Who can Unschool?

In the 1990s, I used to say we should have a quiz, a questionnaire, to eliminate those who can't unschool or who don't really want to. Others said no, I should NOT do that. Okay, ALL the others said so, but the thought never left me, and the factors that prevent unschooling kept popping up.

The main thing is that someone will need to really WANT to do it, and without understanding it a bit, no one knows whether it's a desirable, doable thing or not. Me, once:

If none of this sounds sensible or doable to you, don't do it. There's nothing magic. There are just principles and the avoidance of other generations' problems. We might be no more right than our parents were, but I'll tell you this: My mom didn't think too hard about what she was doing and I've done a lot of thinking and reading. I might be wrong, but I'm not just following along.

Read all you can find, think about what you've experienced and what you see around you, and who you think is closest to useful information, and make your own decisions. There's no more that can be done.

Not everyone can unschool. It's not as easy as it looks. It's not anyone's "right" and it might not be doable at all for many families.
(me/Sandra, out there, somewhere)

No one has to unschool. If someone decides they want to do it, and if they can do it, then they continue to make choices about how to do the things involved in making a rich unschooling life for their kids to grow up in.
(Sandra, again, on Always Learning, long ago)

You can read more at a link below, but in a longer discussion, I had written:

...not everyone can unschool. It's not as easy as it looks. It's not anyone's "right" and it might not be doable at all for many families.
Someone asked questions, then:
This says to me that when considering what one "has-to" do is contingent on important contextual issues which I am trying to sort out. Should parents be well educated in order to unschool? It seems that many are. Should there be a certain level of wealth present? What might that be? Is the number of children a factor? Stability of the marriage? What if these factors change? It can be quite burdensome to talk about ideals without contextual factors. What does it take to build a rich life?
Clare Horsley responded:
My thoughts in response to the above questions:

1. Parents do not need to be "well-educated" to unschool successfully, but they do need the ability to seek out and absorb the philosophical underpinnings of unschooling, namely trust in their kids' ability to learn, respect for their children's 'personhood', and being mindfully and lovingly present so they can support their children's explorations of the world. They need to set an example of life-long learning.

2. Lack of money does not preclude unschooling. The wealthiest family I know has their son in a very expensive private school. Most of the unschoolers in my local group are surviving on one working-class income. They shop in op-shops, have weekly food budgets, buy clothes at markets, all of which are valuable unschooling experiences. They don't whinge about lack of money because they have actively chosen an unschooling life. (That's not to say that they don't discuss money, but rather that the discussion is not self-pitying.)

3. A prominent family in local unschooling circles here has 6 kids, ranging in age from 21 to 7. They seem to be unschooling very happily. I, with my 2 kids, am unschooling very happily. I think the parents' attitude, rather than the number of children, is key in determining how unschooling will flow.

4. Coming from a broken home myself, it is incredibly clear to me that a strong and loving relationship between parents is a key element in the fabric of an unschooling life. It is not essential, but I do think it provides optimal conditions for unschooling to thrive. In fact, I have found the ideas on relationships gleaned from this list to be just as useful in my daily life as the ideas about children.

5. What it takes to build a rich life is you ... your time, energy, imagination, openness, passion, and optimism.

Claire (original)

For myself the answer to who can't unschool, is the person who can not imagine life another way. I feel that this remains true even years into unschooling when challenges arise, it is the person who can explore a myriad of alternatives who will be most able to find a way to continue unschooling.
Jenny Cyphers:
Being "well educated" has little to do with an unschooling parent. Knowing how to think and be creative and explore are far more essential. Since unschooling requires thought, it generally goes that an unschooling parent is more knowledgeable about lots of things, not necessarily "well educated".
. . . .
Unschooling is a privilege, but it doesn't have to do with middle class incomes so much as it has to do with parents who have that as their priority and make it happen.

from Always Learning, March 2010

Can anyone unschool?

Schuyler, Meredith and others responded to that question on Unschooling basics in 2010 at Can anyone unschool?

Chat Transcript

In 2011 there was a very lively online (text) chat discussing this topic, and that section of The Big Book of Unschooling: Who can Unschool?

Live here and now

Amy Childs' Podcast on this topic
(player and transcript; less than 14 minutes long)

The Five W's

Building an Unschooling Nest

Who can't? What are some obstacles to unschooling?