This is most of a page from The Big Book of Unschooling. It's about freedom, in light of respect for others, and of the realities of the world.


If I "give my children freedom" in a situation, it's because I had some leeway or rights myself. I cannot "give them freedom" that I don't have.

Some unschoolers become confused on that, and they begin to frolic in the "freedom" that they are pretty sure some stranger online granted them, and that unschoolers have inalienably from God, bypassing all forms of government and the limitations of wallboard. And so if an unschooling family is up at 3:00 a.m. playing Guitar Hero, they seem mystified that the neighbors have called the landlord.

I'm exaggerating. I hope I'm exaggerating.

If a store owner says not to touch the crystal figures, a parent cannot "give her child the freedom" to touch them anyway. She could buy one and take it out of the store and let her kid touch the heck out of it, but she can't tell a store owner, "You don't understand; we're unschoolers."

So although I might seem to be wandering aimlessly here, freedom should involve a respect for others, and a respect for logic. And a family might not feel they "respect the law," but the laws still do apply to them, no matter how twinkly-eyed they have become in their newfound "freedom."

So if someone is selling you "True Freedom" (or snake oil, or the elixir of the fountain of life), have respect for yourself and your family and take a pass on it.

Meanwhile, parents with a realistic and considered awareness of what their own freedoms are within the laws of the apartment building, housing development, city, county/parish/township, state/province or nation are free to share some of those with their children. We let Holly choose carpet once, but we couldn't have legally required her to pay for it, as she was only eight or nine at the time. We have surprised waiters in many restaurants by turning to our children questioningly when the waiter asks the adults "Would you like to see the dessert menu?" They're even more surprised when the kids say, "No thanks," or "I'm full," while making friendly eye contact with the waiter.


That's on page 220 in the 2009 edition, and on pages 255-256 in the 2019 edition.

photo (a link) by Sandra Dodd:

"Freedom" and unschooling

Freedom to...

Freedom from...

The problem of "Unschool World"