Category Archives: Publications

Year 2024 — Volume 18 — Issue 35

Holistic Healing: International Medical Students Share Their Narratives Around Stress, Anxiety, and Mental Health
Pages: 1-20

This paper is a narrative that explores the experiences of two medical students, Annabel Ricci and Richard Rubin. At the age of 18, they each moved away to attend a rigorous program. Throughout the paper, they discuss how they have been affected by the stresses of attending an international medical school on a Caribbean island, and what they have each done to cope and strive to succeed personally and academically. They describe their experiences using a holistic theoretical framework.
Annabel Ricci and Richard Rubin


Political and Civic Engagement among Free School Alumni: A Range of Outcomes
Pages: 21-57

Civic and political engagement are at an inflection point in the United States. While some forms of engagement are on a negative path (e.g. contested civic education, dwindling community group membership), other forms are increasing (e.g. unionization, volunteerism, protests) (Atwell, Stillerman, Bridgeland, 2021). Many scholars and activists claim that one way to increase civic and political engagement is through civic education, yet most studies of civic education deal with conventional public schools. Minimal attention has been paid to the civic/political engagement potential of alternative forms of education. This article seeks to add to the relatively small body of knowledge about democratic free schools and their outcomes, especially as related to civic and political engagement. The Albany Free School (AFS) is a democratic free school where students self-direct their education. Such schools are part of a counter-hegemonic movement in the United States that dates back to the early 20th century and which has both anarchist and libertarian roots (von Duyke, 2013). Such schools purport to create spaces where students can develop critical authorial agency (Matusov, 2020) and habits/skills of engagement in the political/civic sphere. This article, based on data from interviews conducted with 18 alumni of the AFS, focuses specifically on discussions of alumni political and/or civic engagement and begins with a literature review defining how political and civic engagement manifests, and then moves into exploring the existing literature on the political/civic engagement-related outcomes of democratic free schools. This literature is mixed as to whether such schools are successful at nurturing such engagement, and the findings of the data collected in this study confirm these mixed outcomes. The article concludes with a discussion of the paradox presented in democratic education between having no defined curricular endpoints and a declared set of characteristics and dispositions that are sought.
Kristan Morrison


Succinctly Science: How Poetry Can Help Make Science Accessible and Enjoyable
Pages: 58-78

STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are a valuable part of a student’s education. However, not all students find STEM subjects engaging on their own. This paper investigates the relationship between science and poetry and how these seemingly disparate subjects can be used in tandem to better understand and explore each other. This site-specific case study offers a glimpse into how a single alternative classroom located in the state of Georgia linked scientific and poetic inquiry to increase student understanding and enjoyment of science and writing. Results show that science and poetry work synergistically to foster an environment of active learning across multiple age groups.
Nancy Heiss


Year 2023 — Volume 17 — Issue 34

Unschooling Students with Disabilities
Pages: 1-23

As the number of families choosing to homeschool continues to grow, it becomes increasingly important to study different ways in which families choose to homeschool their children. Unschooling is a variety of homeschooling where children learn through everyday life experiences and through their own intrinsic motivations. The percentage of homeschoolers who consider themselves unschoolers can be estimated at approximately 20%, and that number continues to grow at a steady rate as unschooling increases in popularity (Blanding, 2018). As the population of homeschoolers increases, the number of parents who choose to unschool their children with disabilities has also risen. Many find unschooling to be an ideal educational alternative because of its self-directed, self-paced approach. Within this study, fifty parents completed a survey regarding their experiences unschooling a child or multiple children with disabilities. Overall, most parents saw unschooling as a healing environment that provides a more personalized learning environment for students with disabilities as compared to school. However, the unschooling parents in this study did report significant time/career sacrifices, as well as a need for more respite. Also reported was a need for more unschooling friendly practitioners and service providers, a more inclusive unschooling community, and increased normalization and legitimization of unschooling as a choice through further research.
Gina Riley, Ph.D.


