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Thursday, February 10, 2011

How Unschooling Rules is different than other education policy and reform books.

I sent a copy of Unschooling Rules (unsolicited) to a friend a few days ago, and he received it yesterday.

His emailed me last night to thank me for the copy in his always gracious and charming parlance. What he said was a variation of, "I know you, Clark, to be a smart person. I expect this book to be important and well thought-out but also, given the topic, to be dry, incomprehensible, and esoteric. Although I care about the outcomes, I am an outsider to this conversation. The best I can do is connect you with some other people that I hold in high (or likely higher) regard who also know this topic, and you two can talk policy or test scores or deviations or whatever it is that people like you like to talk about." In short, Unschooling Rules was the tome equivalent of fruitcake, to be passed around with reverence and maybe appreciation but not engagement.

Then, I received a second email from the same friend this morning, about twelve hours later. His tone had completely changed. He had cracked the book and, in fact, read the entire thing. He now had great stories and examples, riffing on many of the points. It was easy to tell that his mind was racing, connecting the book to his own experiences and generating new ideas.

To me, the difference between these two emails spoke volumes. We are all too used to the "genre" of education policy and reform book that are inwardly focused, filled with industry jargon, self-referential case studies, and implied authority and exclusivity. One finishes these books feeling, well, beat up. In short, the books stylistically mirror the problems the authors are purporting to solve. Here, however, my highest hope had been realized: a smart, accomplished person who had thought of himself as tangential to the education conversation realized how much true value and experience he had to contribute.

In paper form, my last book was 2.4 pounds, and Unschooling Rules is just 8 ounces. However, there is a good chance that UR says a lot more.


  1. A step in the right direction! :)

  2. @Our Pace - Thank you. Lots of steps needed, but we are getting there!