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Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Implications of Unschooling Rules

I was asked in an interview the other day to summarize what the key implications of Unschooling Rules are. Here they are, by group:
  • For families of children in schools: You do have a choice. Traditional school may be the best option, but understand several alternative options anyway. It will make you stronger. Further, traditional schools do a lot of things horribly. They are businesses and, no matter what they say or imply, do not love your children nor are they committed to their long term success. They have scalable processes not answers. You need to budget as much time for compensating for schools as supporting their programs.
  • For families of home- and unschooled children: Treat childhood as you treat adulthood. There are no single answers or paths. Your family members are education entrepreneurs. There are some rules, but not that many. The future belongs to the creative working.
  • For teachers and schools administrators: You are stuck in a broken monopoly. It is not your fault. You are given an impossible task. Still, you are powerful. Think of your job as protecting the authentic education journey of each child from the system and pressures around them. And look for other jobs, again for back-up. You cannot be effective if you believe you have no career choices.
  • For policy makers: Embrace and encourage real alternatives to school as much as possible. De-emphasize test scores and other standardization attempts. Think of home- and unschoolers as a fifteen year research and development experiment. Be prepared, over time, to try to make institutional schools more like homeschooling, not the other way around. Here are two thought games. First, what would you do if half of what schools taught was useless? Second, what if you had to cut the budget for schools in half?
  • For foundations and think tanks: Those who have tried, through brilliant arguments and generous donations, to improve schools over the last thirty years have suffered epic failures. If you want to have been influential in improving schools two decades from now, put every last dime and neuron into supporting and enabling home- and unschoolers today. Think of how often you have thought "If only schools could..." Well, home- and unschoolers can.


  1. Beautifully stated. All the way around.

  2. Thank you. But it is role models such as yourself who are really making the difference.

  3. What do you do if your child actually wants to go to public school, if only to be surrounded by his peers all day? Our son tests in the 90th percentile and up until this year (4th grade) has always been homeschooled. He really wanted to go to our local public school to be with his friends. I cringe every week when I volunteer in his classroom. He's in the top reading group and they are still learning phonics. The teachers spend every other minute interrupting learning to deal with classroom management (30 kids in a class). He shouldn't be there. But forcing him to leave to go back to homeschooling does to seem like the right thing to do either. I'm reading your book and find it very helpful, by the way (still unschooling our younger son).

  4. This is not a deeply researched reply, but from what I have seen, if a child really wants to go to school, I would let the child. But augment where ever possible, and feel free to hold the school accountable. Good luck!