School is Unnecessary

School is Unnecessary

I have many criticisms of school. Too many to explain to curious people asking the inevitable question about why we chose this path without overwhelming them.

Mainly it comes down to this, school would be an unnecessary addition to our lives. Possibly detrimental, I don’t know, I’m not going to try and find out, but definitely unnecessary. At this point, I cannot think of a single positive thing that school could add to our lives.

I’m aware that my view is not common. I recently read a comment on a homeschooling article that said ‘why would you deny your children the opportunity to go to an actual school?’

Absurd to my unschooling mind, obviously. But a common thought. That by not sending our children to school they are missing out on something. Something they need. Something beneficial. Something vital even.

Yet, no one has ever told me specifically what these things are. Oh, they throw around vague ideas like ‘socialisation‘, independence, or the names of subject areas. But they fail to have any idea of what specifically school has to offer that would add to our lives. Instead, there’s just this vague notion of ‘education‘ that we’ve been told can only come from one place. Who really cares what ‘education‘ means or contains, that’s the job of people who know better than us right? People whose job it is to educate ‘students’. They’ve got that covered.

Cool story.

Imagine for a moment that you’d never been educated to believe that other people know more than you about how to educate your children. Imagine a life where school did not exist. Where nothing changed when a child turned five. They kept learning as they always had, through life, supported by their parents and community. Where there was no outside influence telling you what you ‘should’ be doing. What would that look like?

School is Unnecessary

It would look like life. Normal life, where children were involved, not locked away in a building getting ‘educated’. Children would play and work alongside their parents, maybe with siblings or in mixed age groups. Parents would have ample time with their children to really know them, what interested them, what inspired them. They would know exactly where they are at in their ‘education’. They would pass on any knowledge they thought was important for their children to know. And they would know what the important things were because they would be confident that they were the experts on their own children.

Children would be prepared for life as an adult by observing and being involved in the lives of adults in their community. They would learn the skills needed for home life. They would learn to read and write by being surrounded by people who have these skills. They would learn maths from everyday tasks like cooking and shopping. They would have the freedom and time to pursue any interest in great depth. They would learn in whichever way suited them best. They would learn all ‘subjects’ in meaningful and relevant ways. They would all end up with a different ‘education’ customized to their particular lives and interests.

They would be passionate, inspired, self-motivated learners because that is all they had ever known. They would be free.

School is Unnecessary

Now tell me, if this is the life we are living, and many people (including us) are, what are we missing? Every day our children wake up passionate and inspired. We play outside, meet friends, explore new places, and are constantly learning. They have acquired all the knowledge they need at this point and will continue to do so in the future. What need is there for the interruption of schooling? What specifically do you think school can provide in a superior way to life?

Is it the weight of others expectations?

Is it judgement/standardization/grading?

Is it forced memorization of math equations? Which ones? Why do we need them right now?

Is it exclusively socializing with same aged peers?

Is it punishment and control?

Is it forced learning to prepare us for when we are forced to do imagined things in a hypothetical future?

Please, if you are so adamant that there is something that only school can provide, tell me exactly what it is? Because I don’t see it. There is no substitute for life.

Or are you just afraid? Are you clinging to the idea that ‘they’ know better? That there is some magical secret to education and only schools hold the key? That you might ‘fail’ in the eyes of other people? Have they taught you so well that you are inferior, that you now believe it?

Maybe it’s time to take back your power.

School is Unnecessary

In our life, schooling is completely unnecessary. There is nothing missing that could be gained by adding school to our lives, and it is not a mandatory requirement for childhood. Nothing changes when a child turns five except the expectations of others. Joyful, passionate, inspired children are more important to me than those expectations. Here, we know that ‘education’ is something that each person gets to decide for themselves. Our days continue as they always have, and life is not separated from learning. Our children will be perfectly prepared for life, by always being a part of life, not separated from it.

Education doesn’t have to look how they taught us it had to look. Education can be so much more.

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129 thoughts on “School is Unnecessary

  1. Loved these thoughts as all the neighbor kids are about to go back to school and we are the only ones in the neighborhood homeschooling. It reassures me once again that we are doing the most natural thing, and so thankful to have the priviledge of raising my own children!

  2. I understand you believe that school is unnecessary. I got that, but what do you plan for your children to do when they are grown up. Are they going to be self employed, entrepreneurs? I know they are babies and little children now . I believe that many of us want our children to be trained so they can a job that can help them make enough money to be able to live on their own. By going to school our children will gain the skills to be able to get jobs. I trust that if your child needs more than you can give them that you would look out side yourself and consider hiring some one who has the knowledge to meet this need. I come from a family which has many teachers, my mom, sister, aunts, cousins and myself. I am just concerned that unschooling meaning do what you want and only learn what you want may leave learning gaps that could contribute to feeling less confident when applying for a job. I’m not so big on children starting school at 5 years old maybe homeschooled or in school by age 8, since they can usually catch up with the learning quite fast. Another thing is it sounds as if many people who stay home to unschool their children, either work from home or expect the government to pay their way. I hope I am wrong on about people expecting the government to pay their way. I am not being critical I just do not understand not allowing a child the fair chance available to help them learn the skills they need to grow up as independent individuals. Yes I do know children who were home schooled or unschooled. Many were rude to others because others didn’t fit the pattern learned in their families. The children had a very narrow view of how thing should be, and were unware of how to act in public and how to treat others because of the small circle of family and the children felt the only right way was the way their family did things. These behaviors made it very difficult for those children to interact with others. The children also felt the world was about them and not others, and that they were most important and should get their own way and make all decisions of how to play with the other children when they wanted to play. They wanted friends but only if the other children did things their way and gave no room or consideration for the child to be a friend. Schools and classes do put children in situation where their are decision to be made and the out come may be that only one child get to be the line leader at a time this helps children understand that they need to share opportunity with others and that it is not just about them. Another observation is if anyone other than theirs mom or dad asked them to do something such as in the library ask them not to throw the books the ones I observed yelled and said “you are not my mom so you can’t tell me what to do, I only have to do what my mom says.” Please help me understand why not going to school is a good thing. I know your little ones are still very young and maybe there will be a time when you feel different about not schooling you children as they get older. I would be interested follow and see how it does go for your children. Enjoy your little ones while they are little, time passes so fast. I hope you the best for them. I know you want the best for them. I am from a different mindset and would like to learn about how the theory of not going to school works. Thank you, and the best to you.

    • Hi Linda,
      I have no plans or expectations for what they will do for a career. That is entirely their choice.

      You say ‘By going to school our children will gain the skills to be able to get jobs’. Can I ask what makes you believe that? What is school teaching that helps in the workforce? I know they tell us that that’s what they’re supposed to be doing, but I disagree that they are (http://www.educationrevolution.org/store/why-you-should-take-your-children-out-of-public-school/)

      I hear that you have had some experiences with homeschoolers that have left you feeling that homeschooling has caused some undesirable traits in them. I haven’t found that to be the case. Children act like children, they are still learning. But on the whole the homeschooled children I have met have been lovely and able to interact with people of all ages.

      It seems you believe that school holds the key to learning everything you need for a successful life. I definitely don’t hold that opinion. But if you’d like to read more about where I’m coming from these posts might interest you:

      http://happinessishereblog.com/2015/11/what-is-unschooling/

      http://happinessishereblog.com/2016/03/why-children-need-real-world-learning/

      http://happinessishereblog.com/2016/07/respectful-learning/

      http://happinessishereblog.com/2016/05/child-falling-behind/

      ?

        • Heather – I realise this blog entry and the subsequent comments were originally published a year ago, but I just found it tonight. (Sara – Thoughts regarding your blog will be coming in a separate comment or PM.)

          Thank you for sharing the text of Mr Gatto’s speech; it was given during the winter of my sophomore year in high school. Part of me cringes out of pure vanity at the sheer number of years that have passed; however, I find myself much more appalled because if ‘computers, smartphones, and online subscription services’ were substituted for ‘television’, his words would STILL be scarily apropos. Classmates who began families shortly after graduation (high school or college) have children who have or have nearly completed their higher education. As a nation, we’ve let a high percentage of another generation down.

      • Wow. Glad to hear what I always felt was my calling reduced to being described as unnecessary…even detrimental.

        Considering my past 16 years as a teacher…I will respectfully disagree with you on pretty much every one of your points.

        I have nothing against homeschooling. I don’t throw stones at parents who opt to educate their own kids. But you have chosen to throw a boulder of inferred judgement at an entire profession and every parent and child who benefit from it.

        • Are you feeling offended because you would like recognition of your hard work, dedication, and the positive things you’ve been able to achieve as a teacher?

