Personalised Education Now
The Centre for Personalised Education – Personalised Education Now – Personalising the Educational Landscape

Weston Lullingfield Primary School

February 11th, 2016 by Peter
Weston Lullingfield Primary School  ….head up on future postings. Judi Clarke (headteacher) reminds families they welcome flexischooling approaches and a new flyer will be in circulation shortly. Judi would also like to alert potential flexischoolers / current home educators to their next Creative Learning day. ‘This will be on Mar 24th (last day of term) – it’s a little different from the last one (mostly to allow for poor weather) but we think it’s going to be a good one. We are inviting a few people from the community who have lived in ‘extreme environments’ to come and give short talks to the children and to answer their questions and then they are going to build shelters outside in the afternoon’.
Sounds brilliant. We can vouch for the warm welcome you’ll get and the fun the kids have at Weston Lullingfield. Well worth a trip into this wonderful area of Shropshire. There will be more information shortly but if you can’t wait get in touch with Judi.

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Self-managed Learning College – News: Spring Term

February 7th, 2016 by Peter

Latest Spring term news from Ian Cunningham at the Self-managed Learning College

Self-managed Learning College News

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A dean from MIT is starting a radical new university with no majors, lectures, or classrooms

February 1st, 2016 by Peter


A new way of learning. (Reuters/Jason Reed)

January 29, 2016

A dean from MIT is starting a radical new university with no majors, lectures, or classrooms

Can you imagine a university with no majors, no lectures, and no classrooms? MIT’s dean for graduate education is leaving her post to make that dream a reality.

Prof. Christine Ortiz recently announced her plan to create a radical new research university. “I’m looking at a new model, where the whole sort of vocabulary is different,” she said. “I don’t see it having any face to face, on-the-ground lectures, actually.”

The material sciences professor will push for a new approach, which blurs the lines between undergraduates and graduates. The university, still unnamed, will still have physical infrastructure, but will prioritize on “project-based learning” where students learn by working together on a challenge for an extended period of time.

Ortiz is hoping to found the non-profit university in Massachusetts. She will take a year’s leave at the end of the current academic year to find a team of people to begin the project, though anticipates it might take longer than that.

Her new university is among a number of recent initiatives to change the way American students learn and the values they take away with them. Ivy League universities are now particularly keen to shake up their admission process and focus less on students with great grades and a set of extra-curricular activities, and prioritize meaningful experience instead.

Critics are growing increasingly frustrated with the US education model, which they say saps creativity and forces students to take and pay for classes they don’t need. Ortiz’s plan, though ambitious, may be the flexible learning students are looking for.

But it’s not going to be easy; even in non-traditional educational settings—like online learning—a large number of students still drop out from sheer boredom.


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Educational Heretics Press – Kindle Page.

January 26th, 2016 by Peter

With thanks to Mike Wood for this update.

Educational Heretics Press is continuously developing its offer and ebooks are coming online.

Visit the EHP Kindle Page

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Toxic Schooling – Kindle Edition Offer|!

January 18th, 2016 by Peter

Thanks to Mike Wood for this…

Knowledge is power
Educational Heretics Press: announces a new KINDLE publication

“Toxic Schooling: How schools Became Worse”

Professor Clive Harber

Available until the end of January at the introductory price of only £2.99 from Amazon at:

For further details on this book, or to buy it as a paperback:

All our Kindles and many more titles are available as paperbacks.

About Toxic Schooling

Unease with schooling is not new: “We are faced by the paradoxical fact that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought” wrote Bertrand Russell in On Education 1926.

Later Einstein added:

“It is in fact nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail”.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries a variety of those concerned with education – Edmond Holmes, A. S. Neill, Rudolf Steiner, Margaret McMillan, Charlotte Mason, Susan Isaacs and Bertrand Russell were critical of schooling and went on to suggest more personalised, democratic and humane forms of education as alternatives. However, in the 1960’s and 1970’s, a period of social and cultural upheaval in the West and political change caused by decolonisation in many developing countries, a number of writers again began to question and critique the relevance and benevolence of schooling.

This book examines the main ideas in a dozen or so key texts on schooling produced roughly during the period 1960 to 1980. For reasons of space, a selection had to be but there were other important books produced during the period that are not considered here. No doubt my own history and preferences have played a role in this selection as I was a pupil, student teacher, teacher and teacher educator during this period and read most of the texts at the time. The writers selected are Edward Blishen, Paulo Freire, Paul Goodman, James Hemming, John Holt, Ivan Illich, Philip Jackson, George Leonard, Soren Hansen and Jasper Jensen, Julius Nyerere, Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner, Everett Reimer, and Carl Rogers.

This book then examines the evidence of the extent, if any, these critiques had on changing and improving the nature of schooling provided today, or whether in many ways the situation is now actually worse.

Clive Harber is Professor of International Education at the University of Birmingham

Educational Heretics Press: founded by Professor Roland Meighan in 1984

Please, share

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Flexi-friendly secondary school in Birmingham: Open Day 16th January 2016

January 8th, 2016 by Peter

Kimichi School

Flexi-friendly secondary school in Birmingham: Open Day 16th January

Kimichi School's photo.
Kimichi School's photo.
Kimichi School's photo.
Kimichi School's photo.


Our small, home-from-home, friendly school is enrolling now for a January/September 2016 start.

The only specialist Music school in Birmingham

Ofsted – Good in all categories (June 2015)
*Students are on target to attain high levels in almost all subjects.
*Achievement is outstanding in English, history and music because teachers have excellent ways of inspiring students to learn in these subjects.
*Behaviour is good because students and teachers have very high expectations of themselves and set the rules together.

Flexi-schooling appreciated and encouraged.

“Re-thinking education with Music at its heart”


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Educational Heretics Press…. Update and first E-Book

January 8th, 2016 by Peter

Not only busy with HE UK Mike Wood has taken on Educational Heretics Press. Here is his latest update … and news of the first EHP e-Book.

Following the death of Professor Roland Meighan in 2014 I took over the running of Educational Heretics Press. My first task was to rebuild EHP’swebsite. So as of August 2015 HE UK was joined by EHP:

EHP has a back catalogue of around 85 titles, approximately 45 of which are currently in print. EHP’s catalogue of titles have been written by some ofthe biggest names in education, many of which are well known to the HE
community such as Roland and Janet Meighan, Alan Thomas Leslie Safran, Julie Webb and from across the pond John Holt. Other authors, less well known by home educators would include Clive Harber, Chris Shute and Phillip
Toogood all of who support democratic, child led learning.
Without Roland’s unstinting work setting up and running EHP for many years, few of these authors would have found anyone willing to publish their heretical ideas and home education would have found it far more difficult to find academic

Today, I’m celebrating HE UK’s birthday by publishing the first EHP book to be made available as a Kindle eBook. I hope to follow this up with manyother EHP titles over the coming year.