“I Want Them to Have the Right”: John Holt’s Seven Arguments for Curricular Libertarianism
Pages: 24-48

In this paper, I list and examine seven arguments John Holt gave for curricular libertarianism (CL), the idea that learners should be free to choose what they learn. I group these arguments into three groups by type of reason they employ; Holt offers three epistemic, two moral, and two practical arguments for CL. After listing and examining each argument, I suggest that while each may be vulnerable on its own to obvious counterarguments, these seven reasons mutually reinforce each other to make a more compelling overall case for CL.
Dr. Kevin Currie-Knight


Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning as Meditative Inquiry: A Book Review of Engaging with Meditative Inquiry in Teaching, Learning, and Research: Realizing Transformative Potentials in Diverse Contexts (2022, Routledge, edited by Ashwani Kumar)
Pages: 49-58

In this book, Ashwani Kumar explores meditative inquiry as curriculum, enfolding the personal and professional experience into a blended sensational phenomenon. He believes a continual practice of contemplative dialogical engagement can manifest a re-envisioned approach to teaching as it acknowledges and nurtures the inter-relational and wholeness aspect of living and learning. Through an edited collection of essays from scholars, teachers, and practitioners, infused meditative inquiry experiences are shared. Each of their unique depictions demonstrates the transformative value and far-reaching effect of a deep reflective study of the self. Their stories show how evolving a greater sense of self-awareness generates a change in action which transfers through to all interrelations. This insight reveals that teaching, learning, and living are experientially embodied and educational; the practice of teaching is a practice of the self. Kumar’s research indicates a holistic view with a meditative mind embedding theory into practice allows for a healthier, progressive advancement in education.
Cherie Carter


Year 2023 — Volume 17 — Issue 33

Deschooling and unschooling after experiences of bullying: Five parents tell their stories
Pages: 1-25

In this paper, we examine the reports of parents who are unschooling because of the bullying their children experienced in mainstream Australian schools. Extant home education research that considers bullying tends to see it as part of a suite of negative experiences that lead to home education. These studies rarely take as their starting point the primary role of bullying in the decision to home educate. This paper examines the reports of parents who identify peer bullying as the main reason they home educate. It analyses the narratives of families who reported that not only was bullying at school the primary driver to home school but that unschooling was a means of healing from the school-based trauma due to bullying. Data are drawn from qualitative interviews with six Australian parents who were home educating because of bullying, five of whom self-identified as relaxed homeschoolers/child-led homeschoolers/unschoolers. We note how these approaches were identified as a means of healing from the trauma of bullying which, in several cases, led to serious and severe psychological outcomes. Our study supports the findings of previous research that suggest that a relaxed approach to home education can be an important means of healing after serious school trauma for students.
Dr. Rebecca English, Professor Marilyn Anne Campbell, and Ms. Leah Moir


Broadening the concept of parent involvement: Homeschool families as a pattern for traditional school parent involvement
Pages: 26-57

Parental Involvement (PI) research indicates that PI is positively associated with academic success and that for the past forty years researchers, teachers, and administrators have encouraged greater levels of parental involvement in schools to improve overall student achievement. This research reviews at home learning activities conducted by homeschool families that traditional school families can adopt as PI. Our analysis of homeschool families’ PI that could be adopted by traditional families led to several conclusions discussed within this review. The expanded view of PI could potentially challenge the preeminent role of schools in education and result in conflict between parents and schools, either serving as a barrier to productive PI or serving to motivate some parents to abandon traditional schools in favor of homeschooling.
Kenneth V. Anthony, Ph.D. and Mark Wildmon, Ph.D.