          I’m happy that you found your calling and find joy in it. I know many people love teaching.

          That doesn’t change the fact that teaching and school are unnecessary for learning, especially in our unschooling family. I fundamentally disagree with the idea of mass schooling, and instead value respectful learning (http://happinessishereblog.com/2016/07/respectful-learning/)

          • Scrolling through the replies, I would just like to comment that this does not have to be an “either/or” debate. I am a teacher (outside of the US), yet I admire many things about homeschooling/unschooling families. I also agree with some of the arguments made above (is it necessary for children to be grouped only with same age peers, should all children be expected to learn the same thing at the same time solely based on chronological age etc). However, homeschooling is not always a viable or realistic option for many families. Yes, traditional schooling can always be improved upon and it is my experience that dedicated members of the profession continually strive to do just that. But just as I would never disparage homeschooling or families who are able to make that choice, likewise it is important that those on the other side of the ideological fence show the same respect for families who choose the traditional route of educating their children. One method does not have to be “better” than the other or the only “right” way to learn. There are many paths that lead to the same destination.

          • What offends me is the privilege that reeks throughout this whole post. I am a teacher, and I agree with many of the criticisms that you provide in here. Your tone however, along with your basic life situation, is really offensive. I love being a parent; I don’t want to spend my day with someone under the age of 14. I want my child to interact with lots of kids of different ages; I only have one child, and I don’t have the ability to give him a sibling anytime soon. For me, and for many, school is a wonderful thing. And remember, school originally began as a way to offer all children – not just the rich – access to the benefits the education provides. You’re writing from such a place of privilege… It’s like white people saying all lives matter.

        • Well said very disrespectful to teachers mostly dedicated and caring. Home school if you choose but let’s stop making others feel judged. Like the ridiculous comment on daycares not allowing children outside yesterday. Today our children in day care have played under a hose dug in the mud listened to stories painted themselves and the paper! Got cuddles got listened to to name just a few. Homeschoolers get facts and stop talking rubbish. Thanks to all those awesome teachers !!!!!!!!!!

          • My child started school at 4 and a half – the first year was spent doing mainly free play inside or outside the children had lots of toys/costumes/bikes/tandem bikes/tunnels/climbing frames/ sand play doh/home, topic or celebration related corner/water table/sand table/jigsaws/books/blank writing books that they could take and use for anything (my daughter loves to write stories) etc etc they had nature walks/visits to places/people visiting them and teachers and assistants that my daughter adored and learned so much -in relevant ways – without stressing out and left school at 3pm every day – well early enough to go to park/go do whatever I feel she/we may miss out on while she’s at school. She’s in her third year now and although there is not as much free play what she learns is relevant, the children support the community, the school provides extra optional clubs that she is interested in, children and the teacher talk about respecting each other and why, parents are invited at least once a term to visit classroom during the day to see the work the children have been doing and update us on what and how they are learning. After school my daughter and I have plenty of time to talk about anything good or bad going at school e.g. Friendships/topic and make sense of it which I think is important for her emotional development. We can also discuss issues with teachers/head teacher and the children are praised for manners, being kind, good schoolwork hard work, dedication and teamwork. I could give a lot to my daughter at home – a teacher told me I could for what it’s worth – but she would definitely be missing out now and it would be struggle for her later if she decided she wanted to be a professional so I’ll definitely let her go to school!

    • I’m not sure why you believe unschooling or homeschooling is incompatible with future employment? I know many, many homeschooled individuals who later went on to college to pursue a variety of careers. From a higher education perspective, it isn’t really an issue. It sounds like you had a negative experience with one (or a few) homeschooled children and are assuming that applies to all of them.

      • I know a few college professors who think that unschooled kids are better prepared for College and life. I think your conditioning is getting in the way. Most of the unschooling families I meet actually have a close family member who was or is a teacher too, they know how things have changed in public schools in the last 20 years.

        • My high school education left me completely unprepared for University. I had no life skills and floundered in my new environment. It was the first time in my life I had to make independent decisions and I didn’t even know that all I had to do was ask for help. I still think about how the system failed to prepare me, 20 years later.

        • I have been a University Professor for the past 20 years. I hold a master’s degree in Education as well as my other degrees…. and have chosen to homeschool my four boys. My boys pursue their passions, learn from home, learn respect and love for others, and have a ton of fun doing it. At the university, my home schooled students are always at the top of my class in drive and ambition. I don’t think this post is in any way negating the job of a teacher; instead, it is showing that you don’t necessarily need a degree to be an amazing teacher. Thanks for the post!

          • Absolutely wonderful thatcyour kids have such a highly educated mother who can dedicate herself to their education. I think a distinct advantage of public schooling is that children of poorly educated parents have an equal chance of succeeding.

            I also think that a generalist education is important o kids can choose their own path without being limited to what their parents are interested/trained in.

            For successful unschooling, you need a dedicated parent who is highly educated, doesn’t work and is financially well off enough to provide experiences and resources for the children without needing a second income stream.

            It’s a privileged position to be in.

    • I have witnessed all children act as you have described. I do not believe that is an effect of homeschooling, but a reflection of parenting. My children, while homeschooled, participate in many activities; gymnastics, ski team, piano and art lessons. We actively engage in our community through volunteering. I was inspired by my alma mater, Boston University, alumni magazine. Five homeschooled children who had been accepted were featured on the cover. In the article, the admissions counselors stated that professors reported the home schooled children were often the most motivated and successful students. That sealed the deal for me. Open your mind and step away from societal expectations and there is a whole new world out there!!

    • I’m sorry I didn’t read all of your post. I got to the bit about “learning gaps”. I did Latin and Classical Studies at school. My daughter loves Egyptology. Do we have a learning gap for those? Just wondering. School teaches such a small amount within narrow confines of all the knowledge out there. What it does do beautifully is teach you your place. Really wishing I’d gone with my gut and never sent my kids to school. I compromised and sent them to a small private school for primary and a little of secondary in the case of my oldest and then moved them to a comprehensive. I have two delightful, engaged, happy children when they’re not at school (my oldest has now finished and has done rather well, against everything the system could throw at her), but I just know, come Wednesday, the grumpy, slightly sullen side of my son will be back in view. He’s beautifully behaved at school and does all his work, but the light just goes out. I constantly wonder if I’m doing the right thing driving him there every day. I dread to think what long term damage would be done to my children if they’d attended a failing school. It really doesn’t bear thinking about. I know I’ve always had the choice to take them out, but have kept them there knowing that it’s easier to get to Uni if you go through the system, but the system itself is immensely flawed. I have great respect for parents who homeschool, because the effort it takes shows they really want the best for their kids.

    • Dear Linda,
      I’m sorry you feel that way about homeschooled children. I think we can’t say that either homeschooling or regular schooling will make better or worse behaviors , there are many other contributing factors. However, thankfully my experience with homeschooled friends (who are now working adults) and homeschooled children of my friends have been almost all positive. The children are confident, compassionate, with other good qualities that you want to see in children and adults alike. A couple of them were homeschooled and then went to regular high school. They loved homeschooling and thrived in high school too. There were periods of adjustment of course as you would expect one would experience when going through big life changes, but they could cope just fine.

      I sense that you genuinely care about children’s wellbeing no matter how they are educated.

    • Hi Linda,
      We have been a homeschool family since our oldest started Kindergarten (she’s now going into grade 6) & I have gotten many compliments on my children’s behaviours, manners, respectfullness (toward one another, others, & myself), & confidence. I don’t attribute it solely to being homeschooled, but I think being around other children & adults alike have been a good platform for knowing how to interact with people of all ages. That being said, I too have witnessed children behaving in the manners you described, and while I can’t specifically recall any of those being homeschooled families, I am not going to throw children being rude, disrespectful, or wild at the fault of being in the system either, as I believe how children behave is a reflection of what they’re taught in the home. If the’re taught those ways are acceptable at home, then those are the behaviours they are going to exhibit -in or out of the system.

      • Thank you, I agree that how the family dynamic’s are does influence the children. I am proud of you for including respect and the ability to interact with all ages. I believe that of the home schooled unschooled children I know, most families are in the mind set that children should be “Free Range” Do what you want, when where and how you want because you want, and have missed that there are other people out there who they share the world with. It causes me sadness to see these children growing up like this. I am interested in helping all children and doing right by them.

    • My children were homeschooled all the way from K-12th grade. My oldest daughter just finished her freshman year at college with a 4.0 GPA on a double major, made the Dean’s List, and was inducted into the National Honor Society of Collegiate Students. Homeschooling did not stop her from getting accepted to every university she applied for and she was offered many scholarships after she took the SAT. Homeschooling is not a detriment to children later in life.

