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From the Editor's Desk - March, 2010
by Wendy Priesnitz

Life Learning Editor Wendy Priesnitz What Education Means

In his book Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense, David Guterson wrote, “If you’re going to keep your children out of schools you had better decide what an education means because no one is going to do it for you.” If my almost-forty-year career as an unschooling parent and advocate is any indication, that decision is an ongoing one…one that is continuously being updated and added to.

I began the thought process as a twenty-year-old teacher who realized that neither she nor her students wanted to be in school. I continued it as my two daughters were born and I observed them learning to walk, talk and explore their world. My study deepened as they grew older, learning joyously and productively from life, but without school. I’m still refining and radicalizing my thinking about education today. And, having long ago realized that education cannot be separated from everyday living, I’m pleased to see an increasing number of non-educators beginning to understand what we unschoolers already know: that the classroom style of forced rote “learning” is disrespectful of children and contrary to the interests of a truly democratic society...not to mention ineffective.

We’ll be publishing writing by some of those enlightened non-educators in future issues of Life Learning. But this issue features long-format articles by three men who have written about education for many years. John Taylor Gatto and Roland Meighan remind us what is wrong with both institutionalized education and school-at-home. Then David Albert helps us with the decision about what education means and how that influences life with our own learning families.

I hope that these and the other articles in this issue will also give you some tools for dealing with those who criticize your parenting decisions and choices. Recently, I was reminded how odd life learning seems to many people by a perceptive review of our book For the Sake of Our Children by Léandre Bergeron. Montrealer Kyla Matton, writing for the examiner.com network of websites, noted that the book is challenging and suggested that some people might even be offended or angered by some parts of it. That people would be angry at the notion that one’s children should be treated like honored guests rather than possessions is bewildering. I’d think it would be akin to a universal truth.

But change – of mind or actions – is difficult for most of us. The unschooling lifestyle challenges long-held beliefs about education as well as about children and parenting. I like to think that, by our very lives, we are encouraging and creating change, and making it easier for those who know us to follow their own hearts and minds instead of others’ opinions. 

Wendy Priesnitz, Editor
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