The Challenges and Benefits of Unschooling, According to 232 Families Who Have Chosen that Route
Unschooling families (families that don’t send their children to school and don’t school them at home) were invited to participate in a survey about their unschooling practices. Two hundred and thirty two self-identified unschooling families, with at least one child over five years old, completed and returned the questionnaire. Qualitative analyses revealed considerable variability in the routes to unschooling and in the ways in which the parents saw themselves as involved in their children’s education. The biggest challenge expressed was that of overcoming feelings of criticism, or social pressure, that came from others who disapproved and from their own culturally-ingrained, habitual ways of thinking about education. The reported benefits of unschooling were numerous; they included improved learning, better attitudes about learning, and improved psychological and social wellbeing for the children; and increased closeness, harmony, and freedom for the whole family.
Peter GRAY & Gina RILEY
Unschooling, Then and Now
While the accountability and standardization movement continues to narrow curriculum in the US, unschooling families are redefining learning and recreating community in an atmosphere of love and trust. As professors of education and unschooling mothers, Rolstad and Kesson compare their unschooling experiences in two different eras, one in the early days of unschooling (1980s), and the other in the first decade of the 21st century. Kathleen Kesson was an unschooling pioneer when her children were unschooled in the early 1980s, and her children are now adults. She describes what it was like to unschool then, to do what she terms ‘old school unschooling.’ Only a generation later, Kellie Rolstad began unschooling her three children, in a world transformed by the Internet and ease of access to both information and social networking, key components of unschooling today. Rolstad describes how her unschooling children connected play in real and virtual worlds, exploring ideas differently in many aspects from how Kesson’s children played and explored, and yet fundamentally and remarkably the same. In this article, Rolstad and Kesson share their experiences of trusting children, of giving them the space and the resources to learn and grow in the ways that are best for them, comparing along the way what it was like to unschool then and what it is like to unschool now, in this era when our society has come to distrust children more than ever.
Kellie ROLSTAD & Kathleen KESSON
The Case Against Learning In School With Evidence From Video Game Studies
The author of this article argues that learning in school is an outmoded practice that needs to be reevaluated in light of current practices that children engage in outside of school as well as skills needed for the future. She draws on the philosophy of learning proposed by John Holt and researchers who have carried over his philosophy to demonstrate the qualities of real learning. Then, she demonstrates that learning principles built into the video games as proposed by James Gee, are more effective in engaging players in skills needed in the 21st century than many activities students perform in school.
Natural Learning and Learning Disabilities: What I’ve Learned As the Parent of a 2 Year Old
Many students with learning disabilities continue to struggle in the classrooms of our traditional school systems, where curriculum objectives usually take precedence over the natural processes of learning. In this article, I review and summarize what I have learned about learning through the observation and parenting of my 2 year old son. I reflect on the question: What do these lessons about natural learning teach me about instructing students with learning disabilities? While I conclude that students still need compensatory strategies, they also need the space to allow learning to move at its own pace, the freedom to make good and bad choices, honesty from educators, and they need to learn independence within structure.