Monday, July 21, 2008

Unschool v. School


I've been asking Kev, for a few weeks now, if he would write a blog about his experience with school, after being unschooled his entire life. This last year was his first year in the public school system, as a freshman in highschool. So the following is his perspective on the matter. I regret that he felt that I talked about public school as a "bad thing" because I really didn't mean to portray it as "bad". I often countered (or defended) my stance to unschool and often mentioned some of the negatives about public school and he took that as my thinking it was ALL bad. But, in the end he made his own decision anyway, which is exactly how we expect him to live. We honor and support our children and know that they are capable human beings and can make their own decisions.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Education From the Free Eye
Written by Kevin Snavley

All my life I have unschooled. The only thing that could be remotely considered school that I attended was pre-school, and of course, that was all fun and games. That was just life, how things were. I always wondered in the back of my head what it was like to be there, in a school building all day. How horrible it was to sit there for hours on end being lectured by crazy teachers and doing hours of homework. And then somewhere in between most of my friends going to school and me wondering, I got caught up in "catching up" to everyone else. For a while, around age 12, I always wanted to be on-track with the kids at school. It was probably because I felt stupid or less intelligent than them, which really wasn't the case. They just knew more meaningless facts than I did. It took me until last year to finally realize that, and to truly understand the reasons and joys of unschooling. Why it really is so much better than public school.

For as long as I can remember I have had friends that have gone to public school. Always. I've never actually had true unschooling friends aside from my cousins. So in a way, I sort of grew up with slightly hybrid thinking. One defending or longing to be in public school, and one completely against it all with pro-unschooling opinions. My parents always told us why public school is bad, but of course as a kid I'm not really going to understand. I never had the experience to. So I just kind of accepted that it was a bad place that I shouldn't be until I was about 14. Because I didn't go to school I always thought I had horrible writing abilities, and a bus load of other things. I finally made the decision to go to my freshman year of high school so I could figure it all out. Why is public school widely considered better? Why do my parents and unschooling parents everywhere preach it's a bad place to be? Why is unschooling so much better? I got all of my answers.

I would be lying if I said I went 100% percent for personal reasons. I had one friend in particular who was pro-school completely and thought I was wasting my life. In a way, I wanted to prove to her that I could do it, and if/if not it was better than unschooling. I guess up until I started writing this I had forgotten about that completely. I kind of kept the fact that this whole thing was an experiment in the back of my mind. I mean, it did feel nice to be "normal". But is it best? For the sake of writing this I'm going to skip through the school year and spare you the details of explaining the entire 9 months. School was exactly as I expected. Well, the whole face of it was anyway. It wasn't as close to as horrible as my parents said it was. The days went by pretty fast, it wasn't horribly boring, and I got to see my friends. The one thing I noticed the first day though, was how little "socialization" time there is. That's one thing all the kids say, "I get to hang out with my friends!". Definitely not the kind of "hanging out" I was used to. At that point it seemed like a stupid reason to want to be there.

After being there a few weeks, I started to realize the being I truly am. I wasn't stupid, not even close. If anyone was stupid it was the other 90% of the kids that were there. Everyone raved about my writing, my honors English teacher included. I did good in all my classes despite NEVER having a formal lesson in anything. That's when I realized that me, an unschooler, never been "taught" anything that these kids have, is doing better at the game than they are. Pretty ironic, no? Some of my favorite classes were Honors English 1, Japanese 1, and Jazz Choir. Those were the best.

Something I really began to hate about the school days was waking up at 6:30 am, staying there for six hours, then swimming for another 2, before going home to do meaningless homework. The first semester I got pretty lazy, and ended with a 3.3 GPA. Still, better than most kids, but not my best. Second semester I ended with a 3.8. I couldn't stand the fact that I was surrounded by unmotivated, stupid (not the academic way, the general manner they acted) people. Another trend I noticed was "can't". EVERYBODY used that one. The whole 9 months all in all were good for me. Negatives and positives. I learned that what I was doing before was BETTER than what kids at school get, I learned that what my parents told me wasn't completely heresy, I experienced something that I had never done before, the mystery was gone, and best of all, I can now defend the unschooling philosophy without any doubt in my mind and be credible at the same time. I also understood why public school kids act like they do. It's called loss of motivation.

I quickly realized that if I had to endure that shit for 9 years, I probably wouldn't be the person I am today. Friends have told me "you would have been a complete honors student!". I say no, I would've have been a lazy ass bum that wanted nothing more than a couch in life. (Which, I might add I learned a lot from TV. But you get my point. ;P) The thing that made me responsible, smart, and motivated was my unschooling life. And as stupid, annoying, unmotivated, whatever most of the public school kids are, you really can't blame them. While the other public school kids that can relate to me somewhat complain about them as well; they don't understand either. You never really can unless you have lived a free life. (Something else that I realized were the people that I was already friends with, were some of the most intelligent people in the building. How's that for coincidental?) Some personalities are different and can endure 12 years of school plus college, most cannot. Between teachers telling them they're not good enough, and wasting years of their life on something that doesn't really matter, they get fried. Most of the time it goes unnoticed too, you just kind of evaporate. I started to feel the same thing happening to me just in those nine months. Every thought you have, dream you want to fulfill, inspiration that strikes you, it all goes on the back burner, and eventually you just forget how to live any other way altogether.

Would I recommend sending a kid to school? Absolutely not. It's much too easy to lose your way. One thing I would advise though is to find unschooling friends. Would I recommend any other unschoolers go to school? If it's going to do them good like me, sure. If they want to see what it's like, sure. Otherwise, it's going to be a shit hole. Plain and simple. It would be beneficial for everyone to see what it's like, but not everyone can go through it with the same view point. So like everything else in our lives, it's up to us to make that decision. But now here I am, the year I thought would never end completed, and I have to decide what I want to do for the remaining 3. Over the last few days I've really been reflecting about what I truly want. Is it to finish high school, deal with everything I don't like, and benefit from the things I do? Or stop and go straight to college, and focus on what I want with life? That's something I'll be thinking about for a while.

232 comments:

1 – 200 of 232   Newer›   Newest»
kelli said...

Awesome Kevin. It's great to read about your experience, and your perspective about it all.

I love this, "Some personalities are different and can endure 12 years of school plus college, most cannot. Between teachers telling them they're not good enough, and wasting years of their life on something that doesn't really matter, they get fried. Most of the time it goes unnoticed too, you just kind of evaporate."
Yep, that evaporation can be seen, if we're paying attention, but I think, most people are too wrapped up in the system to do anything about it. I saw the light going out in Alec's eyes (that's how I termed it ;) in 2nd grade, it happens quick.

Great writing!

Heather's Moving Castle said...

Thanks for the amazing insights! Can I re-post that on my blog? I have a feeling no matter what you decide, you'll do just fine. Your spirit is in tact, and YOU CAN learn anything and DO anything you want.

Trevor said...

I love you Kevin Snavley.:)

Ren said...

That was me Kev...but Trevor loves you too. lol You rock!

Julie said...

How well you summed it all up. In my three-and-a-half years as a high school English teacher, I could see kids drying up (who am I kidding--they were already dried) before my very eyes, so out of touch with what they wanted and what they could do. In the end, I had to get out of there, but what a truly thorough way to fully understand why you want to unschool your own kids.

Karen said...

A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.!!!

Amazing insight, writing, thoughts, views. Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

*YOU* are an inspiration to this mama of three little boys...

Heather said...

That was sincerely awesome. Thank you for writing this. You words really ring true.

Vicki said...

that was awesome!

"Would I recommend sending a kid to school? Absolutely not. It's much too easy to lose your way."

I wish more people could see that. :(

Just last night our 8 yr old said, "Dad, you know why I wanna go to school?"
"Why?"
"Cause that's where the girls are!"

LOL

Pittsburgh Midwife said...

fantastic insight and I'm glad that you shared.

a conscious life said...

I can't wait hear what you've decided to do!

Anonymous said...

AWESOME article! My 12 yr old son just entered school in Dec. I'm going to send him your article.

gail said...

Kevin, I absolutely loved your essay and your insight. I'm sending it on to several other people. Loved your writing style and the message was brilliant.

Sarah said...

THANK YOU, KEVIN, for sharing your personal experience and insight on both sides of the journey. It's really assuring and reaffirming for those of us with youngsters.

Zenmomma said...

Wonderful! I love your ability to so clearly examine and explain your experiences.

piscesgrrl said...

This was a great read! I'm so glad you shared your thoughts about the experience. I might ask my son if he'd be interested in sharing - he, too, unschooled up until freshman year. And at this point, he's not planning to return to school this fall. :-)

As for that whole evaporation thing... you're right. But the worst part? The ugliest part of the system? Everyone says something's wrong with the *kids*, rather than - heaven forbid - examine what it is about the system that causes kids to evaporate. That's the biggest insult of all - you have no choice in what you'll learn, and you'll like it. And if you don't, we'll tell you (and everyone else) something's wrong with YOU.

Grrrrrr...

GregJrsMom said...

Kevin, thank you for sharing your view on this. It's always encouraging to read about young people who've been given the choice and choose to leave school behind to really learn.

Kim said...

It has been very interesting hearing about your yearlong experiment. Sounds like you figured out a lot about what you like and what works for you! Glad it is unschooling.

Annie said...

I loved reading this! It's great to hear stories from unschooled teenagers, especially as I start to think about the options for our little guy while he's still a toddler. I think back to my high school experience (the honors student who was a lazy ass bum and wanted nothing more than a couch, and who did just enough work to get that A because there was no motivation to do any more than the bare minimum) and I wish I could've been unschooled. Thankfully there is still time and I can live a free unschooling live now even as an adult. But sometimes I do wish I could get back all of those years wasted in school. I wonder how far I'd be and what I'd be doing if I hadn't spent so many years not living up to my potential because I was bored out of my mind in the school system.