    • Dear Linda,
      I am from South Africa – most families here have to pay for school (middle and upper, the poor get it for free) and the homeschool children you describe you have witnessed (saying things like you aren’t my mom and being rude and nasty) gosh, I can show you heaps of those who go to school daily! I can still recall the names of each of the ones I went to school with who will fit your description!

      Most of things you mention that children need to know to be successful adults who “fit” in I can teach my children at home by sibling interaction and family team work. We do have extra curriculars but the difference between my homeschooled childer and the traditionally schooled children in their groups are becomming more and more apparent to the point that they do not want to interact with these children as they do not agree with how they do certain things or the nastyness – surely that is within the childs right when they know that it is wrong!

      Here, in SA, because of what is called Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment – most other race groups are excluded from job opportunities – companies would rather leave a post vacant than hire anyone of the “wrong” race – so we have no other choice but to teach our children to be independant and entrepreneurs – something the schools have been unable to really do as we face something like 40% unemployment, most of who have a certificate to their name having finished school, waiting next to the road for employment.

      The problem I see here especially, is the idea that you go to school earn a degree and then earn a comfortable living for the rest of your life – now everyone is waiting for that comfortable living, not wanting to start at the bottom but waiting till they get the job and x amount income they were promised for their degree. And there is such a small percentage stepping out and creating new businesses to employ these people.

      So this is what I want to do for my children (so far 2 girls and a boy) I never want my girls to say they HAVE to go to work to earn a living – I want them to have the skills to provide for themselves, financial literacy, skills that never go out of style and will always be in demand that could, with a bit of work provide a steady income and I want them to have the savvy to know how to save their family money. I need them to never think that because of their race/class they are “too good” to scrub toilets and start at the bottom.

      And I really need them to understand this: http://fourhourworkweek.com/2011/09/29/8-steps-to-getting-what-you-want-without-formal-credentials/

    • Because a parents expectations are what’s important in a child’s life?! Her children shouldn’t cate what her plans are for them. It’s not her life.

    • I think what you mean when you say skills, (“By going to school our children will gain the skills to be able to get jobs.”) you actually mean credentials. The skills needed for jobs are not learned in elementary school or high school or college for that matter. Those skills are learned by interacting with the world; school is only one part of learning. School credentials tell a potential employer is that you know how to follow the rules, you have sticktoitiveness, and you learned some things. These are all things that can be gleaned from an interview, a resume, and a trail work period.

    • Linda,
      I would just like to respond to your comment “. I hope I am wrong on about people expecting the government to pay their way”

      I’m not sure how it works in other countries but here in the UK it is US, the people who finance the government through our taxes. Theoretically they then use that money to fund our society, including education.

      As far as I’m concerned people have the right to provide their children with the best education they can and for many of us that means not sending them to school. Unfortunately we cannot just ask for our share of the education fund so instead we manage as best we can but if someone is choosing to home educate and accepting some kind of financial support from the government in doing so. I don’t see how that can be criticised.

    • I know three people who were homeschooled and have at least one degree or Ph.D.
      Usually completed at a much younger age then normal.
      They are all working or running their own business and really at the top of their field.
      Having time and freedom to pursue things that interest you is the best ! You can always turn it into a job or way to make a living.

      There are many children and adults that are socially awkward and self centred – regardless of homeschool or regular school !

    • Just wondering have you read the book ” Death at an early age” Not physical death but death of self, creativity and the who you are, when schools try to have uniformity and certain curriculum ( Fall, when you get to make an orange pumpkin instead of drawing seed pods or a tree shedding leaves if you wanted too. I think you would enjoy this book, I have not read all of it lately and I will read it again, there may be some controversial things because books are full of ideas and some fit some of our ideas and some do not. So I guess you don’t judge a book by its cover. Yes pun intended.)

    • A good person to read about unschooling is Sandra Dodd. She unschooled her three children who are now in their 20’s and are doing well and happy.
      I am homeschooling my three children. My two older ones are about to hit their teens and my little one is kindergarten age. I live in NY which has more regulations including testing so we work a lot on reading,writing and math skills as well as other subjects and also let them pursue their own interests. As a homeschool parent, I do believe that we have the responsibility to prepare our children for their future and being an literate adult is an absolute must. I do believe though that provided that the parent is literate them self, this can be achieved outside of the school system. My biggest problem with the system is that it’s too one sized fits all. im still learning myself even after several years and hope to provide my little one with more interest led learning as well as my big kids. It takes a lot of trust to allow our children the freedom to pursue their passions without worry. I still battle with that as a conventionally schooled person living in a highly regulated homeschool state. In the end though, our children will always excel the most in the things that they love most and I think allowing them more freedom to pursue those passions is what unschooling is all about.

      • Thank you for a balanced, honest and interesting comment. I think there is plenty of room for dialogue on this topic but I am frustrated when people are completely one sided on the issue. Just as people feel traditional school is not the answer for everyone, likewise homeschool cannot be the answer for everyone either.

      • thank you, I am very happy you are being successful in home schooling. I went to Grammar school in a one room school grades 1st-8th with 10 other students. My aunt was our teacher it was nice we all got along with each other. it was structured, from lessons to recess, we always had something to do games trees to climb a tree house and a tree swing, we ran through fields and swamps. I rode my bike 2 1/2 miles each way to school. I have to admit high school was a bit daunting. I was always in private schools so I do not understand really what public school is like, except my children went to both private and public and didn’t care for either. Early on I homeschooled my children it gave my first child a headstart before I was pressured by my aunts cousins my mom and sisters who were all teachers and to let my children be normal and go to school. I loved the Grammar school and most of us still keep in contact. One summer I was home schooled to help me catch up because I was a little bit off schedule at school and that was okay, I kind of taught my self and had a tutor if I needed. I am not against homeschool just the term unschooled sounded like anti school. I can see that is not the case. just hoping the children get there needs met. I am all for creative learning thank you.

        • Oh I missed the part where I said school was structured when we were in school we were quiet and studied but at recess we could decide what we wanted to do within bounds of the school grounds which had the tree house, swamp, orchard and field to play in and on.thanks

    • Linda,
      You say that you know children who were home schooled or unschooled…”Many were rude to others…..they wanted friends but only if the other children did things their way and gave no room or consideration for the child to be a friend.”
      These are behavioural issues not necessarily related to home/un schooled children…but to children in general. My daughter is finishing year 12 this year and she has constantly battled this same bad behaviour and more! from other children in her school….Mmm, seems that this is a result of bad parenting and then nurtured by the school system.
      We considered home schooling for our daughter but listened to the ‘experts’ who gave us a lot of negatives and as she is an only child, we decided to stick to the school system…Big Mistake!! School has held her back both socially and academically. It seems unfortunate these days that most of the teachers we have encountered are either dishonest or incompetent…Mmm, not very good role models that we are exposing her to. Thankfully, she has a very good support system at home as we have continually counseled and reassured her to restore her own self-belief….the outcome, we have concluded, is that she has learned valuable life lessons that will help her endure the big wide world out there. After completing work experience in year 11, she discovered that ‘school’ had not prepared her at all for ‘work’.
      As we approach the end of her high school, in hindsight we should have looked more closely at home schooling and after meeting more ‘home schoolers’ along the journey, we understand how many more families are choosing these alternatives.

      • This is what makes it hard. I suppose both options Public or home schooling have positive and negative aspects. The big problem is we don’t know until we are almost done with anything, what effect it will have on our children. I do hope your child has learned some life lessons the help with life and work skills as well as social and relationship with others. I hope the best for you and your family. We can always think we should have done things differently. We need to take the best of what we have and try to improve on it. Wishing you the best.

  3. The thing with school, as I see it, is even more different and more *CRAZAY* than yours Sara.
    I have teachers all through my family on one side like the commentator above. But I had to unlearn the years of schooling, years of expensive higher education that I’ve barely used, to grasp exactly what is happening in this world, and more importantly, as the picture grew really rather ominous- WHO was behind it all.
    After that I looked around, saw the truth everywhere and realised quite how ridiculous ‘education’ in a scholastic environment is. The ‘in form ation’ (ie. ‘one form’) was introduced in the 1800’s, when everyone suddenly needed to go to school. Oh what a benevolent government, ‘free’ schooling for all the little paupers. I wonder who sponsored this great kindness.
    The Usual Suspects.
    Forgive my contempt, I’m trying to keep it light, but it’s a pretty intense topic for me now I can grasp the 360 degree angle with both hands.
    If everyone who is schooled both here in the West, and all the generous education given to ‘under-priviledged’ countries, and all the in form-ation is the same, well then- we shall all be believing the same thing. (See final quote for the sinister side of this.)

