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Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Kimi & Shaun - On Top of the World!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What we wish the media shared about us...

We’ve been proactively exposing our kids for years to the many different ideas & things that exist in the world & they do choose to learn about interesting & complicated stuff, such as mythology, forensic science, geography, geology, opera, Shakespeare.  They have been reading since they were little - before school-age - & read every single day from numerous types of literature.
Kimi & Shaun can learn organically or formally - it’s their choice how they get their information.  They didn’t need classes to learn those things already mentioned as well how to swim, ski, hike, climb rock walls, read, figure out math problems, type, spell & write.  Things they have chosen to attend classes for include zoo school, a NASA simulation, sword fighting & historical weapons, gymnastics, Japanese culture, French, creative writing & robotics.  
There are a large number of radical unschoolers who are currently in college or already part of the work force.  They are positively engaged in society, not lost souls who can’t hold a job or take care of themselves.  Most 13 or 15 year olds don’t feel ready for college, no matter how they are being educated, so judging unschoolers differently is hypocritical.  Our kids will pursue whatever form of higher education they want because of specific goals they have set for themselves, not just because that’s what everyone is supposed to do.
There is a huge difference between no rules and no arbitrary rules.  When rules feel arbitrary people of all ages will fight back, sometime subtly, sometimes blatantly.  Our family “rules” are actually principles, with trust, respect & honesty always supporting the decision-making process.  As they internalize these principles, they are armed with the character tools needed to make logical, informed decisions and behave with honor and integrity, no matter how amazing or mundane the task.
Typical day?  Fortunately, unschoolers don't have a monotonous routine 5 days a week, 9 months out of the year!  "Typical" depends on the type of day.  

When we’re traveling, we have places to visit & things to do based upon whether the place is new to us or not.  This could include going to museums, zoos, national parks, cities, beaches, or musical or theatrical events.

When we’re home, the kids have various activities that they are engaged in, which could be done alone, with each other or us, or with a group of friends.  Activities include reading about, researching or exploring something that they are currently interested in, socializing with friends, working on projects, running errands or helping around the house.  Some days they have their classes to go to.  It varies & they are always busy & engaged in some activity.

Our kids are thoroughly engaged in their community - not being in school frees them to interact with many different people, doing different jobs, of different ages & backgrounds.  Their friendships & acquaintances provide them with a wider point of view of life styles that are different from their own.  The issues of bullying, cliques & negative peer pressure are not a part of their lives - they can't imagine why people would treat others that way.

Why can't learning be a joyful thing?  Why do so many people want children to "endure" - what does that say about their own lives?  And why do so many people think so little about the capabilities & work ethic of children, teens & young adults?  If so many are so lazy, well, were they unschooled or schooled - & if they were schooled (which we all know most were) then how can you attack unschoolers instead of the school system that begot these "lazy" adults?

I'm not saying the public school is all bad, even when it doesn't have a 100% success rate.  There are families that are not equipped, for various reasons, to unschool their children.  But the system is far from perfect.  Unschoolers are not perfect, but somehow we are expected to do better than what the school system is able to do.  I hope that those families looking for alternatives can find useful, factual information to help them make decisions that enhance their lives & the lives of their children.


  1. Hi Christine! I watched the second day of the GMA story after my local homeschool list lit up with comments on the first day. So I didn't see the original segment, but heard it was edited in a biased manner. Even on the second day, I noticed how often the video footage was of your kids playing video games! I don't consider myself a radical unschooler or even an unschooler per se (although we're moving toward more purely interest-led learning these days) but I socialize with enough homeschoolers of many different stripes to know that that was *not* an accurate representation of the full spectrum of your life. I thought you did a fantastic job during the all-too-brief studio interview on Day 2, explaining what you DO do instead of just what you DON'T. Way to show grace under fire!

  2. Too bad all of this info didn't make the cut! Thank you for putting yourselves out there. Really we just all want what is best for our kids. We just happen to not make the popular choice. It's crazy how people get so raddled over unschooling. I don't think the popular choice is doing such a great job churning out happy people. I feel my kids happiness, inner voice and passions are way more important than just getting a job that pays the bills. What a sad thing. Thanks again.

  3. No big surprise that the tv folks sacrificed truth for ratings. Those of us who actually have experience with unschooling saw through it, though.