People often ask me where they can read more about homeschooling/unschooling, or for recommendations for books or other blogs and I can never remember off the top of my head! So, I decided to compile a list of my favourite homeschooling links for you and for me. I’ll add more to it as I come across them.
Here’s what has inspired me the most so far…
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There is a reason this one is at the top of my list. It would have to be my all time favourite! Whenever I’m needing a little inspiration or confidence I read it again. A must read for everyone.
“Any wildlife biologist knows that an animal in a zoo will not develop normally if the environment is incompatible with the evolved social needs of its species. But we no longer know this about ourselves. We have radically altered our own evolved species behavior by segregating children artificially in same-age peer groups instead of mixed-age communities, by compelling them to be indoors and sedentary for most of the day, by asking them to learn from text-based artificial materials instead of contextualized real-world activities, by dictating arbitrary timetables for learning rather than following the unfolding of a child’s developmental readiness. Common sense should tell us that all of this will have complex and unpredictable results. In fact, it does. While some children seem able to function in this completely artificial environment, really significant numbers of them cannot. Around the world, every day, millions and millions and millions of normal bright healthy children are labelled as failures in ways that damage them for life. And increasingly, those who cannot adapt to the artificial environment of school are diagnosed as brain-disordered and drugged.
It is in this context that we set out to research how human beings learn. But collecting data on human learning based on children’s behavior in school is like collecting data on killer whales based on their behavior at Sea World.”
Now this one is straight to the point, blunt, maybe you might even find it offensive? But I also found it very thought provoking, inspiring, and hard to argue with…
“Now here’s another term that I think deserves to be said out loud: Forced education. Like the term prison, this term sounds harsh. But, again, if we have compulsory education, then we have forced education. The term compulsory, if it has any meaning at all, means that the person has no choice about it.
The question worth debating is this: Is forced education–and the consequential imprisonment of children–a good thing or a bad thing? Most people seem to believe that it is, all in all, a good thing; but I think that it is, all in all, a bad thing. I outline here some of the reasons why I think this, in a list of what I refer to as “seven sins” of our system of forced education:”
This is a really great account of one family’s homeschooling/unschooling journey and how they did it. It will put your mind at ease.
“Feed them, throw them books and sunshine, chase them around a bit, be as nice to them as you can manage, even when they’re jerks (and they will be) and — presto! Great big, relatively functional, frustratingly opinionated, adequately educated and very hungry humans.”
“When we first take children from the world and put them in an institution, they cry. It used to be on the first day of kindergarten, but now it’s at an ever earlier age, sometimes when they are only a few weeks old. “Don’t worry,” the nice teacher says sweetly, “As soon as you’re gone she’ll be fine. It won’t take more than a few days. She’ll adjust.” And she does. She adjusts to an indoor world of cinderblock and plastic, of fluorescent light and half-closed blinds (never mind that studies show that children don’t grow as well in fluorescent light as they do in sunlight; did we really need to be told that?) Some children grieve longer than others, gazing through the slats of the blinds at the bright world outside; some resist longer than others, tuning out the nice teacher, thwarting her when they can, refusing to sit still when she tells them to (this resistance, we are told, is a “disorder.”) But gradually, over the many years of confinement, they adjust. The cinderblock world becomes their world. They don’t know the names of the trees outside the classroom window. They don’t know the names of the birds in the trees. They don’t know if the moon is waxing or waning, if that berry is edible or poisonous, if that song is for mating or warning.
It is in this context that today’s utopian crusader proposes to teach “eco-literacy.””
Just one of the many great articles to be found over here…
“Taking my kids out of school liberated them from the test-heavy approach of today’s schools, one that actually has nothing to do with adult success. Instead of spending over 1,200 hours each year in school, they could devote time to what more directly builds happiness as well as future success. Things like innovation, hands-on learning, and meaningful responsibility.”
“In 2011, he and colleague Gina Riley surveyed 232 parents who unschool their children, which they defined as not following any curriculum, instead letting the children take charge of their own education. The respondents were overwhelmingly positive about their unschooling experience, saying it improved their children’s general well-being as well as their learning, and also enhanced family harmony. Their challenges primarily stemmed from feeling a need to defend their practices to family and friends, and overcoming their own deeply ingrained ways of thinking about education.”