    Well, my major question here is; who is creating this most brilliant, important curriculum, filling our world with sparky, brainy brilliant and well-adjusted men and women? Oh wait- the world and our own culture is groaning under the weight of totally morally corrupt and degenerate idiocy.
    Did you know that idiot is a French term meaning ‘lack of iodine’? I find this in itself fascinating, because the same people who own the media also own the governments (and therefore create the school and university curriculum- closed system of physics anyone? That might get you round the block but by no means in to space). They own the banks, and they own the monstrous seed companies and they own the pharmaceutical companies who teach the doctors who are supposed to think critically and do no harm- oh but wait there’s more- the number one cause of death in the US is pharmaceuticals- properly prescribed.
    Why did iodine fall out of favour? It’s still a critical mineral. Absolutely critical. You add fluoride and chlorine to the water, and make everything ‘non-flammable’ with bromide everywhere- bread, cars, furniture, the pillow you sleep on at night- and who stands a chance of maintaining a functioning body and mind? These chemicals chase all the iodine out of the thyroid, give everyone breast and prostate cancers, lungs and lymph-node cancers- cancers for Africa, everywhere you look. WHO decided iodine had to be taken off our collective menu?
    The Usual Suspects.

    School is one of many of their systems I just say no to.
    Independent research will set you straight if you maintain a healthy discrimination and critical thinking. These people have professional folk to spin lies upon lies. They even own the courts now. Their testimony used to be illegal at the beginning of last century, so they found a way to corrupt that system too- now they own it.
    Be your own doctor if you want to be healthy and stay well, do your own thinking if you want to see what’s really happening in this world, create your own little economy for survival, anyone can do it. But it’s not the easy path.

    Easy like trusting doctors, or the tv news, or going to school. That’ll teach you a world of finite possibilities. And faked history, and if you don’t know where you’ve come from, you have a fairly hard time knowing where then to go.
    It’s all able to be found, all the truth. One just needs to know which questions to ask. No way they know how to answer these questions at school. I know my cousin, mother, brother, aunt and grand-mother are all of the same, trusting, teaching, ignorant ilk. They don’t know, and they don’t care, they blindly follow the curriculum, leading the children in their classes like lemmings. (And their punctuation is terrible! Truly awful!)
    But everything is nice and simple, all is well.

    “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” -Orwell.

  4. We are a Danish family, living in Nairobi, Kenya.
    I LOVE your blog and really enjoy reading your posts! Thank you so much for sharing and inspiring people from all over the world:-) I truly appreciate your work and effort!

    When our two girls turned 3 and 1 (a year ago) we became very serious about wanting to unschool them, which meant we took our oldest daughter out of a little play school she was in and were looking at how to get started.
    Two things that were difficult for me to “hack” were:
    1) there are really not that many great/educational/fun/inspiring places to go with your children here in Nairobi (imagining that there must be tons of stuff to do with kids in say New York or similar), which means that we would probably mostly be at home in the garden etc. (also due to safety issues) and
    2) The main schooling system here is heavily influenced by the British, which means that children start learning to read and write when they turn 4. Often both parents work late and they have either a nanny or a driver (or both) take their children from school to scheduled afternoon activities almost every day (a heavy over structuring of children’s lives that I don’t agree with, as I believe they learn more and better if allowed many hours every week of unstructured play. The 2nd part also means that there are not many options to meet up for playdates with other parents/children of a similar/homeschooling(unschooling) mindset. Also, for me personally as a mom, I would need to see other ppl often and not “just be home in the garden” if you know what I mean.
    I really feel “socialization” with other children on almost a daily basis is important for kids of this age, and so I ended up starting my own small nature based “unschooling school” in our huge garden if that makes sense. We have been running for almost a year now and have around 35 children. We are always outdoors and the children vote for themes they want to learn about. Of course, we cant run 35 parallel themes (at least not with this age group 18mos-4,5 years) so some things have a democratic character as imagine it also does if you have say 4 children in a family:-)
    All activities are of course optional and viewed as offers the children can choose between. We have several sensory stations out every day as well as weekly children’s gym, yoga. creative activities etc. I love our school, but I’m seeing a worrying pattern: Every term (when a child is about to turn 4) they are being removed from our school to join “a proper school” where they learn to read and write (by force). Often parents tell me the children cry after school breaks and dont want to go back because they “sit down all day doing high frequency words etc.” but the parents do not know what else to do as they are scared they will other wise not “catch up with peers”.
    My eldest daughter is already the oldest at our unschool, and the age gap to the other children is slowly increasing.
    I’m looking for some advice from other unschoolers here…
    What would you do in my position?
    I’m thinking of several options:
    1) compromise – having the older group of kids focus more on numbers and letters (in a fun playful way of course) to satisfy parents and convince them to let their kids stay (longer)?
    2) Involve my eldest daughter more and more in my actual work with the school and let her get her “natural learning through that” like having her help me shop (math), plan the activities for the next week and mealplans etc. (planning and reading skills) or even let her run some of the classes (art or music) for the younger kids in a couple of years (when she is 7 and they are 2 and 3 years old) that she of course would gain so many important skills from.
    3) Close my school down in a couple of years once my younger daughter is also becoming one of the oldest kids and then just unschool my own two in a homeschooling environment and then at least be happy that they had a few years of being in a lovely group every day with other children. – Sigh, don’t like that option…
    -Please let me know your thoughts… All advice or comments will be highly appreciated!

    I’m also wondering if any of you homeschoolers/unschoolers have suggestions or even strategies for how you get some of the social activities going? Do you plan weekly playdates maybe combined with organized classes (say dance or music)? My girls have also done ballet once a week (by their own choice of course), but seeing how little they connected to other children during that 45 min class compared to how amazing friends they have gotten at school (playing with the same children every day) is a massive difference.

    I have seen so many positive changes in my eldest girl who used to be very shy and insecure and now has a much easier time playing with other children and meeting new people etc. so for us “the free unschooling school” has really worked well and I would be sad if I had to close it down.

    Much love to you all from Kenya and may the unschooling force be with you!

    • I would probably just keep doing it my way as long as it benefited my family! I wouldn’t put in any lessons to satisfy other people, because you know what kids really need 🙂 Maybe you could run some educational talks for the parents and educate them about play based learning and unschooling?

      There are quite a lot of homeschoolers where we lives and many different groups going on so we are lucky to have lots to pick from. There’s usually a few things on every week and on some days we’ll meet up individually with 1 or 2 other families to play.

  5. I enjoyed this post. I have read many articles and watched documentaries on this subject and agree with you wholeheartedly. I sometimes feel like Neo from The Matrix; once you find out the truth there is no going back. These days it seems even staying home with your babies is counter cultural so I can *somewhat* understand how people have a difficult time wrapping their heads around wanting something different like homeschooling for their children. I’m thankful that I’m able to be home with my kids and learn right along with them; I realize not everyone can homeschool or even wants to homeschool but it really and truly is a blessing for our family. I hope the naysayers can someday try to appreciate that people can go about life differently and still have a fulfilling and valuable life.

    “The goal of homeschooling is not a rigorous education so they can pursue an illustrious career. The goal is strong character, wisdom and discernment to pursue the life God has called them to live.” ~ Jeannie Fulbright

  6. How do you do this, though? Doesn’t the govt require our children to be in a program? I’m very interested. If the child grows up and wants to go to college, don’t they need a diploma? Do you expect that your children will be able to pass a GED test if necessary? Thank you for your post.

      • Re. choice of words; one ‘programs’ a robot.
        Radio and TV Program(ming of people)
        Tell lie vision
        (TV) Show (them what to think and do)
        School has less on. (Lesson.) (Yet ironically a ‘more-on’ is the silly one.. 🙂 )
        A boy is born a master and then, after school he can no longer see- a ‘mist’ er.
        Uni form. One form.
        Learning his story. (History.) (Unbelievable how made up some of our accepted history is.) (Truly- I spent three months digesting/choking on it, but in the end it’s so very obvious. It can only be true.)
        There are hundreds of examples of how we’re being fleeced, they tell us, but we’re too conditioned and/or distracted and/or deficient in critical nutrients like zinc and iodine. (Wait till you unravel the details of our Maritime Law. Phew.)
        These words and ideas are the first to pop in to mind; free association from the word ‘program’.
        🙂

      • I’m sorry, I think I wasn’t clear in my intent. I agree with everything on your post. I homeschool my children, but we still have to chooses curriculum and they are still subject to standardized testing, so I’m wondering how to access what you do with your children while still staying within the laws of my area. May I ask where you live? We live in California, USA, but I am interested in doing what you do to educate your children, I think it sounds wonderful. And the reason I brought up the questions about college is because 2 of my 4 kids have hopes for a college education later on, one in neuroscience, so I think he really will need to go to college. I am in awe of your plan, I love the idea of it. We’ve been unhappy with the school system for several years. In the traditional system there is so much time wasted on things that don’t matter and much of which the children don’t retain anyway. And life skills are rarely touch on. I am truly interested in what you do, I just don’t know how to go about doing it ourselves. Any suggestions on where I might call?

