Re: DSM: RE: Unschooling?

From: Podway / Van Dertol Family (
Date: Sun Apr 15 2001 - 12:18:32 EDT


As an unschooling parent - who belongs to a community of unschoolers, I must respond to your characterizations of unschooling. From my limited experience with the Sudbury model, what we do - and those unschoolers that I know - is NOTHING like what you describe, and MUCH like what the SM appears to be. We believe that children learn all the time, and that they develop naturally with very little input from adults. They learn to read, use profanity, tell time, understand fractions - on their own when they are ready. They have regular meetings, which they lead, to discuss what they want to do as a group and how to pay for it. Our kids gather by their own choice in groups of all ages, at all times and do WHATEVER they want. I should say within reason, but they have never (yet) wanted to do anything that we considered unreasonable. They spend much of their time together, and are always creating something wonderful - they make boardgames, they put on talent shows, they sing & dance, they coordinate and ru
n yard sales, beach front lemonade stands. they make crafts, they plan dances & parties, they make up new sports with special devices to slide down sand dunes & jump on trampolines, they build skateboard ramps, etc.

They often ask for art classes, science classes, museum visits, etc. and, as parents, we facilitate those requests. There is NO coersion on our part - academically or socially - in fact quite the opposite. The one aspect of development that we do enforce - so to speak- is the responsibility to deal with emotional issues and conflicts openly and honestly.

I do agree that some Homeschoolers are as you describe, Stuart, but I have never heard ANY homeschoolers "like that" describe themselves as unschoolers, in fact, the type of homeschoolers that you describe - in my experience - would typically speak of unschooling with disdain.


----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: <>
Sent: Saturday, April 14, 2001 11:26 PM
Subject: Re: DSM: RE: Unschooling?

> Hi Joe,
> This is Stuart from Cedarwood Sudbury School. Actually, I think Matthew has a
> point when he distinguishes unschooling from attending Sudbury Valley School.
> I love John Holt's books just as much as the next person, but most of the
> unschoolers I know are getting a much different kind of education from what
> students get at Sudbury Valley School. Here's what my fairly large sample of
> unschoolers looks like:
> --Lots of parental pressure, influence, initiation, and supervision regarding
> the students' activities.
> --Lots of parental control and supervision over students' social
> relationships--partly logistical in nature, but partly protective.
> In unschooling literature there is a constant refrain that unschooled kids
> get plenty of "socialization." "Methink they doth protest too much." Few
> parents will allow younger children to be unsupervised with a diverse group
> of other children of various ages. Even at park days, lots of parents are
> standing by to intervene in case of problems. Parents also limit whose houses
> their children can go to, and when and how often. These generalizations do
> not apply to every unschooler, but they do apply to most of the ones I know.
> Stuart

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