Casino

What is Unschooling?

In this video, Dayna discusses “What is Unschooling?” There is still a lot of confusion about what is unschooling. She’ll discuss passion-driven learning, how children actually learn, as well as why schools were first created. “Education is not the goal of unschooling…”

Enjoy!

Comments

  1. Shannon H. Ferguson says:

    Thank you, Dayna, for that great video. I’d like to add it to one of my pages on my blog. I am a parent of a 3 year old and since deciding to homeschool/unschool the questions are flying in from my friends/family. Just this past week we had friends over for dinner and they said as long as we weren’t “unschooling” it was fine. Then we did have a nice conversation about the misconceptions of unschooling.

    I saw your Dr. Phil episode and I was upset with their agenda. I find it funny how hard people want to hold onto a system that is clearly failing our children and our country.

    Again, thank you for the video.

    • Hello Shannon, Thank you for your comment. Part of what I do as an advocate is show others how to peacefully navigate discussions about Unschooling and Radical Unschooling with friends and family. If you want to send me a message through my contact page and set up a time to chat, I would love to help you with this aspect of your life.

      Thanks again for visiting my website!
      ~Dayna

  2. kathy balman says:

    I like the idea of unschooling but I am not sure it is 100% for my young kids (5 and 4) because I feel that they need to learn certain things like math, reading and writing. Otherwise they won’t be able to think for themselves and complete things on their own. I have asked them what they would like to learn this year and we will be working that into our homeschooling. I enjoyed your video and even though we are not completely unschooling this year I do love the idea and think when they are a little older we may try unschooling.

    • Thank you for your comment Kathy!
      Unschoolers *do* learn math, reading and writing, but the way they learn these tools looks very different from what most people know. If you want to set up a consultation with me so you can learn how Unschoolers learn these important tools, please send me a message through my contact page. I’d love to show you how to facilitate your children in learning in their own unique way with Unschooling. Thank you for visiting my site!
      Warmly, Dayna

    • Kathy, It would be great if you read the book, ” Weapons of Mass Instruction” by New York State Teacher of the Year, 1991, John Taylor Gatto. Schools are here to do the exact opposite of teaching kids to think for themselves. Schools damage people, and that is what they are all about, creating obedient people, that do and think what they are schooled to do.

  3. I appreciated watching your video and hearing what you have to say about this method. I don’t feel I got as much as I should have out of my education, but that is b/c I could never focus in school from 6th grade on. It was at that time that I started being abused by my dad (stepdad who adopted me when I was 7), and school was actually a safe place for me. I know for a fact this method would not have worked in my home because of the dysfunctional nature of it.

    I can see how this would be very successful in a loving, honest, caring family who wants to see their children succeed, but for families such as the one I grew up in where there is a sense of fear and a disconnect from the family, I can recognize that traditional schooling is what will ultimately give some children a path to a better life.

    I plan on looking more into this style in the future because when I have children I will be staying home with them.

    Kudos to you for your commitment to your family!

    • Thank you for your comment Jen. I am sorry to read about your difficult past.

      I know that not every parent can Unschool their children. This life is not for the lazy parent. It is a very hands-on, involved role.
      Again, thanks for commenting and thank you for visiting my website.
      ~Dayna

  4. Ryvre Cedarpin says:

    I really enjoyed listening to your self righteous, new age and arrogant take on liberal parenting. This method doesn’t seem advanced or profound, rather it seems the creation of know it all New Hampshire hippies who’ve smoked far too much reefer. Good luck & god bless.

    • Ryvre, Thank you for your comment. I know that not everyone agrees with Radical Unschooling philosophy.
      ~Dayna

      • Way to starve the troll Dayna well done. I watched, actually listened to, this video and I would thank you for proposing an alternative method to the current way of teaching children. I am a firm believer that a person who can think critically and develop their own ideas about a subject has a huge advantage over one who cannot. I feel that your method of instruction could help to develop that, but at the same time there are certain things that children need to learn that perhaps their own interest won’t guide them toward. Grammar, Social studies and history for example…Most kids I know could care less about history and current events…but these are important things to know about not only for them to be able to understand what is going on in the world but to help them figure out how to fix the mess we’re in now.
        Please understand that I am NOT saying that I think your ideas on this subject are wrong I just think that there are some things that children should not be allowed to ignore in their education.

