Year 2017 — Volume 11 — Issue 22

‘Unschooling’ In The Context Of Growing Mental Health Concerns Among Indian Students: The Journey Of 3 Middle-Class Unschooling Families
Pages: 1-33

India’s education system has often been critiqued for aspects of rigidness, competition, work overload, hierarchic power, and lack of creativity, resulting in feelings of stress and anxiety in students. Interestingly, alternative education approaches have come up in the past few decades in response to formal education, including the rise of unschooling. In this article the self-reported journeys of three unschooling parents are analyzed to bring insights into 1) what role stress and anxiety might play in the decisions of Indian parents to choose unschooling, 2) how key advantages and disadvantages of unschooling are shaped and recognised by unschooling parents, 3) how personal experiences of ‘stress’ are appreciated and experienced in Indian unschooling family contexts, and 4) what distinctively different processes are evident in the upbringing process of unschooled children, compared with those existing in formal education systems. Results reveal that a sense of tedium in formal classrooms, as well as a problematisation of stress, motivates parents’decision for unschooling. Social pressures and challenges are experienced, yet also welcomed by parents as part of the unschooling journey. ‘Stress’ is differently framed and experienced in the stories of unschooling parents, emphasizing the stress which is evoked through unrestricted self-governed learning processes, as opposed to ‘distress’ experienced in systems of directive and sometimes coercive learning. Finally, this article reflects on aspects of ‘trust’ and ‘self-agency’ which were found meaningful in unschooling and how to potentially encourage such notions in formal education settings to prevent mental health issues in children and youth.
Emma Emily DE WIT, Daniel EAGLES, Barbara REGEER


Home-Schooled Students And Their Teachers: Provoking Curriculum Together Through Child-Driven Learning
Pages: 34-52

Child-centered and child-driven learning can provoke the creation of curriculum that is responsive to students’ particular learning needs, is engaging and meaningful, and promotes learner agency. Homeschool settings provide opportunities for parent/educators cognizant of child-centered and child-driven curriculum to meet students’ interests, readiness, growth, and educational drive with responses tailored for each unique situation. This learning space can allow for the relationship between the parent/educator and the student to continually revisit and revitalize learning, expanding on shared experience and potentially spanning the developmental years of the student. The lines between educator and student become blurred as the educator is directed by the unique interests and educational needs of each student. Research into the field of homeschooling curriculum can inspire discussion and innovation in more traditional educational settings. In this paper presentation, the authors will discuss the literature on child-centered and child-driven learning. Next, stories from real homeschools illustrating the co-creation of child- centered curriculum by both the educator/parent and student will be shared. Finally, the presenters will kindle a lively conversation with all participants about the role of students and teachers in curriculum creation, student-centered and student-driven learning in homeschools and in public schools, and imagining the possibilities of both contexts.
Karen E. EFFORD & Dr. Katherine BECKER


Designing A Space For Thoughtul Voices: Aligning The Ethos Of Zines With Youth-Driven Philosophical Inquiry
Pages: 53-75

This article strives to lay some necessary theoretical groundwork for justifying an alliance between zining and youth-driven “philosophical inquiry” (Lipman, 2004)—two important practices that operate outside the mainstream yet can shed light on conventional (mis)understandings of youth by illustrating innovative ways of designing space for young voices to emerge and thrive in their educational experiences and beyond. By highlighting the shared ethos between zining and philosophical inquiry as practices that foster meaning-making, this article aims to emphasize their common participatory, do-it-yourself, experimental, politicizing and transformative features, while noting the challenges involved in extending them to the context of childhood. Further, it illustrates how aligning zining and philosophical inquiry can contribute to a re-envisioning of children by portraying them as capable cultural producers and social historians of their own discourse communities. Lastly, it explores issues of adult authority, suggesting conditions that may help to authenticate the philosophical use of zines with youth.


