My blog has moved to!

My WordPress blog and my website have merged together! All the content form my blog, including comments and everything, can be found now be found at:

You can go to directly to that address or just go anywhere on the site and click on the new “Blog” tab in the middle of the other tabs.

If you’ve been kind enough to link to my old blog address or have my feed in your blogroll it’d be awesome if you could change the feed/address to:

Also, you can still see my Twitter updates on the top left by visiting the blog. I usually do several Tweets a day with interesting quotes and new cool links I’ve found, usually unschooling related but many other subjects as well.

I was very skeptical about Twitter for awhile and I still have mixed feelings talking about it! But I have found it’s great for sharing quotes and cool links and much better than Facebook for connecting with new people with common interests: met some great people through it.

And I have to give credit: after a bad of experience with hiring some random person from over seas, I hired a friend from overseas: Alaric King. He did a great job copying the original design and does amazing graphic, video, and web work (also designed my past travel brochures):

Perry Kroll an old grown unschooler friend of mine who designed the original site and changed the tabs on to include “Blog”. Perry does wonderful graphic, video, and web work as well:

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Filed under Uncategorized

7 Reasons to Send Your Child to School and 1 Reason To Unschool

(Please view this same post, with the latest comments and many other new posts, at my new blog location:

A mother on Twitter just referred me to a blog post she wrote entitled, Seven Reasons I’m Sending My Child to School and Three Big Reasons I Wish I Wasn’t. She said I helped inspire her to write the post and I’ve actually been inspired to write a post in response.

She has considered homeschooling and unschooling, she knows many people who are taking that path, but right now she’s chosen to send her daughter to kindergarten.

Here’s my responses to her 7  reasons she’s sending her child to school and my 1 reason not to send your child to school and embrace the freedom of homeschooling/unschooling/worldschooling:

1. Reputation. We live in the catchment area for the best elementary school in the school district….Parents I meet who are teachers tell me it’s the best….

People, especially teachers, usually have no idea how joyful, free, and full of learning, life can be without school. They’re comparing this school to other schools. Even when it comes to academic tests the average homeschooler out performs their peers by an unbelievable margin (here’s one study from 2007 and another from that just came out this August, 2009).

That’s not even getting into the things that can’t be measured and are really important. And the “best” schools often put the most pressure on students to perform well on tests: not to actually learn.

2. Location. The school is not only in our catchment area, it’s a ten minute walk from our house…. The school is also surrounded by farmland and forest, not shops and highways – a lovely rural school setting. I went to two different elementary schools, which both backed on to forest and trails. I have the fondest memories of running through the woods and along a stream bank, making forts under the big trees and exploring inside rotting stumps. These days such school properties would be fenced to keep predators out. And this school is fenced too. But my daughter will have a lot of fun walking there at least….

I also love to explore the woods and think it’s wonderful thing for children. But I’m sorry: you don’t seem to really believe some of your reasons! You acknowledge that your child will be fenced in at this school. Won’t your child have much more of an opportunity to wander and explore the woods, and everywhere else, if she’s not stuck in a school stuck inside a fence?

3. Everyone thinks she should go. For a variety of reasons, our daughter has been assessed for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). After two and a half years of observation and tests, the results came back negative. We continued on with more testing afterwards and everyone finally came to the conclusion that she is a “high-spirited” child with a language processing disorder and a smattering of other significant, but not diagnosable, issues.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say: “There is nothing wrong with your child.” Children under five years old are all over the place, they’re full of life: it’s healthy! I’m so glad everyone did come to the conclusion that she is just “high-spirited” and doesn’t have anything diagnosable. But, again without knowing her, I’d say the only thing “significant” about her “issues” is she’s a kid.

Mainly, I’d pay attention to what seems like an issue and ask yourself if it really is a problem at all. Pay attention to the present not what track “experts” say she should be on.

One of her challenges has always been large groups. However, when we anxiously sent her to pre-school last year we discovered that she does very well in group settings, as long as her parents aren’t there. If we are, she becomes whiney, clingy and won’t play with the other kids. If we aren’t there she follows the group norm and participates…. We agree that she responds well to structure and feels comfortable with caring adults who interact with her. She gets challenged by being in this kind of milieu, but unlike at home, she accepts learning how to face the challenges, and with support, often comes through them with newly instilled pride….

