Lyle Perry

Lyle Perry was a shooting star at's message board (now defunct). He was one of the rare dads who TRULY got unschooling quickly, and on top of that, his writing is clear and bright. He was very active for a while, then changed jobs, had an injury, and went off to live his life more fully. I hope to read more of his writings someday. I'd pay money.
"Unschooling has had an incredibly positive impact on our lives, and not only in an educational aspect, but in everything we do. It's changed the way we live, the way we think, and the way we look at the world in general."

—Lyle Perry

Lyle on Unschooling

Deschooling and Games

Learning from TV, stories from Lyle, two places: Unexpected Learning: Unschoolers and TV (that will go straight to it) and on Dan Vilter's TV page

How will kids help around the house? (Near the bottom, but they're all worth reading.)

How to NOT Screw Up Your Kids

Times Tables and what people might be afraid of

Dealing with Reluctant Spouses

Note from Sandra, 2011: I've corresponded with Lyle over the years. When he was first writing, his wife was very ill and he was taking care of her, their two sons (who were around ten), and working from home, in Illinois. They moved to Utah where the warm surroundings and new vistas helped with his wife's recovery. Unschooling was still enriching all their lives.

The last time I heard from him, they were living in Florida and his boys were young adults.

Someone had written: ~~Unschoolers shouldn't move on from playing, I don't think.~~

Lyle responded:

I agree. Playing is fun. Playing makes a person happy. Why on earth would anyone want to move from something that makes them happy?

Play has been given a bad rap in our society. It's looked upon as a waste of time. It's not productive enough. And anything that isn't productive (in society's eyes) is a waste of life.

It's all bunk. What is more important in life than "producing" happiness? That's another place where school falls short. Schools have become a production machine, and it seems to me that all they're trying to produce is job market fodder. Going out and getting a job cannot and should not be a person's goal in life.

Not long ago my FIL was talking with Dylan, and was asking him what kind of job he wanted when he grew up. Dylan plainly told him that he didn't want a job. FIL was shocked! No job? How would he make any money? Dylan told him that lots of people make money but don't have a job. They have a business. Just like FIL does. Dylan doesn't want to be one of those people that makes money for someone else, he wants to make it for himself.

I wish I could have had that kind of foresight when I was 12. But, I was in school, and school is all about getting a job. Not that having a job is the worst thing in the world, but it's often not the quickest path to happiness, either. Society pushes us to do what we're good at, whether we like it or not. Just because a person can do something doesn't mean they like doing it. If a person could be a great surgeon, but their real passion is in flower arrangement, society tells them that they should be a surgeon, whether they like it or not. It's what they're good at (even though they're good at flower arrangements, too). Surgery is seen as being more important. It could save lives. And it makes more money. Forget that a nice flower arrangement could bring joy to a person's life. Joy is not as important as saving lives. But, what is the point of saving lives if there is no joy?

There's a fine line in there somewhere and I'm just dancing around it here. And now I have to get to work so maybe someone else can say what I'm trying to say, lol.

Or maybe I'm making no sense at all. It wouldn't be the first time. ;-)


Lyle wrote of the forum he was on at the time:

The cool thing about these boards is that everyone here 'sees' what you're asking in a little bit different light, and we all relate to different parts of the question. We're all sensitive to different things because of similar experiences we've had in our own lives, and you end up getting ideas coming from all sides. It helps you look deeper into yourself and the first question always leads to another, and another and another...

When you read a book by an "expert," you only get his/her view on the subject. But here on these boards you get all sorts of perspectives, some you may agree with and some you may not. The best thing here is, it's all real. It's people who are living it and discussing what they've lived.

Definition of Unschooling, by Lyle, discovered years later and added. Some of it:

Unschooling is like the tiny sparks of imagination that arc through a person's mind when they really watch a bird fly for the first time, and the huge lightning bolts of clarity when they realize how that miracle can actually happen, that make unschooling work.

I think one of the most difficult things for people to grasp about unschooling is the time factor that can be involved between connecting those tiny sparks to the huge lightning bolts. It may be days, months, or years between the time a person watches something happen and the time they understand why or how it happened. But the time factor doesn't make the event any less important, and in many cases it's the time factor that makes all the difference. A person understands when they are ready to understand. No time schedule can ever change that.

Collections of others' writing at other voices