Framing Unschooling Using Theories Of Motivation
Pages: 76-99

As more families consider alternative learning approaches such as unschooling, little is known about the role motivation plays in self-directed education. Synthesizing major concepts of several theories of motivation (transformative experience, self-efficacy, self-regulation, expectancy-value theory, and intrinsic and extrinsic motivation), the research demonstrates that unschooling is a viable approach to learning. Motivation requires goals, activity and commitment to achieve outcomes (Schunk, Pintrich & Meece, 2008) and within the context of unschooling, the literature demonstrates that individuals sustain motivation so they can achieve certain tasks. The findings demonstrate a need to invoke students to follow their aptitudes and curiosity outside of the rigid structures of conventional schooling, potentially altering the current landscape of education.
Dr. Whitney SHERMAN



Year 2017 — Volume 11 — Issue 21

Unschooling and How I Became Liberated: The Teenage Liberation Handbook, Quitting School and Getting a Real Life and Education
Pages: 1-7

Twenty-five years ago, Grace Llewellyn, a school teacher from Colorado, published The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get A Real Life and Education. As a teenager struggling with many issues, including bullying, social isolation and poverty, I concluded that school was largely contributing to my misery — thanks to this book, I finally had the clarity and courage to leave school. This is a retrospective and narrative inquiry on my experiences growing up and the book that has helped transform my life and the lives of other unschoolers.
Michael JODAH


The Experiences of New Home Educators
Pages: 8-28

The purpose of this study was to describe the experiences of new home educators. Two main research questions guided the study: 1) How do new home educators describe their homeschooling experience? 2) What do new home educators value about homeschooling? To investigate these questions a phenomenological approach was used to examine the shared experiences of 10 educators who had homeschooled for less than three years. The data from the participants revealed three major themes: (a) Anyone can, and should, homeschool b) The time spent with their children was valued, and (c) The flexibility and adaptability that homeschooling afforded was prized.


A Non-Linear Model for Career Development in Academia
Pages: 29-50

Since the arrival of modern science, many of the professionals who wish to attain an academic career follow a track we call the linear model of accomplishment. Essentially, the model displays a number of sequential steps that each candidate, with minor variations, ought to take. In contrast, the non-linear model deals with professionals who are not able to follow the traditional model to achieve a full-fledged academic life, but that, with an evident scientific vocation, resume an academic career after a number of years dedicated to other professional activities. This paper shows that the systems principle of equifinality applies to career development in academia, by describing examples of linear and non- linear development that take place in traditional and non-traditional institutions in Mexico, respectively.


‘The Holy Grail,’ Trying to Define Alternative Education: A Book Reviewé of the Palgrave International Handbook of Alternative Education
Pages: 51-56

The Palgrave International Handbook of Education is an accessible text allowing the reader to discover for themselves their own definition of alternative education. The three key sections; Thinking differently, doing differently and acting differently allow the reader to find the chapters that refer directly to their situation and culture. I highly recommend the handbook to those interested in alternative education as it fills a much needed hole of cutting edge research into educational alternatives.



Year 2016 — Volume 10 — Issue 20

Unschooling In Hong Kong: A Case Study
Pages: 1-15

Although homeschooling, and more recently, unschooling, is slowly gaining acceptance in the United States; unschooling in Hong Kong is rare and considered risky. The Educational Bureau of Hong Kong (EDB) tends to discourage alternative forms of education, believing that traditional schooling is the best way to educate students. This case study focuses on the unschooling experience of Karen Chow and her family. Karen is one of the first individuals to choose to unschool her children in Hong Kong. She is also the founder and executive member of, an organization focused on rethinking education and educational alternatives in Hong Kong.


Evaluation Of A Temporary, Immersive Learning Community Based On Worldschooling
Pages: 16-27

Learning communities are a proven method for engaging groups of people who share common goals for personal growth and knowledge acquisition (Gabelnick, MacGregor, Matthews, & Smith, 1990; Taylor, Moore, MacGregor, & Lindblad, 2003). However, little is known about the usefulness of this approach in the context of alternative education. This article describes the evaluation of a temporary, immersive learning community for self-directed teen learners, Project World School (PWS), which was based on a new, pedagogical approach to learning called worldschooling. Findings indicate that regardless of demographic characteristics and personal interests, PWS attendees experienced learning and progress in three main areas: social development, personal development, and experiential academics. The PWS model shows evidence of the benefits of worldschooling and has potential to be successfully replicated and translated to other international settings.