This sounds wonderful and understandable. We depend on our parents and when they are gone we are forced to rely on our own resources. It’s great you’ve realized the wonderful way your daughter benefits from being in groups without her parents.

I’d just assure you: your child can have that experience with homeschooling. Some homeschoolers hang out at home during the day and do their socializing with schools kids after school at different structured activities: sports, dance, theatre, yoga, etc. where you wouldn’t have to be present.

And especially since you know so many homeschoolers you can also trade off with them for who takes care of the kids and runs activities and outings on different days.

That of course leads into your next “selfish reasons”:

Now For The Selfish Reasons…

4. I need a break. I’m frustrated that her behaviours appear to be somewhat out of my control. She doesn’t respond to the gentle discipline techniques of my attachment parenting style. She also has a trait aptly named “negative first reaction” which means she always says “no” before she says yes, and all the patience I’ve practiced with her “disagreeableness” is finally wearing thin. We will only be apart two and a half hours a day five days a week, but I know it will be enough time for me to re-charge and be able to be a more loving and patient mom.

5. I will get to spend some 1:1 time with our other daughter. I think it will be nice for my youngest to get mommy to herself for a little while everyday. I have a very strong bond with my oldest daughter. I changed my life around so I could be a stay-at-home mom for her. I think it’s time for my youngest to benefit from my full attention.

First of all I don’t think this is selfish. But  it sounds like you also need a break from your frustration with your daughter! Maybe she doesn’t need to be disciplined at all, even in a gentle way. Maybe her behavior doesn’t need to be controlled. Letting go of these expectations might be like an amazing vacation for you!

Still, I acknowledge I don’t know what it’s like to actually be a parent. Of course you want time alone. And free childcare from school every weekday could be very attractive.

But I think you can get time alone with homeschooling and unschooling with a little creativity.

6. It takes a village to raise a child. As my daughter grows up I hope that her life will be touched by many caring grown ups who will help her to develop all the many facets of her burgeoning personality. I don’t believe in raising my child in a vaccuum, and even though homeschoolers often participate in homeschooling groups and many extra-curricular activities, with me there by her side, she would be. I accept and welcome all “teachers” in her life.

I really think your child will get to so much MORE experience of the community and the world as a whole with homeschooling than with going to school: that’s part of the reason I like to call it “worldschooling”. And again, I think you can send her to homeschooling group activities without sticking around in the immediate area.

And I think unschooling parents would tend to be a lot more caring than teachers with dozens of new kids every year. And some “teachers” don’t care at all or are just plain mean and I would not welcome them into your child’s life.

7. I don’t want to be a stay-at-home mom forever. As much as I value homeschooling I also want to get on with my life outside the sphere of motherhood….

Again, I don’t know what this is like but I can really appreciate what you’re saying. Still, I think with unschooling your child will be far more independent at an earlier age than if she goes to school. You may have much more of an opportunity to pursue your own interests. And that in turn will help inspire her to pursue her interests: children learn by example.

Now here is my ONE real reason to not send your child to school:

I don’t want to sound strange but you talk about the importance of breastfeeding all over your blog. I imagine you’ve felt this bond between you and your child. You’ve connected to a light, a life force inside of her. You’ve seen that complete beauty in your child.

I really think, school is going to damage both that beauty and the bond you have with her.

Some would say school as we know it was specifically designed to do that: make people into good tools and break up the power of families and communities.

I’d say school is a machine that isn’t necessarily out to crush, damage, or control our souls: that just tends to be a by product of its function.

School tends to make us view the persistent and uncontrollable ways our souls want to shine and express themselves as an inconvenience. Many, or probably all, of us who went to school try, to some extent, to cut ourselves off from our soul as a way of survival.

It’s a hard road trying to regain your whole soul after that.

My selfish reason for wanting your child to homeschool/unschool/worldschool and not go to school is I think it’ll help make this a better world to live in! We need more people who are in touch with their whole soul and aware of the world; more people who follow their bliss and their passions down new paths that lead us to solutions to big problems and whole lotta joy!

Freedom/unschooling/worldschooling/life is DELICIOUS. And it’s true what you say: your child will still get a taste even if she goes to school. I just want her to have the WHOLE thing.

