Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thanks for Proving Me Wrong - A More Diverse Sampling of Unschoolers

Two big interests for me as of late are passion based learning (aka passion driven) and unschooling. The two very much go hand in hand. Traditionally schooled folks seem to get what passion driven learning is all about. It makes sense to them…even though many are still in need of a lot of data driven detox, yet unschooling is often hard for them to wrap their heads around. They wonder how it is possible for an unschooled person to be educated and successful or how they learn to read if they don’t go to school. “That’s nice for the entrepreneur-types who are self-motivated, but what about everyone else,” they think.

Those who’ve practiced unschooling know the answer and I wanted to show examples of grown unschoolers to help answer that question for the traditionally schooled. I did that by sharing published stories and blogs to provide a concrete sense of what people who have been unschooled think about the way they were raised. I did some searching and found these blogs and these stories and several commonalities quickly emerged as I shared in my post 20 Characteristics I’ve Discovered about Unschoolers and Why Innovative Educators Should Care.

While I was excited by what I found, I was disappointed to discover it was not an ethnically diverse representation. I invited readers to prove my observation wrong that the population of unschoolers who were sharing their stories seemed to be primarily white, and I was not disappointed. (See stats on homeschoolers here).
Subsequently, while I’d still like to find more links to stories and blogs, what I have discovered is a whole world of voices from a number of diverse backgrounds where I had the opportunity to learn about even more individuals who benefited from unschooling. If you’re traditionally schooled, like me you may wish you’d had a similar opportunity and possibly even consider this for your own children if you are a parent. These additional sites might make you even more envious.

Here is just the start of what I hope will be a growing collection of sites. I’ve added the few additional blogs I’ve found on my initial post here. I know there must be more though. Please continue to share. You can find my first collection of stories here. I invite readers to add to this list in the comment section if there is a site you would like to see included.

Unschooler's Stories
At this link you can find a number of stories of those presenting at the first annual black unschoolers conference including the following individuals.

