The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World as Your Child’s Classroom

Mary Griffith surveys unschooling
families and compiles their responses.  She reports on the theories behind and implications of Unschooling, and provides suggestions for general concerns and specific academic subjects:

Present-day Americans have difficulty imagining education that does not resemble school.  But until the 1850’s “common school” movement,

school was mostly optional.  Most knowledge children needed to become competent adults was acquired through doing tasks along with adults and knowing that this work was essential to their livelihood.  Along with the establishment of public schools and compulsory attendance laws came a general belief that school was essential for children to become modern-day citizens.  There was little discussion about whether school was indeed an indispensable institution.

If You Want to be Rich and Happy: Don’t Go to School

In his book, Robert T. Kiyosaki (1993)
has woven together compelling arguments and inspiring personal anecdotes about the destructive quality of the education system.

The education system’s inherent promise of helping young people grow up to become adults who can realize the American Dream turns out to be an illusion.

In a world that is characterized by rapid technological and global changes, the education system has become an archaic institution that continues to cling to obsolete practices.

No Contest: The Case Against Competition by Alfie Kohn (1986)

In his view, competition is a negative concept that undermines individual growth and development, as well as human relationships.

The damaging quality of competition lies in the fundamental fact that competition involves the success of an individual and the concomitant failure of another.  Kohn (1986) coins the term “mutually exclusive goal attainment” to explain how competition allows only one party to attain the goal at the expense of others.

Learning All The Time 

“…children, without being coerced or manipulated, or being put in exotic specially prepared environments, or having their thinking planned for them, can, will, and do pick up from the world around them important information about what we call the basics.”–Holt

“Learning All the Time” advances the idea that children are not passive beings, waiting to be taught basic skills by adults.  Much rather these skills emerge as a function of adaptation to their world, where they pick up the ability to communicate and solve myriad problems. As such, children are natural speakers, scientists, writers, and problem solvers, absorbing information from their surroundings at an alarming rate

John Holt’s: How Children Learn

Rather than give an overarching theory of how children learn, John Holt, the father of the modern home school movement, uses anecdotal observations that question assumptions about how children acquire knowledge and learning skills.

Holt rejects the idea that children are“monsters of evil” who must be beaten into submission or computers whom “we can program into geniuses.”  Neither are they the passive receptacles of knowledge that can only learn in a schoolroom.  Instead, he calls upon parents and educators to “trust children.”

Growing Without Schooling: A Record Of A Grassroots Movement 

Growing Without Schooling: A Record of a Grassroots Movement is a compilation of the first 12 budding issues of the newsletter ‘Growing Without Schooling.’  These Newsletters were published between 1977-1979 in an effort to promote ‘unschooling’, a term used by GWS to aid definition of education reform.  Unschooling, From a legal perspective, this term refers to the “changing the laws to make schools non-compulsory and to take away from them their power to grade, rank, and label people i.e. to make lasting official public judgments about them.” (P.17)

Punished by Rewards

The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes
This book by Alfie Kohn strikes at the heart of the conventional rewards system that is entrenched in our schools and our society.

Although rewards require little effort to administer and yield immediate results, they do not address the underlying problems that will remain unresolved in the long run.  Kohn identifies five key problems with the use of rewards: 

• The rewards system is basically used as a controlling tool to elicit 
desirable behavior.  Students who feel that their teachers control them will not develop a natural incentive to study.

Freedom and Beyond 

The only middle school in Gainsville, Georgia, is getting ready to make some major changes  njo the way it educates its students.  The school plans to adopt the “Programs of Choice” educational format; a format wherein students will still receive instruction in the basic academic courses as required by the state, but with a particular emphasis on linking the subjects together, and giving the students more intellectual freedom.
School officials hope that this new style of
 education – allowing students a greater freedom of choice concerning their academic studies – will improve academic performance, attendance, and behavior.

Flow – The Psychology of optimal Experience

Steps toward enhancing the quality of life.

Diplomate, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

For more than two decades, the author
 has been studying states of “optimal experience” (happiness, in plain English) – those times when people report feelings of concentration and deep enjoyment.

These investigations have revealed that what makes experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow – a state of concentration so focused that it amounts to absolute absorption in an activity.

Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense

As a public high school English teacher,David Guterson possesses an insider glimpse into the problems of our education system. One of the core weaknesses of the education system is the restriction of learning within the four walls of the classroom.

In his book, Guterson (1993) not onlyjustifies his decision to homeschool his children, but also explores the critical role of homeschooling in challenging the premises of public education.