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
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
Life Learning Magazine