In addition to this, 2016 will see further, completely new publications beginning with Alan Thomas and Harriet Pattison’s new book on home education and learning to read which is titled Rethinking Learning to Read.

For further details on this title see:

Home education will continue to inform and support home educators into the future, and by linking EHP to HE UK that support is strengthened and enhanced. At a time when alternative educational approaches are coming under greater attack, academic support and affirmation of our efforts are even more important. The importance of the ability to publish unpopular research that explains the reality of educational alternatives cannot be overstated. EHP is therefore central to any defence of the right to home educate.

**Share in a little celebration**

I’m celebrating HE UK’s birthday by offering our first Kindle eBook“Comparing Learning Systems” by Roland Meighan at an introductory price of just £2.99. It will stay at this price for the rest of January.*Version*=1&*entries*=0

(the price has just been adjusted, so if you are looking on the 8th Jan, the price may be temporarily slightly higher while Amazon servers update, simply wait an hour or two and look again.)

“Comparing Learning Systems” is an analysis of many of the differing educational approaches and how they relate to each other and autonomous educations roll as ‘the next learning system’. Roland firmly believed that home educators, despite it being incidental to their intentions, were effectively field testing a new system of education.
Written by a Professor of Education this book can be useful to home educators in understanding better, how what they do, fits into the broader picture of educational methodology and assists them in understanding and critiquing the ‘standard model’ of education adopted by the state schoolsector around 200 years ago. You will find it an interesting and useful

Please feel free to cross post to anywhere this will be of use.

Best Wishes

Mike Wood
Your man in a hammock

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Home Education UK … 16th Birthday!

January 8th, 2016 by Peter

Over the last 16 years Mike wood has done a brilliant job with the HE UK website / resource. Good to celebrate its birthday!

Home Education UK’s 16th Birthday

The Home Education UK website first went live on the 8th of January 2000. It is the oldest website with a continuous presence supporting home education in the UK. In the past I’ve used this anniversary to make a short report on the website, so this is the HE UK report for 2016.


HE UK now gets over 2.36 Million hits per annum, that’s an average of nearly 5 hits every minute of every day with a peak of 14,500 a day overthe last year. Two thirds of these hits are from the UK, while the remainder are from many parts of the world. The peak months are, unsurprisingly September and January, usually during the first weeks of the start of the school term. There are other peaks usually at times when home educators feel threatened by political policy changes or times of media interest.

Best Wishes

Mike Wood
Your man in a hammock

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LEARNING VERSUS SCHOOLING: A Comparison of Philosophies. Don Glines

January 8th, 2016 by Peter

Great to hear from Don in this New Year. His insight is as clear as ever and the context in the USA has so much resonance here in the UK.

A Comparison of Philosophies
By: Don Glines, PhD


The focus of this treatise is to explain clearly the differences between a PERSONALIZED LEARNING ENVIRONMENT and a GROUP-SIZED SCHOOLING SYSTEM. It is also to clarify that the key component in implementing diverse philosophies is CHOICE. Some parents, students, school people may prefer to participate in a structured SCHOOLING system. However, such an environment cannot be mandated for all. Those learners and supporters who prefer personalized LEARNING must have that opportunity. Personalization is not alternative education for “at-risk” learners. Instead, personalization exemplifies the obvious need for EDUCATIONAL ALTERNATIVES FOR EVERYONE.

One can “learn to be good” through multiple religious choices in most communities. One can “learn to be knowledgeable” through a variety of personalized educational options, easily feasible on current budgets. Providing options is only a matter of re-allocating resources, organizations, and structures, often successfully accomplished, especially in the days when Congress supported education through ESEA Title III for “Innovation, Experimentation, Research, and Evaluation.” There is irrefutable proof that mandated traditional schooling is wrong for the majority of learners, as evidenced by national dropout rates and low achievement test scores.

The new Every Student Succeeds political compromise is negative. This legislation will not solve the frustrations facing LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS, cure the ills of SCHOOLING SYSTEMS, nor bridge the accomplishment gaps among low and high achievers. Emphasizing reading and math test scores and content, introduced at inappropriate individual growth and development stages for many, will not lead to improvement. The current “Common Core Curriculum” evaluations do not reflect talents in art, music, shops, and more importantly human relations.

It has long been recognized that the No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top national political mandates were wrong for most, as were the accompanying federal and state tests and penalties. The Every Student Succeeds legislation was reached by tradition-oriented lawyers, not by experts in multiple learning environments. Ignored were the facts that the Holocaust tragedies and the experiments performed by Doctors from Hell (book) were designed by people from (at that time) the acknowledged best SCHOOLING SYSTEM in the world, accompanied by the best in the Orient.


Ultra-traditionalists, public school people, and vote-seeking politicians mandate their one-sided view of reform of the system called education/school. They profess that specific, rigorous curriculum requirements, a focus on math and reading, more stringent tests, and rating students/schools/teachers by state/national comparison evaluations will solve the ills affecting the antiquated 150-year-old organization of schooling. This organization usually includes nine-month attendance, grade levels by chronological age, academic report cards, and required courses of segmented subjects. Such patterns can be acceptable for taxpayer support, if they are truly optional choices—agreed to by the involved parents, students, teachers, and administrators.

In contrast, educators and philosophers who know the difference between LEARNING and SCHOOLING have the research proving the success of implemented non-traditional programs. Optional learning environments produce better results for most who volunteer. As declared in the Focus section, one illustration of this fact is simple: education should follow the religion model of choice rather than insist on mandated one-size-fits-all models of confinement. Many youth often learn more, wherever feasible, outside the school building—in the community, and in natural environments—rather than being restricted the majority of time inside a brick and mortar structure.

Below, under Comparisons, described are only 12 of 69 major clarifications of differences between optional LEARNING environments and mandated SCHOOLING systems. More of the 69, and examples of no-cost options (one illustrating three schools-within-a-school) can be located in Glines, Declaring War Against Schooling: Personalizing Learning Now (Rowman and Littlefield), pages 116 to 119 and in the extensive bibliography on pages 185 to 188. The redundancies throughout these treatise paragraphs are only to reinforce very important distinctions. Improving education requires allowing choices for everyone: non-traditional LEARNING environments or traditional SCHOOLING systems.

1. In LEARNING, if 100 items are pursued on a test, the learner is encouraged by mentors indicating: “How wonderful that you know 69; of the 31 topics on which you are unclear, are there perhaps 10 you ideally should learn? If so, how can we best help you understand them?” If the other 21 were not that important, why were they asked?