Thanks again for sharing!

cameron said...

" Every thought you have, dream you want to fulfill, inspiration that strikes you, it all goes on the back burner, and eventually you just forget how to live any other way altogether." - This is very deep and very true. Very nice.

Dayna Martin said...

Your blog post/essay was so great Kevin! I read it to my son Devin who is almost 10. He learned so much from hearing your perspective.

When I asked him if he thought he would want to check out school someday he said, "Nah. I'll take the word of that guy. He seems cool and I trust him."

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Very profound and like nothing else I have ever read about the Unschooled life.

~Peace & Love, Dayna

Kelly said...

Thanks for posting Kevin. I gave this to my Lizzy. She was interested becuase she came at things from the opposite point of view. After having a bad experience in school she left half way through 8th grade. This year was her first full year unschooling.

SHe's also working on deciding what she wants to do next but public high school is definitely not on the list. I am grateful every day my girl was strong enough to survive with her spirit intact until I discovered unschooling.

justamum said...

You need to write a book! I wanted to go on reading about your experiences.

dawny said...

Wow Kevin thank you so much for writing that. We often question what we're doing and I know my 13 old daughter will love to read your thoughts. I'm going to link to your post from my blog because I know other parents will appreciate reading your thoughts too. :-)

Thalia said...

Kevin, thanks so much for sharing your experiences. My son J (14 this fall) and I read this together this morning and he remarked "Wow, he's describing my life!" He has been exploring his thoughts/feelings about trying high school and really appreciated your words.

Anonymous said...

This is so timely for me to read -- to share it with our 13 year-old, who just said to me the other day that she was worried she wouldn't be smart enough for college because she didn't know as much as other kids.

Yours is a perfect antidote for this worry.

McKinley said...

Oh my gosh, Kevin.. You just wrote out all my thoughts!

I just turned 13 and, I've always been afraid that I won't make it to college, I'm not smart enough, I'll never be good at anything. And than my mom told me to read your blog and I'm blown away.
I'm sending this to all my unschooling friends. Now I know for sure. You made me realize just how lucky I am to be able to wake up at 9 am, instead of 6. ;) And most of all I realized I'm as smart as I believe I am. So.. all I can say is thank you!

And the photo in the beginning is amazing. Who took it?

ModMomMuse said...

Great insights, Kevin--a fascinating (unique) perspective. I'm sorry you discovered so much of what we all (homeschooling parents) fear is true at PS...but there it is. And, that was my own experience in many ways when I was in HS about 20 years ago, too.

I loved this idea: "Another trend I noticed was 'can't'." I was always raised to think CAN, and I think it is one of the MOST powerful words in the world. So amazing that you recognized that distinction around you--better that you are a doer!!

Might I ask your forgiveness before I post this additional comment? I just couldn't help but sigh when you were writing about writing...

"Everyone raved about my writing, my honors English teacher included. I did good in all my classes despite NEVER having a formal lesson in anything. That's when I realized that me, an unschooler, never been "taught" anything that these kids have, is doing better at the game than they are."

There are so few grammatical errors in your ENTIRE post except when you write about writing!! That is a great irony to me.

"I did >>WELL<< in all my classes...That's when I realized that >>I<<, an unschooler, never >>having<< been 'taught' anything that these kids have, >>am<< doing better at the game that they are."

Anyway, it's so easy to forgive that paragraph and the other little glitches, when the rest is mature and astute, and really well written. Thanks for sharing (& please don't be mad at me...I'm an "Eats Shoots & Leaves" kinda gal). Really exciting post. Thank you.

Lindaguitar said...

Kevin, you are a great writer (despite the few grammatical errors that someone pointed out), and I really enjoyed reading your perspective after one year.

My son was unschooled for 5th through 9th grades, and decided to go to public school last year for 10th, because he was bored at home, and he also wanted to be around lots of other kids every day. He had some of the same complaints as you about school, but over-all, liked it enough to want to go back this year. (And got very good grades, FWIW.)

Now my daughter, age 15, who, until recently, swore she never wanted to go back to school (she was in public school through 3rd grade, and still complains about it to this day), wants to try it too! I read her your article just now. She has had the same worry you had, that she will seem "stupid" to other people because of not having learned all the same trivia that they have had to learn during their years in school. I hope that going to school will make her feel better about herself too. She knows she's free to quit and come back home whenever she wants.

I think that knowing you're there by your own choice, and can leave if you want, makes all the difference in the world!

Elle said...

As a home schooling mum your post has given me a real boost. Many thanks.

Anonymous said...

Kevin,

I am thankful for your insights. I have unschooled my children for the past 10 years and it is nice to hear little stories like this to keep me on track.

~K~ said...

Hi Kevin.

Lately I have been feeling a huge push to find social outlets for Karl (5 years old now). It's soooo important! Even for homebodies which Karl is and shy people which Karl isn't. Kelly Lovejoy posted about bringing social life into your home by inviting others regularly, and Karl says YES resoundingly.

Anonymous said...

Kev, Could have been an even better story, had you left out the stupid cuss words...I guess home schooling taught you that? Make you look stupid, if you ask me!

Sally said...

Hi Kevin. I'm very envious of unschooled people. Wish I'd been one (though my family was pretty dysfunctional, so not sure how it would have been!) My kids love being unschooled. I'd be quite interested to see if they decide to check out the institutions some day, but hope very much that they don't abandon their own educations to them!

PS: anyone who felt they should mention grammar or cussing was being pretty ageist in my opinion ... patronizing as I don't suppose they would be spell/grammar/vocab checking the posts of anyone they thought was nearer their own age! A bit pointless to go through checking stuff like that ... keep their concentration on the content and their spell/grammar checkers and cussing boxes in their own blogs!
Can't help themselves though! They were probably all schooled and need some deschooling still! LOL! Love them!

best wishes!

Kelly said...

Kevin~
Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your
amazing insights. I am going to ask EVERYBODY I know to read this
post.
Best wishes to you!

Snavleys said...

"Could have been an even better story, had you left out the stupid cuss words...I guess home schooling taught you that?"

Heidi: No, that would be public school!! LOL! It's just words for goodness sakes. Funny the things people get all bent out of shape about. If you are offended it has something to do with you, not Kevin, especially when you are commenting anonymously.

Snavleys said...

"Kelly Lovejoy posted about bringing social life into your home by inviting others regularly, and Karl says YES resoundingly.
"

Heidi: Just thought I would comment back on this one. I totally agree. Kev has a VERY active social life. There are kids milling around our house almost ALL the time. They love our house because we are so relaxed and kid friendly. On any given night I'm feeding between 5 and 10 kids. The thing he regrets is not that he didn't have lots of friends and socializing but that he didn't have UNSCHOOLED friends. We have a lot of relaxed homeschoolers here but not true radical unschoolers.

Ren said...

~~Kev, Could have been an even better story, had you left out the stupid cuss words...I guess home schooling taught you that? Make you look stupid, if you ask me!~~


Wow, where to begin with this? None of the cuss words Kevin used were aimed at a person nor intended to hurt another human being. Saying something like "make you look stupid" is not only grammatically incorrect, but is intended to hurt and therefore a lot worse than any cuss word.

I would rather hear someone say "oh fuck" than to call someone STUPID. That makes you look pretty lame actually.

If you're actually interested in the origins of words, not many of today's cuss word even originated as a "bad word". It's all how we use it. Study some etymology sometime, it's pretty interesting stuff.

You can read about a myth on the word shit and some of the actual etymology here: http://www.etymonline.com/baloney.php

Rather than act in a demeaning manner,hiding behind some "anon" label, why don't you open your mind and learn something new? Even cuss words lead to learning.

But as an unschooler, Kevin already knows that.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes you read something that blazes through your brain like a zenith - this was one of those times. :)

I am torn between unschooling my 8 year old daughter (and staying in my horrendous marriage to do so) and ending my marriage, thus going out to work and sending her off to the local public school all day.

Man, I just can't let her languish there. What to do, what to do?!

Your blog inspires me to keep reaching for the best - to have her bloom and blossom out of the box. I guess where there is a will, there will be a way.

Thank you so much.

Anita in Atlanta

Anonymous said...

I'm not defending the other boy (or girl) who got upset over the cuss words, but I will tell you why I post anonymously - I personally do that because I do not want to start an account, blah blah blah ... not because I am hiding.

As far as cussing goes, the words stupid, dumb, gay, retard, baby, like a girl, idiot, bitch, loser, etc. can be more purposefully harmful at times than fuck, shit, damn, etc. Unless you are hurting someone, which many times it IS aimed at others, who cares?

I'm not offended, even though my Bible belt background would like me to cringe at anything remotely non-Victorian. HA.

Anita in ATL (not anonymous, as this site calls me)

David Elmore said...

That is a phenonemal post, Kevin! I loved the candor, the insight and even the colorful language. Beautiful. May I post it on my blog, too?

Thanks and best to you on your free decisions on your future.

David Elmore

Anonymous said...

Kevin,
Nice post. It would be great if you could elaborate for the many people who have read your blog what "unschooling" means to you. What kinds of things do you do? What is a typical day like for you? It's obvious you can be motivated when you want to be, so what motivates you?
Incidentally, I think it's unfortunate that you imply your academic success in school is "proof" that unschooling works. Have you used grades in your unschooled life? Why use them now?
Keep on learning and enjoying life.

Snavleys said...