I’m glad to hear you’re ready to pull your child out if things don’t work out and you are just doing what you think is best for her at this time. And I know of at least one unschooler who went to just kindergarten and then unschooled very successfully the rest of K-12. Still, from my experience in Waldorf/Steiner schools, “good” suburban public schools, AND unschooling: I think you understand I still encourage you to reconsider unschooling!

(Please view this same post, with the latest comments and many other new posts, at my new blog location:



Filed under homeschooling, reasons to homeschool, unschooling, worldschooling

Typical Day As Unschooling Teen in High School

When people hear that unschoolers choose their own schedule and decide what to study, it’s often hard to imagine. A typical day with unschooling is different for each person and changes over the months but here’s one of mine while unschooling high school:

I wake up around 8:30 am. I have breakfast and then leave for the public bus to the subway around 9:15 am. I go a few stops and walk to Literature Group with a bunch of other teen unschoolers. The group is run by Maureen Carey who used to be a school teacher and has two unschooled kids, one who is in the group (she gets to sleep in a more and attend class in her pajamas).

We each take turns reading aloud books by Anton Chekhov, Jane Austen, J. D. Salinger, Jules Verne, Moliere, etc. Halfway through we break for snack including some of Maureen’s homemade challah or other delicious bread and black tea she buys when the family visits Ireland every year.

When we finish a book we watch a movie of it. We always say,”The book was better.” But it’s fun anyway.

I was of the last generation to take these classes for free. Now Maureen charges about $10/person/class. It’s worth it for the challah. Let alone the good books and the chance to hang-out with other homeschoolers your age.

I go home, make myself lunch, check e-mail, and then go to cross-country after school. Some towns let homeschoolers take high school classes, even get a diploma. Mine didn’t but they let me continue to run cross-country and track.

In the evening I take a bus into Harvard Square and attend a class at Harvard Extension School on calculus, linguistics, or anthropology. I’ve always been interested in these subjects and I really enjoy the classes and learn a ton.

The classes meet only once a week in the evenings. Like at college, many unschoolers and homeschoolers take only a few classes at a time, at community colleges (like Harvard Extension) and classes organized by homeschoolers (like the literature group). And those classes often meet only once or twice a week.

Some unschoolers don’t take any college classes, others have a full college workload once they get into their teens. My first year as a sophomore I had no college classes and after that just one or two per semester.

It was important for me to have some scheduled activities during the week. But some days I had nothing at all scheduled. Reading on my own, talking with people, writing, and walking in the woods were major parts of my education.

In my last year of unschooling high school I spent a lot of time running my own odd job business and planning for my solo travels around Europe. And that started my unschooling college and worldschooling!

This post was in response to a question someone asked in a comment to my last post (thanks Miriam!). So please feel free to ask more questions!



Filed under homeschooling, starting unschooling, teenaged unschoolers, unschooling

Unschoolers Reclaiming Homeschooling Term

I’ve thought a lot about all the terms for homeschooling: unschooling, worldschooling, self-education, life learning, autodidact,  etc. I just read a post defending the term “unschooling”. Idzie’s a grown unschooler from Montreal who has a very cool blog called I’m Unschooled. Yes, I Can Write. She  makes some very interesting points in this post.

When I left school at 15 and started homeschooling I really insisted on using the term “unschooling”. I wanted everyone to know what I was doing was completely different than school. When people hear homeschooling they often think of kids sitting around the kitchen table doing worksheets with teacher Mom, a.k.a. “school at home”.

That was completely different from what I was doing: following my own passions teaching myself or at least directing who and what I would learn from, a.k.a. “unschooling”.

But over the years I’ve had mixed feelings about the term unschooling because as Idzie notes: “[Unschoolers who have issues with the term unschooling] say it’s too negative, or that it’s still using school to define their learning journey. Many unschoolers also say that they prefer to describe unschooling in a positive way to people, explaining what they do instead of what they don’t do.”

That was part of my motivation for coining the term “worldschooling”: I figured the whole world is my school. It’s descriptive and positive.

Still, Idzie, points out most people assume you still do all the school stuff in addition to learning from the world unless you say “unschooling”. Once you’ve indicated all the things you don’t do, you can then get into the things you do do.