        • I love Chris’s “starve the troll” analogy!! Very good handling, Dayna, of a super judgmental comment! I completely agree with the unschooling philosophy. I also know the importance of knowing proper grammar, world and U.S. history, science, etc. but while I was in school as a child I didn’t give a rip about a lot of the subjects being taught. I struggled in elementary and high school and did so much rote memorization just to get by but didn’t retain much. I’m sure if I was in school now I’d be slapped on an ADD/ADHD med just to help me conform. Now at age 44 I LOVE subjects such as history, geography and social studies but it wasn’t until I had some life experiences to APPLY what I learn that my passion grew. The classes I did do well in were ones that I did have a passion for. I have fantasies of going back in time and soaking up all the things that bored me then but excite me now!
          I have a 3 year old son and DO NOT want to put him through the anguish I went through. As a single mother working full time I fear I may have no choice but traditional schooling. I plan on following your work and applying your principles as much as possible. Any tips for someone with my situation??

          Thank you for all you do!!
          Susan

    • Nothing wrong with trying a new approach to parenting and education. If you try it and fail then I’d be interested in your opinion at that point. Until then, you’re narrow minded and it would be best to not teach your children that trait, if, in fact, you have any.
      God Bless you as well,
      Jen :)

    • Clearly, this sad little robot of the system doesn’t have the capacity to wrap his/her mind around a movement that *thrives* outside the box. I can hear Ryvre’s wheels turning now when processing the world of unschooling: “does not compute, error,error”. Passing judgement is one thing, but having a strong opinion about a lifestyle you so clearly couldn’t even begin to truly understand or appreciate, is just pretty much ridiculous.

    • Hey Ryvre, how about reading a book from a man that was New York City’s teacher of the year for 3 years in a row, and NY STATE teacher of the year in 1991. “Weapons of Mass Instruction”, so instead of listening to your own uniformed ranting, you can get educated.

  5. Hi! I found your blog and page yesterday and I’ve been reading all posts since then… I’m from Paraguay and I love all teaching “methods” that are different because traditional teaching is not working anymore. I would like to know how your children learned to read? I have a 7 years old that seems not to learn reading, I’ve tried everything, traditional school, Montessori, Abeka but she is almost 8 and can’t read and I’m starting to feel really nervous!!! I can’t homeschool her because here it’s not allowed but I want to help her at home, she’s healthy, doctors told me she is normal so there’s no reason why she shouldn’t be reading, can you help me???? Thanks!

    • Viviana,

      I would be happy to help! Reading readiness is anywhere between the ages of 5 and 15! It is so normal that she isn’t reading yet. I would be happy to schedule a Skype one on one with you if you are interested. I would love to offer you more insight and support. Thank you for your comment!

      ~Dayna

    • Viviana,
      do you and your daughter make an appointment to read together everyday? To pick a fun, exciting, new book that you are enthusiastic about? Does she walk into a room and see you glued to the pages of a book and then constantly running back to it in between your daily tasks?
      I ask because I was a ‘late’ reader and then a lazy reader….but NO ONE ever read to me, I never found my parents lost in written words, I didn’t value the art or entertainment in a book.
      Make a game of it; read a book that has also been made into a movie…after you finish the book, you watch the movie to see how it compares?
      Does she write or draw? My son loved to draw in preschool, but wanted his sister to read to him…we made a deal that after he did a drawing he had to write a caption underneath so we’d never forget what it was!
      If you’ve tried these things and she still isn’t interested in reading….I can only say, have her meet a children’s book author….maybe that would inspire her!? Good luck!!

