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Prisms & Paradoxes

Unschooling for me conjures up prisms, paradoxes, and unlimited travel. Time well spent and freedom. The “un” in life. Have you ever stood at a window and looked at something happening on the other side? Have you ever thought that it looked inviting and fun? And yet at the same time, you know you cannot enter. You cannot get to the other side. That is school. A place where you are shut up and can only see the world through a dark, twisted, distorted, and foggy window. And your world, your life, is being caged within four walls where it is desperately cold. And you wish you could get outside.

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Freeing Butterflies: A Grandmother’s Journey to Homeschooling Acceptance

“I’ve had it, Mom—the last straw has landed. I’m taking Shaun out of school this week and I’m going to have him learn at home. And I’m never going to send Patrick and Molly to school. And if Ian wants to homeschool, he can, too!” With those words, I let my mother know I’d taken the drastic step I’d been contemplating and researching for months.

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How to Unschool

1. Give your love generously and criticism sparingly. Be your children’s partner. Support them and respect them. Never belittle them or their interests, no matter how superficial, unimportant, or even misguided their interests may seem to you. Be a guide, not a dictator. Shine a light ahead for them, and lend them a hand, but don’t drag or push them. You will sometimes despair when your vision of what your child ought to be bangs up against the reality that they are their own person. But that same reality can also give you great joy if you learn not to cling to your own preconceived notions and expectations.

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Slaving Away in the School Factory

You see, the problem is that unschooled kids have fun. They play. They noodle around inside and outdoors, at home and in their communities, messing with projects, indulging their passions, and generally having a good time. These kids are continually demonstrating that learning isn’t hard work when it is need- and interest-based, and when the learner is in control…that, in fact, learning (not to mention life) is fun, even exciting. They are showing that there is no need for being processed by means of mostly irrelevant prepared curriculum, stressful tests, or long hours spent listening to boring lectures or memorizing monotonous and out-of-context facts.

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From Waldorf to Unschooling

My husband and I have been Unschooling our daughter (age fifteen) and son (age nine) for nearly seven years. I’m a former Steiner Waldorf Class teacher turned Unschooling Mum, as well as an artist and blogger. We are very blessed that my husband works freelance and is a very hands on dad. He’s a filmmaker, editor and all round computer genius which is very useful for our children, who have a keen interested in creative technology.

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Why Our Coercive System of Schooling Should Topple

I’ve been called a crazy optimist, a Pollyanna, a romantic idealist. How can I believe that our system of compulsory (forced) schooling is about to collapse? People point out that in many ways the schooling system is stronger now than ever. It occupies more of children’s time, gobbles up more public funds, employs more people, and is more firmly controlled by government—and at ever-higher levels of government—than has ever been true in the past. So why do I believe it’s going to collapse—slowly at first and then more rapidly—over the next ten years or so?

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Sudbury: Autonomy in Community

More and more people are coming to know the power and flexibility of letting young people learn the way our species evolved: relying on their innate curiosity and drive to explore and engage meaningfully with the world. What’s more, within the world of Self-Directed Education there is a variety of approaches. This makes sense, really, given that self-direction implies a diversity of individual beliefs and preferences, but it means you have to dig a little deeper to get a sense of what self-direction entails.

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Collective Intelligence in Action: The Self-Directed Education Movement

We humans form institutions for the value they offer to society. Collectively these structures function with an intelligence based on what works. Ideally, whatever works persists and whatever doesn’t work fades away. But sometimes institutions become resistant to change or change in ways that make them more rigid and therefore less responsive. When that happens, people who work for or are served by that institution tend to suffer.

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