Pedagogy Out Of Fear Of Philosophy As A Way Of Pathologizing Children
Pages: 28-47

The article conceptualizes the term Pedagogy of Fear as the master narrative of educational systems around the world. Pedagogy of Fear stunts the active and vital educational growth of the young person, making him/her passive and dependent upon external disciplinary sources. It is motivated by fear that prevents young students—as well as teachers—from dealing with the great existential questions that relate to the essence of human beings. One of the techniques of the Pedagogy of Fear is the internalization of the view that without evaluation and assessment we cannot know a child’s level or “worth”—and therefore are unable to help him/her if he is “slow in learning.”

In contrast, Philosophy for/with Children offers a space for addressing existential questions, some of which deal with urgent social issues. The willingness to make philosophy inquiry an alternative already from an early age seeks to allow the child to challenge him/herself with new and fresh questions. Philosophy for/with Children does not regard children as a “space of lack” (experience, knowledge, values, etc.) The new and fresh philosophical perspective of children demands the presence of a willingness to engage in dialogue and rejection of the fear of the innocent and deep questions of philosophy. Shaking free of the Pedagogy of Fear and restoring honor to children’s questions demands a fundamental conceptual change within education. The replacement of existential certainty as it is depicted by adults in the existing education system with an existential question is a heavy intellectual task that in most cases is viewed as subversive—primarily on the part of the adult. It demands a return to starting points and a willingness to allow children a free and safe educational space in which to ground preliminary and fertile questions about themselves, their lives, their environment, and, most of all, the changing world they discover with the form of originality that is right for them.


“Whatever It Takes” A Case Study Of Our Child’s Alternative Path To Literacy
Pages: 48-66

As public school educators, my husband and I struggled with making alternative academic choices for our child with learning differences. Choosing the alternative path was not easy or clear cut for us. This is a reflective record of the journey toward getting my son “Whatever it Takes” to help him learn. The article chronicles intuition about the early warning signs of learning differences. The article discusses the merits of the private school experience, the homeschooling experience and ultimately a modified and personalized learning plan that made learning natural, while preserving my son’s confidence, self-esteem and integrity. Detailed in the article are the discussions concerning the many educational, instructional and sociological decisions that are necessary to individualize instruction to meet an individual’s needs.


Year 2016 — Volume 10 — Issue 19

Children’s Integration Into Community Life: Opportunities For Meaningful Participation And For Developing Multi-Age Relationships
Pages: 1-27

The integration of children into the daily lives of their communities, and engagement with adults in productive activities and shared endeavours, are two positive elements which have been previ- ously overlooked in discussions of alternative educational approaches. Children, families and communities all benefit when children have regular opportunities to be embedded in the daily social fabric of family and community life, interacting across ages and generations. Interviews with families enrolled in British Columbia’s SelfDesign Learning program demonstrate how the opportunities possible for children who learn outside of school are broad, powerful and should be recognized as legitimate by anyone involved with children.
Kristina LEIDUMS


The History Of Youth Academy Within The Context And History Of Alternative Schooling
Pages: 28-47

Alternative education in America has existed for several decades. Born from egalitarian ideology and calls for social progressivity during the Civil Rights Movement, alternative education has assumed many forms including institutions specifically established to assist students with disciplinary issues, attendance troubles, substance abuse problems, and learning difficulties. Through an in-depth analysis of one such alternative education institution (Youth Academy in West Virginia), this article aims to explain what alternative education is, what it has become, and why alternative education institutions are necessary to help combat problematic social and educational issues in America. The philosophy of re-education is discussed as a theoretical teaching tool and the significance of Youth Academy as a model alternative education institution within its state and nationally is stressed. It was concluded that those entrusted with decision- making power within America’s school systems would be wise to consider the potential benefits of establishing alternative education institutions by using Youth Academy as a possible blueprint.


“The Courage To Let Them Play”: Factors Influencing And Limiting Feelings Of Self-Efficacy In Unschooling Mothers
Pages: 48-81

Work and play are dichotomized in society and the conventional education system. Stepping outside of society’s educational norms and allowing children more free play/choice is not easy, but more parents are doing it by engaging their children in a homeschooling pedagogy called unschooling. What gives these parents the courage to walk down an unconventional educational path? This article will explore factors influencing and limiting feelings of self-efficacy in mothers who unschool. This paper provides an overview of homeschooling, focuses in on unschooling and its connections to play, provides an overview of Bandura’s (1977) theory on self-efficacy, and then interweaves this theory with the experiences of unschooling mothers.