  6. Hmmmm you are a little radical for me, although very interesting. I think that this would’ve worked 20 years ago…but with competition out there for jobs in this day and age…traditional schooling holds some weight.
    I guess I’m half traditional and half unschooling! I mean…I believe my kids need to attend a social based/curriculum based school because employers and society have certain expectations of these adults we are creating; yet when they aren’t there….the other 18 hours of the day; I’m home with them following passions, creating goals, making bonds and exploring the world and creating healthy habits!
    Unfortunately the world can’t be filled with only entrepeneurs…because most businesses need employees…
    I’ve fostered a love of learning because I’m interested in my children’s school work, because I hold them to high standards based on their potential regardless of their teacher and because I make learning fun even when it’s not! There are no excuses in my house, only effort!
    Parents generate the passion, values, morals and attitude at home…often society expects schools to do all the work and then are terribly disappointed when their child isn’t successful….1/4 of their day is at school…that leaves 3/4 of their day for parents to imprint upon their child!
    Parenting is a full time job and you can’t expect others to do it for you, you get what you put into it whether you are a traditional education parent or an unschooling parent! Good luck ;)

  7. WoW! Thank you! You are an inspiration and YES, share all you can with those who choose to learn about UNschooling. We have just started unschooling this year (2012) and are feeling a little like fish out of water. It’s very exciting though and we need to wrap our heads around the fact that this type of learning is NOT to be based on curriculum from a “system” but rather a “following of the heart”.

    Here in Australia there are laws (duh!) and we MUST register to HOME school which is basically bringing the “system” into our homes and thats what I DON”T want! …….

    But where there’s a will, theres a way :) And we’re going about it another way ~ Heres a video that has really hit home with me, and THIS is why we have chosen to UNschool ~
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8RulhBVzbk&sns=fb

    Enjoying (In Joy In) the ride xxxx
    Much Love and thank you :)

    • Sarah Storey says:

      Hi Kelly, I was interested in your reply to Dayna. I, too, am in Australia, in NSW and I’ve been homeschooling now for 2 years but really have only managed to replicate school into the home situation. I don’t want to do that anymore, I want to unschool. But HOW on earth do we do that and record the things we need to in Australia with the Home Liaison Officers checking on us every year or two? Please help!!!!

  8. I love the concept of what you are trying to do. I do think family should always be first and that children should be able to learn about what they love. But with out school there would be no doctors or lawyers or other important figures that help people. I mean that’s great that your son loves to learn about nature and the ocean. But will he ever be an oceanologist? No, not with out schooling. You cannot teach him the things he needs to know if that is truely what he wants to do when he gets older. I would say he could learn the things on his own with the resources he has bc that is possible, but its not likely. There are many things that need to be taught by experts bc of the complexity and again it is very possible your son may become one of those experts all on his own, I mean how do you think experts first came about but again its not likely. And most of the time to be taught by these experts you have to have basics under your belt. Just to get a job flipping burgers they like for you to have at least a high school education. Yes some of the things you learn in school you may never use that is true and it does take time away from the family. But it gives you the basics of what you need to be ANYTHING you want. It gives you the opportunity to go in any direction in life. Now weather you choose to take that opportunity or weather you can afford to take that opportunity is up to you. But what if your boy WANTS to go to college, will he be able to get in? Not without a high school diploma or a GED. And a GED will be hard to come by with out the knowledge of what you would learn in school. I did not like school bc it required me to work hard and take time away from playing and being a kid. But I am greatful I graduated and I enjoyed learning. I would have never been able to teach myself the things I learned on school and my parents wouldn’t have been able to either. Now if everyone in the world just became entrepreneurs and opened their own business that wouldn’t work out very well if you take a few mins to think about it. Your son is young now and he “has his own business” and that is fantastic. However, as people we are constantly changing as we grow through out our entire lives and if that is not something he will continue to want to do for the rest of his life

    • Sorry I didn’t mean to post it Haha. …..rest of his life… Then he will struggle to have to find some sort of new business to open that doesn’t require and certification in any specialty bc that is all he knows. Which will make it hard to support a family. I was upset with my parents when they could afford to put me through college and I was not able to afford it myself. I am still young and I can tell you now the resent I would feel if my parents had chosen this path for me. Your kids may be different or they may not be. But were too young to knowingly decide for themselves that that this was the right thing for them and the life style they want to live. Now maybe you come from money so none of these things matter but most normal people don’t and speaking unknowingly about this topic it would seem to me that

