Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Learning Innovatively without School

As I explore ideas for learning innovatively I’ve become increasingly interested in the concept of unschooling. In short the idea that to live is to learn and learning is driven by interest. In long visit the unschooled website, Unschooling for Social Change (Freechild Project), Unschooled 101 from Idzie Desmarais’s blog or read the Unschooled blog of Kate Fridkis who contributes here. So what does one grow up to be if they do not attend school? Well, from what I’ve discovered so far they’re people who are pretty darn smart, interesting, passionate, adventurous, and trailblazing. 

If you’re interested in learning more, you can find out thanks to Idzie an unschooler who blogs at I'm Unschooled. Yes, I Can Write where she shares the following list of blogs by teenage and grown unschoolers. Check them out below and learn more about unschooling from each of these blogs or over at her blog.
  • Eli Gerzon's Worldschooler Blog Eli is a grown unschooler from Boston who blogs about unschooling, worldschooling, and travel, as well as leading Worldschool Travel Tours.
  • Follow That Dream is a blog by Bonnie, a grown unschooler from Florida who blogs about a variety of subjects, including unschooling.
  • Not An Ordinary Teen is a blog by Stella, an unschooling teen from the US, who blogs about her life in general, which includes much about dance!
  • Penmanship of an Unschooled, Teenage Writer is a blog by Rochelle, an unschooler from the US, who blogs about her life adventures.
  • The Organic Sister is a blog on natural living and unschooling by Tara, a grown unschooler who's now unschooling her own son!
  • Tales of the Green Eyed Girl is a blog by Olivia, a young unschooling teen who blogs about her life, including much about her passion for music. She also shares a movie blog called The Highest Life Form with her younger brother, Adam.
  • GrumbleKnits is a blog by unschooling teen Madeleine (from Canada! W00t w00t! ;-)), about knitting (I don't really know much about knitting, but I must say that many of the projects on her blog look both lovely and difficult)!
  • Unconventionally Fabulous is a blog by Bethany, a grown unschooler and raw foodie who's interested in art, unconventional living, and all kinds of other cool stuff.
  • Life Without College is a blog by Jessica, a grown unschooler who writes a lot about living life without college, unschooling, and similar interesting things.
  • Brighter Than a Buoy is a blog by grown unschooler and terrific songwriter Carsie Blanton.
  • Camas Dreams is a blog by Cheyenne about "unschooling indigenous girl life". It's a new blog, and I look forward to reading more!
  • The Unschooling Story is a blog by Chase, a grown unschooler who's busy raising a second generation of unschoolers.
  • Schwerpunkt International is a blog by Peter, a grown unschooler originally from the Boston area, who writes a lot about politics, among other things.
  • Un-Schooled is a blog by Kate all about unschooling/homeschooling, and education in general, from the perspective of a grown unschooler. Good stuff.
A list of blogs from the Relaxed HomeSkool Blog