Cracking The Code On The “Hidden Curriculum” In The Medical Education Pipeline And Its Contribution To Attrition
Pages: 82-99

Physicians withstand one of the longest and most complicated educational processes in existence. There are a multitude of personal and professional developmental steps along the way that contribute to physician burnout and career dissatisfaction. This article is the first attempt of its kind to conceptualize these various influences into a series of five phases that each physician-in-training experiences, beginning before medical school even starts. The five phases are: 1. The Pre-Med Syndrome, 2. Adaptation, 3. Assimilation, 4. The Let Down, and 5. Reemerging Priorities. Three of the five phases described here can negatively influence the physician’s psychological well-being, while two of the phases are quite positive and encouraging. The phases don’t necessarily have to occur in sequential order and may be repeated cyclically within each of the formal academic steps (i.e., undergraduate, basic science years of medical school, and the clinical science years). Hopefully, this perspective paper will contribute further to the active discussion of how to make medical education more effective and palatable.


Year 2015 — Volume 9 — Issue 18

An Exploration Of Engagement, Motiviation And Student-Centered Learning In Physical Education
Pages: 1-14

This author examines the discrepancy between the known benefits of physical activity and the startling statistics of obesity in children between the ages of 12 and 17. She queries if it is time to look at educators as contributing to this problem and questions if our current teaching styles and curriculum are working for students. In addition, the author explores the question if by allowing our students autonomy, will this equate to engagement and motivation to continue to participate in physical activities? Through a discussion of her personal experiences and a literature review focusing on the areas of autonomy, engagement and motivation, the author shares input into how and why some students experience physical education in a negative manner, and some things that educators can do to improve student engagement and motivation. Her argument demonstrates that an autonomous, student-centered teaching approach will positively affect student engagement, which in turn causes motivation and a desire to participate in life-long physical activity.
Barbara WARNER


Categorical Alternatives: An Educational Criticism Study
Pages: 15-35

In the writing of this paper, the design of which is based on Elliot Eisner’s Educational Criticism model, both linguistic and non-linguistic description were used to encourage the interpretation and evaluation of a specific and unique alternative educational setting. Five years ago, Ellen’s Learning Annex, a multi-age, one-room school house, was just next door to the researcher, while her son was struggling at the public school a mile away. A day spent observing Ellen and her students yielded data from which three general themes emerged: Heterogeneous age-grouping, place-based education, and sensory integration in a teaching and learning environment.
Elizabeth J. EVANS


Educational Cooperatives And The Changing Nature Of Home Education: Finding Balance Between Autonomy, Support, And Accountability
Pages: 36-63

Four families’ experiences in an educational cooperative and the impact on their home schools are detailed in the study. Results indicated that the families were highly dependent upon the cooperative. The cooperative signified a compromise for the families between the freedom of home schooling and the accountability and support provided by a school. These findings are important for traditional education. Just as home schools are evolving and developing institutions that look something like schools, schools can change too. One way is for the traditional school to operate as a family and community resource rather than the sole purveyor of knowledge.
Kenneth V. ANTHONY


Is There A Curriculum In This House?
Pages: 64-71

Unschoolers are sometimes regarded as using “no curriculum.” This article proposes that curriculum is a path of thought inherent to everyone who thinks. Curriculum is determined not by external sources but by the interaction between the flow of external sources and the actively mediating consciousness of the living learner. This is true whether one is schooling, homeschooling, unschooling or other, because the inner curriculum constantly flows and overcomes obstacles, just as a river finds its way
around dam.




Year 2015 — Volume 9 — Issue 17

Use Your Freedom Of Choice: Reasons For Choosing Homeschool In Australia
Pages: 1-18

In Australia, the decision to home educate is becoming increasingly popular (cf. Harding & Farrell, 2003; Townsend, 2012). In spite of its increasing popularity, the reasons home education is chosen by Australian families is under-researched (cf. Jackson & Allan, 2010). This paper reports on a case study that set out to explore the links between families that unschool and the parenting philosophies they follow. In- depth, qualitative interviews were conducted with a group of home education families in one of Australia’s most populated cities. Data were analysed using Critical Discourse Analysis. The analysis revealed that there were links between the parents’ beliefs about home education and their adherence to Attachment Parenting.