Heidi: I'm putting Heidi: before my comments so that people know it's me and not Kevin commenting. Just wanted to reply about the last comment, regarding grades. I re-read it to see if I misinterpreted it the way the last commenter did. What Kevin was saying regarding grades is not that it was proof that unschooling worked but that getting good grades was not a difficult thing to do, it just required a little motivation to do the homework basically. Grades obviously have nothing to do with learning and we have NEVER used grades in our home life (I don't think that would be considered unschooling and what would I grade him on anway?). The point he was trying to make is that kids in school aren't motivated because they are so burned out and it was just hard to be around "lazy" people. We all know that they aren't really lazy but that is how Kevin saw it because, at the time,he didn't really understand the burned out part, he just saw them as lazy, unmotivated people - I think he understands why now:) I think the questions you presented are good ones for him to ponder and answer when he does his more in-depth essay.

Ren said...

Ah, but Anita you signed your name so you really aren't posting "anon". I have less respect for people who do the drive-by derogatory comment when they aren't willing to put a name behind it. :)

As to the grades thing....
good grades don't prove the success of unschooling at all. I don't think Kevin was trying to say that.

It does prove the uselessness of years of "preparation" and hours spent on rote "learning".

It's kinda sad when you think about how much emphasis people put on grades and Kev proves that it's totally pointless.

Even if he'd gotten lousy grades, it proves nothing about the success or failure of unschooling. It does say something about the failure of schools to be useful learning institutions though.

Dawn said...

Why look at your life and decisions as "the next three years"?

Perhaps exploring a classic canon (aka "college") will take more time, less time, etc.

Perhaps a college credential is necessary for what you want to accomplish, and if it is, seems you are aware enough that you will know it's your next step and can trust yourself to go get it, perhaps in three years, one, now or at any other time in your life.

I think we absorb all things more deeply than we think we do, I would so enjoy reading more of your public school experiences as they want to be told:)

"Psychologists view life as a problem to be solved instead of a purpose to be fulfilled." -Thomas Szasz

How does the public school system view my life? Your life? Even worse, teachers' or "administrators'" lives? hm.

Thank you for writing this. I lived in school for a long time and came to those same conclusions from the inside, but will never know what life, free, could be like.

catnip said...

Thank you for sharing your perspective. I'm an unschooling mom to my 3 year-old, and this essay was very reassuring to me.

sheli said...

Kev,
I've admired the love and unconditional support that your mom has ALWAYS given to you, Tristan and Calista! It has been a JOY to watch you grow into a WONDERFUL human being!

As you know, from MANY late night conversations that your mom & I have had about many things, school being a BIG one, I have constantly been challenged by the beautiful life that you're parents have afforded you (and I don't just mean monetarily) as I dream of the possibility that my kids will find some of the freedoms you speak of, even though they have been participating in a "formal" school setting since kindergarten.

How do I actively dream this possible; by trying to ignore the idea of grades and institutionalized ways of thinking and letting administration know this about our family, we take every opportunity to know the teachers and request one's that share our philosophy of teaching with a more individualized perspective and CREATIVITY, we take mundane school projects and encourage Kayla, Milo, Sara and Maija to "think outside of the box" or not do them if they don't feel inspired by that project, leave it to them to decide if something is worth putting their energy into and supporting that decision , and our personal favorite - "personal days off" if we need one. This is our way of trying to find a "middle school" of thought regarding two schooling principals. Hoping that they can compliment each other.

Still there is the system and the YEARS of brainwash that I have encountered in my lifetime that have created a type of fear. I am challenged EVERYDAY by this fear to overcome and sustain that level of unconditional love and support that your mom has naturally embraced and given FREELY to you.

Your essay says it ALL! You have, ONCE AGAIN, ignited in me a passionate fire to continue to strive for that level of excellence based on an unconditional love and trust that is naturally inside of each one of us, that so often seems impossible or "way out there!" It has reminded me to STOP paying attention to what society says "we should do" and instead "make our own do!"

Your essay is beautiful and hopeful, because it's coming from YOU! I especially enjoyed your perspective of "schooled" people. So often we hear the "schooled" perspective of "homeschoolers or unschoolers" and they're usually words with cruel and MISUNDERSTOOD meaning. You lived what you're expressing and that in turn has provided a wisdom that allows both "schooled" and "unschooled" people to see and feel because it is REAL!

Whether we, as the lucky reader, walk away feeling inspired, overwhelmed, irritated, encouraged or hopeful is up to the individual, the fact that you as an individual provided this essay of experience allows each person who reads it the "freedom of choice" that you have been given your whole life!

THANK YOU so much, Kev for your words of wisdom!

Love sheli...smile

Anonymous said...

Kevin,

thank you for your great insight. I am going to send this to my husband (who is still having trouble with homeschooling). I hope that your words will help him shed the "system" mentality.

Smell Goods Lady said...

Simply inspirational. Thank you for sharing your experience.

Itiel

Anonymous said...

My daughter has been in a public school for 4 years, and I have watched her become less confident and less creative every year. I was thinking of home schooling her this year, and your article has convinced me. Thank you!

Mary Ann said...

Very thought provoking Kevin! While we live on the road in a RV, seeing the US and Canada for two years, living a life full of adventures, sometimes my teens will talk about high school...

We've all wondered... What would it be like to live in a stick house and go to a traditional school? But your post helped answer those questions.

Thank you! Mary Ann

Susan Burke said...

You Rock! We have a 4 year old. Your post gives us a glimpse into how she may turn out! May I post your post on our blog?
Thanks!

Kim said...

Your exoeriences have just encouraged a 45-yr-old homeschooling mom from CT. Thank you so much for spending the time putting it all into words. I'll be sharing this on my blog, I hope that's OK. :) I wish you the best in your future educational decisions. Somehow, I know you'll make the right ones.

Anonymous said...

It's wonderful to see a teen who is so alive, as well as obviously intelligent (and makes artful use of the occasional cuss word as well). Here's to NOT evaporating into the system!

Thanks for your beautiful words, Kevin.

Oregon unschooler

Anonymous said...

See now I have yet another answer to the why question. I homeschool because I "evaporated" in 5th grade and I can't stand the thought of my children wasting their minds that way. Awesome post cussing and all! Sometimes you just have to say it like it is and that is exactly how it is as I vividly recall.
Beth in CA

Anonymous said...

See now I have yet another answer to the why question. I homeschool because I "evaporated" in 5th grade and I can't stand the thought of my children wasting their minds that way. Awesome post cussing and all! Sometimes you just have to say it like it is and that is exactly how it is as I vividly recall.
Beth in CA

magien said...

I live in a country where we can't think of homeschooling, not to mention unschooling. But what you wrote, Kevin, motivates me to work harder with my little kids everytime they ask questions or play with me. Thank you for sharing your feelings and thoughts. You made the difference to me.
The dried kids are kids of dried parents. You can't help most of people are lazy as coala bears. But not so beautiful.

s said...

Fantastic essay. Good luck with your decision Kevin.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the article Kevin. Fortunately for us our thirteen year old son has no desire to ever public school again. Unfortunately it took us until he was in the fourth grade to pull him out of public school. We had never homeschooled and didn't know anything about it but we figured we couldn't do any worse than the public school. After the first year of trying to teach him (regretfully the same way the public school had done because that is all we knew) we heard about something called unschooling. We started that with him and he has been thriving ever since. He also has known for the last three years what he wants to do when he grows up so this year is starting to work towards what he knows he is going to have to have to get into a college of his choice eventually. He wants to be a mineralogist. I will have him read the article later when he gets back home. Thanks again for the article Kevin.
Donna

laura said...

Wow. Thanks for writing this out and sharing your experiences with, well, the whole world. I'd love to learn more abut what interests you pursued during your younger years, maybe I'll poke around your family blog for inspiration--I have a 7 year-old daughter and 5 year-old son and really crave positive unschooling examples. Thanks again.

Terri said...

Hi Kevin. I am a substitute teacher in the public schools and have witnessed similarly about what you have written here. It is enlightening, however, to get it straight from a "student" himself. You are right, motivation overall seems to be going down the tubes (if it isn't already there), and I am thrilled for you (and others) who have escaped that motivation drain - however it came about. Your writing, by the way, is excellent, which is becoming increasingly rare, even at the college level! May God have mercy on the public schools, which are trying hard to improve, but "going 90 miles an hour down a dead-end street" (Bob Dylan reference) in many ways, and doing harm to the students in the long run. I am glad you found good things too, which I am sure there are; but something in general needs to happen to re-awaken students to the love of learning, don't you think? Sincerely, Terri

Lune said...

HI Kevin, thanks so much for this post, I have just begun to homeschool my daughters they are five and two now.

I hope they may get to read this when they are your age.

Can a link possibly last for 15 years? I hope so,

good luck
Lune x

Anonymous said...

Kevin,
Thank you for writing and sharing your experiences.
Home with my family this evening.
And feeling better about the choices we are making.
Wishing you the best.
Lisa

Meenagirl said...

Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Very insightful and reassuring for a parent just starting out down the unschooling path.

Good luck deciding where to go from here. I'm curious to see what you decide.

I'm planning on linking this to my blog, please let me know if you'd rather I not.

Melinda said...

Wow! Thank you so much for your courage in trying out school and sharing your experience with us. You definitely have a lot on the ball and are very much in touch with who YOU are, not who people tell you you are. That is a great gift. This is very encouraging to the mom who believes in unschooling (my currently 5 and 9 yo boys) but sometimes has misgivings because she has not fully deschooled herself. :) Great article!
Melinda

nat said...

Thanks for taking the time to write this explanation, Kevin. And also thanks for spending that "shit hole" 9 months so we in the unschooling community have another concrete example of Unschool v. School.

laura said...

wow, i'm FINALLY getting around to reading this. thank you for sharing your insights kevin!!

Ladybug Mommy Maria said...

Such a well written and encouraging article to this unschooling mama!

Thank you!

Grandpapa said...

Kevin, Snavley Freebirds
Great post!
I would really like to publish your blog "Unschool v School" on my homeschooling website www.homeschool-portal.com. I am asking your permission to do so. I will give the necessary credit and referencing to your blog.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Grandpapa
pc.freechoice@gmail.com

Amy said...