  • Barbara Blake-Hannah is a Jamaican author, film maker, journalist and cultural consultant. A former Independent Senator in the Jamaican Parliament (1984-87), she has worked in Britain, where in 1968 she became the UK’s first Black TV journalist and in Jamaica, where she is best known as a writer and radio/television broadcaster on cultural and social issues.
  • Sandra Dodd lives in Albuquerque, NM, with her husband Keith, son Marty and daughter Holly. Her oldest child, Kirby, lives in Austin, TX. Those three were unschooled throughout their lives, and are all past school age, but not past learning!
  • Kofi Khemet’s roots are in Ethiopia, although he spent his childhood and early adult years in the Midwestern & southern states of the U.S.A.
  • Daphne Osunlade Edwards-Ebomwonyi will soon be nearing the decade mark in her learning without schooling adventure. This trip is being shared by her husband, Alawode, and her three “suns” (Ifayemi, 14, Muntu, 6, and Osa, 8 months old). Their current location is Dallas, TX.
  • Darcel Harmon lives in Virginia Beach with her husband Charles and three children. She is passionate about home birth (with plans to become a home birth midwife in the near future), is an advocate for attachment parenting and an unschooling mother. Darcel’s blog and Ning network, both named ‘The Mahogany Way’, are quickly becoming popular venues for African Americans interested in Attachment Parenting and Unschooling.
  • Faruq & Sais Muhammad founded H.I.P. H.O.P. K.N.I.T. (Hands Instantly Prosper Helping Other People Keep Nations Improving Together ), a cultural-educational movement that benefits people worldwide by offering therapy to its members through knitting. The profits from the products produce go to helping past, present and future disaster victims.
  • Makonnen Blake-Hannah was unschooled from birth by his mother Barbara Reading at age 3, he composed his first song at age 7; and produced and recorded a Jamaican film soundtrack. He was appointed Youth Technology Consultant to the Jamaican Government in 1998 at the age of 13 years. You can read more about him and his music at http://multicastentertainment.blogspot.com/
  • Nkonyezi Nanyamka’s heritage is Lamu, Kenya, but her roots span across many cultures from Ireland to Ghana. From the age of 48 months, she learned to read and write and quickly became an avid bookworm. At age 7, she discovered the art of photography. She is a thrice published author, an award winning poet and photographer, and a servant to her community.
Unschooling Websites
  • Sandra Dodd: At her site Sandra shares her activities which have to do with unschooling. She shares writing and quotes about unschooling, and she shares speaking engagements at conferences and workshops.
  • Penelope Trunk - Education: Penelope Trunk takes you on her adventures in unschooling from day one and explains why everyone should know better than to send their kids to school. 
  • Joyfully Rejoicing: This is Joyce Fetteroll’s collection of responses (with a few gems from others) to questions about unschooling and parenting on unschooling lists and message boards.
  • Too Cool for School: Faye Ku is a Chinese American homemaker in Sammamish, Washington who is unschooling with two sons, ages 4 and 9. The site was designed to share resources and meet other unschoolers nearby, to help establish community outside of traditional school.
  • http://www.unschooling.com A place with many resources where parents and children have learned to trust themselves and each other!
  • Leaping from the Box: Homeschooling and Unschooling email lists, support groups, message boards, forums and newsletters for those of an ethnic background practicing home education, including African Americans, Chinese, Hispanic and Native American homeschoolers. Locate fellow homeschoolers. Make new friends. Share resource ideas and curriculum / textbook information.
  • The "Altlearn Map" project is a worldwide community network of Natural Learning with contacts on five continents.
  • ChristianUnschooling.com Encouragement and resources for Christian unschooling, relaxed/eclectic home educating families–living in freedom in Christ. (their facebook page)
  • Amy Bell's Natural Learning Page with an LDS focus (web archive)
  • Mission Islam unschooling page
  • Talib Al 'Ilm – a site created by a Moslem mom with useful resources and links.
  • Muslim Home Education Network – provides a variety of articles and resources for unschooled Muslims and others.
  • Shikshantar is part of the Swaraj movement in India. Swaraj (self-rule or rather, rule over oneself) is inspired by Gandhiji's Hind Swaraj, a call for people to lead and create their own models of development that are holistic, pluralistic, sustainable, liberating, collaborative, socially just, and anticipatory. This is an excellent website with a message board.
  • The Israel Home Education Association provides support, activities and resources for homeschoolers and unschoolers in Israel, and promotes awareness of Home Education in Israel through this web site, information nights, and interviews in the media.
  • Homeschooling in Sweden – A site where Swedish home educators are mobilizing to fight for their right to home educate and sharing resources.
  • Unschooling in the World – A resource for unschooling around the world and also in various states across the United States
Unschoolers Connecting – Discussion Boards and Networks
Here is a listing of some discussion boards and networks where unschoolers can connect.
  • Unschooling Basics - A list designed for those new to the philosophy of whole-life (or "radical") unschooling. Ask experienced whole-life unschoolers all those niggling questions, and find out how it works in real families, across all aspects of life.
  • The Mahogany Way Network - A Place for Mothers of Color to discuss Natural Living from Darcel Harmon.
  • African American Unschoolers - African American Unschoolers is for African-American Moms (and Dads!) who use the whole world as their child(ren)'s classroom. Unschoolers encounter math, science, reading, writing, art and history in the Real World because real living leads to real learning!
  • Always Unschooled - At AlwaysUnschooled, members create a space in which radical unschooling can be seriously discussed as a lifestyle that begins at birth. AU is geared towards thoughtful discussion and exploration of what radical unschooling looks like with children younger than typical "school age" although participation and input from families with older, radical unschooling children are also welcome.
  • Always Learning - This is a list for the examination of the philosophy of unschooling and attentive parenting and a place for sharing examined lives based on the principles underlying unschooling.
  • Radical Christian Unschoolers - The list is for believers to support each other in honoring the Lord by the choices we make in de-institutionalized parenting, knowing that we are adventurers and explorers together.
  • EarthUnschool - This group is for unschoolers looking to become more Earth centered in their daily life. It is a place to exchange ideas for ceremonies, crafts, altars etc. This group is open to unschoolers of all religions but will tend to focus more on Pagan beliefs.
  • Unschooling Around The World - Send and receiving postcards from other unschooling families around the world?! A group to unite unschooling families from across the globe through tangible tokens of Joy delivered right to the mailbox!
  • Radical Unschoolers Aotearoa - Radical Unschoolers Aotearoa (RUA) is a small, friendly co-operatively run mailing list based in New Zealand. Here purist unschoolers (and wannabe purist unschoolers) can offer each other support, advice, and ideas.
  • Panama Unschoolers - This group is for families who are UNSCHOOLING their children and are either currently living in Panama, or considering a move to Panama.
  • Unschooling Canada - This group is committed to unschooling and natural learning. From beginners learning to let go of school-at-home to veteran unschoolers, everyone is welcome to share discoveries, experiences, insights, wisdom and surprises.
  • http://unsocialized.net - Having been through the public system of education – an all too often uninspiring and mind-numbing experience – we decided we did not want to subject our children to the same. As a result they effectively set out on a learning journey via a 20-month adventure, traveling across the USA while living in an RV.
  • Free Thinking Unschoolers - This is a place for people who are living life both without school AND without religion to talk openly in an uncensored forum. Any unschooler who is an open-minded, non-dogmatic "freethinker" is welcome to join, even if you happen to believe in something supernatural; BUT, bear in mind that people here are free to talk negatively about any and all beliefs, possibly yours, so if you are sensitive about this sort of thing you should probably stay away.
  • Unschooling Montreal - This is a group not only for families who are already walking the wonderful path that is Unschooling, but also for those seriously considering it, those highly interested, and highly supportive, of Unschooling, and similar minded people who are currently living in or around Montreal.
  • Natural Learning Australia is a wonderful, vibrant community of natural learners from all over Australia. We offer a dynamic information network to those already home educating, and a welcoming, encouraging environment for those exploring their education options. Natural Learning Australia is a place for families to connect and to build communities - to ask questions, share ideas, receive support, and become inspired!
  • Homeschooling in Japan is a private board for homeschooling or unschooling families created to exchange resources, tips and advice, and talk about families.
  • Environmental Homeschooling is a group of liberal homeschooling parents that educate their children with kindness using unschooling, eclectic, child centered and Waldorf type methods. The group moderator is based in South Africa and is open to like minded people from any country.
  • The Learning unlimited network is a growing network of home educators and support
  • organizations across Europe.
  • Unschooling UK - yahoogroups list for UK unschoolers.
  • South of England Unschoolers - A group whose primary aim is to facilitate 'real world' meetings...Hampshire, Berkshire, Surrey & W Sussex.

