101 Reasons Why I'm an Unschooler

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Book: 101 Reasons Why I'm an Unschooler. P.S. Pirro. Lulu, published::2009


See also: Unschooling


Dave Pollard:

"PS presents 50 reasons why schooling is, in every imaginable way, bad for us and our society, and then 50 reasons why unschooling, which she defines as "learning without formal curriculum, timelines, grades or coercion; learning in freedom" is the natural way to learn. She argues that we are indoctrinated from the age of five to cede our time, our freedoms, and what we pay attention to, to the will of the State, so that we are 'prepared' for a work world of wage slavery and obedience to authority. We are deliberately not taught anything that would allow us to be self-sufficient in society. And in the factory environment of the school, where teachers need to 'manage' thirty students or more, ethics and the politics of power is left up, from our earliest and most vulnerable years, to the bullies and other young damaged psychopaths among our peers, to teach us in their grotesquely warped way. As PS explains, it is in every way a prison system.

Unschooling, by contrast, starts with the realization that you 'own' your time, and have the opportunity and responsibility to use it in ways that are meaningful and stimulating for you. When you have this opportunity, you just naturally learn a great deal, about things you care about, things that will inevitably be useful to you in making a life and a living. Your learning environment is the whole world, and you learn what and when you want, undirected by curricula, textbooks, alarm clocks and school bells. You develop deep peer relationships around areas of common interest, once you're allowed to explore and discover what those areas of interest are. And the Internet and online gaming allow you to make those relationships anywhere in the world, to draw on the brightest experts on the planet, and to communicate powerfully with like-minded, curious people of every age, culture and ideology.

Many people argue that unschooling will only work for the very brightest and most self-disciplined children. On the contrary, I think we are all perfectly suited to unschooling until the school system begins to beat the love of learning, the ability to self-manage, curiosity, imagination and critical thinking out of us. By the time we have reached the third grade it becomes much more difficult, and my success in unschooling in twelfth grade was, I will agree, due to my above-average intelligence and initiative -- most of my intellectually-crippled peers just couldn't manage by that time without the strictures they'd become accustomed to. They had long ago lost the desire to learn, and to think for themselves.

If every child was unschooled -- given the chance to explore and discover and learn in the real world what they love to do, what they're uniquely good at doing, and what the world needs that they care about -- then we would have a world of self-confident, creative, informed, empowered, networked entrepreneurs doing work that needs to be done, successfully. We would have armies of people collaborating to solve the problems and crises facing our world, instead of going home exhausted at the end of the day seeking escape, feeling helpless to do anything that is meaningful to thems or to the world. We would have a world of producers instead of consumers, a world of abundance instead of scarcity, a world of diversity instead of what Terry Glavin calls "a dark and gathering sameness". We would have a world of young people choosing their lives instead of taking what they can get, what they can afford, what is offered to them. We would have a world of people who are nobody-but-themselves, and who know who they are, and how to live and make a living for themselves.

In the final part of her book, PS encourages us to check out unschooling gatherings in our own area, and find out more, find out what we can do to grow this important movement. She describes some of the groups that are organizing travel adventures to enrich unschoolers' experiences even further, and provides a host of resources for further reading and exploration of the unschooling movement.

I'm growing increasingly convinced that if we have any hope of coping with the crises that we face in this century, it lies in the generations now in the "school system".

More precisely, it lies in getting them out of that system, and making this the last generation of "schooled children"." (http://blogs.salon.com/0002007/2009/04/25.html#a2369)


PS Pirro:

"The world of the classroom is so unlike anything the real world has to offer – with the exception of other classrooms – that kids can excel at school only to find themselves utterly lost in the real world. Some people think this is the result of failed schooling, but a few of us suspect otherwise. We suspect that this sense of displacement and confusion is actually the result of schooling that succeeds in its most basic unwritten objective: to keep you dependent, timid, worried, nervous, compliant, and afraid of the World. To keep you waiting. To keep you manageable. To keep you helpless. To keep you small.

Educated, confident, creative people are dangerous to the status quo, dangerous to a centralized economy, dangerous to a centralized system of command and control. Those in power don’t want you educated. They want you schooled.

It is not up to teachers or school administrators to figure out what you should be or do. It’s not up to the State, it’s not up to your guidance counselors. It’s not up to your parents. What you do with your life ought to be up to you. What you learn ought to be up to you. How you navigate the world and create your place in it ought to be your decision. Your life belongs to you. School does its best to disabuse you of this notion. Unschooling celebrates it. Unschooling puts the responsibility for creating a satisfying life squarely where it belongs: in the hands of the one living it." (http://blogs.salon.com/0002007/2009/04/25.html#a2369)