Unschoolery http://sett.com/unschoolery An Undefinitive Guide to Unschooling en-us Mon, 06 Apr 2020 10:24:21 +0000 http://sett.com Sett RSS Generator Starting to Unschool on Guam http://sett.com/unschoolery/community/80902 I have five children in a Christian school that I really like; however, one of those children is a square peg and won't fit in that round hole. So she and I are venturing to try something new--unschooling! Here is my brain dump from Evernote about why, what and how we will be doing this. I'm happy to hear comments and suggestions.

WHY I've realized for many years that the current education system is not the best way to educate our children. From the moment one of my kids said, "I love reading, but my school is making me hate it," I knew that there was something off kilter. Also, the economic climate truly points to a need for independent, entrepreneurial learning as a focus of education.

Creativity is important to us as a family and continues to grow in importance in the world our kids will be entering as adults. David Pink writes in A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future, " The future belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind: artists, inventors, storytellers-creative and holistic "right-brain" thinkers whose abilities mark the fault line between who gets ahead and who doesn't. Sir Ken Robinson's TEDtalk also has had a eureka affect on my thinking about children and how their creativity is developed. Over 10 million people have watched this video:http://youtu.be/zDZFcDGpL4U

Life Lessons: I know that my "traditional education" did not prepare me for being a wife, a mom, or an entrepreneur. I think this is a very important part of training a child up. We often miss this opportunity, especially when our kids attend schools that emphasize rigorous academics and when we have multiple children involved in sports or other extracurricular activities, those important life lessons are left by the wayside at best.

A Little Bit of a Lot and Not a Lot of Anything: I know that schools want to expose kids to a lot of different subjects and topics just in case one of those might be the spark for a life-long career. The problem is that kids rarely get the opportunity to get rich, authentic experiences with any specific areas of study.

World View: It is easy for children, even in a Christian school, to think that their subjects and their world view are isolated from one another. I believe it's important for there to be continuity in order to prevent confusion.

WHAT In my ongoing, fervent digging for resources, I've realized some key things:

  1. I lean toward unschooling to the degree that I'd like to open up the education process to my child as a more natural, meaningful process that leads to the goal of allowing her to develop her unique talents and gifts through the exploration of topics that are naturally discovered through reading, creating, and, well--just living.
  2. Within the idea of unschooling, I feel that using a project-based approach will be more beneficial for us. Children love to create. Using a project-based approach gives us just the right amount of structure once we narrow down the areas of learning my child would like to pursue.
  3. I will not get caught up in hard-nosed terminology. That's one of the problems with the current education system. It's not flexible and does not bend to suit the uniqueness of the child, the culture, or the social and economic environment. Getting stuck on words like "unschooling" (radical or not), "project-based-homeschooling," and "curriculum" eliminates opportunities, so I will be cautious to prevent getting snagged by stagnant jargon. I've read too many blogs and comments with cantankerous attitudes. Ick!


  1. We will start off with our Unschool Interest List to guide some points of interest or "Big Questions." I may need to use a "QFocus" or promting statement or idea to get this started, especially when we first get started after some deschooling. http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2012/08/23/educators-students-ask. We may even develop these lists into graphic webs for future use using Grafio app or other mind mapping apps.
  2. We will then use the Unschool Learning Plan to develop a plan for learning. This focus is on a holistic way of learning (interdisciplinary) where the different content areas are integrated into a seamless learning experience (i.e. reading, writing, math, science, social studies, etc.)
  3. This can be used as a resource: SOLE (Self Organized Learning Environment) by Ted Talks Award Winner Sugata Mitra http://www.ted.com/pages/prizewinner_sugata_mitra. He offers a wonderful tool kit linked on the site.
  4. Develop the time and space for the learning experience. See this link for good tips on Project-based learning:http://project-based-homeschooling.com/10-steps-to-getting-started-with-project-based-homeschooling which includes planning or mapping the learning experience, layers of learning, curating and documenting the experience (i.e. photos, journals, etc.)
  5. Whenever possible, we will have onsite learning at businesses, organizations or with people and professionals who deal with various selected topics in a real-world way.
  6. Ensure that the product of the learning experience is clearly reflected upon through one or more forms of communication.

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Thu, 17 Oct 2013 00:31:13 +0000 http://sett.com/unschoolery/community/80902
I'm collecting home education stories http://sett.com/unschoolery/community/85411 I'm collecting stories from people 18+ from people who have been through home education / unschooling and are willing to share a few words of their approach, how it went and where they are now. The results will be published open and freely. The idea being that it will help, inspire and give confidence to those newer to unschooling / home education.