10 comments:

  1. That is an awesome list and I will definitely been looking through it in the future!

    I just wanted to say thank you for this: "Two big interests for me as of late are passion based learning (aka passion driven) and unschooling. The two very much go hand in hand." A good friend of mine moderates the Natural Learning Australia community and as a teacher I have found it to be a great resouce. I was immediately struck a couple of years ago by the immense similarities between unschooling and what true inquiry learning should be but sadly isn't where I work. So when I read the opening lines of this post I was heartened that others feel the same way and has given me the impetus to move for more change where I am. So thank you :)

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  2. I agre with MissLadyCaz, this is an awsome list. But there are many unschoolers around the globe who are not whites. We are Muslim family, originally from pakistan, currently living in johannesburg, South Africa and though I call what we do as homeschool, it is in essence what you call unschooling. We dont do formal lessons, no spelling checklists, but my kids know more spellings than their school going peers anyway. We learn what we are passionate about, (which is a diverse list, since my kids are still 6 and 9, from pizzas to car tracking devices) we adore technology and are always ready to try new things. You can visit my blog at http://homeschool4muslims.blogspot.com where I share the resources we are using, (its not a journal of our activities) , my kids' blogs at http://ibnemuhammad.blogspot.com and http://bintemuhammad.blogspot.com , and our colaborative writing project at alatfaalexpress.posterous.com

    Me and my husband were school going learners and though I never liked the restrictions placed upon us in school, I did well academically. My husband was another story. He hated (passionately!) the school system, generalized tests and grading and still feels pity for kids when holiday season is over :) So we decided to homeschool or unschool our children which is turning out great!
    thanks for thw onderful blog, and keep sharing!

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  3. That was quick homework! You deserve an "A"--but I'm an unschooling mom so I'm not going to grade you.

    I'm impressed by the time you invest in your unschooling research. I'm touched that you actually "get it".

    I can't wait to look into these sites.

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  4. No, she doesn't deserve an A. She does not get it either. Most of her work was done for her by others. I see that she does not give credit to anyone for any of the links that were provided to her outside of her blog.

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  5. @dallison35 thank you. It did take quite a bit of time and I learned a lot.
    @Anonymous, I linked back to each and every resource listed. If I missed one it was not intentional and I'd be happy to include it.

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  6. Where do you thank all of the people that sent you information? You make it sound as though you did all of this research by yourself.

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  7. @Anonymous, I acknowledged all those whose sites I have located thus far by naming them and linking to them. Whenever someone shares information with me, I acknowledge that with appreciation and inform them that I plan on sharing their insights. I am thankful always to those who share and discuss ideas.

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  8. Thank you for a summary and for continuing this conversation!

    I'd like to ask for your help with a project about unschooling, if you think it's interesting. I want to make a point in how unschooling math is possible, and how varied people's practices can be. Unfortunately, many unschoolers say "I unschool everything but math" because they don't believe it's possible. For the purpose, I picked a rather narrow, traditionally defined topic in mathematics - times tables. Stories of unschoolers, predictably, show the spread of many years and many methods that "map" onto this curriculum area. To me, this underlies how ridiculous it is to require everybody to learn one topic in lock-step.

    Here is where people can share their stories and read those posted before. I also posted mixed reactions to the project from unschoolers: http://naturalmath.wikispaces.com/Child-Led+Multiplication+Study

    I would very much appreciate advice and help in collecting more stories.

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  9. I discovered your blog through links from Kate Fridkis's Un-Schooled blog.

    I've enjoyed your openness to learning from unschooling (which is pretty radical, especially coming from someone who has spent a lot of time in the conventional system).

    As you look at ways to transform the existing system, have you considered investigating free schools and other democratic schools as well?

    The Manhattan Free School and the Brooklyn Free School are right in your neighborhood, so to speak, and BFS was founded by a veteran public school administrator.

    --Erin B.

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  10. Hi Erin,

    Yes! We are definitely thinking on the same wave length. I wrote a post about such schools not long after I wrote this post. It is here (http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2011/01/hey-teacher-leave-us-kids-alone-theres.html) I also highlighted the Brooklyn Free School in this post (http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2011/01/see-what-happens-when-kids-are.html). Finally, I wrote to the principal of the Manhattan Free School and we are planning to meet this week.

    Great ideas. I hope you'll keep sharing, reading my blog, and learning with me :-)

    ReplyDelete

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