Ren Allen, on Unschooling America, in 2008

I had the following conversation with a homesteading blogger in 2008. It was in response to a blog post I won't bore you with but here is the transcript of the relevant parts:


Ren said...
haha....I said "Warren Buffet" in my head at first and then I started thinking that I don't really care for either of them.

I just read this, so I'll think about my five. I'm wanting to do a rant about an unschooler that is starting a "national unschooling organization" and as the leader of such a group she is going to "certify leaders" in areas of the country, like LLL. Argh. I'm so disgusted by all of that I can't think right now.

Anyhoo, as soon as my harsh judgements of her calm down I will try to do the meme.;)
3/10/2008 1:28 PM

CG said...
oh, PLEASE let me join you in the harsh judgments! LOL! I can't hardly think of anything more ridiculous. Well, I can think of a hundred other ridiculous certifications. However, I don't object to ANY that aren't government granted or required. I mean, I object to them, but people can buy into it if they want. With the government controlling things such as "organic" and "midwifery", well, that's as dangerous as them controlling "vine ripe tomato" and, well, everything else.
3/10/2008 8:16 PM

Chile said...
Speaking of ripe tomatoes, I harvested my first one off the previously assumed dead and frozen vine. :) PS: I'm a counter, too. And a wee bit judgmental.
3/11/2008 3:17 PM

Ren said...
Well, it's definitely not governmentally run. Here's the addy if you want to get your knickers in a twist with me:
Note from Sandra: This is the capture nearest the date
but some of the info was in a graphic and so doesn't show.

I think people believe that being used by the media somehow gives you credibility. That idea makes me cringe.

Unschoolers don't need some damn organization with a leader who gives them a reading list and approves "leaders". We've been doing it just fine without all the organization and in many ways I feel groups like that will be the undoing unschooling. The heart of unschooling is about doing it for yourself.

People should read more Holt and quit trying to organize a movement that needs to remain grassroots and free.
3/12/2008 9:09 AM

CG said...
Well, my .02 Ren (and I'm not visiting the url!) is that people want to BE SOMEBODY, and want to be leaders, and so organize something TO lead. People need to live their lives without being certified for them! I have so many divergent thoughts on this subject -- like how people always think it is their own vision that will get forced on other people instead of everyone getting to be THEMSELVES and so what if we disagree we can still be friends and actually learn from each other in the bargain. Anyway.

Chile, congrats on the tomato! One of the lessons of the garden is to never give up hope! Of course, the other side of that is figuring out when to dig it under and start over. A garden covers every possible life lesson.

certifiably CG!
3/12/2008 12:28 PM


The following email was prompted by Dayna finding the above comments somehow, even though they were at a homestead blog. She wrote to me, in late 2008, after I had managed to avoid her for over a year:

From: "Dayna Martin"
To: [email protected]
Sent: Monday, November 10, 2008 4:17:24 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
Subject: Hi From Dayna

Hi Ren, I just wanted to email to talk to you about a few things. I've wanted to for a couple weeks now, but went back and forth as to whether I should or not.

I know we really don't know each other very well, only through our own online presence mostly. It was nice to meet you in person last year at the NUC.

I wanted to tell you that I know this post was a long time ago, but it hurt me because so many rumors were flying around about what Unschooling United actually was. I wanted to open the lines of communication, if you ever had questions for me about it, so you can hear from me, rather from others, what my goals were with starting the group. If not, that's cool too.

The url of that blogpost was here, but it's unrelated to unschooling so I removed it. —Sandra
I'm not upset about it, because I know that your feelings weren't reflective of my true intentions.... just what others thought the group was going to be. There was a lot of misunderstandings, which were unfortunate, but I know it just happens when something new is presented. I guess I didn't do a very good job at explaining things, but whatever... it's behind me now.

One other thing that I wanted to touch on was what you wrote about me gaining credibility by being used by the media. I guess that sometimes happens in our culture, and it wasn't something I planned on. I was asked to speak at a few conferences recently and that was a result from my writing on my yahoo group and being out in the media and YouTube vids ect from what the conference organizers told me. Dr. Phil has been only a small part of my Unschooling advocacy/journey.

I want you to know that you are really someone I connect with because of the commonality in our lives of being Unschooling Advocates having been in the media and enjoying much of the same music etc.

I definitely don't feel like I was used by the media, but I do feel like I used them to an extent. I feel that only positive has come out of us being on the show 2 years ago. (My only regret is that when I credited 3 people on the clips after I quoted them on the show, they cut out the names that I credited (Sandra, Joyce and Barb Lamping) "because of liability" in their words. This was a bummer, but other than that, I was happy with the experience. So was my family.

Anyway, I guess I just wanted to reach out and say hello. My friends mean a lot to me. So does communication. After meeting you and hearing your sweet voice and your inspiring words and then adding eachother as friends on RUN Network and Facebook, I was just a little confused as to our beginning friendship once I read your words. It's okay if you just aren't into me as a friend, I can handle it. I did feel driven to email however, and connect and share with you how I felt. If you ever have questions or want to talk just let me know.

I was thinking how cool it would be if you could be a presenter on the 2011 Unschooling Cruise out of Florida along with Jan Hunt and a few others, but before I went forward I just needed to go back a bit and find out what you felt about me as a person. Could we ever talk so I could clear up any issues or misunderstandings you may if any?

I think you are an amazing advocate and woman. I am sorry if I ever did anything to upset you. If you got to know me, I would hope you could open your heart for a friendship. If not, I respect that.