In SCHOOLING, a common traditional evaluation system on a standard test of 100 questions says to the student that if the individual only knows 69 or less, that is an “F”, 70 – 78 is a D, 79 – 86 is a C, 87-94 is a B, and 95-100 is an A—a negative experience for low-achieving students, not a positive learning model. Wally Eagle, an actual Indian youth in Waubay SD, received a D-minus on his science report, returned full of red markings by the teacher. He discarded it in the hallway wastebasket.
2. In LEARNING, learners begin with their strengths and interests. The focus is on a confluence of the affective, psychomotor, and cognitive domains, with the priority on the affective domain and human potential. Person Centers can assist, if needed.

In SCHOOLING, the focus is on the weaknesses and failures of the student, with emphasis on cognitive outcomes, as evidenced by the intensity of test results, grade point averages, a push for college, and inappropriate math and reading programs that are required for ALL in K-1, obsolete courses in secondary schools, and suspensions.
3. In LEARNING, there are no required topics at a specific age level. Curriculum is personalized. Learners and their self-selected advisors and guides create programs for the individual best-suited at this moment in time; there is no research to support specific ages for topics or courses.

In SCHOOLING, students are assigned curriculum subjects such as algebra or reading for ALL, at a pre-determined age or period in their school years. One example: Hewlett Packard gave large sums of money to districts that would require Open Court reading and Saxon math for all students. Good teachers knew those programs were inappropriate for many at a specific grade level, yet coaches and monitors were hired to ensure that everyone was on the same page at the same time. The results: test scores were lower.
4. In LEARNING, learners progress at their own rate of development, and are provided with the appropriate materials and amount of time. All can learn with no failures or low achievement, realizing very few have strengths and interests in all the compartments of schooling and life. There are no remedial classes.

In SCHOOLING, students are given group assignments and are expected to achieve equal results in the same amount of time as others, and to excel on all required assignments. The Detroit Intelligence Tests, the Swedish and New Hampshire math studies, and the Winnetka Individualization Studies found that many students did better learning a topic by starting later or earlier than in the commonly prescribed traditional years.
5. In LEARNING, there are no report cards, tests, or homework. Learners progress as outlined by their own goal sheets (or other plans), which can be modified or changed as they progress toward their personal desired outcomes.

In SCHOOLING, there are comparative student report cards/evaluation systems, homework, subjects, and mandated tests. Students are compared to each other. Heavy doses of homework are now required in K-1—even algebra problems, which cause difficulty for many families.
6. In LEARNING, there are no traditional classes of 30 with one teacher in one room for a specified amount of time. Learners create their own daily non-schedules related to their individual or group plans for the day, with optional attendance made possible by year-round continuous learning programs. Learners have the freedom to change locations as desired, and where possible, avail themselves of longer school hours.

In SCHOOLING, elementary students are usually assigned to one teacher in one room all day; secondary students are usually assigned for 55 minute periods with one teacher in each class throughout a typical seven-period day. Important learning is often “extra-curricular.”
7. In LEARNING, learners select their own advisors and guides, usually choosing those who have “pied piper” personalities—adults who love learners and therefore learners love them. Learners help each other learn, individually or in small groups. Learning environments relate to the learner communities; the backgrounds of ethnicities, cultures, and levels of poverty and affluence are major considerations. Therefore, learning is personal for each individual.

In SCHOOLING, students are assigned to teachers, the former of whom usually cannot help each other during classroom time, or on tests. If students live in poverty, bi-lingual, minority or low achievement communities, they are expected to compete and excel over the same material at the same time and meet specific expectations without the benefits of those who live in high income, college-graduate communities. Example: Most Native American Indian learners on reservations do well K – 4, slow down in grades 5 – 8 as they learn perceived negative history, and drop out at 70 to 80% rates in high school, especially boys.

8. In LEARNING, there are no group schedules; individuals function in a non-scheduled environment in a year-round program. Learners help each other learn, as there are no tests on which to cheat. Learners work alone or in pairs on special projects. They may meet in self-designed groups of 8 – 10, or occasionally benefit from a meaningful large group experience. Learners may spend all day, all week, all month, as desired, on their own interests and projects. Learning environment philosophies believe in continuous activities available 24/7/365—LIKE HOSPITALS, NEVER CLOSED.

In SCHOOLING, students commonly meet in assigned locations and groups with the same teacher, as in a classroom of 30 in elementary schools. In secondary, often the following is reflected: period 1—math, period 2—English, period 3—science, period 4—language, Period 5—lunch, Period 6—Elective Choice, and period 7—gym. Universities are no better: lecture halls of 300 students for an hour, or MWF one-hour semester schedules, or Tuesday, 7 to 10 PM once-a-week class. Schooling systems, K-12, believe most students learn only 9:00 to 3:00, September to June. They close for three months, for traditionalists believe learning does not occur in the summer or that some families prefer vacations in January. Now there is the effect of technology.
9. In LEARNING, curriculum is interdependent; there are no traditional segmented course subjects (unless requested by an individual for a study of interest). Learners can take advantage of the tremendous advances in technology.

In SCHOOLING, including colleges, most common are traditional segmented classes and subjects, primarily taught in isolation from truly inter-related information. Technology is available, too, but online courses may be more one-sized than personalized. “Remedial Classes” are common, even in colleges.
10. In LEARNING, all programs are non-graded (no K-1-2-3, 7-12, junior designations). Learners of all ages are mixed together by choices, interests, projects, and goals. Older learners help younger, younger help older; strengths and interests are shared related to individual growth and desired outcomes.

In SCHOOLING, there still exists in most institutions, traditional K-12 and college years, taught separately to mostly the same age group. Little recognition is given to the six-year developmental span among chronological 12-year olds, or the minimum 24-month gap among K-1 students.
11. In LEARNING, there are no assigned class textbooks; instead there are varieties of resources available from the home, institution, community, and technology. Multiple views are sought regarding aspects of the learning goals. In learning to read, there are at least 23 different programs and approaches. Many learners benefit from starting a specific study later—or earlier—than the traditional schooling prescribed times. All former separated subjects are considered equal for learning: art is as important as math, and interrelated.

In SCHOOLING, there are usually standardized reading programs and U.S. History textbooks, common algebra materials, second-grade math, and remedial classes. Everyone takes the same test on Friday.
12. In LEARNING, all fields of study are determined by personalized plans. Traditionally speaking, K-12 Home Economics is academic and just as important as Geometry; K-12 shop programs are for the young, too, not just for older learners, and are available for everyone.