Kaliyuva Mane: An Alternative School that Transforms Lives
Pages: 58-81

This is a case study of an alternative school that transforms the lives of children from the most underprivileged conditions who have dropped out of the formal school system and lost interest in education. The study explores the unique practices of the school that gives new life to the out of school children. The data were gathered through interviews of 39 stakeholders of the school that includes the founder and managing trustee, administrative staff, teachers, students, and volunteers. The data leads to the following themes: personalised curriculum, multigrade-multilevel learning, infrastructure as a learning site, assessment for learning, life skills integration, education as a social service. The farm-like school environment, personal care in a residential set up, flexible curriculum, and learner centred pedagogy enable the children not only to learn the academic subjects and develop eco consciousness but also to master many skillsets that are critical for living in the real world.
V. Ramadas


Year 2022 — Volume 16 — Issue 32

Increasing Collaboration between Homeschoolers and Counselors
Pages: 1-30

An estimated 1.8 million students are homeschooled in the United States, and interest has only increased during the pandemic. To provide appropriate services, counselors must understand the contexts and characteristics of homeschoolers. The history of homeschooling provides insight into vulnerabilities and mistrust of public systems which may exist. Reasons and methods of homeschooling differentiate the diversity within the homeschool community, while examining known challenges reveals a possible space for counselors. School counseling history and structure can serve as a template for building counseling services within homeschools and can lead to clinical implications for consideration. Children in public and private schools have access to an array of counseling services within their schools, while homeschooled children and families may not. It may be helpful to explore whether there is a desire for greater access to counseling services within the homeschool community. Unfortunately, there is little literature available on the topic of counseling within the homeschooling community. The purpose of this paper is to review the available literature as well as provide clinical and research recommendations.
Leslie Contos and Eman Tadros


At Risk and Silent: Giving Voice to Students Participating in an Alternative School-in-School Program
Pages: 31-58

Students are placed in alternative educational arrangement for a variety of reasons. Some programs exist outside of the regular school district; however, some exist as part of the school district and on the same campuses as the main schools. These schools provide students with the opportunity to succeed in a different environment. The current investigation examines the alternative school from the perception of the student. This qualitative investigation includes four students who completed their high school education through an alternative school located on the campus of the local high school. Student feedback provides insight to school leaders on the role that alternative education can play in the student’s success and what the students believe can be improved so that they are successful beyond the classroom. Results indicate that students were positive about their alternative school experience and believed their programming provided them with opportunities that supported both academic and person growth.
Joseph A. Glavan, Karen H. Larwin, and Kathleen B. Aspiranti


Racism Against Japanese Canadians in British Columbia: My Reflections on Racism Inspired by John Holt
Pages: 59-75

Racism against Japanese Canadians in British Columbia (B.C.) has been an ongoing issue with its roots ingrained in the past. The province of B.C. has a history of putting Japanese Canadians into internment camps during World War II due to their ethnic background and are still refusing to include this tragedy into the current B.C. curriculum. This reflective autoethnography guided by John Holt’s Learning All the Time, explores the history and current issues that Japanese Canadians face in B.C. Through the lens of the researcher’s own experiences with racism, the issues of being a “model minority”, the difficulties of cultural identity, and the current state of racism towards Asian Canadians are discussed. The study concludes that, the lack of historical recognition from the government and with the rise in hate crimes towards Asian Canadians due to COVID-19, racism towards “model minorities” is very much alive in today’s society.
May (Mayuka) Raymond


Year 2022 — Volume 16 — Issue 31

A Curricular Framework for Traversing into the Valley of Vocation
Pages: 1-13

This article introduces a U-shaped curricular framework for people to traverse into the valley of vocation. In addition, I present three educational orientations related to life and work and discuss the relationship between one’s work and the larger whole of life. The framework and the discussion are useful to support alternative education’s aspiration to unfold the potential of the whole self over the whole of life, as well as my personal vision for people to become more fully who they uniquely already are to mend a specific ache in the everyday world.
Devon Almond


Learning at Home: Exploring the Benefits of Homeschooling in Pakistan
Pages: 14-47

Homeschooling is a form of experiential learning which is fast picking momentum worldwide as an alternative educational choice driven by motivations unique to each family. No matter what the motivation, the end is to make learning more meaningful and value laden. Subject to much controversy by critics, especially in the realm of socialization, identity formation and academic performance, it is thought of as a bold and deviant ideology by mainstream society. Guided with a phenomenological approach, through in-depth interviews which were analyzed qualitatively, this exploratory study explores the benefits of homeschooling as experienced by six families from Karachi who decided to pull out their children from elite private schools to homeschool them due to dissatisfaction with the given schools. Findings revealed that the most conspicuous benefits derived from homeschooling were strengthened familial bonds, better socialization, improved academic learning, better social and moral instruction, and increased opportunities for self-discovery apart from other aggregate benefits.
Erum Qureshi & Dr. Muhammad Abid Ali