I think it’s a good and realistic point.

Still, I’ve been thinking about the term homeschooling in reference to my term worldshooling: if worldschooling means the world is my school, then homeschooling could just mean my home is my school.

Then one could explain, “That doesn’t mean just my house is my school, that means everything that’s around me family, friends, libraries, parks, stores, markets, etc.”And that’s the truth: all homeschoolers learn and use resources from all around them.

Since everyone knows the term homeschooling and it is the legal term it is nice to be able to use it proudly by reclaiming and redefining it.

Then we can use whatever words and terms we like or find helpful in defining how we live and educate ourselves.

I love words!



Filed under homeschooling, unschooling, words, worldschooling

Upcoming Unschooling Conferences 2009-2010

Here’s a list of upcoming unschooling conferences all over North America in 2009-2010 with dates, locations, and websites.

Most of the list was actually compiled by Erika Davis-Pitre: she posted it on the African American Unschooling list: She’s an awesome speaker who will be at many conferences including the Northeast Unschooling Conference near Boston in less than two weeks (!) where I’ll be speaking too!

I just added the new UWWG webiste and an inclusive homeschooling conference in Illinois (it includes unschoolers and all other homeschoolers) that’s happening in March, 2010.

All are welcome: these conferences are great for parents, kids, grandparents, people starting unschooling, looking for more unschoolers to connect with, curious about the philosophy, and unschoolers looking for support, encouragement, and inspiration.

Unschooling conference can be a great (re)inspiration when you’re surrounded by a “schooled” society to be reminded you are doing the right thing!

Please comment or contact me directly ( if you know of any others, anywhere in the world!

Aug 27 – 30, 2009
Wakefield, MA (north of Boston)
Northeast Unschooling Conference

Sept. 4 – 8, 2009
Westlake, TX (west of Dallas)
Rethinking Education Conference

Sept. 10 – 13, 2009
San Diego, CA
Good Vibrations Unschooling Conference

Sept 21 – 22, 2009
Frederick, MD
Enjoy Life Unschooling Conference

Oct 2 – 4, 2009
Caledon, Ontario
Toronto Unschooling Conference

October 8-11, 2009
Stone Mountain Park, Atlanta, Georgia
The School’s Out Forever Homeschool Getaway

NJ to Bermuda
Oct 24 – 29, 2009
Unschooling Adventure Cruise

Jan 7 – 9, 2010
Santa Fe, NM
Sandra’s Unschooling Symposium in Santa Fe

Feb 8 – 12, 2010
Sanduskey, OH
Unschoolers Winter Waterpark Gathering

Mar 12 – 14, 2010
Columbia, SC
Autodidactic Symposium

Mar 18-20th, 2010
St. Charles, IL
InHome Conference

May 27-30, 2010
Vancouver, WA
LIFE is Good Conference



Filed under homeschooling, starting unschooling, unschooling, unschooling conferences

Diversity, Unschooling Conferences, and Steinbeck, MLK, and Gandhi Quotes

I was inspired by a quote from John Steinbeck to write more about race, racism, and welcoming diversity in the homeschooling scene and at unschooling conferences. I also quote Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. from a great YouTube video you can watch here.

In 1961, Steinbeck talked with a wealthy white man in New Orleans, who admitted, “Surely my ancestors had slaves, but it is possible that yours caught them and sold them to us.” Steinbeck acknowledged this. Then the man explained:

“If by force you make a creature live and work like a beast, you must think of him as a beast, else empathy would drive you mad. Once you have classified him in your mind, your feelings are safe…. And if your heart has human vestiges of courage and anger, which in a man are virtues, then you have fear of a dangerous beast, and since your heart has intelligence and inventiveness and the ability to conceal them, you live with terror. Then you must crush his manlike tendencies and make of him the docile beast you want. And if you can teach your child from the beginning about the beast, he will not share your bewilderment.”

I think we all feel huge empathy for our fellow human beings and feel shame when we wrong them in any way. It’s a miracle that social creatures are given: we are unable to hurt others without feeling responsible and hurt ourselves.

Still, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said:

“So often people respond to guilt by engaging more in the guilt-evoking act in an attempt to drown the sense of guilt.”

(The quote starts around 1:30 in this great YouTube video and you can read the interview here.)

