Unschooling Discussion List:
Posting Policies and Purpose

We suggest you read the list for a couple of weeks, before posting. Sometimes those who jump in quickly get their feelings hurt by unexpected responses.

UnschoolingDiscussion has been around for several years, with slight name changes and personnel adjustments from time to time.

This page contains or links to policies, a group FAQ and some writings about the purpose and philosophy of the lists.

Here is a link to some reports from readers about how the list has changed their families' lives for the better: TESTIMONIALS (and some there are about the once glorious, now-defunct message boards at unschooling.com)

UnschoolingDiscussion Posting Policies

(a shorter version follows the real version)

New List Members—please do not post anything to the list before you have carefully read these policies. In particular, please notice that we ask you to wait until you've been on the list for a while before you post.

It is our sincere wish to provide a forum for those seeking to deepen their understanding of the unschooling philosophy. The primary purpose of the discussion is to encourage the critical examination of ideas, beliefs and viewpoints.

Questioning of deeply-held ideas and beliefs can be very uncomfortable and sometimes responses to that process can stand in the way of people getting what they need out of the list.

Therefore, we offer the following guidelines to help our members get the most from the list:

1. We suggest that you read for at least a couple of weeks before posting yourself. Spend that time getting a "feel" for the list and its members. This will help you decide if this list is worth your time or whether some other list might be more useful to you in meeting your needs.

2 Expect your beliefs to be challenged. Welcome this as an opportunity to critically examine your own ideas.

3. When differences of opinion arise, stick to discussing ideas, not the person with whom you are disagreeing.

4. If you have a belief or practice that you don't want held up to public examination, don't post it to the list.

5. Before you hit "send," consider whether your post will contribute positively to the unschooling discussion or help people understand unschooling better. For example:

* Posts should add something to the discussion, not just say things like, "Me too," or "Thank you."

* This list is international. State specific questions are best answered elsewhere.... [2018 note: Two links that were here are long gone, sites dissolved and replaced]

* This list's focus is learning through unschooling, not homeschooling politics. Discussions of legislative and legal issues can be found at... [ [not the site I used to have listed, but somewhere... ]

* List members should refrain from meta-discussion, that is, commenting or complaining about a discussion instead of contributing to it. Examples of meta-discussion are: "This list is not very friendly." "That response seemed overly defensive." "Why do my posts get criticized and not others?"

6. Avoid using loaded terminology. For instance, "If you have no TV restrictions why don't your kids just watch TV all day?" will get you more useful responses than, "I don't see how your kids learn anything if all they ever do is sit around like zombies watching unlimited TV."

7. It is not useful to inform the list that you believe someone else is being rude or discourteous; please trust the rest of the list to recognize rudeness for themselves. Saying, "Jane was rude to me," just bogs down the list. It is also a waste of everyone's time when participants attempt to correct or improve other list members' manners. It never works and always disrupts the list. Avoid statements such as: "Jane, here is my suggestion of how you could write more nicely so people wouldn't think you are being rude."

8. Our brains automatically supply a "tone" to posts as we read. It can be helpful to imagine your best friend speaking the words you are reading, in the gentlest, most well-meaning tone you can imagine. It is unacceptable to attack the "tone" of the list or to make generalizations about it. "I've been on many other lists and this one is the rudest I've seen," would be unacceptable. Instead, attempt to create a positive, helpful tone with your own posts by setting the example you hope others will follow.

9. Envision every post and response as a dish at a potluck dinner. You won't love every dish at a potluck any more than you will love every poster's style of help. But a dish/post may be exactly what someone else needs. If you don't like a certain list member's offerings, skip them and leave them for others.

10. Read and write as clearly as you can. In casual conversation we often don't realize how much we rely on others to fill in the gist of our conversation based on what they expect us to say. But here, without body language or inflection, all we have to go on are your words and they should say what you mean. If you say, for example, you "never" do something, it should not mean "almost never."

Our goal is to make the list as useful as possible for those seeking to deepen their understanding of the unschooling philosophy. To do that, all new list members are initially moderated to prevent spamming and catch posts that could disrupt the list. People will also be moderated if they disrupt the usefulness of the list. Potentially disruptive posts will be returned for revision.

If you have questions, please write to:

[email protected]


1. Read for a while before jumping in. If you don't like this list, there are others you might like more.
2. Expect your ideas to be challenged.
3. Discuss ideas, not other people.
4. If you don't want it discussed, don't bring it up.
5. Before you post, make sure you are contributing something useful.
6. Don't use loaded terminology.
7. Don't tell the rest of us that you think so-and-so is being rude and don't bother trying to help them improve their manners.
8. Don't critique the tone of the list. Be positive in your own posts.
9. Ignore what you don't like, it might be something others like a lot.
10. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Try to give full and accurate information.

Note from Sandra:
If this seems like a long list of rules, here's another list to compare it to: one for a Christian Moms board . Read some of that, come back and read this one, and it will seem quite short and tame.

More information on the UnschoolingDiscussion list