        • Kristen, I am in NY and here we register with our school districts and they monitor our progress. The superintendent gives us a letter of completion upon graduation that states the child has completed the equivalent of a high school education. That was enough to get her into her university. Also, most colleges will take 24 credits (or something, I’m not sure on the exact number) in lieu of a high school diploma. My children started taking their high school classes at our local community college in 10th grade. You can easily gauge their readiness by taking the entrance exams at the cc. Make sure your children take the SAT and/or the ACT if they plan on attending college.

          Also, go to the HSLDA website and get a copy of the regs for your state. And talk to college counselors. Google homeschooling/unschooling groups in your area. The veterans are always willing to share their wisdom.They can help guide you as to what they will require. Every single homeschooler I know in my children’s circles have successfully gotten into college. Good luck!

        • Kristin,
          I realize every state functions a bit differently with regards to homeschooling, but here in Ohio standardized testing is totally optional for homeschoolers. I don’t have my kids take the tests because I feel that it is a waste of time. There are certain requirements within the state as far as the subjects that need to taught, but it is wide open for you to choose your curriculum or how you want to teach that. I hand in my plans for the year to our local school system and they give me their permission to teach. At the end of the year I have a certified teacher look at my children’s work and progress and sign off on it , which I hand in to the school. Unschooling is also an option in this state. Also, if you don’t feel qualified to teach a certain subject, there is so much learning available online and homeschool co-ops available that have qualified people to help you out. If you are really interested in homeschooling you might be surprised at how many organizations there are within your state to help you. I would start by researching the types of homeschooling that exists and what you think would work best for your family, then try to find groups within California that might be able to support you. It may seem daunting at first, but there are a lot of people out there to help you.

        • Kristin, Sue Patterson is an awesome unschooling resource in Cali. She has a Facebook group called Unschooling Mom2Mom and a website. Look her up! Unschooling is legal in all US states and there are many doing it and meeting the state paperwork requirements in CA. No HSLDA interaction necessary.

  7. Great article and it’s really inspiring to read your writing. I think fear keeps most people in the system. The system knows best thinking, and I think as mums we are feed the notion that we are simply not enough. These comments about where does your child go? (I’m guilty of asking that question). Where I see HS not working is where parents want, control over. I see unschooling as the highest iform of education, if you want resilient young people. Been a youth worker iv seem many YP affect by MH and have no internal moral compass to guide them. And I know that they have been to school and had boundaries or been controlled. Sending to school in my opinion is more of a risk – unless the home environment is not safe.

  8. I do think schools are needed in its context of teaching children the basics and then allowing them to learn in areas that they find interest until they get to around 15 and then placing them into more job ready type skills or subjects needed. More suited to their level not set by national standards. This is all good in context and wishes, but so many parents will be put out, with the times some adults put into their working day, so for them to be in that kind of environment you would have to change the entire working platform for both parents and businesses alike.

    I do agree that kids shouldn’t be made to learn things that will never utilize. I think 1/3 of the schooling is useless.

    • Hi Sam. What are these ‘basics’? How are they not learned through life if they’re necessary for life? That’s kind of what I’m getting at. We have this vague notion that school teaches ‘necessary stuff’. Just because they tell us that doesn’t mean it’s true.

      I agree that school is necessary for some parents, I disagree it’s necessary for most children.

  9. I get what you’re trying to say and I’m all for it in an ideal world. We’re going to start homeschooling/unschooling our child for many reasons, some are what you have excellently written in your blog. But I feel that what you’re saying here is sounds harsh and it comes across as arrogant at some levels. I come from a place where parents have to struggle to bring food to the table each day, where they themselves aren’t literate, many uneducated even to first grade level. They can’t stop to be home with their children because life is too tough, where for many their income doesn’t even come as high as a dollar a day yet necessary expenses are beyond what they earn. School is lifesaver for them. Their children learn things that make their livelihoods better. It is your right to write anything that inspires you, and I’m so thankful for so many that you wrote, but please be mindful of how many, many people actually live in the real world before you make generalizations. Isn’t that what you want your children to learn too, about real life? That in real life school is needed in places such as where I’m from?

      • I will have to agree with Nat on this. I live in australia now but i come from this ‘really tough life’. In those places, all parents believe without ‘education’ from school, their kids cant get a better pay jobs n overcome poverty. I am talking about places where a person gets paid $2 a day for working 10 hr shift 6 days a week. Life is tough for them. They cant even imagine homeschooling their kids because they need to put food on the table. Also, they are not fortunate enough that their kids will get opportunity to get employment with a decent bare minimum wage like australia. So yes, for them, school is necessary, to get a piece of paper from that institution saying ‘graduated’ so that their kids can take this piece of paper to show their employers for jobs that pay more than $2 a day (their parents pay).

        I am a stay at home mother. Our family also ‘ surviving’ under 1 income. However, with the govt support etc, i am so fortunate to be able to type this reply with my baby sleeping next to me. To be there and watch them every day, it is a real blessing that my sister back home cant do for the reasons above (tough lives).

        I am also looking at homeschooling and so agree with many things on this page. Yes, in developed countries like australia, where government support you financially to stay home when you are not working (like myself), where so many opportunities are available for employments, where famine n poverty is not huge compared to in developing country, where children are able to enter university without attending school, it is unnecessary. But real world comes in many forms.

      • Of course, I agree that school is definitely necessary for some parents. What I am saying is that school is not at all necessary for learning, and in particular in our life. School doesn’t hold the key to all learning as some people seem to think 🙂

  10. Thank you! This is a wonderful article!

    Just a few days ago, I had this exact conversation with my mom. I agree with everything that you’ve said, but I an so stuck in what society has made us believe that I also can agree with Linda Sheidler. Everywhere you go, everyone (almost) that you meet is so convinced that nothing can be accomplished in this life without formal education (private/public school K-12 and college). It’s discouraging that so many people have come to believe or have been brainwashed into thinking formal education is the be all and end all in this life. This country has become so stuck in a rut as big as the Grand Canyon that all the formal education in the world cannot help them think outside the box. Instead, we have become a uniform society. Any differences at all get judged, get trampled on, get over-run. Parents are losing more and more control over their family lives because the government is stepping in and we are allowing it.

    We are like a herd of sheep, blindly following our master, but a master with ill intentions.

    Thank you for posting this article.

  11. Sara,
    I really enjoyed reading this, as always. I’m very much on your side (in that I think unschooling is awesome, and I appreciate so many aspects of it), but there are three things that I keep wondering/worrying about when I picture unschooling in the future:

    1. Critical thinking. Sure, your kids are very young, so critical thinking is not a priority. But how will they learn to approach things from different perspectives if they’re always taught in the same environment, with the same people? Yes, they are very social people and have friends in the neighborhood, homeschooling group, and other places. But just because you know many people, that does not automatically mean you learn how to think critically about the things you see and hear. Many things about school are artificial, but one artificial aspect I do like is class discussion (as happens in college or better high schools, for example) because it teaches kids/students to listen to others with very different viewpoints and address those;

    2. Related to #1, meeting kids from all walks of life. Not everyone is white and well-off (I’m not criticizing you – I don’t know you, so I can’t make these judgments). I’m just saying, as a person who is white and pretty well-off myself, I’m wondering how I’d make sure my kids learn about different cultures, about poverty, about different languages, etc. if I decide to unschool in the future. Of course, you can learn about those things through books, but it doesn’t have quite the same impact (in terms of breeding respect, tolerance, and understanding) as having friends or classmates who are very different from you does;

    3. Being exposed to a wide range of new things, interests, topics. As a parent, I know I could expose them to a lot of things. In fact, one of the things I love about unschooling is that it’d give my child the opportunity to pursue their own interests in depth. I’m sure kids themselves explore a wide range of topics themselves, simply by being curious! However, based on my own experience in school, I can say there are things that I thoroughly enjoy that I would have never sought out on my own because I thought they would be boring (such as learning Latin – I thought it would be so dull, but I became really interested in it. The same goes for learning to read novels in German. Not something I would have randomly decided to try out!). In other word, sometimes taking mandatory classes leads to the discovery of a new interest or passion. I’m not saying that’s the *only* way to find a passion. Definitely not. I’m simply wondering how I would be able to expose my child to a wide range of things (especially to things that are outside my own realm of interests…).