In SCHOOLING, art, music, shop, home economics, physical education, chorus, drama are usually relegated to “non-academic” status and often are not available to all students. In most college prep high schools, there is often one elective period; thus only one interest can be pursued, even if all fields of learning are available.

A. Research Supporting LEARNING (a few examples)

–Goodlad, John, and Anderson, Robert, The Nongraded Elementary School, Harcourt, Brace, World, New York 1959.
–Aiken, Wilford, Story of the Eight-Year Study, (5 volumes) Harper and Brothers, New York, 1942.
–Washburne, Carlton Ed. “Adapting Schools for Individual Differences,” 24th Yearbook, NSSE (1924), School Publishing Company, Bloomington, Indiana, 1929.
–See previously cited, Glines, Don, Declaring War Against Schooling: Chapter 4 for multiple additional references.

B. Programs Supporting LEARNING (a few examples)

–Wilson Campus School, Minnesota State University, 1968-1978, Mankato MN.
–St. Paul Open School, St. Paul MN, 1970-1990.
–Walker Elementary School, Amphitheater District, Tucson AZ, 1963-1968.
–Programs under Congress authorization of ESEA Title III, Lyndon Johnson, President, for innovation, experimentation, research, evaluation, 1966-1980.
(example: Minneapolis Southeast Alternative Schools Project, focusing on the “cluster schools” options, 1968-1975)
–100 Learning Centers in Minnesota: members are part of the Minnesota Association for Alternatives (MAAP) 2016. Illustrations: The High School for Performing Arts; Jennings Charter School.

C. Books Supporting LEARNING (a few examples)

Willis, Margaret, Guinea Pigs Twenty Years Later, Ohio State U Press, Columbus, 1961.
Holt, John, How Children Fail, Pitman, New York, 1964.
Goodman, Paul, Compulsory Mis-education, Vintage Books, New York, 1970.
Holmes, Edmond, The Tragedy of Education, Constable Co., London, 1913.
Rogers, Carl, Freedom to Learn, Merrill, Columbus OH, 1983.
Jackson, Phillip, Life in Classrooms, Holt, Rinehart, New York, 1968.
Illich, Ivan, DeSchooling Society, Harper and Row, New York, 1971.
Harber, Clive, Toxic Schooling: How Schools Became Worse, Educational Heretics Press,
Nottingham England, 2009.

D. Statements Supporting LEARNING (a few examples)

The California Legislature and Congress are wrong requiring one-size-fits-all SCHOOLING. The right way is providing learning options for everyone. Common Core and state test mandates neither reflect the whole person, nor individual potential for societal contributions; these will not narrow the gaps between the “have and have-not communities,” or the graduation rates of 90.9% at UC Berkeley versus 28.5% at CSU Dominguez Hills.

Education codes are established by lawyer, business, career politicians who only know traditional SCHOOLING. They ignore the hundred years of LEARNING research. Education should reflect the religion model of choice rather than the incarceration model of confinement. School people accept political edicts in return for more money.

Nationally, 7,000 youth are pushed out of school each day. Of those who remain, 30% receive “D/F” evaluations; 40% rate “C.” Thus, 70% of learners are average or unsatisfactory. These figures do not reflect a LEARNING system. Of the 30% who receive “A/B” reports, many are bored.

There is undeniable proof that “7th graders” are spread six years in physical development and eight years in achievement. It is inhumane to continue grade levels based upon chronological ages. Teachers of the young are faced with a 24-month developmental gap. Mandated pre-kindergarten will not create equal achievement.

Most students reach reading and math success between ages 3-10, when individually paced. LEARNERS advance best by focusing on their strengths, not on perceived weaknesses. The famous Eight-Year-Study proved that the high school courses taken make no difference related to future success. The reductions of art, industrial, home, music, drama programs are huge mistakes. Changing the name from Junior High to the wrongly implemented Middle School design has done nothing to improve learning for these ages. There is still a “7th grade.”

Providing choice is easy at no extra expense. The schools-within-a-school model is but one example. Open enrollment options and charter schools have failed to meet their original intents. Though “Charter Schools” have mushroomed in many states, there are very few that are significantly different and better. Most are too small and lack facilities for involvement in all learning fields.

Year-round education can reduce the lockout of learners and the waste of expensive facilities primarily used only ¼ of the day, 180 days, nine months of the year. As visionaries continue to plead, LEARNING should follow the hospital model, always available 24/7/365, easily achieved by staggering staff and using modern technology. In 1976, California Governor Brown signed Education Codes 58500-58512 requiring districts to offer alternatives, but Common Core advocates ignore this legislation.

Improving education nationally and in California involves the elimination of one-size-fits-all schooling, replaced by a variety of voluntary parent-teacher-student choices.
E. Conclusions Supporting LEARNING (a few examples)

The author is a perfect example of the attributed Einstein comment involving the classroom of animals taking the same test, which included the fish trying to compete with the monkey to reach the top of the tree; failing, the fish lives his life believing he is stupid.

Though the author was an “honor student” who passed French and German, has published sixteen books/booklets and 136 articles, and has given circa 1200 conference addresses, he is a technological and mechanical idiot. He still writes like James Michener—with paper and pencil. He cannot use a computer or Twitter or pound a nail in the wall. He received D- grades in algebra, geometry, trig, and inorganic chemistry, but an A in nutritional chemistry. He also twice failed the Graduate Record Exam but has a PhD with six majors.

He is the perfect example of what is wrong with the “Common Core” curriculum and state and national tests. Not every learner can pass the exam when that fish must try to climb to the top of the tree, especially when competing with the monkey. There is nothing so unequal as to try to make equals out of unequals.

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Gov UK: Open consultation Out-of-school education settings: registration and inspection

December 22nd, 2015 by Peter…/out-of-school-education-settings-regis….
Potentially serious consequences for a range of educational settings.

Fiona Nicholson rehearses some of the issues here…/crackdown-on-home-educa…/

The impact of this is already being felt by groups like Manara Education . The Radicalisation and Prevent agendas should not be conflated and used to justify further regulation of bone fide educational settings whether formal / informal groups of elective home-based educators, flexischoolers or others.



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Purpose and quality of education in England inquiry

December 22nd, 2015 by Peter

Purpose and quality of education in England inquiry. Education Select committee.…/purpose-quality-education-engla…/
Next year is going to be a busy year! It’s kicking off from the start …. with this select committee inquiry …. Accepting written submissions: the deadline is midday, Monday 25 January 2016.
Scope of the inquiry
Written evidence is invited addressing the following points:
• What the purpose of education for children of all ages in England should be
• What measures should be used to evaluate the quality of education against this purpose
• How well the current education system performs against these measures


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Alternative Educational Futures Conference June 17th 2016

December 7th, 2015 by Peter

Put this date in your diary! Head up on a Centre for Personalised Education Conference Alternative Educational Futures June 17th 2016. In memory of the late Prof Roland Meighan and Philip Toogood. More details will follow in due course.

