Just a little about


(not much)

from an Opinion piece from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.com

Any parent who thinks school is more about education than socialization has forgotten what it was like to walk among the herd.

The herd can infect your child with more than measles and mononucleosis. Every morning, the parent prays:

I hope my children are not ridiculed, humiliated, ostracized or excluded, subject to the expression of hatred, discrimination or prejudice. I hope my children do not satisfy their need to belong by joining a cult, a gang, getting 15 piercings and tattoos or becoming sexually active with irresponsible partners and entangled in an unwanted pregnancy.

I hope my children do not attempt to prove their courage by stealing, trying drugs, committing violence or vandalism, or by associating with children involved in these activities. And if by chance they do, I hope they do not turn into liars to prevent me from knowing the truth about the conflicts they are facing.


Robert A. Wagner,
educator and former public school teacher

In a discussion on her own facebook page, in which a mother of schoolkids defended her choice and another unschooler expressed a dislike of school, Karen James wrote:
It works well for some people though, [name]. Home can be all of those things you've listed and more. If home can't be better than school, then kids are better in school. I really believe that.

I also believe that school works well when it works well, which is to say it does work well for some percentage of kids. Not all. Maybe not most. It's not designed well for a variety of personalities and learning styles. And, unfortunately parents come to think their children are failing, when it's really the structure of the program that fails to meet the child's needs. I think that's an artifact of their own schooling...where it can't be the program that's failing, it must be the individual.

Still, I have a great deal of respect for parents who want the best for their kids and feel that school best serves their needs. Their motivation comes from the same place mine does. I would still like to encourage parents to ease up on their fears and criticisms of the things their kids love at home, maybe even especially if their kids are in school, because their kids are already exposed to a good dose of control already. **

In 2015, Karen wrote a bit more:
I did look around at schools when Ethan was kindergarten age. I went to four--one private, one in our neighbourhood, one in a neighbourhood where more children of colour lived, and a Waldorf school. In every school I visited, controlling the population in some way that benefitted the agenda of the school trumped learning. In the more academic focussed schools, the control was employed to produce children who performed well on tests. In the school with a more diverse population, the control was used to get through the day without too many incidents. In the Waldorf school, control was used for indoctrination.

Children learn best when they feel safe and have access to a world of things that captivate their imagination. I saw very little of either in any of the environments I visited. The idea of safety was compromised by the belief that children would go wild without an imposed hierarchy of power, and established, unquestionable rules of conduct. What captivated the imagination was at the mercy of what was on the agenda for learning that day. If it did delight the mind and stimulate the curiosity of the student, then great. But if not, too bad. One was forced to learn it anyway. What I saw was best attempts to get the children from point A to point B, with point A and B not being defined by the learner—the child him/herself—but rather by adults superficially attached to that child's future.

I have many friends who have children in school. I have a cousin who is a lovely person and a retired teacher. While I respect their choices, as adults, I do not believe our education system as it stands now has been designed with the best interest of the children in mind. In some, yes. Some children thrive in school. That's wonderful and school can be a really good fit for their learning in these instances. But in most, I think, this is not the case, and the need to control children (in whatever form it takes) highlights this reality, in my opinion.

A mom had written:
as a Buddhist - I have struggled with the aggression my 4 yr old son has displayed, after attending school for a year
Part of my response:
Every day he's away from school, that will fade.
But just as with any scab, scratching it and rubbing dirt in it isn't as good as letting it heal. So when school is no longer a part of the child's life, it's good to turn away from the school and let it fade into the distant past. Repeating and reciting and retelling the school problem keeps it alive and present.

Joyce Fetteroll, responding to someone who was comparing her young teen to her schooled friends:
Albert Einstein — "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."

Stop judging your daughter by what she can't do. Stop looking at some idealized image of who you imagine your daughter could be. Look at who she is.

I think you may be looking for proof that you're doing okay for their futures. But unschooling can't provide that proof. And the thing is schools can't provide that either. Because parents feel powerless and inadequate to prepare their kids for the future, they're more than willing to trust the masses who put their trust in schools who claim they can do the preparation for parents. Parents are deluding themselves. They look at the kids who succeed as proof that schools work. They look at the kids who fail as indications of failure of the kids and parents.

But without a control group, schools have no foundation to claim credit for kids who succeed.

Have you read Products of Education (SandraDodd/joyce/products)

Why You Can't Let Go (SandraDodd/joyce/talk)

Unschooled kids learn to read just fine without the instruction educators are absolutely convinced is not only necessary but must begin even earlier. Kids absorb and build an understanding of math concepts by playing video games.

Kids absorb an entire language just by living life! But rather than realizing the brain is onto something, it's treated as an anomaly. Instead educators rely on memorization. Which mostly our brains don't do all that well. Which is why school is so hard and takes so long. The thing is we can't even use memorized information all that well. But schools don't -- can't really -- test for understanding. They test for memorization and *hope* that it represents understanding.

Do you have an unschooling list in your state? Can you talk to other unschoolers and how they handle the evaluations? Sandra has a list compiled. The US is down at the bottom:

Two directions, about school (both Sandra)

My favorite definition of unschooling is providing an environment in which learning can flourish. School prescribes what should be learned, and in what order. Then they build an assembly line, and put all the students on it. They reward those who get through easily, and punish others. School at home is like an assembly line for one.

Unschooling is a way to homeschool, but without the schoolishness. Things can be learned in whatever order they come along, and the learner will eventually connect all the information he has gathered, but maybe not in the same way or in the same order as the assembly line would have had him do it."

(I can't find where I said or wrote that, but someone saved it and quoted it on fb in 2014.)

The problem with villifying school, insulting school, ranting on about how horrible school is, is that it isn't looking at your child where your child is. If your child isn't in school, look away from school.

The problem with seeing school as disgusting and horrible is that it can keep a parent from seeking to be a really excellent unschooling parent. Trying to see all the best possibilities of school and doing better than THAT is a more noble goal than declaring "school sucks" and then clearing that teeny hurdle.

(link to second quote)

Unschoolers on School:

School can break family bonds

What about free school / democratic school / alternative school?

Four-year-olds Discuss School

About George Washington...

What Can I Say to Doubters and Critics? (short, but contributions are welcome)

Textbooks/Math (Joyce)

Public School on Your Own Terms

Seeing Unschooling

How to Screw it Up

Getting it ("I knew that. Now I know that.")