This was simply fantastic. Like you did, my son is wanting to try public high school, after unschooling for several years, and regular homeschooling before that. He's going to go in a couple of weeks, but I think he'll really like reading your long post about what it was like, and it will fortify him even more than he already is. Thanks so much for taking the time to write this: it's so encouraging to me, also.
Amy in Colorado

Anonymous said...

I was an un-schooler (16 years old) who was going to go into highschool when I was the pre-given age and I want to suggest NOT showing this to any enthusiast who wants and really is looking forward to joining a school. The reason for this is, I'm kind of talking about me, I wanted to do school, and this would have done a pretty good job of discouraging me.

I am more than capable of respecting what others believe in, but this is almost an order blaring out loud: SCHOOL IS HELL! DON'T DO IT! SAVE YOUR LIFE!

That's sort of what I hear when I read this. If you plan on doing what I did, then do NOT read this. Sorry Kevin, but I'm a huge, (and annoying) critic of what anyone anywhere says and this is just one example of who I am.

More or less, you can sum up anyone's opinion of me in two words: I SUCK as a "positive" critic. But I can't help being the way I am

Ren said...

I am curious what the "pre-given" age is for an unschooler to go to school? Who decided that? Why didn't you go to school when and where you felt like it? Why did you wait until 16 and what motivated you?

Kevin didn't go post this at someone's blog who is enthusiastic about school. He wrote it for whoever wants to stop by and read his very real life experiences.

If that's enough to discourage someone from trying it, great. They weren't that serious about trying school if that's the case and they probably shouldn't go.

Snavleys said...

I agree with Ren. I am Kev's mom and this is just KEV'S experience, not anyone elses. He is just expressing what he experienced. He is actually still taking two classes at the highschool this year so it wasn't all bad for him. He is simply saying that unschooling is better. There are some wonderful things that he got out of school and will continue to use those resources that are there for him. And I don't think Kev is responsible for who is going to read his essay and how they are going to interpret it. And furthermore, I'm not sure why it is you interpreted the essay the way you did when he comes out and asks the question whether an unschooler should try school and he says "yes" if you have good reasons and you go into it as a "free" child. He always had the choice to stay or come back home and he never was required to live up to somebody elses standards. He got out of it what he wanted plain and simple. He actually missed a total of 45 days last year because there were days he simply didn't want to go. The reason he calls it a shithole is because he found most of it extremely boring and he got very tired of the busy work. He was also very disappointed at how little socialization there actually is in school and he felt that he could better use his time at home or doing other things. He wasn't able to pursue his own passions and interests because of all the busy work at school. He missed being able to pursue things on a whim when interest in something struck him. He was overall bored with the experience and felt that it zapped his curiosity about the world. I think it is good to look at all the angles before you make the decision to go to school but you also have to remember that everyone's experiences with it are different. That's one thing I learned last year; was that Kev's experience was drastically different from mine and it wasn't as bad as I made it out to be. At the same time, he figured out it wasn't even near as good as the pro-public schoolers made it out to be and he is VERY thankful for his unschooling upbringing. If you were excited about going to school give it a try. If you are truly an unschooler than I'm sure your parents are giving you the option to come back home if you don't like it.

Sara said...

So my mom is like, "OMG AWESOME JOB KEVIN!!! COME PRESENT AT MY CLASS!!!"

You know, how she does that whole teaching teachers how to teach their kids to be self determined thing?

Well dude, I kinda figured you'd figure it out if you went to school, it DOES give an insight to the majority of youth, and why they are so *insert general teenage stereotype here*

Oh, and since I watched you most everyday when you were AT school, here's my insight that you left out of your insight!

Kev did not stand out at WHS. Most kids who have never been to school, and then join up in middle school/high school usually DO stand out, whether it be their strange way of dressing, mousy demeanor, or just plain weird personality. Maybe it's just because he's Kev, or maybe not, but I've never seen someone who's never been to school before, and then started going to school just adjust like that and blend in like he'd been there his entire life, like the rest of us.

To be honest, I was surprised he lasted that long!

(I am the pro-schooling best friend that he mentioned in his writing, I sort've dared/challenged him to give high school a try ;P)

Myself and Kev's other best friend of the same name actually had a bet going to see how long he would last (sorry Kev, I don't think I ever told you that ^.^) but eventually we forgot about it, because Kev just became one of us... students.


Now here's some food for thought for your NEXT writing, or maybe something you could elaborate on:

At what stage of schooling do kids get "burnt out"? Having missed the first nine years of schooling, where do you think the burnt out kids you encountered developed their attitude? 4th grade? 6th grade? 9th grade? Did you see kids developing a burnt out attitude, or just watching it get worse? Or did some kids improve? What is a way that teachers can re-motivated kids in high school, the phase of school where most kids give up and drop out? Or maybe re-motivation shouldn't ever exist, because kids should maintain the same motivation they have when attending their first day of kindergarten?

I could tell you my thoughts on that, but I think you know how I feel about high school, and you possibly know why I feel that way... I admit, I too did not receive the same schooling that the majority of kids do, and has that affected me? You are definitely right that perspective changes any opinion, hence, there are so many opinions out there!

Anyway, good write. Hope you're not too wiped from swimming =D

Also, you should tell me when you write stuff D:< My MOM told me about this because of your mom!

jana said...

Thank for the amazing post! As a homeschool mom, I appreciate your openness about your experiences.

Anonymous said...

Wow...I read this via fuhkauifamily.blogspot.com
As a mom, I needed this. I had my 16 year daughter read it as well. Basically we've been slowly trying to 'unschool' the last two years and I am the one that worries the most. So...thank you for putting my mind at ease...I could say so much more...anyways...thanks!
butterflygirl
6packfamily.wordpress.com

arun said...

with 75 comments and counting you probably get that your perspective is extremely appreciated out here... but i could not resist thanking you myself.

appreciate your thoughts and experience on this.

KDreamyC said...

hey, Kevin- I'm envious of your lifestyle, which seems totally grounded in freedom and motivated by curiosity! (I'm just rediscovering that life turns beautiful and amazing when experienced through curious eyes!)
It's been SO heartbreaking to see my own children change so quickly and so horrifyingly for the worse as they entered those prison walls that we call school- (from my experience I really do think of schools as prisons.) You are fortunate indeed that your parents agree on this for you!
It's so vital that we gain true life education; it's just so sad that most children are wasting the greater part of their lives with meaningless trivia- and having their creativity and initiative crushed out of them in the process!! I would give ANYTHING to be able to have my 13 y.o. daughter be at home and be so grounded, so free of fear and insecurity and the crushingly stupid peer pressures of her soul-sucking school!
SO, anyway- from one Kevin to another- dude! You rock! -from Idaho

Snavleys said...

To the "other Kevin":

Just curious: What is stopping you from pulling your kids out of the "prison" and unschooling them?

Anonymous said...

Mate, thats an excellent story and it confirm, from a child's perspective, a lot of theories that my wife and myself believe in. We are home schooling our 3 kids and follow a very loose approach. I agree with you, school isn't the place to spent a large amount of your life, certainly not.

KDreamyC said...

to the Snavleys' curiousity question: in a word, my ex. We were originally homeschooling the kids, but since we got divorced I no longer control that choice. That's what stops me. She wants to totally conform in life and just go along as a nice little sheeple; I choose to question and wonder why and what if?
That's why I said you're so very fortunate that your parents agree on this for you!! I hope you're grateful...

Crystal said...

Thanks for the insight. I'm considering unschooling for my son. He's currently 13 months old, so my husband and I have time to decide. I've mentioned unschooling to my husband a couple of times and tried to describe the idea to him. So far he's really not liking the idea. He wants something far more "structured." Anyways, he is willing to read up on it and discuss this more with me. Soooo...the first bit of reading material I'll be sending his way is your blog entry. I think it will be great for him to hear the insight of someone who has been unschooled. Thanks a bunch for posting this!

Alice said...

Thank you so much. I'm filing this one away for when I have those nagging little doubts about our family's unschooling decsion.

Ren said...

If anyone is still checking here to read comments, you really should check out Kevin's follow-up to all these comments at HIS blog: http://beatnikprodigy.livejournal.com/

He answered a variety of comments left here and it was fun to read his responses.:)

Fernando Subirats said...

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for taking the time to write about your experience, and especially for your candor!! (i.e., "shitholes") It was the first time I'd heard about such an experience firsthand. My wife and I have a 5 year old daughter and are embarking on a homeschooling curriculum called "Enki." Your account has given us faith in what we are doing and the direction we are going. You're by far the deepest 14 year old I've come across!

Sincerely,
Fernando & Judy Subirats
Miami, Fl

www.myspace.com/getonthisgroove

christinemm said...

Thank you for writing this essay. It is great!

I endured public school myself. I did alright but one thing about me is I am sensitive to others. I watched, for years, other kids struggle to learn. I watched other kids teased and bullied. I watched other kids really suffer. I watched kids change over time (I lived in a small town.) I watched teachers be cruel to kids and how it changed them.

One reason I homeschooled since the birth of my children was I wanted them to live free and to not be negatively changed in some manner, whether it be from the other students, the bus ride, the teachers, the boredom, or anything else related to school. I want my kids to just grow into the people they naturally are supposed to be.

I loved your line, "You never really can unless you have lived a free life."

First for me as a parent I never felt that freedom until I became a stay at home mom of a baby. I was trapped in public school, college, trade school, then jobs. For many stay at home mom's they enjoy their freedom until they are locked into the preschool schedule. Preschool here begins at age two, three at the latest. So because I avoided preschool and even school for my own kids I am still living a life of freedom and I absolutely love it.