      • Geez! Sorry did it again. …..seems to me that….this would be setting a lot of children up for failure and hard struggles in this economy when they enter adult hood and have to support themselves and a family if they so choose (or are forced to do if they start young) Now I don’t know a lot on this subject so maybe it does earn you a GED or something I have no clue. But times have changed from the way life was 175 years ago, some for the better A LOT for the worse and I just think the kids should be able to choose for themselves, I know I would have wanted a choice and personally I would.have chosen school. Which if you don’t start them out in school then it may not even be an option later in life. I would like to know more about UNschooling though bc I do want my daughter to have a choice once she is mature enough to understand so if later on she wants to drop school and start this I can willingly let her bc I know there are benefits. Thanks for the info and the dedication you have to this. I really do think its great.

  9. Hi Dayna,
    You are an inspiration! I thank you for your video on Unschooling. I believe in all you are doing and it makes so much sense. And is kind of currently what we are doing even though in our state we have to legally sign them up for Home Schooling.
    We did start our daughter out in school here because everyone was so FOR the social aspect of it, as she is an only child. She is also legally blind, though not totally. I started work at the same time as she entered kindergarten working for the school district, working with a blind student so that I could learn everything that I could to be able to help my daughter succeed as well. She went all through elementary and through till right before Christmas in her 7th grade year when we Finally pulled her out of school. She had been Bullied quite a bit all the way through elementary as well as middle school and we finally had had enough of them not helping and Not keeping her safe. As a parent you keep them as Safe as you can at home and Pray that they will be safe in school as well, but that does not always happen. She was afraid to go to school most days. The equipment that she was to use at school wasn’t always working either, but they wouldn’t get it fixed unless the vision teacher saw that it wasn’t working properly. It took almost 2 years for them to figure this out. Finally we said enough is enough and filled out the paperwork and pulled her out of school.
    She will be entering Highschool this year but again at home and not at school. She is following the work that she wants to but it still here in this state needs to be filled out as Homeschooling vs the other. We are letting her learn what she wants to. She is Very good on the computer and she is and always has been Very good at drawing, these are 2 of her passions. She wants to learn Computer Animation this year and we will be working on those as well as doing some new and fun things with her drawing she is on her own schedule for the most part and is wanting to learn cooking and some other things as well.
    I would love to learn about any groups or other resources your might have.
    Hugs and God Bless and Thank you for all that you do!
    Dana

  10. Thank you for this, Dayna.

    I feel like the greatest motivation in my life was that from a young age, my parents and teachers described me as “precocious” or “curious.” I feel like this created a positive reinforcement cycle that fueled me to continue to be curious into adulthood.

    I think this is a fantastic way to reinforce in children the desire to follow their passions.

  11. Tino Scattoloni says:

    Hi Dayna,

    Thanks for creating and sharing this great video. I feel the greatest impact of your message is how I can create a better bond with my children through better, less controlling parenting.

    Keep up the excellent work!

    Peace,
    Tino
    Camden, Maine

  12. Thank you for your passion and sharing. This is a new concept for me and I am interested in learning as much as I can about it. I am curious, since the phrase was coined in the 1970s, does that mean there has been a generation or two who have already been unschooled? If so, is there any research or data collected on how well these adults are doing in life? Their happiness levels? Health? Success? Just as with medications, I like things to be on the market for awhile to see the areas of effectiveness and any unexpected negative side effects before I try it myself. But having said that, I admit that in a crisis there is often no other choice but to go with the unknown to find the cure, the answer, the health, happiness and sustainability we all desire. I do believe that our society and particularly or school systems are in a crisis and it’s time for a new paradigm shift and new actions from everyone on the planet. Thank you again for your willingness to share and inspire others.

  13. Susie christensen says:

    Change is difficult, most especially when it challenges very deep, in-grained beliefs, such as education. I have a BA from a university. My father is a physician. My mother had a masters, as well as my brother (the teacher) and my sister. My husband is in the high tech world. We have a very good understanding of what traditional “success” looks like. We are not “hippies”. My husband is a republican and I am a democrat. We are regular people living a regular life….