    These are just some things I’d love to hear people’s opinions on, since I hardly ever see these mentioned but I believe them to be very important.

    • Hi Bee! Here are my thoughts on those 3 things…

      1. You’ve mentioned this one before. It sounds like you had some good classes with great discussions! I can’t think of any of those experiences I had personally. I just don’t believe that critical thinking is something that is taught often in schools where the focus is on memorizing information from a curriculum so you can pass a test. As always, I trust the kids to develop these skills themselves. And I help that along by not ‘teaching’ them, and instead encouraging them to wonder. So instead of giving them all the answers I would ask open ended questions about what they think, and what they think others might think etc. And also expose them to lots more people and environment than the 4 walls of a classroom.

      2. Everyone at my private school was white and well off. Here the schools are also zoned so you have to go to the one closest to where you live. Same result. I think I have a better chance of exposing them to people of different backgrounds in the real world.

      3. I am constantly learning new things the kids are interested in! They really do just ask to learn about random things LOL. IMO if it’s a passion, they’ll find it. I’m unwilling to put them through years of wasted time forced to try many things they aren’t interested in just in case one thing sparks an interest. Instead, we take them places, we talk to people, we go on excursions, we take classes. The world is full of things waiting to be explored! Much more than in a classroom ?

      Thanks for your comment as always!! xx

      • Thanks for taking the time to reply! Yes, I’ve mentioned critical thinking before…it’s important to me, especially in this crazy polarized political climate (I’m a European currently residing in the U.S…).

        Anyway, your point about private schools is well taken, I hadn’t really considered that yet. They are indeed often primarily white and privileged, although I know some are taking steps to mitigate that by offering scholarships to disadvantaged youth. Public school is, of course, a lot more diverse, but…I don’t know about Australia, but in the U.S. they’re generally not that great.

        I’ll continue to think about ways in which I could expose my future children to as many different people and experiences as possible 🙂 so glad to hear your kids are super exploratory – it’s one of the things I love about unschooling and love reading about!

        • Hi, I’ve not commented here before but wanted to pick up on your third point – if you hadn’t gone to school you may well not have discovered Latin, but on the other hand if you hadnt been in school for all of that time you may have discovered a ton of other things to enjoy! We’ll never touch on all of the things we might have ended up being passionate about over the course of our lives, there’s just too much awesomeness in the world to find it all 😀 But at high school you’re confined to maybe 12 subjects (the same ones as everyone else) and only delve into them a set amount, in a set way, for a set time. The teacher will not be able to follow you down that rabbit hole if you become inspired and once you’re back home and not in the moment – after squeezing homework and dinner and play time in before bed – would you pick it back up again and explore further? One of the best things about home / unschooling for me is the time and the freedom to explore, to be spontaneous, and being the parent on hand to help seize those moments of inspiration, as well as knowing my children more than any teacher ever could and being able to seek out / tailor new stuff to each of them. There are also a ton of other ways to discover Latin than from a class at school, in real life situations!

    • Allow me to take a swipe at your 3 lists too!

      First off: Hi, I’m from South Africa.

      1) I love discussions! Which is funny because the only place in school we ever got to discuss something was on the debate team – which, from the time we started high school till it ended always had the same 3 or 4 people on it and I wasn’t one of them. But every Sunday, as a family, we would sit in the living room and discuss recent events, world events, politics, sports, you name it. There was always someone willing to play devils advocate and get the others thinking. It would last for hours and I loved it until someone reminded me that I still had homework to do and had to leave the table!

      2) SA has a bad history of apartheid and it has been 22 years since a new government has taken control and tried to rectify the mistakes of the past. The perviously seen as “all white schools” have been forced to integrate to allow any and everyone and most of them are shining examples of our “rainbow nation” (or so it would seem from the outside) but the schools on the “other side of town” only has same race children in it, which is worrying – as those schools are usually free for the poorer people – but the standard of education from one to the other is miles apart and sometimes it feels like the more we are forced to integrate the more hatred it creates.

      I have been to homeschool outings here and they truly are the most diverse group I have ever come across (I myself went to the “integrated school”) we have different languages, different races, different religions, a lot of homeschool families have adopted children or foster children of different races. Poor, middle, rich mix of classes. Gay, straight. Able bodied, wheelchair bound children, autistic etc.

      I think the homeschooling community here is a better reflection of the country as a whole than the schools! So it would be difficult to create the diversity you would seek if the environment doesn’t support it. Also tolerance is mostly learned by children following the example of their parents, meaning to say that it might be more of a learned behaviour.

      3) For this I prefer exposing our children to all sorts of different things by going on outings and reading as much as we can on any topic and not just limiting it to what I might feel more comfortable with, I could easily just teach my children what I like and enjoy and resist their opinions! But I try to really expand my own horizons – which has, for me, unlocked amazing creativity which I didn’t know I had! I didn’t learn latin for example in school – it’s wasn’t an option, but the sky is the limit if I want to learn it now – resources are freely or affordably available – I have spent many hours online teaching myself how to do computer coding only to have to go to bed to attend school (which 15+ years ago didn’t include this!) So I guess the point is, I don’t have to stop learning because I am not in school anymore – I am now a 33 year old unschooler of my own abilities!

      • Thanks for taking the time to reply, Marijke! I always love hearing what homeschooling or unschooling is likely in different parts of the world :). I have a close friend from South Africa who has commented on the racial divide before (even now), so yes, I’d agree that in your case schools don’t exactly reflect society’s diversity. It sounds like you have a really wonderful homeschooling group, though. How lucky!

        I guess the discussion-thing just really differs per country, or even per region…I’m Dutch (but living in the US) and there was plenty of discussion in my high school. In college, there was even more. My family was/is the same as yours – lots of discussion, all the time. I love that, and I guess that’s why I keep coming back to it.

        In the end, I suppose whether any of the things mentioned on “my” list would become problematic really depend on the parent: if the unschooling/homeschooling parent is willing to expose their children to a ton of different ideas, topics, and people, even if it goes out of their own comfort zone, critical thinking and discovering new friends and new ideas won’t be an issue. If not, then it will.

        I think you’ve got it covered, though 🙂 (and so does Sara).

  12. I agree that children should be able to meet with friends and follow projects that that they device, I believe that they can learn all they need to in this way and to be surrounded by people who know and love them is much better for them especially when then they now start at age 4. If I was in the position to home school my child I would consider it or if there was the chance for a lot less school I would consider that. But We are not in that blessed position we are living in cramped conditions and have chosen not to have anymore children so we can manage. We are not surrounded by a closenit society or family, I need to work more so it sadly is not an option for us and many people like us. But I think I will be one of those mum’s that fights the system on important matters and where I can provide opportunities for my child and other children to have access to and be encouraged in the pursuit of free creativity

  13. Dude, what are you trying to do, convince everyone to homeschool? Right before school goes back!?!?? I LOVE back to school season! It means the parks, skateparks, museums and libraries are ALL OURS from 9-3! Mwahahahaha! Seriously…it’s awesome. Truly though, you really can’t explain it to those who think the “they” is right, or think they like the system. I’ve known parents who really dig it…not just socialization, but if it’s working for them, they really like their kids being gone, they love it if their kids are popular (gag), and they think that over-scheduling them with every after-school activity is good for them. What I see now that I didn’t see at the beginning of my journey as a homeschool mom is that I am here to build a person. It is not my job to prepare my kids for college (what a shallow prideful goal), it is my job to help create a human who will go out into the world to try and help it be better. I build character, imagination, heart, confidence, strength…imagine if schools focused on those things, and not dates in history. Right now it’s 9AM and my kids are in the forest building a teepee. Just cause they wanted to. They are using tools and imagination, and enjoying nature and each other. What could be better? Loved the article, but it’s hard to not love what you already believe. (Though it still helps to hear someone else word it well, I can’t always voice what I mean at the right time!!)

  14. I’m surprised that you say: “At this point, I cannot think of a single positive thing that school could add to our lives,” Really? You can’t imagine a single thing? Perhaps that’s what school would give your children: the ability to see the positive in people and families and communities and ways of life different to your own.

    Unschooling is great! There are lots of wonderful benefits. But to believe there’s not one single good thing about schools suggests a closed mind.

    If I think about my own schooling, what about it was “necessary”?

    It was necessary for me to make friends, all sorts of friends: I wouldn’t give those up for anything.

    It was necessary for me to step out of my role as the youngest sibling of four: being with children my own age, rather than older, stronger, smarter kids, let me grow into myself. I wouldn’t want to be a youngest child who never had that chance.

