Chaitanya Jyothi Museum Opening, 2000

In the Name of The Father, and of The Son and of The Holy Spirit, Amen.



The purpose of unschooling is, from @ age 1 to 16, to get the child accustomed to initiative on their internal interests plus basic math/reading abilities so they can do that.  By @ age 16, the child is disappearing, the adult is appearing, and that emerging adult, to continue cultivating their interests, needs resources beyond the cost and infrastructure, human and mechanical, their parents can provide.  That is where publicly-and privately-supported schooling comes in.  At @ age 16 education moves from family responsibility to group and government responsibility.  The young adult should enter the schooling system gradually, then immersion or partial immersion as circumstances allow or compel.  Schooling past @ age 16 is trade schooling, requiring gradually more formal standards, time-lines, performance benchmarks, etc.  This is as it should be.

Unschooling ends when childhood does. Schooling starts when adulthood does. Learning occurs from cradle to grave, or should do.

When we homeschooled, I took issue with Holt’s coinage as a lazy contradiction in terms: unschooling is schooling in the sense of learning.  Said so on national webs at the time and took flack for that.

Holt was trying to remove learning in general from the German factory model — complete with whistles to order time for product (students) to move from one factory position to another: math to reading, home-ec to field sports, etc. — on which USA compulsory ed was patterned.  The goal was an efficient workforce (product) for American manufacturing concerns.  That is still the goal, oft stated.  This is what Savio meant as the odious machine on which revolutionaries must throw their bodies, to stop it.

Holt said, No, let’s see if cultivation of self-interest, or as Kandinsky put it, inner necessity, can get us a contented society as well as a skilled labor force (note the Junker temper of that phrase).  He was right, it could.  However he glossed over the necessity for increasingly structured, concentrated learning, including but not only for manufacturing, between the ages of @ 16 and 30.

So I do not like and have never used the term unschooling to describe what we did.  But I understand and approve the greater part of what Holt meant by the coinage.

Update 1The Gift of Marriage and the Proper Role of Parents in the Education and Formation of Their Children


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