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Friday, April 29, 2011

Home- and Unschooling are not theoretical reforms; they are real, large, and growing movements

It was a lot of fun and a real honor to be interviewed on Cultures Shocks for today's show (counter-programming to the slightly more popular Royal Wedding!). The last question by Barry Lynn was especially interesting. It was essentially a variation of, "Gee, Clark, we have been talking for an hour, and your ideas sound fine enough. They pass the sniff test. But I have seen and heard a lot of smarter people saying more interesting things about education reform for decades, and they have all failed. No matter what you say, I would bet good money that your ideas won't have much impact either."

I mumbled through some answer. But I now realize that I had bought into the assumptions of his question and I missed bringing up the real point.

The ideas in the book 'Unschooling Rules' are not theoretical. These are not nascent theories that have been used on small pilots and studied by Harvard or M.I.T. grad students. I am not in the process of begging for funding from Ph.D. controlled-foundations, school principals, or other gate-keepers to roll them out to larger sample groups as part of some quixotic tenure-securing portfolio. (And, of course, these ideas certainly aren't "mine.")

Home- and unschooling is happening now. Over a million students already home school. And the number is growing.

Unschooling Rules is no more aspirational today than online shopping. For more and more families, it is simply their reality. Many of our future scientific, business, artistic, political, and religious leaders will not have passed through today's classrooms.

As much as school administrators and those in the academic Ph.d. guild would love to be in the position of evaluating the home schooling movement and judging them (much as IBM would have loved to judge Microsoft, or Microsoft to judge Google, or Google to judge Facebook), their permission is not necessary. Rather, truly caring schools and parents will instead work to learn themselves from homeschoolers and unschoolers to get new ideas. That is the point of the book.

We are entering a new world where families do have real choices. Homeschooling and unschooling will reform schools because it is the first ever school reform that doesn't rely on schools reforming.

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