Best wishes to you and your family, Dayna Martin

From: Ren
To: Dayna Martin
Sent: Monday, November 10, 2008 5:42 PM
Subject: Re: Hi From Dayna

I need to sit and ponder all that you wrote so that I can answer clearly and without ego.:) So I'm not going to dissect it all right now but I wanted you to know that I appreciate you reaching out. I have HUGE issues with the direction much of the unschooling movement is going, including making organizations such as yours which I think could be the downfall of the grassroots momentum it has always carried. It's not personal, it's philosophical.

I have issues with an unschooling "organization". I have issues with "certifying" people. There's so much gained by keeping things local and in-person and NOT trying to organize it. I get the feeling from meeting you briefly that you are a very loving, kind person with good intentions.

People are going to do what they will with unschooling, with the ideas, with the movement (if it can be called such) and with their own advocacy. Whether I agree or not, or anyone else agrees and every person should definitely follow the beat of their own drum. I have issues with many of the ways that your organization got it's start amongst other things. But you already knew that.

I will respond more in detail later....


From: "Dayna Martin"
To: "Ren"
Sent: Monday, November 10, 2008 5:59:05 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
Subject: Re: Hi From Dayna

"There were so many people I have great respect for who tried to give input about the initial idea but it seems that many of these people (most of whom have raised children and many, many years of experience) were ignored."

I need you to know that I was only in contact with Anne Ohman and Pam Genant about this group. I also got some great input from Pam S., which I am implementing. She was very encouraging.

NOTE TO SELF: bring that exchange between Pam and Dayna,
where (if I remember correctly)
Pam suggested Dayna spend time with her kids
rather than create a national organization.

I implemented almost everything I heard from anyone who offered input.
There is no certification process at all. There was an application initially, but I did away with that per recommendation of some of the people you must be referring to. There is no required reading also..... just recommended, per suggestion of Pam Genant. I loved her ideas. She just began to get really mean to me and insulting after a while. I couldn't understand why. It hurt me and was confusing.

I do have good intentions and I guess I don't understand the perspective you have about it, but would be really willing to listen. I want to understand and I want to know what your fears are and what you mean about it not being grassroots anymore. I want to "get" it Ren.. I really do.

I did not ignore anyone. I was only contacted by 2 people about it Anne and and totally appreciated their input.

Unschooling United it a unique idea, but it isn't organizing Unschooling (from my perspective, but I want to feel yours)... It is offering in person parent to parent support, which I had so many people tell me was needed, so I offered where I have the LLL experience. This life is an extension of AP to me.... Anyway, I really want to hear everyone and understand.

I welcome your input.

Thanks for writing back.
~Warmly, Dayna

From: Ren
To: Dayna Martin
Sent: Thursday, November 20, 2008 11:56 PM
Subject: Sorry it took me so long

I'm not trying to ignore you....sorry!
Between having an unschooling family moving here, other company, breaking a rib and work, I just haven't had much time for being online lately.

I still don't have much time tonight but wanted to ask about a couple things.

You wrote:
"I do not certify people. Any RUers can become a Facilitators. " But your website says:
Unschooling United Facilitators are experienced Unschooling parents practicing respectful, peaceful parenting who are accredited by Unschooling United to help other parents on their journey to Unschooling.

The word "accredited" implies some kind of certification process or approval.
It makes your website deceiving at the least. It's worrisome to me that any organization would seek to claim "accredited" anything in regards to unschooling facilitators. I am all for a networking organization, but people shouldn't have to pay money to join something in order to find people that have been doing this work for free for many,many years already.

I have no problem with people charging coaching fees though...I do it occasionally myself. There is no way for me to help everyone that asks for assistance anymore, without charging something for it. Though I do give free assistance on my list, in-person, through organized events (that I make zero money at) and via email quite often. Asking for personal coaching implies more one-one-one attention and time and I think that can be worth something.

But to join an organization first, to get "free" coaching seems strange to me. Especially when the head of the organization charges hefty fees for coaching. The last post I saw from you about the coaching issue is that you don't feel right charging people for it. So it seems that perhaps this whole thing was started up without a clear vision of what you wanted to accomplish or offer? I dunno.

Those are the issues I don't understand, nor do I need to. You don't owe me an explanation...this is YOUR vision and whether I support or agree doesn't affect a single thing. Since you asked, I am sharing the concerns I have had from the beginning.

In short I have concerns about

~"accrediting" or certifying facilitators...especially if the claim is being made but nothing is done to ensure that. I think "accrediting" anyone would be the antithesis if what unschooling is about anyway.
~charging high coaching fees as the head of an organization that asks it's facilitators to offer free help.
~charging fees for people to get access to information that is free if people just search. The Altlearn network has been uniting unschoolers worldwide for a long time now. Other sites offer free networking and access to that information.

That's it in a nutshell. I've heard the same concerns from many other people. The bottom line is that if YOU feel good about what you're doing then that's what matters. This has never been anything personal, as I said before, it's a philosophical difference. I have philosophical differences with some of my closest friends...if that makes you feel any better.:)



From: "Dayna Martin"
To: "Ren"
Sent: Friday, November 21, 2008 9:46:36 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
Subject: Re: Sorry it took me so long

Hey Ren , My web designer removed the accredited wording and I had her remove my coaching page from my Unschooling America site also. You are so right that I shouldn't charge if the other facilitators aren't. I feel so free and good about your words or wisdom.

I just wanted you to know that I am thankful for your words and have really heard them and understood. I have never felt right about charging for Unschool advice and info... I feel so great removing it from my site...

Much Love and thanks..

And that is that. In times since, more than on person has come to me to let me know that she was telling them we were "good friends" until "Sandra Dodd turned her against me" which is more than amusing since I warned everyone about her from her very early posts on the Shine list. To clarify, I met her in real life one time very briefly. We had that email exchange and I have never spoken to her, written her or had ANY contact with her of any kind since then.

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BETTER than reading about Dayna, is to read what Ren has written about unschooling!
Ren Allen on Unschooling