Culturally Sustaining Practices in Public Montessori Schools: A Landscape of the Literature
Pages: 48-68

This literature review provides a broad examination of the importance of culturally sustaining practices in public Montessori schools. For the purpose of this paper, culturally sustaining practices refers to any pedagogical practice or framework that prioritizes the racial and social identities of children of color, and/or the work that educators must do to strengthen these culturally sustaining practices. Culturally sustaining practices include but are not limited to Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy, which Paris (2012) adapted from Ladson-Billings’ (1995) Culturally Responsive Pedagogy. Specifically examining the experiences that children of color experience in public Montessori education in the U.S., the author proposes that culturally sustaining practices combined with the Montessori method will lead to more humanizing and uplifting school experiences for Montessori families and educators. The research questions guiding the review are: (1) How does public Montessori education intersect with racial justice, social justice, and CSP, specifically as it serves children of color? (2) What is the internal work required of adults who want to employ CSP in their practice with children? The themes that arose from the literature were: the racial and economic challenges facing public Montessori in the U.S.; the varied experiences of Montessori students of color; the need for more social justice and culturally sustaining practices; and the aspects of culturally sustaining practices already existing in Montessori. The paper ends with recommendations for schools and Montessori teacher preparation.
Genevieve D’Cruz


Year 2021 — Volume 15 — Issue 30

Is Alternative Schooling Associated with Lower Bullying Incidence?
Pages: 1-15

Bullying is a serious problem in mainstream public schools. One purpose of this article is to review the literature to investigate whether other types of schools, such as Steiner schools and Montessori schools, have a lower frequency of bullying than mainstream schools. Another purpose is to determine if bullying is a common factor leading to decisions to homeschool children. The article also includes a discussion of some lessons mainstream schools can learn from alternative schools about bullying prevention. There is evidence to suggest that bullying is more prevalent at mainstream schools, and bullying is a commonly cited reason to homeschool.
Chris Peters


What is so Alternative about the Alternative Education in Israel? The Scale of 11 Challenges set by the Alternative Education None-Mainstream
Pages: 16-41

The Israeli education system consists of public state schools and an alternative education system. This article reviews the unique characteristics of the alternative educational frameworks and analyzes the challenges they pose to the traditional and conservative state education system. The text offers a distinction between “Alternatives in education” vs. “Alternativeness in education” based on Ivan Illich others.
Arie Kizel, Ph.D.


Managing and Disseminating Indigenous Knowledge: The Case of LIO’s Climate forums
Pages: 42-89

This study explores the complexity of managing and disseminating Indigenous knowledge. UK-Based International Organization (LIO)’s Climate forums provide a practical example of knowledge management since they capture the voices of people who have been affected by climate change in order to put pressure on governments to act on climate change. While the Climate forums are an admirable attempt to give people a ‘voice’ on climate change, the full potential of ‘voice’ is overlooked since Indigenous knowledge is not explicitly recognised as part of LIO’s knowledge management strategy. Development communication is explored as an approach for Indigenous knowledge management.
Jennifer Reddy


Year 2021 — Volume 15 — Issue 29

Transformative, Intercultural Learning from the Indigenous Teaching Circle: Creative autoethnographic reflections on dialogic, holistic education with place
Pages: 1-35

This reflective, creative autoethnography explores an intercultural, dialogic pedagogy of transformative learning that has historically been taught as a teaching circle in indigenous communities. The focus is on what this alternative learning process means to a non-aboriginal learner, artist/teacher, and whether the circle pedagogy can be collectively engaged in the classroom by non-aboriginal and aboriginal teachers/learners. Through a visual and poetic autoethnography, the researcher presents her thematic reflections on her learning experience. The study concludes that aboriginal and non-aboriginal teachers/learners may benefit from the teaching circle process because it is a participatory model of transformative education that is grounded in the holistic pedagogy of place.
Olga Shugurova


