Commentary on UnschoolingDiscussion List

I have really found this list to be eye-opening and inspiring.

Joyce, one of the listowners, had written
We suggest that people read the list for a couple of weeks to protect themselves from getting hurt. Too many people assume lists are for support and get upset by replies that examine their beliefs and practices.
A reader responded:
I am totally up for replies that examine beliefs and practices, otherwise it would be pointless for me. I have been reading the list and really appreciate that participants give a heartfelt response and not something wishy washy. I have certainly had my own reactions to comments; I'm glad that I do. Other comments pass by. I suppose I'm welcome to use my voice too. I like that. There are few places in my world that welcome this. It gives me support to read people being real and to read responses that I resonate with. At some point, I may feel hurt, but that's ok. I'd like to say "bring it on," but I am not that tough. Bring it on anyway.


Betsy, one of the moderators, wrote the following in a discussion of World of Warcraft, being one of several moms who have played it with their kids and discovered how much learning is there. The first quote was Diana/hahamommy, then Betsy's response:

**This is *his* and he's happy to share, not only with me, but with the countless strangers he encounters and saves/helps/heals/donates to on a daily basis. **


Yeah, my main character is a paladin, so when I walk past people I often cast a Blessing on them and make them briefly stronger or smarter or whatever. It's a virtual form of mitzvah. It helps them play better in the game, so I get the happy feeling of being helpful.

Circling back to the topic...
This list has been a blessing in MY life, helping me be stronger in my convictions and smarter about my choices as well as more flexible in dealing with conflict (and even sweeter in dealing with my role as a food and beverage purveyor for my family).

I'm not high enough level in the game to have and know the names of all of the blessings, but this list could be said to give a "blessing of enlightenment" or a "blessing of compassion" (for parents). For our kids, we could name it a "blessing of freedom" or "self-determination.". (That fits with the Kwanza season, no?)

Thanks for sharing your blessings of enlightenment and freedom with me!


This list is an incredibly valuable resource for parents who want to do things in a different way than the perceived "norm". There are people on this list who have consciously chosen to take a different path when it comes to life, parenting, and living on this planet.

I have CHOSEN to treat my children with respect and kindness. They do not have to EARN it, they simply have to BE. I am one of the many on this list who can say that it works. No IF, ANDS, or BUTS.

I'm here to tell you that what is talked about here works. It may seem counterintuitive by what the 'experts' teach, but it works. For the children, and for me.

You all have made a *real* difference in the lives of my children—all seven of them—and, while I am still learning, and changing, and growing, I'm hopefully making a difference in theirs.

Thank you so much for being here, and thank you for being different... the world needs more people like you all.

I like being asked to rethink what I thought because too many times it seems like I only think of one or two ideas, then when I rethink it, I find those are just a few options and for some reason the others didn't even seem like options. I'm still wondering why that is. It seems to be a conditioned response, but it's hard to uncondition yourself when you don't even know how you are limited...

So this morning we are going into Dublin to the natural history museum on the train (and just getting the groceries on the way) and taking our time - THANK YOU Sandra and all you lovely unschoolers for your commitment to your children and your reminder to me to commit to unschooling, you enabled me to rediscover my dd and i'm so relieved that she's still there - amazing!

I'm going to keep coming back for suggestions to this lovely group!

            This was on the Always Learning list, but involved suggestions from regulars of both.

Thanks for all the insight!!!

What an excellent tool this group is in our Unschooling path. Just with posting this my family and I have learned so much more about ourselves and how to support each other in this life.

An important realization for me is yes this little person needs help with this before during and after AND so does everyone else in the house. I can tend to get overly focused on the kids and their needs and lose sight of the family as a whole.

Hello, I have been a member for 6 weeks, maybe, and I have learned so much from this list/group. I joined a couple others but this group has been more helpful than anything else.

. . . .
[W]e ended up unschooling and now in the last few months we have started on the path with radical unschooling. It changed our life for the better when I took her out of school, but making the committment to be a radical unschooling family has changed things more than I ever imagined. My husband sees the difference too and is amazed.

Thank you Sandra and all you wonderful wise Unschoolers for turning my world upside down and then right-side up again! My two beautiful and joyful Unschooled boys thank you as well!