    It was necessary for me to learn that my parents are not right about everything, and I needed to test and consider their views just like everyone else’s.

    It was necessary so my mother could live her life (because not all mothers want to homeschool – and that’s okay). She got the space she needed, and that was good for me, too.

    Unschooling is about choosing what’s right for your children, rather than being forced into what’s deemed to be right for everyone. But that doesn’t mean you have to be closed to the idea that for some, school is right.

      • Earlier you were saying that you can provide critical thinking to your children yet here you are shooting down another person’s opinion because it does not align with your own. What happened to seeing others point of view? You want that for your children but refuse to adopt it yourself when it comes to schooling?

        There are children in the world who are grateful to attend school because their parents are unable to provide them with an education. The world isn’t black and white. There are pros and cons for both sides of the argument but you have to be willing to at least consider them, and discuss them, for a moment. It won’t make homeschooling less valid for you to acknowledge when someone makes a fair point. What they said about being the youngest was very interesting and something I would then want to be aware of whilst homeschooling.

        • Does seeing another’s point of view mean I have to agree with it?

          I hear her point of view, I consider it, I decide it does not apply to my life.

          When making the decision to homeschool, people consider A LOT of things. I doubt anyone makes that commitment on a whim. I am yet to come across a ‘pro’ of mass schooling that is unattainable outside of school, and especially one that trumps all the potential negatives, hence school is unnecessary for us.

          Hearing that other people think it’s necessary for them, and that they get positives out of it, does not mean the same must be true for me. School would be at best a pointless addition to our family.

    • Thanks for your perspective, Heather. It helped me look at homeschooling/unschooling from a new perspective and gave me more to think about.

  15. I enjoyed your post and it certainly gave food for thought. I think myself I would worry I would fail to stretch my kids enough. Parenting is a tough gig and at the end of every day with a 4 y.o. and 1 y.o. I am knackered and ready for bed just after keeping them fed and clean. So the idea of coming up with some curriculum and actually running it myself, well, let me just say hats off to those of you who are doing it.

    I do want to say something in response to some whom have commented above, though. The idea that national schooling should be knocked on the head and is some great conspiracy to keep the man down is farcical. Take a look at yourselves with your first world, 21st century perspective. By today’s standards, people of the 1800s were living in dire poverty and free, compulsory education gave many families a way to improve their lot. I understand many here may have had a bad experience of formal education themselves – fair enough, and I’m sorry if that was the case – but standardised schooling provides *all* children with access to education, irrespective of their background. For many kids, their home life is not an easy one, so the idea that compulsory education be done away with in favour of homeschooling because parents know what’s best for their child is simply ridiculous. (You might find interesting the World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE) which illustrates how disparities in circumstances affect different populations’ life opportunities across the globe: http://www.education-inequalities.org/)

    As I said before, I enjoyed the article. I hope to take away some ideas of what I can do on the weekends and evenings with my soon to be school go-er to support his more formal learning environment.

  16. I am not a home schooler, but I love your thoughts on this. My children attend “non traditional” schools that suit them (different schools for each because they are so different). I definitely agree that the traditional school model is not always the best choice.

  17. I really understand where you are coming from & we have seriously considered home schooling our boys. However I tried our eldest at nursery & then pre-school & the space from us, his parents, has been highly beneficial & positive for him in so many ways. We are going to try school & see what happens (if it isn’t working for him obviously we will reconsider.) If we had the money to pay for him to go to places away from us for a couple of days a week we would home school but we don’t – so we have decided that school is the best option for him. So when you ask what school adds I can’t give an exact all I can say is so far it is working for our boy – against everything I expected! Just because he is at school doesn’t mean we will stop following his lead when he wants to self learn…..let’s see what happens

  18. I agree, and fight myself on schooling. I wish the government did not have to get involved. My son did not want to start first grade but I wanted him to try it out since my husband is not for homeschooling, but knows if the CA law on vaccination does not reverse then I will be homeschooling our younger twin daughters (and son eventually when he enters 7th grade since he was grandfathered in). Do you homeschool? Is that not considered school?

    • I agree with Christine M.
      I also think the title is silly. Learning is necessary and school is a necessary means of learning for many families. I’m glad you have found a way that works for your family but it feels to me your just throwing the same judgmental thinking back to the people who judge you for homeschooling. As long as you find an appropriate means of educating your child(ren) that works for your family then let it rest.

  19. This made me so happy. Thank you for putting it into words. I have homeschooled/uncschooled for years. We have 2 graduated, but they still refer to themselves as homeschooled since it is a way of life for us, how we do things.

    • Heather, I am interested to know what state you live in? Are you doing it thru an organization? In the end is testing necessary to graduate? Sounds perfect.

  20. What a wonderful article! I agree on so many levels! My son (now 11) was the sweetest kid before he started school and I believe him going to school permanently affected him! I’m not saying his father and I have not influenced him as well but elementary has damaged his soul! The bullying, the adults who would not listen, being marked the troubled child because it is difficult for him to sit in one spot with his hands folded like a good soldier! It annoys me!

  21. Some of these comments are really unnecessary! Everyone is entitled to their own belief and choices I see no reason to call people names or talk negatively to them for their personal preferences and life choices! This is also the problem with the schooling and government! They don’t approve of personal opinion so they have schools to teach everyone to things like them! Again, my opinion!

  22. I loved this article, along with many others on here. Reading the comments made my heart hurt. This is literally *your* blog where you are writing about your own experiences. If other people can’t handle it, why are they reading it? If it upsets you, move on. A random stranger on the internet is probably not going to change any opinions. *sigh*

    My husband has never been on board with any sort of alternative education methods, but I have been working on giving him information on the alternatives to traditional school since shortly after our first son was born and I knew in my heart I didn’t want to send him to school. He is in the first grade now, in a regular school, for financial reasons. We were at least able to move to a school district that has an amazing elementary school, but it still breaks my heart to be away from him. My husband has finally come on board because he misses our children too. I’m so glad! We are actively working toward a situation where we will be able to stay home with the kids.

    I honestly don’t think being with their kids 24/7 is for everyone. I hate that I feel the need to make a disclaimer about how my husband and I feel. A person’s desire to do something with their life that is fundamentally different from your choice doesn’t mean that person is judging your choices.

  23. I have been following some of the comments and feedback you have gotten, both positive and negative (although the rude ones are unfortunate!) and I think the problem stems from the tone of your post. It comes across as dismissive or condescending of those who choose or have to choose traditional schooling for their families. Both homeschooling/unschooling and traditional school have benefits to offer. Both can exist simultaneously. It does not have to be either/or. You should continue to share the benefits you find for your family in choosing homeschooling and to share what you know about it for families who are curious about making the same choice. But it doesn’t have to be done to the detriment of other educational options.

    • Well said Christine! I personally was not offensive about the post but I can see how other people might have taken the post the wrong way.

    • It’s pretty impossible to do that when you disagree with forced schooling in general 🙂 Nevertheless people get offended with whatever you say when you choose different from the majority so I may as well be honest. We unschool. Naturally we have a lot of criticisms of school. So it’s going to be uncomfortable reading around here for people invested in the necessity of the school system.

  24. Hi again! All valid points, but I think you can promote homeschooling without criticizing traditional schooling. Homeschooling is the answer and the fit for some families, but not for others. Traditional schooling isn’t going away. Neither is homeschooling, nor should it. It is unfortunate that some people criticize your choice. But I don’t think the answer is to criticize other choices in return. I myself, would have loved to have tried homeschooling for my boys when they were small. But it was in no way possible for our family situation. So I applaud your efforts to educate people about your homeschooling experience. But I think you will make bigger gains by avoiding airing your dislike of what you call forced schooling.

  25. I personally plan to not send my kids to school, but I know a lot of people (especially lone parents) who really appreciate the time without their children at home with them, and the ability to go back to work and have time to themselves. So in those cases the parents benefit from the school system.

  26. We have very recently started on our homeschooling journey! Thank you so much for your blog, it’s been amazing to be able to read your journey and get an idea of what to expect. It was incredibly nerve racking for me, seeing other children start school for the first time last week while my daughter stayed at home with me, but I feel very strongly that we have made the right decision for us. I agree completely with your post, and want to thank you for writing it! It’s lovely to know that there are others with the same opinion as me! (And I used to be a teacher!! Oops…!)