Details here - http://www.unschool.me/2013/11/21/collecting-home-education-stories/

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Sun, 24 Nov 2013 22:54:16 +0000 http://sett.com/unschoolery/community/85411
Live, share and explore! http://sett.com/unschoolery/community/62793 My first unschooling subject, the topic I personally had to learn more about, came up when my son started to walk.

He was putting everything in mouth, so I had to check myself : did I want to mimick the common react "yucky, yucky it's dirty, leave it!"? So I taught myself enough about wild eatable plants (many many more than you'd expect) and toxic ones, and soon we were sharing strange salads from the discarded wealth of nature. "You can eat this one, instead!"

I love globes, I bought us one, and he would quizz me for up to an hour on reading country names, so before 3, he could remember about a hundred of them and became especially intrigued by islands. He started talking much about Greenland, so I told him we'd try to go, but for now, if he wanted to fly, my budget was ok with a few days in Bruxelles. For less than 200€ grand total, my 4 years old son, baby daughter and I flew low-cost to Belgium, got an incredibly generous host from couchsurfing, visited one museum a day. We loved the five senses exhibit, and the DIY scientastic, but not much the kids museum, really made with a 'teaching' mind.

What I find so exhilarating about unschooling is : YES (we're gonna see how to make this happen) is the default answer. Where did unschooling take you so far?

Not teaching does not mean you should not really observe your child and offer. My son was usually running sprints inside our old little flat, and when outside, he was so busy sensing, seeing things that he would walk slowly and stop often. So I got him a trampoline at home, and to share the jumping fun, counted for him - he loved the sound of new words, he was 3. That's how he accidentally learned counting up to 1000 in French and English, and up to 100 in Arabic, Italian, German, Amharic. What uncommon tools did your kids discover for learning math or languages?

One fun consequence is that my son usually starts a conversation with an adult by stuff they might have no clue about, like umami taste, order of the planets in the solar system, purslane season... Or tell me in shock : "you should know everything!"

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Thu, 29 Aug 2013 05:19:53 +0000 http://sett.com/unschoolery/community/62793
Gamification Explained Shortly http://sett.com/unschoolery/community/329563 With the ever increasing effect technology has on our day-to-day activities, a new lifestyle has conquered our planet, teaching us to better understand the meaning of life. Gamification, is a word we started see more and more in the past couple of months, yet only few of the enlightened ones, have managed to truly comprehend its meaning. As time goes by, it becomes even harder for us to fully explain its constantly expanding nature. In the basis of it stays our natural ability to play. Being the most well-developed mammals on Earth, we humans are amongst the few creatures in this planet, which actually know how to play. It is being observed with dolphins, who enjoy diving though the tiny bubble rings they create, dogs, who just love fetching or chimpanzees who even use tools, such as sticks and pebbles, in their games. Yet these are only a small part of the live population on Earth. The other ones have no ability to play, as explained by specialists. And how does playing makes us so special? And what exactly is gamification?

Graphic explaining gamification

Our course of life passes through several different stages, each of which has critically important meaning for our normal development. Along with the teen years and many others, come the time when we discover games. Playing has an essential role in our lives, being a trigger for community development and many more. The games we play are not just entertainment, they are a way for us to learn and experience events which wouldn't otherwise have the chance of living through. It is our own way of growing up and develop our minds. This is why it is not a secret, that millions of people age 25 and above still have the need to play - they basically need learning. Nature has found its own way of giving us the desire to stay informed without actually get stressed out - playing. Still, what has gamification to do with all of this?

Gamification Graphic

Gamification puts our curiosity and playfulness to a test, using games to teach us the basic understanding of life. It literally means using games to teach us live through real life events and get the required experience to develop our ability to survive. This is how for example, survival games teach us staying alive in a time of starvation and war. No wonder the past decades are marked as the time with the fastest technology and intellectual development on Earth being indicated in centuries. How exactly is gamification going to affect our lives in the long term, we are yet to learn. Could astronauts learn surviving in outer space through games? Or could we learn how to become the best housekeepers in our area, just by playing mobile games? It is only a matter of time until we learn the truth about gamification. We could only wait and hope the technology revolution won't turn against us.

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Mon, 16 Jun 2014 19:04:35 +0000 http://sett.com/unschoolery/community/329563
Unschooling Discussion - Rich Roll Podcast http://sett.com/unschoolery/community/76619 Hey Everyone - thought you might be interested in the latest episode of my podcast (#51) - my wife Julie and I discuss how we evolved into the Unschooling method, as well as the "whys" and the mental / emotional barriers I have confronted in embracing this way of education and life. Hope it is helpful The show is on my website (richroll.com) as well as iTunes (Rich Roll Podcast) - here is a link to this particular episode - enjoy:)


PS - we give this site a nice shoutout - thanks again Leo for doing this and everyone in the community. It has been a great source of information and support for us and our 4 homeschooled kids!

