Unschooling, Then and Now
While the accountability and standardization movement continues to narrow curriculum in the US, unschooling families are redefining learning and recreating community in an atmosphere of love and trust. As professors of education and unschooling mothers, Rolstad and Kesson compare their unschooling experiences in two different eras, one in the early days of unschooling (1980s), and the other in the first decade of the 21st century. Kathleen Kesson was an unschooling pioneer when her children were unschooled in the early 1980s, and her children are now adults. She describes what it was like to unschool then, to do what she terms ‘old school unschooling.’ Only a generation later, Kellie Rolstad began unschooling her three children, in a world transformed by the Internet and ease of access to both information and social networking, key components of unschooling today. Rolstad describes how her unschooling children connected play in real and virtual worlds, exploring ideas differently in many aspects from how Kesson’s children played and explored, and yet fundamentally and remarkably the same. In this article, Rolstad and Kesson share their experiences of trusting children, of giving them the space and the resources to learn and grow in the ways that are best for them, comparing along the way what it was like to unschool then and what it is like to unschool now, in this era when our society has come to distrust children more than ever.
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