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Hollinsclough Primary Academy and Flexischool – Project Fridays

November 20th, 2015 by Peter

Hollinsclough CE Primary Academy has been flexing its curriculum again. Since September they’ve been developing Project Friday. Check out what they’ve been up to!

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NSPCC: Withdraw your report “Children Not Educated In School: Learning from case reviews”.

November 20th, 2015 by Peter

From Home Ed UK

This is a petition to get the NSPCC to remove their inaccurate and biased analysis of Serious Case Reviews (SCRs) which attempts to create a link between home education and child abuse and neglect. Put simply the NSPCC incorrectly concludes that home educating parents put their children at risk by maintaining that local authorities follow the law rather than what they SCR’s actually show which is that local authorities put children at risk by NOT following the law, something we as a community have long campaigned for. SCRs conclusions clearly identify that in all cases analysed local authorities and other agencies failed children by not following national guidelines. Please sign this petition to force the NSPCC to address the real problem, poor LA practice, and target services where they should be: children known to be at risk of abuse and neglect rather than target loving caring parents doing their best for their children.

The petition

The NSPCC report

NSPCC summary of NSPCC report

The myth of home education risks

A well argued repost against the NSPCC report that encapsulates the fears of home educators

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kimichi School: Flexi-schooling friendly secondary school in Birmingham

October 16th, 2015 by Peter

Flexi-schooling friendly secondary school in Birmingham….

Kimichi School's photo.
Kimichi School's photo.
Kimichi School's photo.
Kimichi School's photo.
Kimichi School

Our next Open Day: Saturday 7th November, 2015, 11am-1pm.
**Flexi-schooling welcomed and encouraged**

Ofsted Good, June 2015.
“Students’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is excellent. They demonstrate maturity, tolerance and mutual respect as they interact with each other and staff.”
“The proprietorial board (the trustees) and the headteacher are determined that the school should lead the way as to how music might be used to motivate students and support learning in other subjects. They have created an ethos of high expectations and very high aspirations for every student.”

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Learning About Social Class: A Global Issue Today

October 16th, 2015 by Peter

Learning About Social Class: A Global Issue Today
Edith W. King, Educational Sociologist

Sociologists recognize that inequalities spring from the social structures and social processes that create, maintain, or change the individual’s circumstances. Life chances that create inequalities are defined as the conditions of material existence. These conditions include food, clothing, and shelter. This also takes in the quality of life issues such as education, future employment and career opportunities. It includes lifestyle, access to health care, environmental issues, and social and civic participation. Meighan and Harber point out that social class has continued to be a highly ambiguous concept. They note that “the links between social class and education in the UK have been researched frequently and persistently.” (2007, p. 389)
Potent Forces of Social Class: When talking or writing about children and families Roland Meighan and I often discussed how this topic involved touching on the wider social class structure of a society or a nation. It is well known that the economic wherewithal of a group or a family is tied to accumulation of material goods. What is treasured and valued comes from the worth imbued to the material good, such as cash, precious metals and jewels, stocks, bonds, properties (real estate), through a cultural definition of what is valuable. Further, accumulation of wealth and status means power and superiority over others. Social and economic status tends to give one group power over another and leads to attitudes that one ethnic or racial group is inherently better than another because it is richer and holds a higher social status. Material wealth not only endows an individual or a group with greater social status; often it is accompanied by wider political power.
Socioeconomic status (SES) is characterized as a measure that combines a person’s education, occupation and income in order to derive that person’s ranking in the social structure. This definition brings us to another concept in sociological thought connected with social class and socioeconomic status or SES; it is the word “classism.” Classism is defined as discriminatory attitudes and actions towards individuals based upon their social class affiliation. Classism is considered a manifestation of discrimination and prejudice that arises from the wide inequities in the distribution of wealth in a society or nation-state. Sociologists depict most societies as consisting of the following major socio-economic classes: upper middle; lower middle; working class and a growing group labeled the underclass, those living in continual poverty over generations.
In recent years the inequities in the distribution of wealth have been so dramatic that the number of those considered to be middle class in more affluent nation-states have been shrinking. Those living on the edge of poverty, the lower working class and the underclass, have grown twice as rapidly as the people considered more affluent. This situation points to a widening gap between the rich and the poor. Social scientists, social workers, psychologists, medical practitioners, all, concur that the major cause of inequality in childhood is the condition of living in poverty. In other words, those children and families are living in lower class or underclass groups.
Children’s Literature and Classism: Through the books they read, through films and videos, children are introduced to the concept of social class, classism, and the inequalities created by social class affiliations. That vastly popular series, the Harry Potter books, as well as the films, exemplifies how children can learn about the impact of social class. The publishers of the Harry Potter books, Scholastic Publishers, estimate that 325 million copies of the first six books were sold by 2007 in the United States alone including,: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone; Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; The Prisoner of Azkaban; and The Goblet of Fire.
In the Harry Potter series, the Weasley family is continually described as a large family with limited financial resources. Particularly, Ron Weasley, Harry Potter’s comrade at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, is teased for his family’s inability to provide new robes, a fine wand, and a suitable owl for this fourth son to attend Hogwarts.
More evidence of the role of social class appears when we are introduced to Harry, in the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. He is pictured as a penniless orphan despised by the Dursleys, who are portrayed as the typical British middle class family, living on Privet Drive in their spotlessly clean home with manicured lawn. However, when Harry learns that his deceased parents have left him a small fortune and he can finance his schooling at Hogwarts, and not have to depend on others, his social status changes. Subsequently, Harry is treated with more respect by the Dursleys and allowed to have a bedroom to himself, rather than living in the closet below the stairs in the family house.
Another situation in the Harry Potter books that informs children about the power of influence and wealth on social class status is J. K. Rowling’s portrayal of the Malfoys, both Draco, the son, and Lucius, the father. As a longstanding and wealthy wizard family, the Malfoys can be supercilious in stating their views about the social standing and monetary holdings of other characters in the Harry Potter books. Draco Malfoy refers to various characters as servants, has little regard for some of the teachers, and continually points to the Weasley family as being poor, of low status, and having too many children. An underclass appears in the Harry Potter series as well, in the form of the house elves, who work unseen and unpaid, living in the lower levels of the Hogwarts School or in the homes of wealthy wizard families; in reality, an enslaved people. (Heilman and Gregory, 2003)
Awareness of social class and classism in children’s literature is an area of the language arts and literacy that parents and teachers can access. Once an educator is alerted to this subject matter, the presence and the ramifications of social class, social mobility, and social inequality become apparent, even in classical fairy tales such as Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk.