  27. I am a teacher currently at home with my 4.5 and 2 year old, and rally against the need for children to be on ‘programs’ and ‘learning schemes’ when it is painfully obvious most do not fit, have not read the instruction manual and therefore, predictably, become unhappy!
    Mine are ‘un-schooling’ currently (although not really at school age) and love it.
    I think what you do with your kids is wonderful.
    BUT in response to the heading ‘School is unnecessary’, I would have to say ‘unnecessary for you’, but there are some children who receive more love and care in a (good) school environment than at home. For children whose homes are chaotic, where they are not respected or do not have a positive role, school can be a joy. Not perfect, but a positive and caring place where they are valued.
    As a teacher, when I go back in some capacity, my goal is to introduce as much of the ‘un-schooling’ philosophy to the early years of education as possible where I am in Scotland.
    Really enjoy reading your posts – always much food for thought!

  28. This is a rather entitled view. It applies only to families with a parent at home. It applies only to healthy parents who can and do focus on their kids with an eye to knowing them, their interests etc. What about single parents who can’t be with their kids all day? What about parents who struggle with drug addiction, mental or physical illness, or parents who abuse their children? What about poor parents or those with insufficient resources of their own, to stimulate their children intellectually? Many, if not most, kids today, are far safer in school.

  29. Susan R., my thoughts exactly.
    Maybe in an ideal world some more people will be able to stay at home with their kids. If you are a doctor, you cannot – you will have to be at the hospital rather than tend to your own kids and vegetable garden. Also, if you are new in town/country, or simply of a shy kind, you cannot provide the social life for your children that the school does offer. What if my kids interests are totally different from mine? I would not be able to guide or instruct them, would consider it boring or otherwise would not be 100% there with them if they are carrying out projects on their favored football team or computer game. And finally, not all parents enjoy the company of kids day after day, 24/7 – or have a difficulty in motivating their children to self-educate. I agree with the ideals of home schooling, but schools provide for the practical realities – so answering the question “what is it that the school offers” is easy: a safe place for the kids to be and to learn a wide variety of topics whilst parents are at work, and a social life.

  30. You can’t grow all flowers the same way, under the same conditions. Some flowers need sun to thrive, some need deep shade. You can’t train every horse the same exact way. You can’t teach every single child using the same method. And just because someone is teaching, it doesn’t necessarily mean that learning is taking place on the other end. But, learning does happen even when nobody – meaning a second person – is teaching. I have a master’s degree in education, and have one child in a public school and the other is being homeschooled/unschooled. One thrives in the shade, the other in full sun…

  31. This is wonderful, brilliantly enlightening for those who are open minded and ready for this. I especially like ‘nothing changes when a child turns 5’ a continuum.

  32. This is magnificent. I love this especially –

    “Or are you just afraid? Are you clinging to the idea that ‘they’ know better? That there is some magical secret to education and only schools hold the key? That you might ‘fail’ in the eyes of other people? Have they taught you so well that you are inferior, that you now believe it?”

    I believe as an u schooler of just at 1yr ourselves that you’ve hit it spot on. The rebutted are from conformity and fear of non conformity. If I could hug your blog I would lol. Ty for sharing it!

  33. I think no one here have watched movie: “schooling the world”
    Doesnt matter if you are in school or home schooled or unschooled, if you still work for the system goverment created, what is the difference?
    Watch the movie and you will understand what real unschoolers are, working for themselves and family on a farm, providing for themselves. This is the only way you are truly free.

  34. Thank you so much for writing this. I am in my ninth year of teaching and will be leaving my career behind to start unschooling (we call it learning at home) when my oldest turns five (I had to work for financial reasons this past year). As an experienced teacher who is very invested and well-read in the field education, I have read countless articles on how we learn. And the research says it all: we learn what we want to learn. Period. And telling my students what to learn on a daily basis results in superficial learning at best. I have seen countless kids fall to the wayside because of the stress of academics and I have seen countless kids fall into the wrong peer group with negative repercussions. School is a failed social experiment in which we try to “teach” students by putting them all in one grade and expecting them to learn the same way at the same pace (differentiation does not truly exist in large classrooms). Kids learn their values from each other instead of from trusted adults and it’s a dog eat dog world inside a school building. I encourage those that are shaky in the field of how humans acquire knowledge to read up and maybe then they will see how our schools fail children.

  35. It might be difficult for many to give up the idea that schooling is education until they start thinking about it with a questioning attitude. How can 8 subjects a day, sitting in a chair, stimulated by a bell (like Pavlov’s dogs) … be conducive to thinking or mental growth? Why did the American colonies have a surfeit of thinkers—Thomas Paine to Benjamin Franklin—how did they get an education? How did we get from the colonial system of home schooling to our present factory schools?

    Of course reading John Holt, John Taylor Gatto, Julia Weber or a host of other advocates for children’s freedom is probably not enough to overcome the fears of not properly preparing you children for the future.

    All I can really add is from my own unschooled daughters (MIT/YALE PhD in high energy physics, YALE/PRINCETON PhD in German history—their choice to go to college) is that the only thing of value that you impart to children is your love and faith in them and their natural unfolding into their individual and unique personality.

    As the protagonist in ‘Twilight Samurai’ tells his daughter who is not sure that learning to read and write will be of any service to her in the uncertain times of Meiji Japan: ‘if you can think, you can always make a living.’ (or words to that effect.)

  36. What’s incredible is how many people don’t see how poisonous the school system is. If you really look at how the system works, you’ll see that school’s only prepare you to work. You sit for close to 8 hours a day, get 5 minute breaks, and a lunch. You’re taught to solely pay attention to the teacher even though you’re caged in with at least 30 other kids. Your constantly taught that you’re being educated to be a successful member of society. 90 percent of public education is useless, and to question whatever your teacher says is severely frowned upon. What’s funny is I was completely shocked when I got out of school. It was like being born again. I was all alone too because you’re taught in school that social interactions are not important compared to obeying the indoctrinated authority.

    • Yes, agreed 100%. I was raised by a primary school teacher, who was in her turn raised in the church- her father was a vicar. I was the most indoctrinated child in my peers. I was so “good(ie-two-shoes)” that a comment by an old best friend (once we got to know each other) was that I was deemed so stuck up and prissy I appeared to have a bunch of daisies stuck up the you-know-where. So far from reality! I would ride motorbikes in my teens and keep up with males because they seemed so much freer.
      I used to sit for hours with my mother as a pre-teen with so very many questions about the universe, science and physics- not that I knew what the words to describe the subjects I was desperate to grasp. But she was not to be disbelieved, because she was my authority. She was every local child’s authority, which makes my blood run cold. She is typical of school teachers- given a small piece of authority to teach children, yet utterly inept at thinking and learning and relearning. No critical thinking skills at all.
      EVERYthing with her came back to god and having faith in the system. Which is why we no longer talk! The system is profoundly corrupt. Every aspect is corrupt. I made it my mission to unlearn everything, to relearn and relearn reality. It’s not remotely as scary as most people who fear truth make out.
      If children are not taught there is a world outside the matrix then they’re doomed to live like zombie slaves within it.

  37. This is a big responsibility. Babies grow, they become teenagers, adults. How are they prepared to function in a society which is alien to them and where they will not fit.Who is paying the bills? Parents age and get sick or die in accidents. What will happen to these individuals who step in life with no skills to support themselves.

    • Having children IS a huge responsibility, a fact whether they are homeschooled or unschooled or state/private schooled. But if a child is thrown in to the fray without the constant love and attention from their primary care-giver in those first five to seven years, all sorts of horrible disconnections happen in the head to create disfunction later in life. This is well-documented, but you won’t find any info. on this in state schools or day-care facilities. My son went to school and hated it, hated the rules, the constant sitting, the regimentation. The violence starting in children as young as 5yrs old. He was bored out of his brain. He wasn’t permitted to speak or ask questions (which is a constant source of exhaustion at our house, but we revel in the chance to answer honestly and routinely. I dread to think how much less(on) he’d grasp were he doomed to sit and listen to the teacher all day, with her pre-packaged subject from the agenda’d state).
      With the knowledge that whatever happens, their ‘backs are covered’ so to speak- by their parents, these children grow in absolute security. Boarding school is particularly cruel. Being given to the state is basically abandonment. People die, if you have had a strong bond to begin with, you can recreate those bonds with others. If you never had it, it’s unlikely one would know what it is, nor how to form it.
      The words ‘alone’, and ‘all one’ are so close, yet diametrically opposed.

  38. In a perfect world!! I personally think the main reason school still exists is it’s daycare whilst parents work! A lot of people don’t have the option to stay at home and raise their children! Fortunately this doesn’t include me I’m a former teacher completely disillusioned with the uk state education system! My son now goes private at a much less pressured outdoor led school but still I’m thinking of unschooling as I feel I’m forcing him to go somewhere against his will and I don’t really have a good enough answer to continue!!!!

  39. Education is everywhere, not just in school. But what if parents have to work? They can’t have the kids with them, so school does become necessary?

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