    ….and we are radical,unschoolers. The public school system in CA is a disaster. No money, teaching to the test, huge numbers of kids in classrooms, bitter teachers that are asked to do the impossible…..that is NOT educating children. THAT is mandating behavior, doing crowd control, telling children what to learn -when how where……with no reason about WHY they should even care about the subject. When information is taught without context, then it is just memorizing facts….and that is not learning. That is regurgitation of information at test time….and Dr. Phil is a self-important ass who knows all. He doesn’t want to “learn”, he wants to dominate and control…..maybe he learned THAT in school

  14. I love this!
    I hated school when I was a child and quite honestly I didn’t learn how to live and I’m now recieving financial help from the government, unemployed. I learned to top the grades and get by amongst controlling adults, but I didnt learn to be happy and lead an actual life.
    Im gonna spread all your videos and I wish you all kinds of luck with getting this out there. I was very touched and moved by your stories about you and your family’s way of life and I know a lot others will be too.
    Thank you!

    Morten <3

  15. Great love this ..I have been thinking and doing this for years…always thought I was the odd ball…I grew up questioning everything…this is as natural as the sun going down the moon rising and the passion of a new sun rise and amazing possibilities the next day!!!!

    Great to know your out there…you will be in my prayers…Jesus came not just to save us but to set us free in our thinking so that we can live passionately in the present moment !!!!

    Michael :0)

  16. Lisa House says:

    I don’t understand how unschooling is legal in the US. Aren’t parents required to enroll their children in some kind of education system or face going to jail? Also, most career opportunities in the US require a college degree; how would children achieve that if they haven’t even gone to school and earned a High School diploma? I love the idea of unschooling, but I really don’t understand how it is possible in the American society.

  17. Sylvia Ashton Warner developed the Organic Reading Method. This was a great discovery.Check it out.

  18. Gregory Sun says:

    I like what you said about finding your passion and I think that it’s very important, but how do you find your passion? I know for me, I love what I learn, being a high school student in traditional school, but I only know what I love because school forced me to do what I loved until I found something I did love. Granted, I could have found my passion without school, but how specifically would an unschooler help his/her children discover passion in the first place. Which brings me to my second question. Is there some general guideline for how unschoolers go about their business or is it just following their hearts. Do you provide a specific set of instructions for how an unschooler goes about their business?

  19. Cari Beach says:

    I saw you on the Jeff Probst show a few weeks ago and found your unschooling very interesting and intriguing. I realized at that time it would be the perfect program for my son who is brilliant but not learning a whole lot in the traditional sense of the word. It wasn’t until this past week that I learned of the severity of the bullying my son was receiving at school that I decided this was something I wanted to pursue. My question/concern is that he has been in the public school system since kindergarten and will now be entering his freshman year in high school in the fall. In your opinion, is it too late to start this with him his freshman year?

    I have been studying your website, watching your videos and am ordering your book so I can learn all there is about this amazing way of teaching my children. Thank you for all your work and education on this subject.

  20. Nova White says:

    I am an advocate of unschooling. My family has gone through a lot of financial crisis. This is a question I have about unschooling. My boys don’t have financial backing to support their interests. How does a family that is struggling find the sources and fullfilment with their interests?Even gas $. I know we are not the only family in this situation. I want to offer this path, but it’s discouraging if we are unable to spend any on ie; field trips, internet(sometimes), resources(your book☺)and seeing the world. This is not me just venting about my families financial struggle. I think it’s put a block to my path of an unschooling mom. All my friends who share this passion with there family have money.

  21. Dayna, this is very interesting. May I suggest you would do a much greater job if you could speak slowly in your videos, so that even non english speakers who can understand english but only if slowly spoken, could benefit to this kind of contributes. I will share it among the italian hs community anyway . thank you so much! :) Paola from Italy (unschooler mom)

  22. I just found your site. As I read the comments – I was amazed – am amazed that anyone would or could think that the current educational system is the only right way to teach our children. I don’t know the statistics but the drop out rate is so high that we, as intelligent people, can see that this method of education is failing too many of our young people. I believe that the right to send your child to public/private/Christian school or homeschool/unschool is our fundamental right as parents. I come from a family of teachers – uncle, aunts, sisters, nieces and nephews who all either taught in or are currently teaching in public schools. Of course, they think homeschooling/unschooling is totally wrong. All of that being said, I also disagree that schools “damage people” or create “robots”. Those kinds of generalizations don’t work. I am neither damaged nor a robot and I completed 16 years of public/university schooling. I homeschooled my daughter AFTER school. I knew she was not getting everything she needed/wanted out of public school and I worked with her to get the knowledge she was yearning for.

