follow-up on Why Radical Unschooling?
HSC presentation by Sandra Dodd
on Sunday, August 5, 2012


Here are my notes and corrections from the first time I listened, April 23, 2013.

I mispronounced "Laricchia": It should be a hard "c" (laRICKeya)
I said it wrong three times, because I hadn't thought to ask before I went there.
Now I know. And Pam has a second book now, too. Books / livingjoyfully.ca/books

That story of Arizona and New Mexico being reversed on maps, I don't know when or how widespread. I know it happened, but "every textbook in the country" is an exaggeration; sorry about that. And it might've been longer ago than the 70's, probably.

The usergroup people used to use before AOL did have topics, because I remember calling one "Heathen Homeschooling" and getting the Christians all cranky (though half or theirs were marked "Christian..."). The topics weren't as set apart as on a message board, though. They were all in one long list, but did have names of topics. People could create topics, but it was all one place, without subgroups.

In the Q&A, about Holly being in trouble, I said we all felt like laughing. I meant the two policemen and I would have liked to have laughed. Holly did NOT feel like laughing. She was deeply ashamed and worried. Keith was in talking to the boys who owned/rented the house, waiting for Holly to get out of the bathroom.

And I said that the cop said "that's chocolate pudding." He just said pudding. Just in case anyone going to make the documentary, if it was pudding, it was clearly chocolate; it was a dark blood-looking smear.

Somewhere below, I've added a passage from someone else's blog post that quotes several things from this presentation. Nice!! [Here's a shortcut.]

I mentioned that the kids would fall asleep with, or near, me and Keith. A few days after the conference, I came across something Holly wrote a couple of years ago. It was a memory of being seven years old and falling asleep in her dad's lap at a campout where people were singing around a fire. (in the box halfway down).

Below is the dump of my notes. I don't "write a speech" and read it. I make an outline with a few quotes and speak.

For anyone who enjoyed thinking about "radical unschooling," or who regrets having missed this talk, here's another chance, in Albuquerque in four months: Always Learning Live Unschooling Symposium, December 27-30, 2012 ...you missed another one, too. (a href="https://allunschooling2012.blogspot.com/">some photos and notes)

Sunday 9am - Why "radical unschooling"? Sunday 9-10:15

Sunday morning, and I grew up Baptist.

John 1:1
In the beginning was The Word.
And the Word was with God
And the Word was God.

I was baptized in the 1960's, and it didn't really confuse me that "The Bird" was also the word.

I had intended to put this on, but there was no internet in the conference center.
It might make more sense when the recording is available...
or not. 🙂

Where I live
Where are we? California. Sacramento.

Near Candelaria and Juan Tabo. Our back gate is behind Fastino's, but the front of the house is on Tahiti Court, near Tahiti and Lexington. Near Sandia Bowl.

New Mexico.

But "New Mexico" would be rude if someone in Albuquerque wanted to know where I lived (or worthless, if I called a taxi, or an ambulance).


E. B. White (or someone) wrote
To foreigners, a Yankee is an American.
To Americans, a Yankee is a Northerner.
To Northerners, a Yankee is an Easterner.
To Easterners, a Yankee is a New Englander.
To New Englanders, a Yankee is a Vermonter.
And in Vermont, a Yankee is somebody who eats pie for breakfast.

Homeschoolers who have a classroom think unschoolers are those who will let their kids do their math on the couch.
Who don't make their kids sit at the table think unschoolers are the ones who don't use a full curriculum
Who don't use a full curriculum think unschoolers don't use any currculum.
Those who don't use any curriculum are unschoolers.

Those who divide the world into academic and non-academic will maintain rules, bedtimes, chores even though they might not be "having lessons" in history, science, math or language arts.

So the history of "radical unschooling" came from someone saying "Well we're not that radical," and me saying "well I am."

radical in surfer lingo has to do with extreme.
Politically, extreme from a grassROOTs movement.
From the roots to the tips
from the roots of hair to the tips
or the roots of a tree to the end of each leaf
or from the roots of a belief to the end of each action.

I think if people divide their lives into academic and non-academic, they're not radical unschoolers.
I think unschooling in the context of a traditional set of rules and parental requirements and expectations will work better than structured school-at-home, but I don't think it will work as well for the developing souls and minds of the children involved.
And those who are not radical unschoolers would look at that and say "What do their souls have to do with unschooling?"
It has to do with philosophy and priority.
What do you believe is the nature of man, and the duty of a parent?
What do you believe hinders a child, or harms the relationship between a parent and a child?

Yesterday, "what is important?"

I think the way I discuss whether one of my near-grown kids can go to a movie or not under the circumstances of the moment is as true and deep a life-building experience as when he asks me what squares and square roots are about. But there will be a hundred times in the future he will be deciding about movies, and maybe half a dozen when he'll need to know about square roots.

But I put learning first.

I think learning about sleep and relationships and movies and board games is just as valuable as learning about science and history, math and grammar, and if I believe furthermore that they are all the same thing, then...

that means that from the root of my beliefs,
from the core of me,
I believe in learning.
I believe that in a rich environment with supportive parents, children will learn.

I believe that if children learn happily, without pressure and without shame, that they will continue to do so for the rest of their lives.

For the parents, deschooling is learning about learning.

For the parents AND the children,
Sorting through things is learning.
Sorting through ideas, and songs, and art, is learning
Comparing things is learning about them.
Contrasting things is learning about them.
Categorizing things is learning about them.
Naming things is learning about them.

Naming radical unschooling is learning about it.

One day in late 2013, looking for the quote about worldproofing one's child, I found a review of this conference, with quotes (at the bottom of the blogpost) from my talk on radical unschooling. Nice! It's by Ann Marie Michaels. (archived copy, and it's quoted below)

From Sandra Dodd’s Radical Unschooling Lecture

(Paraphrase) “I heard a father in the restaurant. His son ate dinner and after dinner, asked for a candy bar. The father said, ‘I don’t think that is a wise choice.’ Then he gave him a lecture about why candy bars are bad for you. What the dad said was more harmful to the child than any candy bar in the world. Because the dad was telling the kid, ‘You’re stupid. You’re not wise. You want something that’s not good for you.”

“In my life I put learning first. I always ask myself, which thing will help them learn more?”

“Movies and board games are just as valuable as science and math and reading. They are all the same thing.”

“You don’t want to have to push them to the information or drag them to the information — you want to give them enough choices so that they want to learn.”

Question: “How do you transition kids from rules and chore lists if the kids are older?”
Answer: “Go gradually. Don’t enforce so much. If they say, ‘I’m tired,’ then say, ‘Go to bed.’ Don’t make a big announcement, ‘We’re now unschooling.’ Just start saying yes more. If kids can only drink one soda a day and have to go to bed at a specific time, they often grow up to have dreams of drinking lots of soda and staying up late — and don’t we want kids to have bigger, loftier dreams than that?”

“Don’t talk to your kids too much about unschooling. It’s like chess. They make one move, you make one move. If they ask, ‘Where do babies come from?’ You say, ‘From inside their moms.’ They might not ask another question for another year. Or they might ask 5 more questions.”

“Sneaking and lying is not inevitable in teens. It’s a direct reaction to so many rules.”

“Instead of childproofing the world, worldproof your child.”

My other HSC 2012 presentations:

Happiness ←This one has a sound file.


Unschooling Very Well