STAY CONNECTED! Follow us on Facebook

february 12, 2013 - in this issue:
what are the long term ramifications of unschooling for our kids?

a discussion between HEM's editor and publisher,
Barb Lundgren and Mark Hegener 

   I've spent the last 30 years of my life wondering whether unschooling my kids would really make a difference in how they feel about themselves, their connection to others and society, their understanding of the human condition and what makes the world go 'round. My kids are now all grown up and I am still wondering, observing, and thinking about this.
   I hold a fundamental belief that life should be simple, and yet dissecting such a question is complex indeed. It's a beautiful truth that their childhoods, our family life, was rich, fun, exciting and spontaneous with many, many steep, fast-paced learning curves. We lived a magical existence and, for the most part, felt on top of the world: my children were empowered with the knowledge that not only were they never expected to do anything they did not want to do, but that their parents would support their wide and varied forms of emotional, psychological, spiritual, artistic and academic expression. We trusted each of our children's natural learning processes, engaged in lots of discussion, listened to each other, applied consensual decision-making.
   Despite all the freedom and fun in childhood, all three of my grown children, once adults, have experienced an uncomfortable sort of wake-up call in the "real world" as they moved from home and become fully sustainable on their own. Their levels of discomfort have at times been nearly overwhelming as almost everyone they met was, in their words, in need of therapy: real-world people lacked inner motivation, holding jobs or attending college because others expected them to; they're in abusive relationships they can't break out of; they are bent on all the ways our world is not working; they're just plain unhappy or relieving stress with addictive or self destructive behaviors; they don't know how to be honest. Even though my kids were always an active part of the real, outside world, they engaged in it on their own terms, in much more limited doses, and they always had the protection and support of home. One of the bottom lines for my grown kids is they feel different from everyone else, at least those who spent their formative years in traditional homes, schools and churches. Let's face it--that's almost everyone.

   For me the simplest, and most complete answer is yes, the benefits of unschooling are real. But since life is anything but simple, nor the future yet complete I can only offer snapshots of lives that have grown more full because of an unschooling approach.
   There are stories of kids with nearly unlimited free time and a home-built submarine, late readers, made-up games, catapults, bouncing trees, squabbles, fights and nurturing each other. There are stories of endless days of epic Lego and Playmobile adventures.
   While those kids were still young teens they recognized they were different. They knew that other kids their age were trained better academically but weren't able to use that training in real life situations.
   Those now-grown kids know they grew up differently, have created their own lives, and by-in-large have created their own livelihoods.

read the rest of the discussion on our website... and leave your opinion!

FREE Book Offer!

Gosh, there are so many great books out there and we want to do our part to help you discover them. This is the first of many books we hope to be able to offer you for FREE. Well, at three of you will get the book for free!

Here's what you need to do to get the book for free:
go to our website and fill out the short form to enter the giveaway. 

A Pair of Sparkly Sneakers, by Nicole Olsen

Poignant, honest, and heart-breakingly humorous, unschool mom Nicole calls into question the widespread cultural practices that methodically disconnect parents from their children, and explores the dangers of abandoning our own inner wisdom in favor of child experts and authorities.

This book details the journey she took from rule-guided former teacher to partnership based unschooler. You will cry when you read her very personal account.

A Pair of Sparkly Sneakers, on Amazon.

do you know an unschooled kid, teen or young adult who has a story to tell?

we'd love to hear from them

We want to publish stories from unschooled kids, teens and young adults! We want to read their stories of taking charge of their own lives, overcoming challenges, entrepreneuring, thoughtful discovery, self-directed travel... for example. We will be able to help them with their story by posing questions and suggestions for story expansion and we will also fix all the grammar.

Email Barb with stories or with ideas for a story.

john taylor gatto asks us to send you his love and gratitude.

Here is what John told Barb a few weeks ago:

"Thank you and everyone for my new smile!

Next Wednesday for the first time in a year I'll have teeth and be able to smile and chew again! The hospitals lost or broke two earlier sets of dentures, so it's been a long interval between peanuts.
Truly, what people have done for Janet and me has been spectacular!  The donor funds have gone for an aide to help me get out of bed and go to the bathroom, sanity-preserving services, for medicines, for printer ribbons,writing supplies, utility bills and food.

I'm ashamed to say that I am one of the millions who ignored the parental wisdom to put something aside for a rainy day, a jerk who devoted too much of his life to sugar and white flour/rice-- which are sugar in disguise. The strokes were almost certainly the result of abnormal blood sugar levels producing diabetes. This weird experience of weakness after a lifetime of perfect health has brought some wisdom too late, but, as mom used to say, better late than never. Anyway, genuine gratitude to all of you for taking away some of the stress at this horrible time. Their big-hearted generosity reminds me of the way Americans were during WWII when I was growing up. What a huge difference it has made for an old Pittsburgh boy and his wife--teeth, medicine, food, supplies, bills.

When i get back on my feet, thanks largely to you all, I won't forget to follow this example with somebody else as needy as we are now, so the samaritan momentum will resonate beyond this moment ... God bless you all!  

Love to everyone from a grateful old fellow who thanks his invisible allies and prays for them every night. We would do our kids a big favor by preparing them for the worst and letting them see how quickly the good things we take for granted like walking, using two hands, speaking clearly, and chewing can be taken away in one second by surprise; I had heard that preached, of course, but the words lacked sufficient meaning to influence my behavior. Now I appreciate that time and vigorous health are the real wealth. We need to put our heads together and figure out effective ways to teach that.

                  with love and a smile, John

If you can contribute financially, offer to drive John once or regularly, or serve as a medical advocate, click the "Learn More" link below for more information... and thank you!

is hiring.

We're looking for a self-directed learner who is interested in journalism and the unschooling community.

Join Our Mailing List

Barb Lundgren, editor

Mark Hegener, publisher

We welcome your comments, critique & creativity.