Unschooling Isn't "Unparticipating:" Responding to Attacks on Unschooling

Looking over the writing I've done this past year, I'm realizing how many things, though they were shared multiple times on my Facebook page, never made it onto the blog! For instance, that I was interviewed for an article on unschooling in the Montreal Gazette way back in August (a sidebar to the accompanying longer and more negative main piece), and the reactions lead me to send in a letter to the editor. One particularly frustrating letter lead me to write a long response for Life Learning Magazine, and fellow frequent contributor Jennifer Head was also moved to write a response! Those two pieces were then put together by Life Learning into a lovely free PDF booklet. Here's a sample from my portion of the booklet:

Will children really gain the exposure they need outside of school?

“The premise of the ‘learn what excites you’ is one that we all hold in high regard,” Writes Ms. Sanders, the author of the aforementioned letter. “That being said, we don’t know when we are young what we don’t know, and education is that door opener.”

No, children don’t “know what they don't know.” But where the mistake is made is the idea that a. schools are the only place to gain exposure to different topics, b. that schools provide exposure to the most important things, or the things every single child should know, and c. that schools do a good job of imparting knowledge on the subjects they do expose students to.

I'd counter that all three of those assumptions are wrong. Inside of schools, only a few subjects are taught. Outside of schools, learners have the whole world to choose from when it comes to their learning. It's also important to note that unschooled children are far from alone in this process. Parents, acting as facilitators, seek to provide exposure to a variety of things, and children find interests--find learning--through friends, neighbors, family, the internet, the library, homeschool coops or groups, local classes, museums, travel... The world is a big place, and it's full of a whole bunch of options.
To read the rest of my article, as well as Jennifer's great piece, click on the image below!

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