Children and Social Class Inequality in the UK: Britain is a nation that has been deeply class-based for centuries. Early on British-born children are aware of their family’s social class status, religious affiliation and relative degree of affluence. In the first decades of the 21st century it was reported that Britain’s population numbered around 60 million. Refugees and asylum-seekers have been arriving every month adding millions of new immigrants to the British population. Many of these new immigrants are leaving financial stress in Eastern Europe or escaping armed conflicts in Syria, Iraq and West Africa. Furthermore, Muslim communities in Britain are growing. These more recent immigrants continue to struggle for a place in British society, much as those do in the U.S. Some of these people are highly educated and bring specialized skills and experience to ease their socialization and enculturation into the UK. However, other refugee families, their children, and single young adults are poorly educated due to the continual trauma of fleeing persecution and violence. Lack of education directly affects social class status.
Educational sociologists have reiterated that many middle class, as well as working class, parents share anxieties about social and educational inequalities imposed on their children. (Apple, 2004; Meighan and Harber, 2007) For example, young U.K. children were questioned about their understandings of social class privilege and access to enhanced educational opportunities. Some children insisted their education was better than ‘poor’ children’s schooling because their families paid tuition to attend the school. It was better because it cost money. This is an example of how children are socialized into the notion of the superiority of tuition-based schooling. These attitudes may reproduce tendencies to reject the recent waves of refugee families and asylum seekers.
In the summer months of 2015 the media reported that over 100,000 refugees, the majority from Syria and Iraq, as well as other Middle Eastern countries, coming by flimsy boats across the Mediterranean Sea, landed in the islands off Greece. Numbers of these refugees told reporters they were escaping from the terror attacks of ISIS (the Islamic State). Among the refugees were over 4000 children, some of them unaccompanied. An assessment by Save the Children (, a British non-governmental organization (NGO), warned that these young people were at risk of exposure to various sicknesses, to trafficking, sexual exploitation and physical abuse when sleeping alone or pressed into cramped detention quarters. Furthermore, international media described the desperate situation of the Syrian refugee families who fled to the cramped refugee camps in Jordan. Parents with young children emphasized that their little ones cannot remember life before violence and homelessness. The toddlers suffer from seizures, malnutrition, and diarrhea. Medical care is severely limited. It is evident that wars and governmental financial instability in countries such as Greece and Egypt, in Eastern European nations, and across Africa, are continuing to create devastating problems for humanity.

Learning and teaching about social class and the effects of classism are vital topics for our contemporary curriculum. In this article I endeavored to point out how global terrorism intensifies social inequality. With the knowledge of the power of social class status (SES) we can bend our efforts towards ameliorating the circumstances of inequality in the lives of children growing up in times of terrorism. Here follows some suggestions for thinking and learning about social class:
,,. How has social class affiliation affected your students and those that you know ?
…What stories, plays or films can you recall where social class was important in the plot?
… Discuss the impact of social class and social inequality with others. What responses and concerns can you list from these talks?
… Do you discuss topics about social class or socio-economic status (SES) with your children and students? Have you considered that stories such as the Harry Potter series and Cinderella, for example, have social class implications?


 Edith W. King is an educational sociologist and American Sociological Association emeritas professor. King has written extensively on diversity and gender education, international and cross-cultural education, and qualitative research in global perspectives.  Among her many books is the recent Encounters with Social Thought (Amazon:Kindle 2012) and Social Thought on Education (Amazon:Kindle 2011).  Edith King serves on the advisory board of numerous professional journals and educational publications and is the chairperson of the Worldmindedness Institute.

Apple, Michael W. (2004) Official Knowledge. N.Y. Routledge,
Heilman, Elizabeth E. & Anne E. Gregory. (2003) “Images of the Privileged Insider and Outcast Outsider.” In E. Heilman, (Ed.) Harry Potter’s World. New York: RoutlegeFalmer, pp. 241 – 260.
King, E. (2014) Teaching in an Era of Terrorism. 4th edition. Amazon: Kindle. .
Meighan, Roland and Clive Harber. (2007) A Sociology of Educating. London, UK: Continuum.
Save The Children.
Strimel, Courtney B.: “The Politics of Terror: Rereading Harry Potter.” Children’s Literature in Education, Vol. 35, No. 1, March 2004, pp. 35-52.

Van Arsdale, Peter. (2006) Forced to Flee: Human Rights and Human Wrongs in Refugee Homelands. Lanham MD: Lexington Books.

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Research into how EHE children learn to read – 2

October 12th, 2015 by Peter


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Research into how EHE children learn to read -1

October 12th, 2015 by Peter

Dr Anna Cunningham and Dr Julia Carroll of the Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement, Coventry University, and Dr Daisy Powell of the Institute of Education, University of Reading have built a funding proposal for research into how EHE children learn to read. They have taken good advice and spoken widely including Dr Alan Thomas / Dr Harriett Patterson and Dr Helen Lees. They have already identified an initial research constituency but are looking for more particularly from the Midlands and South East. Any help in getting the information around to the EHE Community would be welcomed. I’ve added a particpant information sheet to the files and in the following post.

Home-Education_poster Home-Education_poster

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Kimichi School, Birmingham. Flexischooling Places available.

October 7th, 2015 by Peter

How did we not know about this place!? Good fortune struck at the Manifold Flexi open day. Alison Sauer and I met Sally Alexander, Headteacher of the Kimichi School in Birmingham….”Rethinking education with Music at its heart”. Sally is an inspirational educator and committed to developing flexischooling Plenty of flexi places available.

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Manifold Primary Academy – Flexischooling Places available

October 7th, 2015 by Peter

Lovely time at Manifold Primary Academy yesterday talking about Flexischooling. Working in partnership with Hollinsclough Primary Academy and flexischool it’s sure to be a success. Manifold have 13 prospective places available for flexischooling families. Initially this is for primary age children but the intention is to develop in conjunction with Hollinsclough a secondary offer . Get in touch with the headteacher Jean Fletcher for further information.

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Weston Lullingfields CE Primary School – CREATIVE LEARNING DAY

September 25th, 2015 by Peter

Weston Lullingfields CE Primary School / CREATIVE LEARNING DAY 24th September 2015.
Alison Sauer and I enjoyed and really lovely and productive day at WL meeting governors and staff. The school was in the midst of a full OFSTED inspection but Judi Clarke, headteacher and her staff stuck to their guns and continued with the CLD. Mixed age groups of children engaged in carousel of practical learning activities inside and outside the school buildings. Everyone had a great time and lots of learning was going on. Early indications are that OFSTED also approved! WL is wonderfully placed to take on flexischooling families and we would recommend anyone interested to get in touch with the school. Currently 33 children, staffed with positive, caring practitioners in an idyllic setting.

