Updated 2017-10-12

Producing unschoolers: Learning through living in a U.S. education movement

An ethnographic study of the unschooling movement, through a countercultural lens.
Donna Harel Kirschner author
Kirschner, D.H. (2008). Producing unschoolers: Learning through living in a U.S. education movement. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3309459


In this study, Kirschner explores some of the inherent and lived tensions or paradoxes produced through the principles and practices of the governmental and educational contexts of the neoliberal milieu, through the lens of a contemporary countercultural movement. In the particularities of this movement, a community of practice known to insiders as the “unschooling movement,” families seek to challenge the rationalization and standardization that they perceive as rampant and objectionable in state-overseen education. This is an ethnographic study of the countercultural praxis and identities entailed in cultivating unschooled children through distinctive childhood, familial, and community-based experiences. Kirschner considers dimensions of lifestyle that include attachment parenting, the organization of space and time, consumption, community-based education and legitimation (portfolio evaluations) to prove educational equivalence. This study reveals the hidden resources of social capital and educational capital used to sustain a countercultural educational alternative.

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