My boys are now 11 and 8 and I see now that despite them liking their homeschooling life they are already not understanding what it means to live free. They do not know how good they have it to be frank. Seemingly little things like sleeping until your body wakes up, being free to travel more and when you want, having the full day under your control not filling a school schedule then doing homework at night. These things they already do not appreciate.

You may think 8 is young but believe me with the personality of this strong-willed child, he is clearly already thinking school is some great thing he is missing out on.

Perhaps both kids have the 'grass is always greener on the other side' or 'mom is exaggerating why school is a bad thing'.

I was bothered to read you thought you were behind the schooled kids. I am trying to think of how I can prevent that in my own kids. I don't praise them constantly but when it is truly deserved. I don't put down others to prop up my kids either. I don't know how as a parent I can do something to make my kids feel academically and intellectually, in their perception, equal to schooled kids.

Thanks again for your essay!

mouster said...

WOW!! This should be sent to any relative that criticize homeschoolers. Thank you for writing this. Whatever you do I know you will excel at it. kudos to you

Littlefaith said...

replying to christinemm - Just let them choose school if they want to try, at whatever age. That's the amazing thing about unschooling. Once you have that mindset, that you can CHOOSE, you win no matter whether the child chooses school or home.

I am sad also, because like KDreamyC, I am losing my ability to control the decision to homeschool as I'm getting a divorce this year. My husband never agreed with me that we should unschool the children, but I did it anyway because we had the means to let me stay at home and do it. Now sooner or later I will have to return to work, so the children must be placed in public day care (yep, public school) for the sake of finances.

twelfthstrand said...

I often wonder how things would be different had I been homeschooled, "unschooled", or self-taught. For example, I just lost a job due to becoming somewhat hostile to a controlling and perhaps even abusive boss, and doing my own thing. Would I have done that sooner, had I been homeschooled, and "free", or would I have had the maturity to detach myself from the abusive environment, and for the sake of money, to continue working for him anyway and appease his control-freaky-micro-management techniques, as one person I know there does, perhaps for the sake of her family? The answer probably isn't too important, because this 6 week job was just one small step in my career and development, but I do believe some of the mistakes I made when I started to "free myself" in my 30s would not have been made, had I learned discernment much sooner, which might have happened in the freedom of the homeschooling environment but seems to have been prevented by the hugely negative attitude I took on in school which hampered my development and probably kept me in many ways asleep throughout my teens, 20s and even my early 30s. So only now, as I approach "middle-age", do I feel I'm developing the freedom of mind to be self-directing in my life. (A late-bloomer? Worse, perhaps...)

Yes, I think school is very damaging, especially for certain personality-types, and those who are generally intelligent but feel that are being forced to be dumbed-down for years, to accept mediocrity, and resent it tremendously. But I also think, had I been homeschooled, I might even have been able to enjoy the last couple of years of high-school, had I seen the opportunities rather than focusing too much on the negatives. It is, after all, a potentially somewhat social environment, and there are more opportunities to interact with a variety of people (teachers and students) than perhaps in many more-isolated home-schooling environments. But quantity is not really better than quality, because attitude makes such a huge difference to success, and if one takes on a victim attitude (as perhaps I did in school, feeling "trapped" by state-mandates to "stay in school"), then he is not likely to be learning very much, or living up to his potential. I think it takes a lot of energy and enthusiasm and love for what you are learning to really excel at it.

For example, I have only recently gotten back to reading the book Godel, Escher, Bach. It's an interesting mathematical and logical treatise, but why was I seemingly unable to approach the book for decades? I think I might have attempted it in 11th or 12th grade, if I hadn't learned to accept mediocrity as the schools seem to teach.

jessie said...

bravo, kevin! we are unschooling our 6 yr old daughter, and all of us love it. i appreciated reading of your experience and thoughts - it has definitely been an eye-opener in terms of how you described school now. what i remember (20 yrs ago) of school was so awful that i've blocked it out.

good for you! and thanks for sharing.

akeenberg said...

Very insightful. Especially how you mentioned that some people can thrive in the 12 years of public school - something homeschoolers often forget.
DId you manage to convince any schooled peers to switch to unschooling?

Erick B said...

The number of comments you've received should give you a clear message about the value of this post, both for parents and kids. You are a megaphone as far as I'm concerned. Please keep it up! It's an important and authentic voice that needs to be heard. Thanks for making the effort to do it.

Cheryl said...

I say go ahead and write up a story about the full 9month details. Wow. I'd read it, I'd buy it.

Amanda Enclade said...

This made my day! Thank you!

Kim said...

I'm going to be passing this blog along to my 13 year old who is in the throws of deciding if he wants to attend a brick and mortar high-school, or continue home-schooling. Thank you so much to your son for writing this!

Anonymous said...

You give me motivation to keep unschooling my children!

Diane said...

This was fascinating to read. I've been a teacher in private schools for 14 years, and I'm now in my 2nd year of teaching in a public high school. Let me tell you--your writing and ability to express yourself is far above what I typically see in public HS.

I see both the good and bad of public education. Some students flourish. Others just endure. Some, of course, don't make it or lose the passion for learning they must have had at some time.

I'm personally grappling with choosing the best education for my son who is just starting kindergarten. We're going to give the public schools a try, but we're willing to bail to private school or home school at any point.

Thank you for sharing your perspective.

Summer said...

Thank you so much for writing this. I am currently unschooling my daughters, ages 5 and 8. I also have a 2 y/o and a baby due in 2 weeks. I sometimes worry that I'm screwing them up by not sending them to school, but then I remember why. Your post really helped to renew my confidence in my decision. Also, I can read it to my husband because he doesn't really get what I'm doing.

Virginia Braden said...

Kevin,
Thank you for taking the time to share your insights. I am an unschooling mother to five and I think that second guessing ourselves is part of the package of being parents. I appreciate the encouragement and the reminders of why I have chosen to unschool and choose to let the individual creativity and desires of each child be their guide in this lifelong journey of learning.

Deborah said...

Ditto on all the kudos you've already received. You might consider college. In Illinois, the community colleges have early entry programs for high school students. All three of our unschooled children have taken advantage of it and have enjoyed it.

Heather said...

Wow!!! I guess I am the 100th commenter! I have NEVER seen so many comments on one blog post before! Kevin this is very insightful and it was very interesting to read your perspective. It's great you have such supportive parents of your choices.

Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing your experience with us. i suspect that your amazing family and some great parenting may have played a bigger role then where you went to school or got your education. you are clearly an amazing young man and not going to school gave you an opportunity the be with folks who love you and respect you and gave you the support you needed to become that way...the negativity in most institutions of learning is smothering the young people today...the factory model works great for the institutions-but not so good for humanbeings...much love

former public school teacher and homeschool mama of three boys

Anonymous said...

From:Angela... Hi Kevin! I pulled my son out of public school and began homeschooling him the first time in 5th grade. I was horrified to learn that they had not only not been teaching him much worthwhile, but had actually UNTAUGHT him math that he was extremely talented in before he ever attended Kindergarten! By the end of that first year homeschooling I realized that he was learning the most and the most worthwhile on his own and of his own initiative. We've been unschooling ever since (working on year 5 now, he's 14) and I am unschooling my 4 year old daughter as well. Imagine my fears that my son will some day regret his unschooling life, or feel uneducated, or feel that he missed out on something fundamental. Thank you for sharing your experience. I'm going to have my son read it. He is, right now, struggling with some of the same feelings that you wrote about. Again, thanks SO MUCH for your candor and, WOW! How well you expressed your thoughts!

Shelby Coleman said...

Dear Kevin,
I am unschooling my 8 year old daughter. Once in awhile I get a pang that maybe I am not doing enough or that my decision isn't sound. Your wonderful piece just made me feel all better and more determined that ever not to send her to that "shit hole" of a place, ever. I maintain my goal of my daughter never having to take a test or be measured against someone else's achievements or failures. Great piece. I hope you stay the course and stay out of school. Thanks again, Shelby Coleman

BadAsianMom said...

Thank you Kevin, for sharing your story about freedom versus school "serfdom." I'm very glad that you were able to stay aware of how much your motivation was slipping due to school.

*lynne* said...

wow so many comments! I probably have nothing new to add, but here goes, anyway: this is an amazing essay, inspirational for me to look into the groundwork I need to do in order to unschool my child(ren) if/when I do have them.

[I was pointed here via heathen mom, btw] *lynne*

My Autism Insights said...

Kevin, you are quite an insightful and talented writer! Thanks so much for sharing this unique perspective. My son currently attends school, but I can see what you've said about evaporation. I've often considered (am always considering) keeping him home for a few years, but he actually enjoys the academic part of school. It's the negativity that seems to stifle him. But you've given me loads to think about.

Erica M said...

How refreshing and wonderful to see a fellow un-schooler/home schooler write about this experience! Very insightful and convincing!

Elena said...

Wow! This really hit home.

I'm one of those students who got fried by the system and slowly evaporated.

I feel like MOST of my life was wasted in a school system that didn't really care about me, even though there were a few teachers who were exceptional and really encouraged me.

I actually have a twinge of bitterness about it, because my mom talked about how great homeschooling was but never let us do so.

It has taken me till now at 31 yrs old to get back my zest for life and passion to go for my dreams.

It's tragic what gets lost by so many in a system like that.

I'm unschooling my girl who has just turned 6 and has taught herself to read, write, and do math already! :)

Reading your story confirms to me what a great choice I'm making in letting her be self directed!!!

Thank you for sharing your words.

I too would like to know what you decide about public school. Just curious about it. :)

Elena

A. Dawn Woods said...

While I appreciate your perspective, I wonder if there is a difference between your experience in a public setting and that of a private school? We have chosen for our children to attend a private religious school, and I am hoping that it will give them a better experience than that of the Public Educaction System.

