Texas Unschoolers Campout Conference

April 11-15, 2014
with Kirby Dodd

Kirby was living in Austin, with Destiny and Devyn (who had just turned five). We all stayed in one of the cabins at the Yogi Bear park where it was held.

Jihong and her kids were there.

[note to self: Find photos, to create a gallery.]

Original notes:

Follow-up to Texas conference—Notes and Links

April 2014

There will be other things added as I think of them or people ask.

For people who weren't able to be in the talks, or who hear the recordings and might want links, or clarification, this is where I'll put responses to questions, or things I remembered later. :-)

Photos of Kirby and of my other kids, too:

Here's Kirby's family tree in case anyone wants to see whether any of my Texas relatives were any of yours (those with Texas ancestors): /familytree

Some photos of me when I was little: Bio, 50's

Some of the things I talked about:
Choices and the "directions" for that choice-making, at the bottom of the Peaceful Parenting page.
There is a free sound file there.

Someone asked me about sound files. There are several free to download (by me and some others) here:


The list of ways to screw it up

Saturday I spoke on partnerships and choices.

The Importance of Partnership an index page

Sunday morning, Connections

Connections has more.

Sunday afternoon, with Kirby Dodd

Monday morning was responses to questions.

When someone asked what Kirby thought he had missed out on learning, he said dealing with failure (or disappointment? rejection?). He told a story of having applied for a position at work six times (or some number—tell me if that's wrong), and being rejected.

As we were leaving the site, someone came up to tell him that she thought he might be dealing with it better than he would have otherwise, because most people there woud have stopped trying after the second rejections.

In the car on the way home, Kirby said that he was being encouraged to apply by his superiors, and then not interviewing well somehow. Some of the poeple interviewing him didn't know him. The people who did know him wanted him to have the job. Finally he was given a three-month trial when the opening came up, so he ultimately got it without interviewing, by doing well in the position and having it given to him on the basis of performance.

When he and Marty were little, my mother-in-law said, when we were visiting her, "You need to frustrate them." I probably said something bland about natural frustrations and not making that worse, but what I thought was "We bring them to visit you."

That started to come up once—the idea that children are not upset by the things the parents think they might be upset by. Their grandmother was just an occasional oddity in their lives. Her rules and negative comments didn't bother them, because they didn't live there. It wasn't going to go on for years. She didn't hold the keys to choices or even the exit. While Keith and I might have bristled, it was on behalf of Keith-the-boy, or in contrast to the way we had decided to treat them. But she didn't have the power to make them cry or be afraid, because we were there and the boys knew it wasn't their whole, real life, just a little visit to another way.

Monday morning, in the course of a question about differences in unschooling, I said I don't charge to speak. Once in a while I make what other speakers are making (depending on the event). What I failed to say was that I usually speak for transportation and a room. Sometimes food is included. For this event in Texas, Michelle paid my airfare, the cabin I shared with Kirby (and Destiny and Devyn), and Kirby's gasoline. We paid for our own groceries, and contributed to the potluck dinner. As I had mentioned it, I figured I should clarify.

Sometimes when I've been asked what I would take to come and speak, I've asked for two airfares so one of my kids could go.

I paid my own way to Europe and to Australia and back. Internal flights were sometimes covered by organizers of local events (Netherlands, France, Portugal). I stay with other unschooling families, usually. I'll answer other such questions if anyone wonders. :-)


Marginal Unschooling
Criticism of Unschooling
What's the Difference between Relaxed Homeschooling and Unschooling?
Origin of the term "Unschooling"
All Kinds of Homeschooling
That last one is something I wrote in 1998. Kirby was twelve then, and Holly was seven. He knew about "subject areas" by then. I mentioned his suggestion that I write like a choose-your-own-adventure book, and that my website is kind of that way. :-)

Resources for Christian Unschoolers
about "Spare the Rod" not being in the Bible

Glancing over that article "All Kinds of Homeschooling" today, I can point to something that might have answered the Monday-morning question about the basis of some of the differences in current unschooling discussions. I have always looked at learning. Learning was and is my goal—I keep learning, the kids are learning—and one of my principles, and one of my convictions. Children can learn from a rich, supportive environment.

Some other unschoolers say nothing about learning, but they talk about freedom, and being radical, and about shocking the neighbors, and being different. If their kids stay up late it's not because they were learning something or doing something cool, but because they're UNSCHOOLERS! and Unschoolers Have No Bedtime! Form over function. Appearance over substance. Some people recover from a wild phase brought on by bad advice. Some stay there, and their children aren't learning as much as they could have, and the family isn't as peaceful as it could have been if they had been more philosophical and less "wild and free."

The "radical" in radical unschooling is from the roots, to the roots—not the political idea of "radical." Halfway down this page: follow-up on Why Radical Unschooling? HSC presentation by Sandra Dodd on Sunday, August 5, 2012 (the sound file is at Why Radical Unschooling?

Here's an article (2002, me) called "Late Night Learning." It's in Moving a Puddle,, too.

If you want to see the follow-up on some other conferences from the past, for some random input:
Cairns Melbourne Gold Coast
Adelaide London 2009 Leiden 2012
HSC (California) London 2013 Minnesota 2007

2022 update on this: Holly (30 now) said "dope" is heroin these days. I'm old enough that it's marijuana. The next two paragraphs are from 2014. Personal marijuana use is legal in New Mexico, as of 2021. Keith retired. I don't do that sort of thing. Some other relatives of mine do, some don't.
Maybe it was at the coffee-with-Sandra session on Monday (which wasn't recorded) that I made an offhand comment about the difference of kids who had "graduated" from unschooling. I said once they were past compulsory school age, once Holly was 18, I was done with needing to worry about outside observation, and said "you can smoke dope in the house now!" but that Keith said no, he still had an engineering job.

I wanted to clarify a couple of things. Young people don't refer to it as "smoking dope" anyway, and it's not as illegal in New Mexico as it is in Texas. So (part of what I talked about earlier in the event) hearing it from the perspective of where you live, it might have seemed extreme. Not as extreme as if we were in Texas. It's not as legal as it is in Colorado, but not as illegal as Texas. :-)

Stories of the times kids were in trouble (not much trouble, but the mention came up that weekend) are here: Marty and the centaur porn question and Holly and the pudding

"Albuquerque, Saskatoon, Cucamonga" Sandra Dodd's Records of Speaking Engagements