Doctor Stockmann and Greta Thunberg: Some Implications of Intellectual Resistance, Eco-activism and Unschooling
Pages: 36-61

This paper ascertains how Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and Doctor Stockmann of Henrik Ibsen’s play An Enemy of the People (1882) represent an intellectual activism in two different contexts of world realities. Greta (2003), a Swedish teenager, singlehandedly embarks on a “School Strike for Climate” (SSC) in August, 2018 (Swedish: Skolstrejk för klimatet), which subsequently develops into a global movement being broadly labeled as “Fridays for Future” (FFF). She has now spearheaded this strike towards a worldwide climate movement. She has thus forged her identity as an eco-intellectual or climate activist but endured the backlashes and controversies of the development pedagogues and totalitarian world leaders. On the other hand, Doctor Stockmann, an alter ego of Henrik Ibsen, functions beyond his own profession to serve his intellectual responsibility. He detects fatal infection in the spa of the fictional city which garners a substantial financial sustenance for the city. He strives to disclose the diagnosis of bacterial contamination to avoid the health and economic hazards of his locale. But in so doing, he is converted into a foe of the city and finally forced to go for a social estrangement by the city mayoral administration. This paper concentrates also on all the socio-ethico-political compulsions, which pose threatening inhibitions to Dr. Stockmann but lead him to evolve himself into an intellectual rebel. By exploring these two contextual instances of intellectual activism and confrontation, this paper also locates Greta and Stockmann within a broader spectrum of eco-ethical resistance that can designate them as a thematic content in the unschooling learning spaces. This paper hinges on Greta in a particular light by presenting Greta’s resistance as a call for re-visioning the societal ideologies on children and their relationship to environmental consciousness.
Habibur Rahaman


The Commodification of the Female Body on Instagram: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis
Pages: 62-89

Instagram is an application that is used by both the public and numerous corporations to strategically impact the mental wellbeing of many young females for capitalist gain. In Canada’s modern capitalist culture, large corporations like Instagram use market interests to guide what users see and impact the products of which their audience can access. This small meta-analysis aims to determine how Instagram usage can fundamentally impact female youth on a global scale. These articles were gathered from a global review of the literature and included influential articles from Canada, Spain, and Australia. This research has shown that the commodification, or process of turning young females’ bodies into commodities, significantly negatively impacts their wellbeing. Furthermore, it was discovered that social media algorithms, Instagram’s Terms of Use, and the application’s accessibility of its users all impact how females build a sense of identity today.
Shannon LaForme-Csordas


Year 2020 — Volume 14 — Issue 28

No Amount of Tinkering Around the Edges: A Qualitative Study of Teacher Narratives About Leaving Conventional School Teaching and Discovered Self-Directed Learning Spaces
Pages: 1-27

In this paper, I qualitatively analyze written and audio (podcast) accounts from eight teachers who left the field of conventional school teaching and went on to found or work in self-directed learning centers. Studies on teacher attrition tend to focus on teachers who leave education entirely (or continue teaching by working through hardships). The experience of these teachers – who neither remained in conventional schools or left careers in education – highlight an interesting middle-space. I review the similarities and differences of these former-teachers’ journeys, as well as compare their reported experience to existing literature on teacher attrition.
Kevin Currie-Knight


Willed Learning and Art as a Way for Young People to Express Their Feelings
Pages: 28-50

The homeschooling of my 6-year-old son during the school closures due to the pandemic outbreak of COVID-19 has become exceptionally easier when, after a few failed attempts, I decided to give willed-learning a try. I have been brought up in a very different educational system, and my biggest fear was to lower my standards. I thought without a fixed daily plan and a rigid curriculum, my son would waste his time, but soon I realized that my style of homeschooling is more damaging than helping. After trying the willed-learning approach, his stress subsided and he became more confident and happy in his learning journey. In this paper, I will share my story while drawing on the willed-learning approach by Carlo Ricci (2012) to argue that children will feel empowered when they have the freedom to choose when to learn,
what to learn and how to learn.
Leila Kharazmi