I personally loved school and did not "evaporate" into the sludge. Lots of kids did, though. As a mother to 4 boys (and having a degree in Business Management), I can't even imagine how to start "un-schooling" or "home-schooling." It's just not my thing.

Another question: can you attend college without a diploma or GED? Are you going to get a GED or just bag the whole thing? What plans do you have for your future like having a career or travelling? I'm just wondering how you plan to accomplish a satisfying career without the "degree" that so many employers require of their top employees.

Thanks for considering my questions!

Susan in VA said...

Very *very* awesome Kevin! Thank you for sharing! My dd(9) is an unschooler but she sometimes gets to wandering if she's as smart as her peers or if it would be more fun to be at school with her friends (most of whom are schooled, too, like yours). I'm going to give her the link to this post. She'd definitely love to hear a personal account from another unschooler who has bt/dt. Your writing is insightful, deep, and flows beautifully. Thank you again for putting your thoughts out into the universe.

Jenny Lilac said...

Thank you for sharing your unique perspective, Kevin!!

yourface said...

Wow kevin awesome story. Im am turning 14 in december and have been home schooling unschooling or whatever you want to call it for the past 4 years. I was in public school up until the 5th grade when my mom decided to unschool me due to stress induced medical symptoms. She is a single mom who works at home and still she teaches me, so no excuses for all you parents out there that think you can't do it. I finally feel that after 4 years of no public school I have finally decompressed and gotten rid of almost all of the learning blocks that were caused by public school. for such a long time I had trouble writing because I was forced to before I was ready. Now I can whip out term papers no problem. I hated math for a very long time because of all the stupid worksheets that they gave me in public school (by the way fred rules). I didn't like several musical instruments because the music teacher I had didn't let us explore our interests at all and we had to do it a certain way or we failed. I had many friends in public school that hate reading because they were forced to learn before they were ready and the list goes on. Un schooling lets kids learn things when they are ready and willing to do so. Not when a standardized test thinks they should know something. Most teachers JUST teach to the test these days. Its very rare that you will find one that doesn't. Does anyone ever think about who they are having their children "socialize" with? I had trouble finding friends that I weren't completely weird. The instance that comes to mind is when I was in the 5th grade and I was sitting on a bench during recess with one of my friends watching the group of "popular" girls walk around arguing over who was more of a bitch. That was their words not mine. Wow this is turning out to be a really long comment... PS to all you anti home/unschoolers out their don't criticize something you know nothing about, and don't criticize a 15 year old for using much milder language than you would find on a 10 year olds mouth in public school.

yourface said...

Oh and I also forgot to mention that I was one of those kids who at the age of 5 already knew and was interested reading writing and basic math.

Snavleys said...

To a.Dawn Woods:

I will let Kev comment also but I (his mom) just wanted to put my input in. As far as his experience possibly having the same results as someone in private school, I honestly feel that his results have more to do with our style of parenting than it necessarily has to do with school. He has been trusted fully and completely, allowed to make his own decisions, have his own opinions, dress how he wants, pierce or not pierce, color or not color his hair, etc. We are not your typcial authoritative parents and we do not have a relationship with our children that is the typical child/adult relationship. We are here for our children but we allow them to be their own selves. We are our children's friends, support, and soft place to land. We give them the same freedoms that any adult in this country has.

I think there are kids in public school that are able to retain that passion and interest in learning because they haven't been beaten down by the parents, the parents don't make a big deal of grades and testing, etc. When the parents don't put so much emphasis on school being the "end-all/be-all" it can make a HUGE difference.

As far as the religious private school- for me that would be a tough one just because I think that religion is very fear-based and I'm not sure how that would look like in a school, but from what I understand, they have to take religious classes and for the most part, there are a lot of strict rules, dress codes etc. To me that would be more stifling than public school.

I would be curious to know from your experience- were your parents fairly relaxed and supportive? Most of the kids I know that had good experiences in public school had very involved, supportive, fairly relaxed parents.

As far as the college question: Yes, you can attend college without a diploma or GED. You can take your SAT tests and see how you do there or you can just start taking college classes and as long as you do well, you can begin to go full-time. Some colleges require letters, essays, etc. Our local University allows them to take, I think, up to three classes and, if after a year of doing well, they can begin to go full-time without any other prereq's.

This year Kev is taking two classes at the school (Japanese and Taiko drumming); taking what he wants from the system and leaving the rest. At this point he thinks he does want a diploma but hasn't made any firm decisions. Because of that possibility he decided to take the required classes correspondence. The nice thing about that is he moves through the stuff that he isn't really interested in very quickly, getting the required work done and out of the way and moves on. In public school he isn't allowed to take photography until Junior year so he is taking that correspondence as well.

He isn't sure, at this point, what he is going to do next year but is tossing around the possibility of going to college. I think this idea that you have to have a degree is a misconception, as some of the wealthiest people in our country are entrepreneurs that never went to college or dropped out of college. If you want to go to college to get an 8-5 job, then maybe but that isn't what everyone wants. In this country the sky is the limit and you can make money at almost anything you decide to do, especially if you are passionate about it. Just look at some of the things people do for a living! My husband never went to college but he is doing engineering stuff and making a six-figure income so college isn't the end-all, be-all either. And I don't think making a lot of money is necessarily the stamp of success either. Being happy to me is successful.

I will let Kev expand on the traveling question but I do know he has plans to do a lot of traveling. Part of his desire to stay in the public school, at least a little, is that they are traveling to Japan in the summer of 2010, for three weeks, and he desperately wants to be part of that adventure. As a family, we have dreams of going to India, Indonesia, Itally, Greece, Ireland, and a few others. We will probably do a lot of that traveling as the kids become adults (with them of course!).

Some of Kev's passions, that he didn't write a lot about are photography, writing, foreign languages, politics and anthropology. This is just a small part of his list but he is constantly exploring new things.

Hopefully that answered some of your questions and I will let Kev know the comment is here so he can answer them himself:)

Snavleys said...

And that would be Italy, not Itally.

Deborah said...

Very well said! Sounds like we have a very similar style of parenting. My children have always understood that their education was their own responsibility -- even when they were quite young. And they get the credit (or not) for what they choose to learn (or not). As a college instructor, I see far too many kids in college just because they parents "make" them go. They're wasting a lot of time and money, since a good percentage of them wind up on academic probation by the end of their first semester and are kicked out at the end of their first year.

Bill Gates (Microsoft), Michael Dell (Dell computers), and Steve Jobs (Mac) are all college dropouts. On the other hand, I have recently reconnected with an old friend from college who has a masters degree and is on public aid. A piece of paper doesn't guarantee you anything.

Ren said...

~~I'm just wondering how you plan to accomplish a satisfying career without the "degree" that so many employers require of their top employees.~~

Some of us are more interested in living a useful, interesting, joyful life than being a "top employee".

It's highly overrated.

And I've been a "top employee" everywhere I've worked with no college at all. In fact, I've gained positions over degreed people many, many times.

Currently, my company values real life experience more than a degree.

Ren said...

Oh, and I'm jealous Kev! I've never gotten this many comments at any of MY blogposts! lol

Anonymous said...

As a home educating mum from London, England I would just like to say WOW! In England Unschooling is called Autonomous education and this is what we have practiced my young people are nearly 21; 18 and 15 and are wonderful human beings who make a valuable contribution to society who can ask for more.

Great read, do write more.

Claire, London

Carrie said...

Thanks so much for this great post. We've homeschooled (not really unschooled, but we've been pretty loose) for years but because of stress and health reasons for me, we decided to give public school a try. I've seen our oldest just get really depressed, stressed and lose his self-confidence. He is doing well at school, but it is at a great cost--loss of free-time, time with friends, creativity, etc... There just is no time to pursue interests and passions. Our 14 year old has only been there a few weeks and just hates taking 8 classes in a day and then having to come home to lots of homework---very exhausting.

We are transitioning this week to all three of our boys (16, 14 and 12) to part-time public school and we are going to let them basically unschool the rest of it. I'm glad our friend sent us a link to this blog post--it has inspired us and confirmed that we're making the right decision for them. Life is complicated and making it all work is a challenge, but it is worth the struggle.

I wanted to comment on the college degree issue. My older brother did not take more than a few college classes and he makes well over six figures in the financial industry and was just sought out by another company who is willing to move him (buying his house) across the country for a new position. I get hung up on college as well, but maybe I need to let go of that. Just have our kids try a class or two at our local community college and see how it goes.

Thanks for the great writing (I didn't mind the cussing at all---very real and mild compared to what our kids hear every day at school) and I am sending the link to your personal blog to my kids.
Carrie
Iowa

Ailbhe said...

Hurrah for Kevin. I tell people that if it ever becomes clear that school is the best thing for my children, I will send them to school. I anticipate a long, long wait - the eldest isn't quite four a a half.

Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing your experience!! i am a hs mom of a 7,5 and 2yo, and have been wanted/scared to plunge into unschooling. i see you have done excellent job with your son. you must have a lot of ideas!!
:( i don't do math..at all!!-it's a topic i never enjoyed, and have a terrible time understanding it. this is the topic that scares me.. is there a site you reccommend? i know they say to play games..but i'm a concrete thinker..most games are pretty abstract.
my email, and yes, i know it will be posted;) all are welcome to write with help. my email is:
ddogsrout@yahoo.com .
appreciate any help
stacey:)

Anonymous said...

An interesting perspective. However, your opinion after a year of high school is similar to those who fervently believe brick-and-mortar schools are the best way to educate. What is true for one is not true for all.

It'll be interesting to where you go in life with your unschooling. Let's hope it will lead you to a place of less self-righteousness. Life has a way of humbling us.

Ren said...

Yeah, and that was so humble of you to leave such a comment.