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Wed, 25 Sep 2013 03:14:51 +0000 http://sett.com/unschoolery/community/76619
What are your biggest "pain points" with teaching and learning? How can we make it better? http://sett.com/unschoolery/community/107973 Hi everyone, I have really enjoyed following along in this space, and especially reading Leo's blogposts. I am an educator, doing some research to try to find out what are some of the biggest issues for teaching and learning, both in the public schools, and in home schools/unschools. If you wouldn't mind taking a super short survey, I'd really appreciate it! Please look at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/YN2YD7T and thanks so much in advance! Contributing your voice will really make a difference!

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Thu, 30 Jan 2014 18:09:17 +0000 http://sett.com/unschoolery/community/107973
Teens and the Critical Need for community in Life and Learning http://sett.com/unschoolery/community/191829 I was recently interviewed for this post: For Unschooled Teens, Learning Communities Are Critical where I talk about the need and vision behind creating a temporary learning community for teens.

I am the parent of an unschooled teen. Only the last two years has community become a critical need in my son's world. Although we are traveling, we connect with wonderful families and friends online creating a supportive community of unschooling and homeschooling parents, many of which have teens, it is not the same as connecting in person. However, I've discovered the common element among teens are their desire for community to combat the feeling of isolation. Some parents have shared with me that their teens attending traditional high schools also feel the sense of isolation and connection but it's emotional, revealing this is a common theme. However, home educated teens have a greater sense of being alone since the physical isolation is also present.

But my son loves unschooling. And he loves traveling too.

Last year we were considering finding a democratic school so my son could be among his peers and I wrote this article calledFinding community. Dealing with teen isolation- Unschooling & Travel Finding community. Dealing with..article

Then my blunt question to Miro, “do you want to return to the United States and go back living a conventional life?”
His answer, a clear emphatic, “No.
Miro does not want to go back to the US to live. He’s clear about that. Equally, Miro does not want to go to conventional school. He’s clear about that too, as he says over and over that he loves unschooling. And he assures me, he likes the freedom of traveling.
Next, I suggested to Miro that we reach out to our community, online. I am a member of many homeschooling and unschooling groups on both facebook and yahoo groups. I am also the member of many other groups that support families who travel. I figured if they all had children there would likely be some that were at home too, maybe even some around Miro’s age. Perhaps some of them might even be interested in some of the same things as Miro is. Maybe some might be willing to connect online as well. At least it’s something.
And so I put the message out there. Again, I had to remind Miro (and myself) that there is no shame to share our desires as part of the human race. There is no shame in wanting connection. There is no shame in saying we desire “community” either. There is no shame to seek support in order to learn and be supported. There is no shame in asking for help.
So we asked.
The community response was amazing. Miro added about 8 new friends on facebook. Although he’s a little shy, he hopes to connect and create a circle of friends across the world. I hope he finds some connections this way. For now.
Being a single mom is not easy. Choosing our lifestyle is not an easy path. And if we hadn’t chosen this lifestyle, I would almost guarantee we would have a different set of problems, no better, no worse than the ones we have now. The beauty about our lifestyle is the ability to choose what we want to experience every day. We have the freedom to choose something else if it is not working.

“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.”
~Kurt Vonnegut
So we are looking at lots of different possibilities now, open to where the world will lead us. We both love traveling and are feeling the itch to explore some more, new and exotic places. But we also are committed to stay here in Peru for another 6 or 7 months. Together, we are producing a project we both believe in so deeply, called, Project World School Peru. It is no coincidence really this project is about the very thing we are both struggling with right now: community. The project focuses on having learning experiences together and building relationships as an integral part of the process.
So for the next half year or so, we focus on building our vision and fulfilling our dream. Hopefully our passion can keep us fueled during the next few months and we both can find our way to combat loneliness while we explore options for the future.

So it's almost 5 months since I wrote that article. And the depression has lifted from my son and we've become more and more focused on the idea of creating temporary learning communities that involve the immersion of new cultures, immersive learning and now, doing so within a community. My son said, "there's got to be more teens who want to discover the world too and have the kind of experience we are. I don't want to go back and live an ordinary life, I want them all to come with us!"

The deeper we dove into community learning we realized, just like the theory behind democratic learning, mentors and the feedback loop is conducive of meaningful learning. Anytime you have a group of 3 or people involved in an immersive activity there is the potential for deeper and more supportive learning. One idea or observation leads of the next and through conversation and feedback the experience is transformed into learning. We've experienced this countless times throughout our travels and throughout the world.