I just wanted to take a minute, also, to tell you how much I have appreciated the Unschooling list, and how much it really changed my life and the life of my kids. I used to be a mom who (many years ago) spanked, grounded, and did all that other stuff many "experts" in the homeschooling world proposed would help raise good kids. I'm so happy I finally figured out a better way, and I have you, Pam, and Joyce (and Ren!) to thank for it. I, in turn, have tried to pass these ideas and principles on to other people in my life, at homeschool meetings, 4H, foster parent classes, Church, etc.

It's actually been years since I've spanked, but only a few years (since joining the list) that I've learned to REALLY listen to my kids and be a much more mindful parent. Only a few years since I began saying "Yes" a lot more. My kids are happy, funny, outgoing, talented, friendly and especially thoughtful and kind to others.

I think you were right, Sandra, when you said, "You seem to be writing about fear, guilt, and how your mother-in-law feels more than about how your child feels."

My first feelings after I read it were 'defensiveness' and 'denial', but after sitting with it a few days, I think it's 'cause you hit on some truth.

I, too, find the parenting wisdom here to be.. well, to be just so darned sensible and practical! And loving in the true sense of the word.)

Thanks for your wise words and advice.... I'm amazed at not only the change in me but also how the little changes in our family form random, occasional pockets of warmth and peace. Hopefully, those little pockets will get larger and more frequent until we are fairly awash in it!

This list, more than any other that I have ever been on, continues to inspire me to be a better mother every day. Being a better mother is the most important aspect of my life. Thank you, LIST!

I just wanted to tell you "Thank you!" I've been around on the unschooling lists off and on for a few years now.... While I haven't always agreed with things you've had to say, things that you have said to me at times have really been helpful to me, although not always seeming to be so in the first place. It took me awhile to realize that your perspective as an outsider gave you a look at things I posted about myself and my family that was better than I could see as I was living it. You gave me many, many things to think about not just for unschooling but also in regards to parenting. I've been among those who have accused some radical unschoolers as being "unparenters" but time has proven that it's not unparenting but rather the intensely hands-on sort of parenting I have always wanted to give my children but have had no skills to do so with.

I have learned so much from you in your online conversations and stories about you and your family....and it has really expanded my world in such a good way.

I find myself googling things more and wanting to know more about EVERYTHING!

I must admit at first, a few years back,..I was shocked at some of your replies...hehehe and would probably feel "intimated" if I ever met you in person. But NOW..older and wiser and used to your emails on list ...I LOVE to hear what you have to say ... and I realize that you are 'REAL' and tell it like it is and you get a person to really think!

I'm a lurker for the most part.. but you all have a made such a difference in my family and in our unschooling life.. just want to say thanks to everyone....esp to Joyce, Sandra, Pam & Ren for helping me to think and examine...even when it's hurt a bit..... yup.. it's been good.....even when I've passed thru some tight spots. I'm involved in a rather closed-minded hm'school group at the moment, because it's the only group around and my 11 yo dd really craves company..dang it..ha.. I've sent links to this group, to Joyce and Sandra's sites.. wondering what they will do with that... .. and if they'll still let us hang out....but I am finding it harder and harder to let opportunities pass me by these days... guess I'm getting old enough to be brave..... thanks again...

This forum has been so great for me to ---delve into many ideas which I held dear and had not fully considered the ramifications of. These very same ladies discussing this with you are still so excited about unschooling. I came on board five years ago. And most of them had been at it for a lot longer than five years when I came on. As I looked around on other boards, most people were not happy so much as longsuffering about homeschooling their kids. They focused on the struggles they have with their kids. Here, it's different. People talk about struggling not with the kids they're unschooling, but with the ideas that stand in the way of a clear understanding and application of unschooling principles, which turns out not be about homeschooling but a way of life, after all. And in the same breath, they talk about how wonderful and fun their kids are. I just made that my goal. To enjoy my child.

And someone responded:
I really like this description. As a long time subscriber to this list, I sometimes wonder if others see it the way I do - I'm glad you do :)

Older comments and more on the Unschooling Discussion List