that sort of thing.

But part of this building a nest, too, is to learn to see learning directly, to learn to see learning as it happens, right in your thoughts, right in your body, right in your curiosity being fulfilled, you know—satisfied—but also learning to see their child not as an ideal or a model or the memory of what a child should be like from their childhood,
but as a real human being growing right there
as a real human being who's seeing and learning
and learning things that are beyond the parents' production and teaching.

They learn things that we don't know! It's awesome.

The child is thinking right now, and being right here, right now,
and so if the parent doesn't acknowledge that
and doesn't appreciate that
or want to see that,
unschooling won't go very far.

They'll try it for a few years and then they'll do something else, and very often the child wants to go do something else, because it's not working. They're not having fun being with the parent because the parent is being off somewhere else or being critical.

A few parents I've seen just themselves go crazy. They see the whole thing as healing their inner child, as giving them freedom they never had before and so the parents go off and frolic and party and tell the kid "Let's frolic and party!"

← If that recess comment doesn't make sense, read here next: Learning

It's kind of like asking a kid who never went to school, "Don't you miss recess?"
End of that transcript.

I saved it because it has some things that aren't elsewhere on my site. It was definitely spoken and not written. There are some long sentences there, so I broke them up to match the delivery, in some places. A few times I used three phrases or three examples, so I lined them out that way.

That part begins at 36:50 in the sound file on this page, if you want to hear it spoken, or to hear the rest of that interview: 2012 Interview

Pam Sorooshian, from a longer piece on the page about Wonder (

I guess, to be honest, I don't think people who are negative, pessimistic, or cynical are going to make great unschooling parents and that if they know themselves to be that way, they owe it to their kids to work on being more positive, optimistic, and especially at not expressing even minimal scorn. They'll do better by choosing to be more child-like themselves, more filled with wonder at even little ordinary aspects of life.

—Pam Sorooshian