Additional Blogs I've Discovered from Unschoolers
  • Demand Euphoria is from an unschooling mom unhappy with the current state of education who shares why that is and how she achieves a mission to provide a life for her family is not just one where there is happiness, but instead is one where she not only expects, but Demands Euphoria.  
  • Radio Free School is a self described, "Tantrum space for people who eschew factory learning in favour of unschooling, open source learning, community based, learning without school. Open season on all things we might bump up against. This blog was started by un-schoolers at radio free school, a weekly radio show by, for, and about, home based learners.” Listen to the radio interview from The Innovative Educator contributor Kate Fridkis here.
  • The Sparkling Martinis comes fromDayna Martin, mama to four children who have never been to school. She is a wife, author, inspirational speaker, and aspiring world traveler. She shares some of their daily adventures, and unique thoughts and ideas.
  • How I Learn Stuff is written by James Marcus Bach who found success in a highly technical field without the benefit or burden o conventional education. Bach says, "I have almost none of what my teachers used to call 'self-discipline.' Instead of discipline, I am driven by passion. Now that I'm in my forties, I want to share what I've learned about learning.
  • Blogs of more than 70 Christian Unschoolers and counting.
  • The Mahogany Way: This is Darcel Harmon’s blog. She is a wife and Stay at Home Mama to three children. She and her husband are a Christian Attachment Parenting Unschooling family. You can visit her companion network at http://themahoganyway.ning.com.
  • An Unschooling Life was created in 2005 as a way of chronicling our unschooling journey of a multiracial family of five consisting of parents - Joanne and Billy, three children, two dogs and an iguana. Its purpose is also give encouragement and advice to those who want to start on this path.
  • Umm Ahmad has a collection of blogs sharing, "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 collaborative writing project at alatfaalexpress.posterous.com
  • Adversarian - The blog for autodidacts, unschoolers, life-learners, and open-minded educators. The author is a self-proclaimed autodidactic defined by wikipedia as a mostly self-taught person, as opposed to learning in a school setting or from a full-time tutor or mentor.
  • Unschooling Rules - This thought-provoking blog is from Clark Aldrich, author of "Unschooling Rules - 55 Ways to Unlearn What We Know about Schools and Rediscover Education." His blog's tag line is, "The problem is not that schools don't work. The problem is that most people still think they want schools to work."
  • The Unplugged Mom - This blog pulls together respected voices in the field of home education to share ideas, articles, podcasts, and posts all in one spot.
  • Laurie A. Couture - Blogs about unschooling, attachment parenting, social justice, and the planet. Author of Instead of Medicating and Punishing.


    1. I had the privilege of interviewing Kate Fridkis about being a grown unschooler. You can hear the interview of read it at

      Also, I have interviewed up to 18 grown unschoolers or their parents.To read visit:

    2. @rfs, that is so coincidental that you commented. Before I saw your comment, I added RFS to the list of blogs. Thank you for sharing the link to the 18 grown unschoolers/parents. Hmmm...maybe a future post :-)

    3. I'm so glad you found the info on my blog helpful! I love Radio Free School's interviews, and I've also compiled a list of interviews with grown unschoolers, from a variety of sources (including both RFS and my blog), on my own blog: http://yes-i-can-write.blogspot.com/2010/05/unschooling-grows-up-collection-of.html

    4. @Idzie, ditto! Psyched to have found your blog too. I will definitely do a follow up post with unschooled interviews with your link and some from RFS. These are powerful voices that I'd love to share. Thank you for sharing yours.

    5. I am surprized a vested educator would take an interest in unschooling. Shows the times have changed. As a ... shudder ... "grown unschooler" myself (not sure I enjoy the label... are schooled people "grown schoolers"?) the experience was a mixed bag. Unschooling today looks nothing like the counter cultural movement it was in the 1970s when I was a kid, and when many people did it because their familiy did not fit into society, rather than as a cheep alternative to a Friend's School and my mother taught me to lie to people that I went to school, not proudly say I didn't (also... it was illegal then... but that's another story).

    6. @schwerpunktinternational, if you read through my blog, you'll see I did not go into education because I believed it was all working well. As I've written recently, at 19 I found myself with a college degree in one hand and the other scratching my head wondering what now? All my years of school only taught me how to do school well. Not succeed in the world. Today there is a huge disconnect between the world inside and outside of school. In fact students are banned from using much of what we depend on for success outside of school. Unschooling is definitely an option parents should be aware of and might consider. Currently few are aware of alternatives such as this, that for many seems to have worked out very well.

    7. Life Learning magazine is another good source of articles about "unschooling" http://www.lifelearningmagazine.com

    8. @Wendy Priesnitz, thank you. I also have come across that site as well as I compile my next piece on profiles of unschoolers. Thank you for sharing and hope to compile them all for my piece that I will try to publish this week.