There are many ways we try to avoid guilt and shame that result in more guilt and shame. This can be totally unconscious especially, as this southern white man says, if it has gone on for generations.

A  lot has been acknowledged and healed, and huge progress has been made in the area of racism against African-Americans and everyone else. And a lot of shame has been shed.

Nevertheless, as Gandhi put it when he had a transformative experience with racism:

The hardship to which I was subjected was superficial – only a symptom of the deep disease of color prejudice.  I should try, if possible, to root out the disease….

The disease has still not been completely rooted out: significant racism exists today and old wounds and shame have yet to be completely healed.

I think sometimes when white people see African-Americans they feel confronted with an unacknowledged shame they fear and this can in fact result in racist behavior or just avoidance of the people or topic.

I had a lot of fear about writing about race and racism in my Homeschooling, Unschooling, and Diversity and Welcoming Diversity at Unschooling Conferences posts. I didn’t know how the white people who love the unschooling conferences would react or how African-Americans and other people of color would respond.

But I tried to write in a gentle and honest way. When I finally did it, tons of people viewed the post and some people shared their own stories and encouraged and thanked me for raising the issue. Personally, I’ve felt really freed through my writing on the topic.

And I hope ultimately it results in people being more welcoming and there being more diversity in the homeschooling and unschooling scene and at conferences.

I think the potential is great with homeschooling and unschooling in so many areas including progress in learning about diverse cultures and welcoming all people.

What I can’t stress enough is the more we do make an effort to do this the more we will naturally pass it on to our children. Instead of teaching our children “about the beast“: let’s teach our children about the beauty we can see in people of all races, from all backgrounds.

As usual, we teach mostly by example, which I think is both a sobering and inspiring thought.



Filed under diversity, homeschooling, quotes, race, travel book, unschooling, unschooling conferences, worldschooling

Freedom, Fear, and Unschooling

After I left school and started unschooling,  I had freedom, I put my trust in myself, and  I did a lot of healing work. Still there was a fear inside me that took me years to be fully aware of and make the choice not to let it control my actions.

Recently I rediscovered a poem I wrote during my second year of homeschooling/unschooling in high school, when I was about 17 years old that surprisingly addresses this fear.

In the beginning of the poem I say:

But once the song’s over or the race is done
I’m just me again:
Scared shitless
Living heartless
Terrified of investing myself
In something or someone else

(You can read the whole thing here.)

I had trouble convincing people about unschooling, freedom, and their ability to direct their own lives partly because of my own emotional wounds regarding the subject. But I realized years later I also had a fear of being effective, fear of success, in talking to people about freedom and unschooling. There was an element of self-sabotage involved.

There was a part of me that knew it was possible I could very effective in talking about these subjects: I could help inspire people to leave school, or let their children leave school, have freedom, be trusted, and pursue their dreams.

That would be a truly wonderful thing and have so much meaning to me. For some reason, I think because of, not in spite of, that fact it’s also very scary. I’ve found that:

The more meaning something has to a person, the scarier it can be.

The more meaning something has the more painful the disappointments can be. You can feel pressure and new responsibility. With real success your life can change. And I always try to remember when I feel anxious:

Change, even if it’s good change, can be scary.

Writing these blog posts about unschooling, freedom, trust, diversity, and healing, then hearing how some have connected with them and been appreciative of them has had so much meaning to me! I’ve also definitely felt some fear and anxiety: I’ve heard from my toxic voice as my uncle Robert Gerzon calls it.

But the other thoughts that have come to my mind are:

“I love my life!” and “I feel free. I feel like writing is setting me free.”

More and more I’m letting parts of my true self come out and be heard. And it feels good! It feels like it’s taken years and epic journeys to get to this point, actually.

I guess it’s good to remember that when I feel disappointed or frustrated that there aren’t more people trying to learn and live in freedom or pursue what has meaning to them when they do have freedom: it takes time and is challenging.

Still, I hope that in talking about my own experiences it encourages others to make the choice to be free, the choice to use their freedom, the choice to follow what has meaning to them, and finally, the choice to do what has meaning to them regardless of fears that may stand in their way.


Filed under adult unschoolers, change the world, freedom, homeschooling, lifestyle design, unschooling, worldschooling