Worldschooling and Unschooling, inspired Project World School Peru

The article I was recently interviewed, For Unschooled Teens, Learning Communities Are Critical for that appeared on the Unschooler Experiment (unschooler.com) the author Hafidha Acuay examines learning in a community as mentioned by grown unschooler and filmmaker, Astra Taylor, where spoke about this desire during a talk on the Unschooled Life in October 2009. Taylor said, “What I really wanted … is that intellectual community…. I would have loved to commune with other young people and to study marine biology or number theory or playwriting a couple afternoons a week, but for some reason, such a possibility was unthinkable – a wild fantasy. Instead the only option available was to submit to [the school system]. We should wonder why there’s no middle ground.”

From the article:

For Miro and Lainie, Project WorldSchool offers the possibility of such a middle ground, albeit a temporary one. While immersion programs are nothing new, Lainie and Miro are planning a retreat that will be shaped and directed by the attendees. While Lainie works with an education consultant (also an unschooler) to identify the elements of a well thought-out learning community, Miro works to line up housing, guest speakers and other details of programming. The mother and son have been preparing since 2012 for this session and Lainie hopes that every participant will arrive ready to “make use of the inherent lessons of the space.”

If you want to learn more about our project, Project World School, please visit our site at: http://projectworldschool.com

I would love to hear your thoughts about the value of learning within community and how you may have dealt with teen isolation within the framework of unschooling.
Please leave comments below.

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Fri, 09 May 2014 15:58:15 +0000 http://sett.com/unschoolery/community/191829
Culmination of blogs http://sett.com/unschoolery/community/62058 As a minimalist unschooling zen mama, I feel the trifecta is now complete with the addition of this blog. I find your posts to be most helpful and entirely relevant!

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Tue, 27 Aug 2013 01:25:39 +0000 http://sett.com/unschoolery/community/62058
My Son Wants To Play Video Games For A Living http://sett.com/unschoolery/community/121958 Leo's recent post, "Won't Kids Just Watch TV And Play Video Games All Day?" inspired me to write this post, which I originally posted on my blog www.fathersonpicnic.com

My Son Wants To Play Video Games For A Living

I have a 12-year-old son.

My 12-year-old son loves to play video games.

My 12-year-old son loves to play video games all day long.

He told me he wants to make a living playing video games and posting clips of his games on Youtube.


Sure, I’ll support his dreams, but at the same time, every decent parental bone in my body is screaming, “BUT WHAT IF IT DOESN’T WORK OUT?! THEN WHAT WILL YOU DO INSTEAD?!?!”

Isn’t that typical? And kinda sad? Why is it that we tell our kids to “follow their dreams,” but then when they tell us what their dreams are, we tell them, “Oh, that’s not realistic. You should try to be something else like a ______.” Many parents want their kids to say that they want to become doctors, lawyers, dentists, firemen…stuff like that. We feel more safe with those career choices.

But honestly, are the odds of a kid becoming a doctor really any better than becoming a pro gamer and Youtuber? How many people drop out of med school or law school every year? How many kids who dreamed of becoming policemen really followed through and made the force? Yet we don’t discourage them from pursuing those careers. We don’t immediately blurt out, “That’s sounds fun, what else would you like to be?”

Many parents would be proud to stand around the water cooler and bust out a pic of “My little Johnny…the one in med school…” But we’d freak out and hesitate to pull out a pic of “My little Johnny…the one at home playing video games…” How would we explain that? Is that even a real thing? People don’t get paid to play video games and make little Youtube videos, right? What are the odds?

Well, for the record, the top video game player in the world made over $400,000 last year.

Just sayin’…

So yeah, becoming a pro gamer may sound like a longshot…like becoming a rock star or something, but so what? He can at least try. I’ll support my son in following his dream. If it works out, then it works out. And if it doesn’t…then what?

Then he’ll just do something else.

Duh. =P

Aloha, Chris

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Sun, 09 Mar 2014 07:19:07 +0000 http://sett.com/unschoolery/community/121958
Back to school after 2 years of unschooling? http://sett.com/unschoolery/community/470749 Need some help and guidance - My husband and I have been unschooling our two daughters (ages 10 and 12) for the past 2 years in the state of Virginia. Just last week my 10 year old asked if she could try the school in the area we just moved to a year ago. In order to register her for school I have to show proof that she's ready to enter the 5th grade (and 7th grade for my other daughter if she ends up wanting to try it too). How do I do this if I haven't tested them annually like Virginia homeschoolers are supposed to do? I'm scared and feeling very guilty for not at least having them tested and complying with homeschool regulations. I have very mixed feelings about them going back to school but ultimately I want them to own their education, choose the methods that they feel satisfy their needs and I will fill in wherever necessary.

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Tue, 12 Aug 2014 15:19:38 +0000 http://sett.com/unschoolery/community/470749