Considering The Community Classroom
Pages: 19-30

This is a discussion article that focuses on the limitations of the single-grade classroom in the traditional public school system. It reviews the benefits of the mixed age classroom that can be seen in alternative education settings. These benefits are both academic and social, as mixed-age classrooms allow for role-modeling in both of these arenas. It explores the various international examples of school systems that use mixed-age classrooms with high levels of academic success, as well as discussing the development of the current school system and how it fails to serve the needs of modern students.


Motivation: Kept Alive Through Unschooling
Pages: 31-41

Motivation is a process, which can be fostered or killed in the name of education. In this paper, the author explores two theories of motivation-Expectancy-Value and Three Elements of Intrinsic Motivation-within the context of unschooling and within a school system. Based on the concepts presented through these theories, the author concludes that unschoolers hold on to their intrinsic motivation while schooled children’s motivation may be killed by attending school.


A Self-Study Of My Life With A Chronic Illness
Pages: 42-58

The following paper is a self-study identifying and examining obstacles I have encountered from living with a chronic illness (CI). In particular, I intend to connect my life experiences as both an individual and educator in academia. The focus of this paper is to reveal my life experiences with a CI, the challenges I encounter, and how I learn I can foster change in the community. A serious failure in my health from the rare chronic gastrointestinal illness I have been diagnosed with initiated a journey of questioning both my knowledge and understandings regarding my life. I was forced to reconnect with my body and yet again, accept the illness inside me. The findings from my recovery included four main themes that illuminate transformative learning with a chronic illness. The themes are betrayed by my body, trying to live, societal differences, and seeking wellness.




Year 2014 — Volume 8 — Issue 16

Hesitation To Resolution: Our Homeschooling Narrative
Pages: 1-12

Our decision to homeschool began with hesitation and uncertainty. Our initial concerns included the socialization of our children, the delivery of curriculum, as well as the contemplation of our aspirations for our children. Through research, and the observation of our children, it has become clear that allowing our children to follow a willed curriculum is the chosen path for our family. This narrative explores the issues that were initially concerns and how they have become our motivation for homeschooling.
Brooke HAUGH


Flemington Road- Ontario’s Original “Hub School”
Pages: 13-17

The 20th Century saw the beginning of the evolution of the public school from an institution, devoted primarily to academic skills, to a multi-functional service facility. Such American visionaries as John Dewey (1915) and Edward Olsen 91945) saw the role of the school as reflecting the social, economic and political realities of life experience or “the school as an extension of the community it serves”. This theory of community education and development spawned the concept of the “community school”. One of the first Canadian examples of community education and development in action was the Flemington Road Community School project serving the Lawrence Heights Ontario Housing Community in the Toronto suburb of North York. Beginning in 1966, this junior kindergarten to grade six facility extended the school day to serve the educational, recreational, health and social development needs of this impoverished community of 5,000. As a result, a full range of services and activities was established both during the day and in the evening for area children, youth and adults. Governance for the project was the responsibility of the Community School Advisory Council consisting of area residents and service providers. The Flemington Road experience has much to inform the current discourse on the potential of the school as a “Multiservice Hub”.


A Discourse On Broadband Technologies And Curriculum Access In Elective Home Learning
Pages: 18-33

The extent, to which broadband technologies are being considered, when accessing the curriculum, is increasingly evident in traditional learning environments such as schools and colleges. This article explores the impact that these technologies are having on the home schooling community by offering enhanced access and opportunities. It suggests that they have generated improved choices and greater freedoms for learning communities. They have shone a light on the curriculum and removed it from the shadows. The curriculum is no longer the preserve of the educational establishment. The “secret garden” has been breached by technologies such as broadband and the democratisation of the curriculum is progressively evident as more diverse learning communities are given increased access and control over the curriculum. The author asks how this is being reflected in policy and translated into practice by the home schooling community whilst acknowledging the contemporary nature of broadband technologies and how they are influencing the decision making process of potential home schoolers. Looking to the future, the author suggests that the political agenda is not providing clear direction and that this is being determined by social reform outside the political sphere and largely driven by the consumer. In this case the learner. The relatively current nature of this debate is in itself justification for further research if we are to develop a clearer understanding of how new technologies such as broadband are influencing policy and practice in the home schooling community.