Maybe live a little bit longer before you leave "anonymous" comments at other people's blogs. Life has a way of humbling SOME people. Apparently not someone who is afraid to post under their own name.

Elaine Clermont said...

thanks for this ... we use the sudbury valley philosophy of freedom of their choice, and my daughter has chosen to go to public school (1st-now 3rd grade), although we do it quite differently than most. we pretty much do what we want ... we pick the rules that make sense to give her the best overall education.

have a philosophy that we are "home schoolers" (unschoolers) who happen to use the public school when it works for us, is important. they say the parents are the most important part of the learning process, and that is the truth. we parents have to create the space for the freedom of our children to make their own choices ... even if it means making the space in the public school for them.

thanks for writing this kevin, it helps me know that i'm ok letting her make the decisions and that public school won't kill her and neither will 'unschooling' her ... now then, unschooling the public school ... now that's a different subject altogether that requires lots of school board meetings for mom!!!

peace & harmony,
elaine
'freedom must be exercised to stay in shape!'

Snavleys said...

"It'll be interesting to where you go in life with your unschooling. Let's hope it will lead you to a place of less self-righteousness. Life has a way of humbling us."

Wow, sometimes I think people post comments just to be contrary. It caught me off guard because Kev is the least self-righteous person I know who is an extremely open-minded, deep thinker. His post must have touched a nerve:) Again, I feel like I have said it a million times already- this is only HIS perspective! I think he did a pretty good job of portraying that fact. And the fact that his post generated 126 comments, mostly positive, says something about the fact that a lot of people agree with him!

And if you ever had the privilege of being around a group of unschoolers you would know how incredible most of these kids are; the most well-rounded, passionate, interesting, kind, open-minded, free-thinkers that I've had the pleasure to be around!!

Ren said...

Here's the thing...some people don't know the difference between self-righteous and confident. Kevin, and his essay, oozed self confidence. Too bad for the less confident. Good for Kevin.;)

Schuyler said...

Heidi and Kevin,

David was reading an article in the Guardian newspaper today and it had a link to here. You've made the UK newspaper circuit, very cool!

Anonymous said...

...and you are currently doing the rounds of the UK home-ed circuit. I, too, appreciate Kev's wilingness to share his experience.
Thanks!
Jackie from Swansea, Wales

Mumma Bear said...

Oh gosh, thanks for that! I really hope that is my son one day (he's only a toddler atm). This bit really stood out for me,

"Every thought you have, dream you want to fulfill, inspiration that strikes you, it all goes on the back burner, and eventually you just forget how to live any other way altogether."

So true, so sad.

I adminstrate on a (new) Australian home education website and I would love to reproduce that on our website for other Aussies to draw inspiration from (with your permission of course!).

Cheers,
Linn

Alicia said...

Wow. Powerful stuff.

"Every thought you have, dream you want to fulfill, inspiration that strikes you, it all goes on the back burner, and eventually you just forget how to live any other way altogether."

Rachael25 said...

No, more school! I went to college and bombed it. I always thought I stupid too cause I didn't have "formal" education. I was sick all my life, and the only thing I was remotely good at was Health/Cooking classes. It wasn't until I left when I randomly started studying on my own and surfed to discover unschooling was a real possibility. Now, I feel oddly complete,not stupid, and better off in my search to study Astronomy. My parents still see me as stupid, but I know better and I also know they have never truly met any known unschoolers. I'm trying to get sister-in-law to unschool too. She has the perfect situation for it and alot of kids to do it. Hope she does. Even if she does use textbooks! Enjoyed the essay.

Chelzigirl said...

WOOOOOO! As a fellow unschooler who now runs her own business and is well on the way to paying off her mortgage, I will certainly NOT send my own children to school and it's so great to read your experiences (mirrored over here in Australia. Thank you. and all the best! Continue to be motivated, interested and ready to learn at every opportuniy. Cheers!

dharmamama said...

Thanks so much for writing out your thoughts! I'm wondering - have you had an opportunity to make more unschooling friends since you posted this? Your last paragraph was surprising to me - most unschoolers I know don't think in terms of school years. You said, "the next 3 years" as if "real life" would be starting then. What are you passionate about NOW? Why can't you do it NOW?

I don't mean to be rude; I know I don't know you at all, so those questions are based only on this brief (but excellent and deep!) essay.

Anonymous said...

Interesting insight. However, your sentence structure is poor--fragments, etc. And your grammar...ah, not the best, my friend. At one point, you wrote, "I did good"...it is in fact, "I did well". In the "real" world, unschooled or not, grammar matters--and you appear uneducated when you do not get it right. Good luck!

knitterykate said...

I homeschooled my kids and am not sorry I did so. Sometimes they resented not going to public school as all their friends did. But today all are very motivated young people.
Your article is fantastic! I want to send it to my children so they can see the view point of another "unschooler". By the way, you will find that good writing will use short, long sentences and fragments as to not make the writing boring. Grammar rules are there to be broken. Right? You write well. The only thing I would recommend, (not that you really care) is to tone down the foul language... some my be offended.

Anonymous said...

Where I am from they are cutting the education budget again. They are considering having Kindergarten go from full days to half days. The problem with public education is that the government wants to control it and it is sad that in the end the very children who the government wants to educate and control are they very ones who suffer!!! I have been home schooling my children their whole life and my daughter is now 23 and lives on her own and is a pre-school teacher. My sons 14 and still at home. How sad that public educations kills the very souls of children whom they are suppose to inspire!!!!

Snavleys said...

I have re-posted Kevin's edited version of his essay on my blog. He did get a few comments about his grammar, that he was well aware of, so I went ahead and re-posted. I'm sure there are still grammatical errors, thank goodness people don't correct the grammar on all of my blogs. If you have comments regarding his grammar please offer some good, constructive criticism that will help him be a better writer, not rude comments. He is very open to kind criticism.

Deborah said...

I deleted my comment three posts up because it was misunderstood by the blog author. I was addressing the anonymous person who posted just above it. Ever since I read this essay and responded to it (about 23 posts up), I have subscribed to the response feeds and been annoyed at those responses of people who obviously have NO clue about unschooling or education, in general. I found this anonymous comment especially annoying:

Interesting insight. However, your sentence structure is poor--fragments, etc. And your grammar...ah, not the best, my friend. At one point, you wrote, "I did good"...it is in fact, "I did well". In the "real" world, unschooled or not, grammar matters--and you appear uneducated when you do not get it right. Good luck!

The poster was breaking the exact rules he was criticizing Kevin for, which is why I was wondering if he/she had a very dry sense of humor was just ignorant. He/she probably doesn't really care about unschooling and didn't subscribe to the feeds, so never saw my comment anyway.

The greatest writers in the world break grammar rules left and right. Often it's what makes their writing great.

Snavleys said...

Deborah- I already comment on your blog but I wanted to apologize over here too. Thank you for setting the record straight. I'm so sorry for getting so worked up. I too am annoyed up to my eyeballs with these stupid, critical comments; they've missed the entire point of the essay. Thank you for your kind response and for the not getting defensive like I did:) I should have clarified with you before taking the defense. I wish people would leave kind suggestions v. critical comments. Thank you for your support. I was shocked when I read it, thinking that it was coming from a fellow unschool mom that didn't seem very rigid. Again, I apologize.

Snavleys said...

"You said, "the next 3 years" as if "real life" would be starting then. What are you passionate about NOW? Why can't you do it NOW?
"

This is a really good point to bring up because that is how most kids see life; that their "real" life doesn't start until they graduate. I will let Kev respond but, because we've talked so much about this, I know what he was meaning by the comment. He was just talking about whether, over the next three years, he was going to continue school, do part school/part home, or whether he was going to skip to college. He does like the "formal" schooling for some things but he also likes the free time to explore other things. Trust me, he does live his "real" life right now. In fact, one time, after someone was defending public school because it mirrors real life, he said, "if it mirrors real life why not just live your real life? Why go to school and get it when you can just live it?" I thought that was a great response! Of course, most of us know full well that it DOES NOT mirror real life!!

karisma said...

Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us! I wish I could have read it to my little one a couple of weeks back. He chose to give school a try and lasted six days! He nearly went mad with the monotony of it all! He is 9 years old and was at first amazed and amused by school but then quite sad that it was not what he had imagined it to be. He is once again very happily unschooling himself!

Hugs xxx

randommsugirl said...

Kevin,
Cheers to trying something different. I only wish my parents had given me the oppotunity to point my educational compass in my own direction. I attended public school my whole life, and then went on to a public college. At the end of the day, all I really learned were the social politics. And worst of all, I only learned them; I didn't succeed in them. Now that I am out of school and university and free to learn on my own, I am doing much better. This is little wonder, I suppose I got "burnt out" around 5th grade. At that point, I became lazy and unmotivated- Except if something really piqued my interest. I think this is like anything in life, schooled or unschooled; if you are forced to do something and it is seen as commonplace, then you are less likely to take a natural interest in it. I applaud Kevin for maintaining a natural interest in learning; especially while surviving to terrors of high school! I only wish more kids his age could see/hear about his perspective. At that age, your peers are your largest influence (which Kevin mentions), and I think his thoughts on this subject would be very beneficial for other unschooled kids and public schooled kids as well. Thanks again for sharing!

Dandarius said...

I read this to Jade who is going to be 12 soon...he really was inspired because he has been unschooled his whole life to. He wanted me to tell you thanks for being so brave! You are a hero!

freiebildung said...

Hi, can I use the photo and translate a bit into German on my blog as introduction to your text - I think it is such an important text and it would help so much german unschoolers to go ahead.

(I use it as part of a german Unschooling-FAQ)

S said...

As a homeschooler myself, your story was very interesting for me to read.

You strike me as very smart; when I was reading this via a forwarded email, I actually thought you were a twenty-something year old explaining your old school days, lol.