Whispers of Transformative Silence on the Country Road to College
Pages: 51-58

A doctoral dissertation that sought to illustrate the country road to college involved traveling thousands of miles to interview rural and indigenous students about their collegiate experiences. Whispers of transformative silence pointed to a distinct reality beyond what was actually said. The research involved writing-up what was actually spoken by study participants (i.e. exterior realities), not what I was actually listening into (i.e. interior realities). Reflecting on this odyssey, it seems participants were pointing towards what is often missing in mainstream higher education.
Devon Almond


Year 2020 — Volume 14 — Issue 27

Indigenous Ways of Teaching and Learning as Unschooling: Relevant Studies and Contemporary and Indigenous Definitions of Unschooling
Pages: 1-19

Many Canadian homeschool families use different methods of learning at home, including unschooling. The methods and definitions can be challenging. The author’s review of the literature identifies both contemporary and Indigenous definitions of unschooling.  As a Metis family that is learning at home without a curriculum, the researcher questioned where are other Indigenous families who are learning the same way.   Using auto-ethnography to illustrate how the author’s family came to learning at home, this paper explores relevant North American studies of homeschooling.  The research reveals that most data are limited to enrollment data by provinces and territories. The concluding result of the study determines that Indigenous ways of teaching and learning is unschooling.
E.D. Woodford


Creating an alternative dissertation: Learning from the gates of loving inquiry
Pages: 20-30

My alternative PhD dissertation documented my practice of Loving Inquiry during a year of
living in my new home on Butterstone Farm, Salt Spring Island. Using the arts-based practices of poetry, narrative and photography, I learned to pause, breathe in and open my heart into
relationship with the human and natural beings there.
Ahava Shira


Sing, O Muse: On the Link Between Creativity and Self-Directed Education
Pages: 31-47

This article explores the connection between self-directed education and creativity.
Creativity is characterized as having the ability to produce ideas or creations that are innovative,
original, and imaginative. Self-directed education refers to a type of education in which what,
where, and how a student learns is chosen by the student, rather than strictly following a
predetermined curriculum. There are currently three primary means of self-directed education:
unschooling, democratic schools, and free schools. This article discusses five ways in which the
concepts of creativity and self-directed education overlap. These connections are: the connection between life and learning, the crucial role of play and experimentation, increased personal autonomy, a strong sense of personal initiative, and an egalitarian social structure.
Benjamin Riley


Year 2019 — Volume 13 — Issue 26

Healing Through Unschooling
Pages: 1-13

A parent of children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), this author began homeschooling one of her children when he was unable to cope in the mainstream system. When the supports that were working for the child at school were removed, he became violent and aggressive causing him to face multiple suspensions. Together she and her child explored homeschooling, then unschooling where they found hope and healing.
Debbie Michaud


First They Came for the Unschoolers: A Faircloughian Critical Discourse Analysis of Queensland Home Education Policies
Pages: 14-47

Increasing numbers of Australian parents, like me, are choosing to home educate. US estimates suggest, within home educated populations, 5 per cent of home education cohorts (Riley, 2018) follow an unschooling, or self-directed education (SDE), approach. In the past, these parents registered with the government department; however, policy changes made in Queensland in May 2018 make registration almost impossible for unschoolers and discriminate against families whose registration was based on a philosophy such as SDE.
Rebecca English


In Praise of Illegible Learning: Reasons for and Difficulties of Challenging Artificially-Ordered Schooling
Pages: 48-73

The history of American k-12 schooling can be best understood as an attempt to make illegible processes legible – that is, a process of taking informal and often localized educational practices and reorganizing them in a more formalized way so that they can be standardized and understood by those not involved in those processes. Conversely, self-directed forms of education (such as unschooling and “free”/democratic schooling), are best seen as reactions against this trend toward legibility, as attempts to reintroduce illegibility into the learning process.
Kevin Currie Knight