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September 25th, 2015 by Peter



flexi school updated

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September 16th, 2015 by Peter


With the support of Hollinsclough Primary Academy and the Centre for Personalised Education


Full-time schooling too much?

Could your child benefit from a combination of school and home-based learning?

Flexischooling may be the solution for you.

ManifoldPrimary has 10 Flexischooling places available.

Manifold CE (VC) Primary School
Nr Buxton
SK17 0JP

Tel: 01298 84320
Fax: 01298 84320

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September 16th, 2015 by Peter


As part of our school mission to offer an inclusive education for all children, Weston Lullingfields CE Primary School is now offering Creative Learning Days with places for children who are educated in ways other than at mainstream schools alongside our full time children.

Who are we?
Weston Lullingfields is a very small and friendly school (currently with 33 children), set in the beautiful North Shropshire countryside. We have had a year on year improvement in the progress and attainment in literacy and maths. More importantly, our motto is “Small School, Big Family”, and we pride ourselves on the individualised care and learning we offer all our children. One of our newest recruits, who joined us after several unhappy years in their previous school, described us as having ‘changed her life’ in her end of year 6 speech. It’s been wonderful watching her blossom into a confident, brave and happy young lady.

And that is what we want to do – give children a reason to love learning, the confidence to make friends and challenge themselves, and, ultimately, prepare them for their next steps in life – wherever they might lead. As part of that mission, we are holding creative learning days to give the children a chance to come away from the normal curriculum and experience something they might not get a chance to do otherwise.

The Creative Learning days
Our first Creative Learning Day is an arts day to be held on 24th September 2015 – the theme will be ‘The Time before the Romans’. Our objective is to understand a little about how people were reliant on natural resources … we are going to perform exciting rhythms with percussion instruments made from natural objects, we going to make paints with things we can find in our grounds, we are going to make a bonfire and make nettle tea, and we’re going to make clay finger and coil pots. We are going to encourage as many families to get involved as well, and we will end the day with an exhibition of our projects and a performance of our drumming.

An Invitation
We would like to invite children aged 5 – 11yrs who are currently educated in different ways. We can offer a day of exciting and interesting activities working in small groups under the supervision of our teachers and support staff. We want to encourage parents and families to get involved too, and would welcome them to stay and join in. We would welcome a donation to help cover the cost of staffing and resources.

We have only limited places as we want to keep the ‘small school’ feel that we feel is so important for the children, so please register your interest as soon as possible by emailing us at (sorry, it’s a bit of a mouthful!) with your contact details and the names and ages of the children who would like to attend.

We are considering extending our school provision through offering a flexi-schooling option for children who would like to give a small, friendly school a try on a part time basis. We would support parents with their children’s home learning if they so wish, and give the children a chance to develop their confidence and social skills in a supportive environment. Please email me at if you would be interested in this kind of schooling for your child.

Judi Clarke

Head Teacher, Weston Lullingfields CE Primary School

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How Do Unschoolers Turn Out?

July 14th, 2015 by Peter


How Do Unschoolers Turn Out?

Peter Gray has studied how learning happens without any academic requirements at a democratic school. The Boston College research professor also wrote about the long history and benefits of age-mixed, self-directed education in his book Free to Learn. Over the years, as he encountered more and more families who had adopted this approach at home (these so-called “unschoolers” are estimated to represent about 10 percent of the more than two million homeschooled children), he began to wonder about its outcomes in that setting. Finding no academic studies that adequately answered his question, he decided to conduct his own.

In 2011, he and colleague Gina Riley surveyed 232 parents who unschool their children, which they defined as not following any curriculum, instead letting the children take charge of their own education. The respondents were overwhelmingly positive about their unschooling experience, saying it improved their children’s general well-being as well as their learning, and also enhanced family harmony. Their challenges primarily stemmed from feeling a need to defend their practices to family and friends, and overcoming their own deeply ingrained ways of thinking about education. (The results are discussed at length here.)

This led Gray to wonder how unschooled children themselves felt about the experience, and what impact it may have had on their ability to pursue higher education and find gainful and satisfying employment. So last year, he asked readers of his blog to disseminate a survey to their networks, and received 75 responses from adults ranging in age from 18 to 49; almost all of them had had at least three years of unschooling experience. They were split almost evenly among three groups: those who had never attended school; those who had only attended school for some portion of kindergarten through sixth grades; and those with either type of early experience who had also attended school for some portion of seventh through 10th grades, but not afterward. (The results are explained in detail in Gray’s recent four-part blog series, which begins here.)

He was satisfied with the number of responses, but cautions that, as with many social science studies, the necessarily limited collection method may have produced a biased sample that may not represent the entire population of unschoolers. Such studies can nevertheless yield useful insights, he says, especially when considered in concert with other data, such as other surveys, or patterns that emerge from anecdotal accounts.

Gray found that the results did correlate closely with his more thorough studies of alumni from the Sudbury Valley School (a democratic school in Sudbury Valley, Massachusetts), as well as what he’d personally heard from unschoolers, and what he’d read online. Moreover, even taken in isolation, “what the study does unambiguously show,” he says, “is that it is possible to take the unschooling route and then go on to a highly satisfying adult life.”

The Pros and Cons of Unschooling

All but three of the 75 respondents felt the advantages of unschooling clearly outweighed the disadvantages. Almost all said they benefited from having had the time and freedom to discover and pursue their personal interests, giving them a head start on figuring out their career preferences and developing expertise in relevant areas. Seventy percent also said “the experience enabled them to develop as highly self-motivated, self-directed individuals,” Gray notes on his blog. Other commonly cited benefits included having a broader range of learning opportunities; a richer, age-mixed social life; and a relatively seamless transition to adult life. “In many ways I started as an adult, responsible for my own thinking and doing,” said one woman who responded to Gray’s survey.

“Very few had any serious complaints against unschooling,” Gray says, and more than a third of the respondents said they could think of no disadvantages at all. For the remainder, the most significant disadvantages were: dealing with others’ judgments; some degree of social isolation; and the challenges they experienced adjusting to the social styles and values of their schooled peers.

Social isolation (cited by 21 percent of respondents) usually stemmed from a dearth of other nearby unschoolers and the difficulty of socializing with school children with busy schedules and a “different orientation toward life,” Gray says. He cautions that it’s best to consider these results within the broader cultural context: “If I were to ask people who went to school, I would probably find a similar number who felt socially isolated.”