No School Left Undemocratic: Experiencing Self-Government In A Free School
Pages: 34-53

While schools have been assigned the role of introducing students to our current democratic systems, many have highlighted the paradox of teaching democracy in an undemocratic context (e.g. Biesta, 2007). Alternative models of schools that operate democratically such as free schools (democratic schools in which students and teachers largely have similar rights and obligations) can offer a great deal in terms of democratic education. In this paper, I will talk about the ethnographic study that I conducted about the experiences of Canadian free school students during school meetings (democratic activity during which students with teachers decide on the activities, operations and rules of the school). During this project, I attended 4 school meetings, spent a period of five weeks making observations in a free school and completed 17 interviews about these experiences. Based on this, I maintain that these meetings arose in a school that operated according to a consensus-based model and that students, while attending these meetings, experienced a combination of feelings that mostly included appreciation and concerns while being involved in decision-making processes. As well, I will contend that students, after having taken part in several school meetings, developed skills and attitudes associated to citizenship such as critical thinking and self-confidence. For conventional schools, this means that providing students with opportunities to take decisions democratically could help to foster such skills and attitudes.
Marc-Alexandre PRUD’HOMME




Year 2014 — Volume 8 — Issue 15

Against Schooling: Viewpoints of Tribal Students of Kanavu, India
Pages: 1-28

Achieving what we believe to be the true purpose of education is a challenge in any society, particularly so in a society as diverse as contemporary India. Most attempts in this field are focussed on improving the access of children to education, but substantive questions such as: What is a school to a child? Does he/she enjoy learning? – are seldom addressed prior to drafting any curriculum or policy. Even where they are, the exploration tends to be qualitatively poor and devoid of stake holders’ views. Alternative educational organisations might offer a perspective on the crisis education seems to be in today, with children lacking lifeskills, governments grappling with retention, disparities across gender and caste and declining standards of education. ‘Kanavu’ is an educational organisation managed by tribal youth in Cheengode village of Wayanad, a hilly district in the southern state of Kerala, India. These are children who dropped out of mainstream schooling. In the light of efforts to mainstream tribal students into government schools and to control escalating dropout rates, this paper tries to understand the perspectives of the tribal students of Kanavu on schooling and their reasons for resisting mainstream schooling. This paper is a result of a 4 day visit and extensive correspondence the authors have had with this alternative learning organisation.


Laying the Foundations for Democratic Behavior – A Comparison of Two Different Approaches to Democratic Education
Pages: 29-68

A democracy is a society in which everyone has equal rights and is able to participate in decision-making processes. Consequently, in a democratic society, democratic behavior is essential. This work investigates the question: In what ways and to what extent can alternative models of education support the development of democratic skills in children? To explore this question, the author analyzes and compares two different approaches to democratic education: The Sudbury approach and the democratic free school approach. The study is based on qualitative research – participant observation and open-ended interviews conducted at different Sudbury and democratic free schools in the US.


Slow and Local: A Re-vision of Teacher Education in Ontario
Pages: 69-91

Modern life has created a culture of speed and standardization, especially in the business world. Education is not immune to this culture and, in an effort to prepare teacher-candidates for modern classrooms, pre-service programs in Ontario (and elsewhere) seem to have adopted a business mentality, creating overstuffed classes, overfull timetables, and over-stressed future educators. This article critiques current pre-service program practices and presents slow living and terroir as guiding concepts for revising teacher education. It includes a context for program revision, inspirational observations made in French schools, and recommendations for pre-service programs based on those observations. As well, a model for a two-year consecutive teacher education program is presented, informed by the concepts and observations discussed.
Elizabeth ASHWORTH


The Construction and Perpetuation of Whiteness
Pages: 92-116

White privilege is a prevalent phenomenon in Canadian society. One of the most discouraging aspects of this phenomenon is that white privilege and Whiteness ideology are not discussed sufficiently, which means the mentality and way society is functioning will continue to favour Whiteness ideology. This paper will explain exactly what Whiteness ideology is, where it stems from, and how it has been and continues to be constructed within the family, society, and the education system. Then, the paper will focus on ways to deconstruct Whiteness ideology in these areas, especially in the Canadian education system. Through autobiographical and secondary research, I will challenge the way in which Canadian society functions today.