    9. I did not say why either of us work in the same field. Just surprized that the world has changed and the counter-cultural movement that was unschooling has the interest of formal educators(working in government schools) - the same institutions that used to call ACS on my family. And this change is a good thing. The unschooling movement as it is today seems to be producing a very internet connected group who are very lucky to have this option - while they seem not to be as counter cultural as the older generation of families or youth. If you read my blog, you'd see I'm more Lenny Bruce than John Taylor Gatto and that I believe real unschooling is not an "option" for parents unless tuning in turning on and dropping out are still considered options.... which I hope they still are.

    10. @schwerpunktinternational, I tired to read your blog, but the link doesn't take me there. Instead, it is a blog with no posts. I'd love to get the actual link though.

      Sadly, I don't think I am much representative of the view of formal educators...yet. Most grow to tolerate me, and then some grow to love or at least appreciate me. I'm not like the rest in this field...yet. Hoping to talk, publish, speak, change minds and open eyes.

      Thanks for your insights. Look forward to seeing more on my blog and yours.

    11. Educating innovatively without school is an incredibly interesting idea to me. The first thought that strikes me is that an adult without a formal school education would not have the essential tools to succeed in life, however upon further consideration, I feel as though my first reaction is wrong. Giving students the ability to develop their own curriculum in areas that they are specifically interested in is a fantastic idea, especially in today’s schools where meeting the grade on high stakes testing reigns supreme. Schools today are killing creativity by teaching students what is on the tests that they must pass, not giving the students the chance to become individualized thinkers, and the creativity to express themselves in new and different ways, something that the “un- schooled” is taking advantage of every day. These students are truly learning how to think, essentially putting them ahead of the curve.

    12. @Jacob March, great insight! When I was younger (not sure if this means last year, 10 years ago, or 20), I too thought an education was necessary for success in the modern American life. The concept of unschooling is extremely intriguing to me and as a result I have two upcoming posts on the topic. Stay tuned for one about "The characteristics of an unschooler" - (I wish I had them when I was younger) and "Profiles of a couple dozen unschoolers." Subscribe to my blog and I'll continue to share insights.

    13. Thanks for including Radio Free School on your list. We are gearing up for more grown unschooled voices in the upcoming months.
      BTW This is a great blog!

    14. @rfs, you are welcome and ditto in the compliment department. Love your blog and am featuring it in a post I will be sharing that includes unschooled profiles this week. Stay tuned.

    15. Click here http://www.hole-in-the-wall.com/solution.html to see how amazing things happen to student learning, high order thinking, engagement and motivation when we take the teaching out of the teaching institutions.
      There seems to be a split between two concepts that theoretically should be interchangeable. One is TEACH-ing (schooling, education,policies) and LEARN-ing (knowledge, understanding,creativity). Since learning is assessed by tools such as http://pisaproject.wikispaces.com our TEACH-ing institutions must move from protecting themselves to protecting the sanctity of the learning experience. Doctors pledge not to harm those they are to serve and so should educators. I am glad to see that in many schools, the level of implementation of a given program is taking back seat to looking at student work as the means of evaluating learning and disposing off the type of "teaching" that does not yield results. With many issues with test-driven education, I see the fact that we are finally looking at "results" rather than being guided by what Douglas Reeves calls a "culture of baloney".

    16. I has chosen to educate my son by slow travelling around the world, experiencing each country as a "local," eating what the locals eat, living where they live, and by providing as many experiences as can possibly handled through exploration of the world.

      My son is definitely learning important life skills: We live on a very small budget (money skills), we EACH post blog entries and pod casts (communication and technology skills, as well as learning to be genuine and forthright), cook with local ingredients in home kitchens (math, reading, following instructions, etc),and serve in the communities of which they find themselves a part. We meet, befriend and at times live with those of a vastly different culture and often language.

      By virtue of being in the world, my son is learning.And we don't require the formal education system to quantify or qualify our experiences.


    17. @Lainie Liberti,

      That is fascinating. Any interest in writing a guest post for my blog, sharing this idea of world education with others? If so, email me. You can find my info on the contact tab of his blog.

      Thanks for sharing.

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