I've been seriously thinking about going to public school for my high school years and your blog has really helped me think about this. Thanks a lot for sharing your story, I hope the rest of your schooling goes well. :)

Miriam Skipworth said...

Hi Kevin and Snavley family.
Great writing Kevin, no matter what others say it's how you feel about it that matters. I'm an unschooling Mum in Aotearoa (New Zealand) and your blog was inspiring and re-affirming. Good on you for taking the time to write it and thank you! School at any stage might get you tickets to places you want to go but it will never give you an education. Life is learning as I'm sure you are aware. I was listening to a podcast my partner subscribes to called Twit (this week in tech)some of the panel were American uni lecturers and they freely admitted that the whole education system was doing students a dis-service. As far as technology and media go the system is badly behind the times and in need of a revolution. Bring on the Blog!
Kia Kaha to you Kevin, (Stand Proud)
Miriam

Dannye said...

Thanks for your fantastic essay, Kevin. I'm a homeschooling mum in Australia and an American expat. My son is turning seven in September and I sincerely hope that he turns out to be a fantastic, liberated young man just like you.

Some of greatest authors of our time use "colourful language." In addition, I'm 40 years old and have never found an inability to be grammatically correct to prohibit me from anything I've ever wanted to do, including achieving a University degree. ;)

Rock on,

~Dannye

Anonymous said...

Kevin: I have always been a naysayer towards homeschooling, and until very recently, never knew that "unschooling" even existed. After reading dozens of blogs and pages on websites about this subject, your essay is probably the most compelling argument I have seen for applying this philosophy. [Actually many of the hard-core unschooling blogs are a bit of a turn off to me.] Although I do understand that it is only your opinion (I would love to read other similar opinions of HS & College experiences from unschoolers), it is very eye opening to the uninitiated, such as myself. Although I am still of the mindset that public school is the right thing at this time for my children, some of your observations made do give me pause.

I have always believed that it is the parents that have the greatest effect on the lives of their children, and from this blog I can see your parents care for you you very deeply. From the little I have learned about you, I believe that you seem like a very bright young person and will do okay regardless of if you were homeschooled, unschooled, publich schooled or anything in-between.

Kathy Fisk said...

You might want to send a note to the operator of http://lifeonplanetearth.wordpress.com because they've copied the entire essay on their blog. I'm glad to have found the original source, and enjoying your website immensely :)




/2010/01/10/school-vs-unschool-a-teenagers-experience/

omelay said...

Wow! I don't know you, or your family, but I wish I did. We are a younger family (Our kids are 7, 5, 3 & 1 years old) and we're homeschooling/ unschooling/ doing something like that.

Your writing is excellent and I'm honored to hear your feelings on the matter. We are all citizens of earth, and it is just this sort of thing that influences our choices as we live together. I love it!

Nicole said...

Instead of being thankful for your experiences, you should be thanking your parents for shaping you to be the person you are today. The issue is not the system, or public school vs. home schooling... The real problem is lack of parental involvement. Instead of calling those other kids stupid, you should feel sorry for them because their parents don't pay attention or show them love the way your parents make sure you're happy and intelligent.

Pasha Carroll said...

I really love your blog post. Your public school teacher was correct, great writing!

One question that I would like to bring up ... how do we "unschool" inner city youth? On the mean streets of Chicago a child will learn many things (like how to deal drugs and join a gang)without the glimmer of hope (and a lot of times even necessities like food) that public schools can offer. Most kids in the inner cities (which makes up much of our countries population) would have never had sucessful unschooling guidance.

I would love to hear what you and your family think about the greater whole, as apposed to one family, in the unschooling perspective?

Pasha Carroll said...

I really love your blog post. Your public school teacher was correct, great writing!

One question that I would like to bring up ... how do we "unschool" inner city youth? On the mean streets of Chicago a child will learn many things (like how to deal drugs and join a gang)without the glimmer of hope (and a lot of times even necessities like food) that public schools can offer. Most kids in the inner cities (which makes up much of our countries population) would have never had sucessful unschooling guidance.

I would love to hear what you and your family think about the greater whole, as apposed to one family, in the unschooling perspective?

wu_wei said...

Too right, Kevin!

We're unschooling and loving it! And -- I say this as the mom of two attachment-disordered kids, one is also bi-polar -- the more I'm with them, the more I appreciate who they are and enjoy THEM. We were strongly advised not to do this, but I'm so thankful that we did.

Dharmamama said...

@Pasha

I'm an unschooling mom, and when I first started out, I wanted everyone to have this experience! I read about Sudbury Valley School, and thought, "I'll start one of those! Then kids whose parents can't unschool can still get a measure of that freedom and respect!" Well, after a year of totally immersing myself in all things Sudbury, I realized I'd basically have to give up my life to start a school like that. It takes a LOT of time and energy. At that point, it was time and energy that needed to be spent with my own kids!

I've realized, all I can do now is focus on my family. Through living a radically unschooling life, and "ending up" (though we're never really ended! And my kids are 17 and 10, not grown adults) with kids who are intelligent, kind, funny, compassionate, able to get along in most situations, I am showing that this way of life is not only possible, it's preferable to a life of control and coercion.

We are showing, through our lives, how kids really learn. We are showing, through living our lives, that kids learn things when they're developmentally ready to learn them, and nothing you can do before that will make them learn it faster. Lots you do before that can hinder it, though, and make kids believe they *can't* learn! Schools are especially good at that.

I am affecting the greater whole by the individual choices I make with my family. As more and more families "successfully" unschool, more and more people will see what's possible.

Snavleys said...

I'm just amazed that we are still getting comments on here 1 1/2 years later! I never realized how much his experience would touch people; I just wanted an essay because I wanted to understand deeper why he chose school that year. Thank you for all your support! I will be sure and have Kev read the latest comments, especially since it is making a round on FB right now:)

Ren said...

Successful unschooling largely depends upon having a really healthy family life...sparkly parents who can show how to live a passionate life. Unschooling isn't about reaching everyone, nor should it be. In a sense, it's for families that can make it work really well ("well" can happen in many situations...it's more about the attitude and ability to be creative).

I'm more than a little bit appalled by such insensitive comments by Nicole suggesting that all the kids who are struggling in school, or are disillusioned and burned out, have parents who don't spend time with them or care. That's baloney!

The best of parents can have children who fail miserably within the school system. The system is a HUGE problem. And thankfully, unschooling parents see that they don't see their children as someone who needs "shaping". They see their child as someone who is unfolding in their own way and time...but who is already a whole and capable human being from day one.

Pebblekeeper said...

Thanks for taking the time to write this out! We unschool our two boys ages 9 and 12. As they get older, I sometimes question if we should be doing it more public school style, but they have learned/discovered so much this way. Thanks for the boost!

automotive hand tools said...

home education is a very good alternative ... however sometimes deprives children to interact with other children

Snavleys said...

@Automotive Hand Tools
If home educated children are being deprived of social interaction it's because the parents are purposefully depriving them of that. One of the great benefits of home education is that they get MORE social interaction and not just with people their own age. My children have friends of ALL ages, from toddlers to elderly people. Kids in school get social interactions with only kids that are their same age. My son found that the socializing in school is not really socializing at all; they get 5 min. in between classes and 20-30 min. at lunch time and it's very surface, shallow interactions. My kids have much richer social interactions than that. I think most people would say that their children were social before they put them in school so what do people think parents of homeschooled children do to their kids when they turn "school-age"? Lock them in closets? I think this whole thing about socialization or lack of is ridiculous!

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Laurie A. Couture said...

I posted a link to your blog to your Facebook page- It is so refreshing to see an unschool blog about older children unschooling. My almost 17 year old son unschools and I can't imagine living any other way with him. I can't imagine someone taking away my son's freedom to live his life, especially when I contemplate all of the amazing things he does that he would not be able to do if he were in public school. I appreciate Kev writing about his experience with trying public school. I know a lot of teens who have tried that. The ones who were unschooled tend to quickly see their freedoms disappear. Some youth who homeschooled (which is school-at-home in too many cases) as opposed as unschooled prior to "trying school" don't seem to notice how much of a hostage situation school is.

Anonymous said...

YES, Kevin! keep doing what your doing. I have been in public school my whole life. In fourth grade i learned about unschooling, and how public schools are sucking creativity away from kids. Thats not happening to me. I sit around the smartest kids in school, get a 3.8 average, and i will become an architect and build a 165 story skyscraper. There isnt anything that Shithole can do to keep Me down!

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Liz said...

I wonder how much of a role exhaustion played in the apathy you observed. I'd love to see the outcomes for a noon to 6 high school where before-school activities don't start until 10am.

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Heather G. said...

That was a wonderful essay. Honestly, I'm a bit envious of you, Kevin. My story is almost exactly the opposite of yours, funnily enough.

I was in public school for most of elementary and middle school, with my 5th and 6th grades in a private Christian school, then public high school until the middle of my tenth grade. I got so burned out that I finally, somehow convinced my parents to pull me out and homeschool me. I'd be a senior next year if I'd stayed. After a brief and mostly ineffective affair with a purchased curriculum, I'm unschooled. It's been almost 14 months since my last day in school and I'm only just now starting to get myself back. Right now, I still backpedal when asked, "How is school going?" or "What are you learning?" and I still spend most of my time vegging out at my desk watching old episodes of Xena and Stargate: Atlantis. It's scary to think about what school does to your motivation, your creativity, your curiousity. It's heartbreaking to think about how I might be if I had been unschooled earlier, or never put in school at all. I try not to. Instead, I think about my future children, and how their childhoods will be more full of actually living than mine was.

So I guess what I'm saying is thanks for putting yourself out there and putting in words what I (and probably a lot of other people) have had trouble saying.

-Heather G.

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