Year 2013 — Volume 7 — Issue 14

The Challenges and Benefits of Unschooling, According to 232 Families Who Have Chosen that Route
Pages: 1-27

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
Pages: 28-71

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
Pages: 72-91

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
Pages: 92-104

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.




Year 2013 — Volume 7 — Issue 13

How Unschoolers Can Help To End Traditional Reading Instruction
Pages: 1-27

Unschoolers can help end traditional, de-contextualized reading skills instruction, a change which might create other beneficial ripple effects. An unschooling parent and early childhood teacher educator, the author describes how his children learned to read without formal instruction. Next is a description of how prospective and practicing teachers react to this example, to examples of how children learned to read in alternative schools, and to reading research that clearly favors a more natural approach to learning to read. Five ways in which the unschooling model can influence others are described, and three specific suggestions for advocacy by unschoolers are outlined.


Digantar In India: A Case Study For Joyful Learning
Pages: 28-44

The hearts and minds of children and young adults are wide open to the wonders of learning and the fascinating complexities of life. The school has to provide for all these experiences. However, this experience of ‘going to school’ destroys children’s spirit to learn, their sense of wonder, their curiosity about the world, and their willingness to care for the human condition. After finding an ‘extraordinary sameness’ in our schools, Goodlad (1984) wrote, “Boredom is a disease of epidemic proportions. … Why are our schools not places of joy?” (p 242) As educators, we have the responsibility to educate and inspire the whole child – mind, heart, and soul and put more joy into students’ experience of going to school and get more joy out of working inside one. It is rightly said that joyful learning can flourish in school – if you give joy a chance. This paper discusses the example of Digantar schools as a case study of alternative schooling for joyful learning.
Vanita CHOPRA & Sonal CHABRA


A Curricular Paradigm Based Upon Vedic Epistemology: An Approach To Developing The Whole Person
Pages: 45-63

The Bhaktivedanta Dharma School (BDS) provides quality but yet affordable holistic education to the local Indonesian community in Bali. The school’s educational orientation is inspired by the Vedic (Hindu) goals of fruition of knowledge (Vedanta or the essence of the Vedic scriptures) and devotion (Bhakti) to God (Krishna). The curriculum integrates the best of both the eastern and western approaches to enriching young minds. The strengths of both value systems are seen to be crucial in the all-round, dynamic development of children. Not only is academic excellence emphasized but character development and awareness of the higher spiritual purpose of life are also imparted to the kids. The role of the teacher extends beyond the taught curriculum and s/he plays a vital role in the character development of the child, through his or her own personal example. This paper examines the pedagogical effectiveness of the implemented framework of holistic education at BDS based upon the perceptions and experiences of the teachers working in the school. An ethnographic approach was employed as the main research methodology with participant observation and open-ended interviewing the primary means of data collection and analysis. A total of six teachers working at BDS were interviewed in this study. The findings of the study provide deeper insights on the differences between BDS and mainstream, traditional schools in terms of their structural and curricular characteristics and the key challenges participant teachers faced in orientating to the alternative learning culture of BDS.
Dr. Kumar LAXMAN & Aristotle MOTII NANDY


School Refusal And Home Education
Pages: 64-85

When a child refuses to go to school, the whole family is placed in a highly distressing situation. The response of school and mental health professionals in the UK is to return the child to school as soon as reasonably possible; home education is almost never suggested as a viable alternative. Nevertheless, a number of parents decide that home education will be in the best interests of their children. This mixed-method study reports on 20 such families who completed questionnaires, followed up by 5 in-depth interviews. Parents generally reported that symptoms associated with school refusal, both physical and psychological, lessened or disappeared altogether. Moreover, although they had turned to home education as a last resort, the majority decided to continue after seeing their children thrive academically and socially. It is concluded that parents of school refusers should always be fully informed about home education.
Allison WRAY & Alan THOMAS