Dreams of an unschooling village



by Jens Peter de Pedro

They say it takes a village to raise a child. I couldn’t agree more! So, let’s create that village for our children! Literally. Now.

I dream of an unschooling village – a village where children don’t go to school but learn directly from real life. I dream of a village where my two daughters are free to play all day, everyday, all year round; a place where parents are always around to help and work to maintain a sense of community, because they chose to live in it. Somewhere where there is no traffic, just lots of nature to play in. No school, no homework, just learning from real life – from other adults, from older children, from day trips, from the Internet. I’m imagining something more akin to how humans lived for 99% of our existence when we were hunter-gatherers, but without the ills of the past and with the benefits of modern technology. Is that too much to ask? I don’t know but I think it’s possible!

Click here to read more research from Alternatives To School on how children learn.

Very rough estimates say there are 200,000 children who are unschooled in the US. If we can convince just one in a thousand of those unschooling families to move we would have 200 children in the village. Imagine that! Don’t you want your children to have that childhood? You are probably the only one in your neighborhood or in your town that unschools. What if instead unschooling was the norm in your neighborhood? What if your children grew up alongside other free children that were not yelled at, reprimanded or chastised for doing what we all do – make a bad decision every now and then? I think we could build that place, a place where adults are not considered superior to children, just people. The Free Children’s Village.

Perhaps this village exists already? We are visiting White Hawk EcoVillage in Ithaca, New York in a couple of weeks. A majority of the six families there are relaxed homeschoolers, although they say they welcome people of any educational philosophy. It seems great, just a little chilly, but as a kid the cold never bothered me anyway. (It does now — but I’m willing to stick it out.) Maybe you know of other places? I’ll talk to you in the comments!

What do you say?

Jens Peter de Pedro is a collaborator with Alternatives to School. By day he is a Play Designer at Toca Boca, the Swedish digital toys studio. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two daughters. You can follow him on Twitter: @jp_de_pedro