  23. I saw Wife Swap on t.v. and was intrigued by the unschooling school of thought, so I’ve been researching it some. I noticed on the show that you are a very nonjudgemental kind of person and I’m sure that makes you an easy person to confide in. I also see that unschooling has many benefits to children, allowing them to pursue their right brained tendencies. Most children are right brained I believe. I remember my first years of school as being full of difficulties and conflict with teachers, as I tended to day-dream, something that is frowned upon in structured classes. I also had no idea how to read by third grade, since at the time the “see and say” method was being taught, meaning you were supposed to just memorize words as a whole instead of learning the sounds of letters and then decoding words. Now while I see that right brained learning is important, I also see that an over indulgance in right brained versus left brain thinking can tend to imprint patterns in the very adaptable brains of children for right brained only thinking, when left brain thinking is required in order to deal with the real world and its expectations. Not all of us can lead idyllic lives in the wilds where rules are less likely to mean anything. Nor can all of us support families on crafting things. In an ideal world that might be the case, but not in the real world we live in. We are required to have discipline in the real world, and without it, we will not manage well. A child who can be disrespectful to his parents may have a rude awakening when trying to work in the real world with a boss who will fire him on the spot for being disrespectful. In this sense, I consider following the radical path of unschooling to be flawed in that the product of all-in unschooling will wind up without the necessary skills of discipline and learning to live with delayed rewards. These two elements appear to be missing here. And teaching these skills is necessary to produce a mature, productive member of society who will make important contributions to society rather than be at odds with it.

    That said however, I agree our present system is very flawed and needs a radical overhaul. I have a child who suffers from mood swings which make sitting and focusing for hours an impossibility, and for the most part I have had to supply the individual attention and alternative methods of teaching in order for her to even deal with day to day tasks, such as learning to complete tasks, learning to purchase groceries and know how much she is spending, learning to show up for work consistently and perform reliably. I taught her these things so that she could operate independently as an adult. And she would not have learned things in the present school system without my participation in teaching her things through hands on experiential learning. So learning at home can be a real boon to children with deficits and disabilities for those who are able to do it.

    I guess I am on both sides of the fence here. While I think allowing more creativity and choice is a good thing, I also believe discipline is necessary for success in becoming an independent adult. Looking at it this way, it appears to me that you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater by going to the extreme opposite.

    • Sarah Storey says:

      I think discipline is needed as well, but internal discipline is far more effective than what is taught in school..

  24. Sarah Storey says:

    I’ve really enjoyed learning more about your thoughts Dayna. I’ve been homeschooling now for 2 years but only really managed to replicate the school environment at home which is not what I intended. I love the thought of unschooling, it seems so natural and basically how children were taught way back in the beginning of time. But my question is, as I’m not sure what proof you have to give in the US, but in Australia we have to be approved and then we are checked every year to see what outcomes we have achieved according to the national curriculum. How do I go about giving the government what they want if our learning experience is largely based on intangible things? I’m starting to panic that bureaucracy may stand in my way……….. Thank you!!
    Sarah

  25. Mother disconected says:

    I am a single Mother of 4, 3 of which are on the Autism Spectrum. I want a brighter future for my children and I have made up my mind to home-school to edify God, come next fall, until I heard this video. God will always be front and center, but as far are homeschooling verses un-schooling. I have listened to your YouTube post and it makes perfect sense to me (although I was schooled). I wish my parents had the choice/chance to do so for me. I am a stay at home Mom and my oldest is 11, finishing 6th grade… no time like the present to take them out of that horrid scene of society and what it doesn’t offer. I am unsure/unaware of how to begin un-schooling. Also, how do we as parents deal with the state/schooling departments? That is a major anxiety of mine although I will stick to my guns(not actual guns) for my beliefs. Thank you in advance! Misguided and unaware parent.

Speak Your Mind

*