Tag Archives: unschooling

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 EDiversity.org, 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.