Homeschooling vs. Unschooling
From: Michael Mariner (
Date: Sat, 5 Apr 1997 13:15:03 -0600
Replying to David & Scott's comments on homeschooling being primarily a 
right wing phenomenon.

In general, I feel homeschooling is an excellent opportunity to take back 
our lives from huge, depersonalizing institutions.  Of course, there are 
dangers that it can allow extreme folks of all persuasions to become more 
insular in various ways.  But I'm optimistic that the longer term trend 
will have the opposite effect....

The media have often portrayed homeschooling as the exclusive province of 
Christian Rightists, but that's the overdrawn media-cartoon version of 

Firstly, there are quite a few moderate Christian homeschooling parents 
who are not into rote indoctrination about creationism, anti-abortion 
etc.  There are even "new age" or pagan folks who want their kids to see 
different perspectives than the schools provide.   

Then there is a significant portion of the homeschooling movement who are 
very progressive -- who encourage open-ended learning as opposed to 
indoctrination.  Some  use the name "unschooling" to describe this 
approach.  Unschoolers are frequently inspired by the ideas of John Holt 
and other alternative thinkers who starting in the 60's and '70s kicked 
off the alternative school movement which persists in many places today.

As with any other progressive movement, there's considerable diversity 
within unschooling.  Many practitioners are *not* wealthy -- they 
practice voluntary simplicity or downsize their lifestyles and luxuries 
to be able to have time to provide a quality learning environment for 
their kids.  Some parents work out of their homes and some involve 
children in their businesses as they get older and show interest.  

Unschooling can serve to strengthen families and integrate more aspects 
of their lives, rather than fragmenting them per the soccer mom syndrome. 
 In a cohousing situation, homeschooling could serve to bind the 
community together.

Re the possibility of cohousing getting too insular:  homeschoolers and 
unschoolers network via the internet and have local gatherings for 
sports, arts, and other social activities.  True,  extremists do tend to 
stick together, but not always.

Cohousing in the US is in its infancy.  I personally hope it moves in the 
direction of helping people integrate and take control over *more* 
aspects of their lives by leveraging what small groups of people can 
undertake together.  Unschooling in a cohousing context could be shared 
among several sets of parents to where the learning and available adult 
role models are far more diverse.  And, moreover coho adults can (and do) 
 learning from each other, frequently tempering extreme viewpoints from 
having to rub shoulders with other viewpoints.

Phew!  That got kinda far afield!  Ah, well, ever the idealist....

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