I love Alfie Kohn and was first introduced to him through his book Unconditional Parenting. Turns out his views on education are awesome too.
“The field of education bubbles over with controversies. It’s not unusual for intelligent people of good will to disagree passionately about what should happen in schools. But there are certain precepts that aren’t debatable, that just about anyone would have to acknowledge are true.
While many such statements are banal, some are worth noticing because in our school practices and policies we tend to ignore the implications that follow from them. It’s both intellectually interesting and practically important to explore such contradictions: If we all agree that a given principle is true, then why in the world do our schools still function as if it weren’t?“
I love Sir Ken Robinson and this TED talk of his is my favourite. Will really make you think. A must watch.
And this would be my second favourite TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson.
“My contention is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.“
A really awesome talk by an unschooled teen on what he calls ‘Hackschooling’.
This is an absolutely brilliant documentary that everyone needs to watch! It made me think about things I had never even considered before.
“If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children.“
A really powerful video about what is taught in school…
“I wasn’t taught how to get a job
but I can remember dissecting a frog
I wasn’t taught how to pay tax
but I know loads about Shakespeare’s classics
I was never taught how to vote
they devoted that time to defining isotopes
I wasn’t taught how to look after my health
but mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell“
I love this TED talk by Peter Gray on the importance of play. If you weren’t convinced on how important play is before, you will be after watching this! Play is vital and this is one of the reasons we decided to homeschool. I refuse to let school take away childhood.
“All I’m saying is that,
If there was a family tree hard work and education would be related,
But school would probably be a distant cousin,
Because if education is the key,
School is the lock,
Because it rarely ever develops your mind to the point where it can perceive red as green and continue to go when someone else said stop.”
You just have to read this. I wish everyone would. This will leave you with no doubt that free play is what children need to thrive, not coercive schooling. There are so many YES moments in this book. You will love it! If you read one book, make it this.
A truly beautiful book that will make you look at life and learning differently. My second favourite.
John Holt truly gets children and learning. He coined the term ‘unschooling’ and so any of his books are a fabulous place to start. I really liked this one. A look at how schooling really destroys children’s ability to learn. It’s a must read in my opinion.
“The point I now want to make is that “success,” as much as “failure,” are adult ideas which we impose on children. The two ideas go together, are opposite sides of the same coin. It is nonsense to think that we can give children a love of “succeeding” without at the same time giving them an equal dread of “failing.””
Another John Holt must read that is full of amazing insight, encouragement, and advice. I could read anything he writes.
“Why do people take or keep their children out of school? Mostly for three reasons: they think that raising their children is their business not the government’s; they enjoy being with their children and watching and helping them learn, and don’t want to give that up to others; they want to keep them from being hurt, mentally, physically, and spiritually.”
This is a really brilliant book that will answer ALL your questions. One of the first you should read. Addresses all the common concerns people have about unschooling and respectful parenting. It conveys a deep trust and respect for children and I wish everyone would read it.
“We live without subjects, in a world where life is not separated into neat little pieces but instead swirls and flows together in ways we could never design.” – Rue Kream
One of the first books I read on homeschooling!
“Free Range Learning presents eye-opening data about the meaning and importance of natural learning. This data-from neurologists, child development specialists, anthropologists, educators, historians and business innovators-turns many current assumptions about school-based education upside down. The book’s factual approach is balanced by quotes and stories from over 100 homeschoolers from the U.S., Canada, Germany, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Mexico, India and Singapore. These parents and kids are the true authorities on alternative learning. Written for interested parents and educators, Free Range Learning will also encourage and excite those who want their children to have the benefits, but who are timid to approach homeschooling.”
This is a great book about an Australian homeschooling family and their approach to education. It also addresses a lot of the myths about homeschooling. I really liked how at the end there was a section written by each of their children about what homeschooling was like for them.
Highly recommend this one for the ‘how to’ of homeschooling. It really helped me understand how I could identify my children’s interests and what my role was in helping them explore them.
“The author gives parents concrete tips for helping children do challenging, meaningful, self-chosen work. From setting up a workspace that encourages independence to building a family culture that supports self-directed learning to concrete suggestions for a step-by-step approach to inquiry-based investigation, Project-Based Homeschooling shares techniques for mentoring independent, confident thinkers and learners.”
My favourite blogs from fellow home educators…