Wednesday, April 21, 2010

GMA's Biased Look at Unschooling

I know many of my cyberspace friends have learned a few things about unschooling here on my blog while reading about my experiences with rheumatoid arthritis. This week Good Morning America did a very biased piece on unschooling and in case you saw it, I just want you to know that it does not represent the magic of unschooling . My sister Stacey, who works in the public schools, saw it and was not happy. She sent in this comment to GMA:

My nephew and niece are unschooled and I have to say that they are much better educated and behaved than the students that I work with in the public school system. Many unschooling kids meet with other families of unschooled kids, therefore they get lots of socialization. Kids have a natural curiosity about things and they tend to remember the things they enjoy and like. Memorizing things for a test, which is often the case in public schools, is not effective. Unschooling promotes children thinking for themselves and pursuing their own interests. Unschooling does not mean hands off parenting. In fact, I would say that real unschooling parents are more involved with their children and spend hours of quality of time together, thus enjoying a much closer relationship with their children. My sister suffers from arthritis and I have been so impressed with how her children have stepped up without complaint to help her. This is directly contributed to the time they spend together "unschooling". I do believe they will both grow up to be productive adults and the main reason is because they are comfortable with who they are and like themselves. Their interactions in life have been mostly positive, therefore they are positive and happy people; the kind you want to be around. I think in the case of this story, the GMA reporters put their own slant and bias on unschooling and did not portray it as it really is. It is different, therefore a hard concept to wrap on minds around, however, just because it is different, it doesn't make it wrong.

Due to an overwhelming response to this piece, GMA went back and did another piece which was still biased in my opinion. I was glad to see this article by Lee Stranahan of the Huffington Post titled "Unschooling: How Good Morning America Got It All Wrong".

We have always been an unschooling family. For us, it has always felt right. Tonight Alexander and Steve were out buying supplies to make their own radio like they did in WWII. Both kids read in bed for pleasure until they fell asleep. As unschoolers we have had many friends leave us and experiment with school for short periods. For most, their teachers were not even aware that they had never had a formal education because they did so well. However, for most of our friends, they didn't stay in school long term because they found school limiting. We have also had many friends who were first public schoolers and came to us burned out. At 10 years old they no longer enjoyed reading or writing because so much had been forced on them. As someone who truly enjoys reading, this makes me sad.

I have one goal for my children and that is that they grow up happy with who they are. If they can accomplish that goal, than everything else will fall into place. We have chosen a different path because we want something different for our children. As parents we each make the choices that work best for our families. Our world is big and there is room for all of us - public schoolers, private schoolers, school at home, and unschoolers. Together we will make this a great place to live. We just have to learn to be open to new possibilities.


  1. It's so typical of so called experts working in large institutions to be closed off to the possibilities that their way may not only be the only way. It's reflected in our health system in the UK and echos some of our own experiences lately. The least we can hope for is that people be encouraged to think for themselves!

  2. I saw the piece on GMA and I think it is so new to them that they as parents had a hard time grasping the whole concept. I have to admit I had a hard time understanding it at first too, but after watching you and your family I came to a better understanding of unschooling. I am glad that Stacey wrote to them though and as I was watching the show I thought to myself how well rounded and intelligent Alexander and Sophia are. I also thought that the family they showed on tv looked closer than most families do, especially families with teens. I wonder how many people picked up on that? I hope GMA will do some follow up work on their story and I think that as people become more exposed and educated about unschooling the more accepting they will be of it.

    Love you!

  3. You know before I started to read here I had never even heard of unschooling but all one has to do is read your blog or see how you talk or interact with your children in order to see that it works.

    I think there is a place for everyone and what works for one shouldn't be questioned by someone who has chosen a different path.

    I love that you put your experiences out here so people who don't have experience (like me) can see how things work and have more understanding about things we haven't experienced.

    I always feel as if I've learned something for your blog!