What stood out, he adds, is that “many more said they felt their social experiences were better than they would have had in school.” Sixty-nine percent were “clearly happy with their social lives,” he says, and made friends through such avenues as local homeschooling groups, organized afterschool activities, church, volunteer or youth organizations, jobs, and neighbors. In particular, “they really treasured the fact that they had friends who were older or younger, including adults. They felt this was a more normal kind of socializing experience than just being with other people your age.”

Only 11 percent said they felt behind in one or more academic areas (most commonly math), which they overcame by applying themselves when the need arose. Only two felt their learning gaps hindered them from succeeding in life, and judging by their full responses, “it was almost more like a self-image issue—they grew up feeling ignorant and then made choices based on that feeling,” Gray says. More typical experiences were like that of a woman who earned a B.A. in both computer science and mathematics, despite entering college without any formal math training beyond fifth grade. Another noted that unschooling “follows the premise that if a child has a goal, they’ll learn whatever they need to in order to meet it. For instance, I don’t like math, but I knew I would need to learn it in order to graduate. So that’s what I did.”

Three people were very dissatisfied overall. In all three cases, the respondents said their mothers were in poor mental health and the fathers were uninvolved. Two of the three also happened to be the only ones who mentioned having been raised in a fundamentalist religious home, though the survey didn’t ask this question specifically. It appeared to Gray that the unschooling was not intentional—the parent had aimed to teach a religious curriculum, “but was incompetent and stopped teaching,” he notes. In all of these cases, the children’s contact with other people was also very restricted; moreover, they were not given any choice about their schooling and therefore felt deprived of school.

Can Unschoolers be “College and Career Ready”?

Overall, 83 percent of the respondents had gone on to pursue some form of higher education. Almost half of those had either completed a bachelor’s degree or higher, or were currently enrolled in such a program; they attended (or had graduated from) a wide range of colleges, from Ivy League universities to state universities and smaller liberal-arts colleges.

Several themes emerged: Getting into college was typically a fairly smooth process for this group; they adjusted to the academics fairly easily, quickly picking up skills such as class note-taking or essay composition; and most felt at a distinct advantage due to their high self-motivation and capacity for self-direction. “The most frequent complaints,” Gray notes on his blog, “were about the lack of motivation and intellectual curiosity among their college classmates, the constricted social life of college, and, in a few cases, constraints imposed by the curriculum or grading system.”

Most of those who went on to college did so without either a high school diploma or general education diploma (GED), and without taking the SAT or ACT. Several credited interviews and portfolios for their acceptance to college, but by far the most common route to a four-year college was to start at a community college (typically begun at age 16, but sometimes even younger).

None of the respondents found college academically difficult, but some found the rules and conventions strange and sometimes off-putting. Young people who were used to having to find things out on their own were taken aback, and even in some cases felt insulted, “when professors assumed they had to tell them what they were supposed to learn,” Gray says.

In the words of one woman: “I already had a wealth of experience with self-directed study. I knew how to motivate myself, manage my time, and complete assignments without the structure that most traditional students are accustomed to. … I know how to figure things out for myself and how to get help when I need it.” Added another: “I discovered that people wanted the teacher to tell them what to think. … It had never, ever occurred to me to ask someone else to tell me what to think when I read something.”

All survey respondents were also asked about their employment status and career, and 63 answered a follow-up survey asking about their work in more detail. More than three-quarters of those who answered the follow-up survey said they were financially self-sufficient; the rest were either students, stay-at-home parents, or under the age of 21 and launching businesses while living at home. But a number of those who were self-sufficient noted that this hinged on their ability to maintain a frugal lifestyle (several added that this was a conscious choice, allowing them to do enjoyable and meaningful work).

The range of jobs and careers was very broad—from film production assistant to tall-ship bosun, urban planner, aerial wildlife photographer, and founder of a construction company—but a few generalizations emerged. Compared to the general population, an unusually high percentage of the survey respondents went on to careers in the creative arts—about half overall, rising to nearly four out of five in the always-unschooled group. Similarly, a high number of respondents (half of the men and about 20 percent of the women) went on to science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) careers. (The same held true in another recent survey of unschoolers.) “STEM careers are also kind of creative careers—they involve looking for something, seeking answers, solving problems,” Gray says. “When you’re looking at it that way, it sort of fits.”

The reason for this correlation is something this survey can’t answer. “Maybe unschooling promotes creativity, or maybe dispositionally creative people or families are more likely to choose unschooling,” Gray says. “It’s probably a little bit of both.”

Additionally, just more than half of the respondents were entrepreneurs (this category overlapped considerably with the creative arts category). But what Gray found most striking is the complete absence (in both this and his Sudbury study samples) of “the typical person who gets an MBA and goes on to become an accountant or middle manager in some business. People with these educational backgrounds don’t go on to bureaucratic jobs. They do work in teams, but where there is a more democratic relationship within the team.”

He adds that this trend manifests across white- and blue-collar careers. “In the Sudbury survey, there were people working as carpenters or auto mechanics, etcetera, but in situations where they were occupationally self-directed, set their own schedules, and solved their own problems, rather than shuffled papers, or worked on assembly lines where no original work was being done.” In other words, he says, unschoolers of all types had overwhelmingly chosen careers high in those qualities that sociologists have found lead to the highest levels of work satisfaction.

What Factors Matter Most in Unschooling

Finally, the survey offered some insights about what makes for successful unschooling. Parents’ involvement levels with their children differed a lot, Gray says. Some were more hands-off, whereas others helped with learning, and in some cases even learned things (such as a foreign language) alongside their child, following the child’s lead. “All of those ways seem to work,” he says. “People only complained when they felt their parents were negligent about treating the child as a human being who has needs—including emotional needs—and who helped fill those needs.”

The results also led to another important conclusion: “The need for parents to be aware that children need more than their families,” Gray says. “People are designed to learn not just from their own parents, but from the wider world. If you don’t send your child to school where they’re automatically connected to other kids, other values, etcetera, it’s important to find a way that the family can be sufficiently involved in the larger community, or that the child has ways to be involved. Kids need that both socially and for their learning.” This ties in with the fact that “a major complaint of the three who disliked unschooling was that their parents isolated them and prevented them from exploring outside of the family or outside of the insular group with which the family was tied,” Gray adds on his blog.

In sum: “The findings of our survey suggest that unschooling can work beautifully if the whole family, including the children, buy into it, if the parents are psychologically healthy and happy, and if the parents are socially connected to the broader world and facilitate their children’s involvement with that world. It can even work well when some of these criteria are not fully met.”



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