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)
The beginning of each new issue offers the publisher’s updates and pertinent news regarding the ‘Unschooling’ movement, in addition to data concerning the newsletter such as distribution, subscription information and publication developments. Following these brief updates comes a profusion of insightful ‘tidbits’ or pieces of information compiled by the publisher and written by seemingly wise everyday people. The issues covered include letters, stories, informed opinions, and narratives on just about anything ranging from social change in issue #1 to court ruling in issue #11. All such cultural excerpts being evidence and indicators of the need for education reform and unschooling.
In a nutshell, ‘Growing Without Schooling’, outlines the grass roots movement of education reform under several broad categories among others not listed here. The categories are scattered throughout the issues in easily digestible portions making the reading quite entertaining and informative. Among the major categories are the following:
• Legal Concerns – The sections concerning this category include court rulings; the need for lawyers, beating the system, legal strategies, state laws and a letter to a legislature. These pieces stress the legal tone of ‘Unschooling, what is required in the movement and issues concerning it.
• Homeschooling Methods – Like the previous category, this category circumscribes an important element of education reform, the question of how to educate alternatively. Subjects covered in this category include serious teaching, how much teaching is enough, learning specific subjects such as choral reading, teacher ‘skills’, home-school guidelines, stories about home schooling and so on. This provides a vital additional guideline to the unschooling effort, in turn aiding the unschooling movement.
• Things learned Outside of Conventional School – In a less formal manner, the necessity of experiential, community and individual learning are stressed in ‘Growing Without Schooling’.
The reason being implied that conventional schooling simply does not emphasize this important type of learning so vital to everyday living. For example, there are contributions from writers concerning Growing up in Denmark, breeding worms in cities, working through Math problems without the answers and playing guns for emotional health/as an emotional outlet for a kid in an unhappy home.
• Movement efforts and information – Also included in the topics are letters and writing pieces about the unschooling movement. As with other movements, keeping abreast of developments, issues and concerns is vital to the momentum of such a cause in fear of losing concern, knowledge and understanding of such a movement. GWS does well in adding topics such as success stories from various States, unschooling in Holland, local groups, information on unschooled children such as how certain parent’s home-schooling efforts succeeded.
All in all, Growing Without Schooling is indeed a record of a Grass Roots Movement. It gathers and collects information about an alternative means to education and documents it in the classic information archive known as a book. This is no regular book however, it is no novel, not a textbook, nor a journal or a collection of articles. GWS is a compilation of wisdom about a type of education that is simply not adequately addressed by some major school systems. It is therefore a priceless record of knowledge not to be underestimated or under-acknowledged by conventional knowledge systems.