GMA opened up a big can of unschooling worms!

The flurry of activity after GMA aired a segment on unschooling has been amazing, coming from both sides of the schooling fence. Mainstream public schoolers were appalled at the idea of raising kids without ‘normal’ school, unschoolers were appalled at the extremely biased slant the ‘interview’ took as a whole. In one day, my first post about it has had 1,900+ hits alone. So it definitely struck lots of nerves.

They had the family back on today to discuss their unschooling life in a little more detail. This was a much more tolerable ‘segment’, even if it was only 7 minutes long.

Lots of blog posts have been written from both perspectives, and tons of comments have been made on the ABC facebook page as well as at the GMA site online. Reading the majority of comments only solidifies my choice to unschool, because if that is the level of discussion that the public school churns out, I want no part of it. Seriously. The lack of respect and dialogue is so foreign to me, mainly because our unschooling lives revolve around having both in our house. But whatever. When you do something that isn’t mainstream, you tend to get a vast majority of people with their collective panties in a bunch. The kids and I deal with it every day.

Once, in a store, the woman behind the counter asked why my kids weren’t in school. When I said we unschooled, the stranger behind me snorted and said, “So, what, are you going to home employ them too?” My kids and I value respect, so none of us responded in kind.

For a nation that was built around revolutionary ideas, enterprise, ingenuity, and out of the box thinking, I’m worried about how opposite we’ve become today–judging from comments like that stranger and the strangers on the GMA websites/interviewer/George Stephanopoulis.

Luckily there is such a great support network of unschoolers who live it every day. And luckily a lot of them blog about their experiences and journeys. I hope the people who are now searching ‘unschooling’ will key in to real life unschoolers without the media’s bias.

If you have an unschooling blog, link to it in the comments so we can spread the sunshine to people who I hope are doing their own research rather than relying on a biased interview to give them information.

In Colorado news, moving still sucks! I’m parked outside of Starbucks because I got here too late to get any hot chocolate or sit in their comfy chairs. Such is life. If you’ve ever wondered what I look like when I’m browsing the internet, here’s your answer. Usually I’m happier, but, moving really really sucks. As does not getting any hot chocolate on a cold night.

Photo on 2010-04-20 at 21


9 Responses

  1. Our blog isn’t unschooling per se but both kids are eclectic unschoolers and we talk about our experiences. Thanks for carrying this message!

  2. Hello!

    I just want to thank you for writing so clearly about why you school your children the way you do, and why it works for your family. I agree with you that the news report you posted about yesterday was frustrating and biased… I think today’s report was a bit better and I love that the mom had a chance to speak (mostly) uninterrupted!

    I am currently pregnant with our first child and I decided to home school quite some time ago. Though I attended public school, I knew that it would be so much better to be able to tailor school to the child’s interests and needs. I didn’t hear about unschooling until recently and it caught my interest.

    I have a degree in psychology, and my studies largely focused on child development. I also studied schools as I wanted to be a teacher (until I realized that “school rules” would piss me off really quickly and prevent me from teaching how I wanted).

    I think what worries me about unschooling is the extreme it can go to. In the first news segment they showed parents who didn’t have rules with their children under age 6. It worried me a bit. Kids need guidance, especially at a young age. I saw an American child in Thailand while we were there, running around punching the Thai waiters, climbing on tables and acting like a hooligan while the parents ignored him completely. I think I worry that unschooling will give license for parents to take things too far, to allow children to miss out on things, and to fail to teach them some of society’s basic rules (along with personal hygiene, as in that one featured family were tooth brushing was optional!). I’m not saying every family will do this! But it worries me that a few may take things too far and screw up unschooling and homeschooling for the rest of us!

    But maybe, it isn’t anyone’s business WHAT people do with their kids (provided it isn’t neglectful, violent, or injurious in some way). You can look at those teens in the segment and see that they are happy, contented, well-adjusted, and ready for the world. Too bad the world isn’t ready for them!

  3. Your post yesterday was BRILLIANT. I watched the clip and was forming all sorts of retorts and so forth and then I read what you had to say about it after and well, YEAH, what she said! The whole family watched the segment together which was interesting to say the least. What conversation it generated! The thing that really got me? The segment was followed by someone called Bombshell… and well, you know, if that’s what mainstream is all about… count us out! : )

  4. I really appreciated your post yesterday and responded on my blog. Here’s the post: – keep up the good fight!


  5. I am also glad that there is someone out there who can write down what I’m thinking! That GMA thing was a can of worms. The AlwaysLearning yahoo list has some good food-for-thought discussion too…
    I agree with the “Keep up the good” comment and Thanks for putting all you know out there in such a coherent way….

  6. Hi again, just came back to report that I posted a little video of our unschooling in action on my blog this morning and realized that I didn’t actually leave the URL last night. New post is at

  7. Just a quick note to tell you Tiff and the rest of unschoolers, it is not everyone ‘on the dark side’ who does not see any value in your way of schooling too. I do! I’m a teacher myself… well, in the famous public school system of Finland, if that makes any difference 🙂 I keep coming back to this blog because I love the way Tiff writes about her kids and their life. And I’m genuinely interested in unschooling which is almost non-existing in my country.

    It’s hard for me to see why there could not be many ways of succesful and loving education. All parents can’t unschool or homeschool: in my country the majority of mothers has a day job. There’ll always be schools too. The school system has to be able to evolve and change and constantly aim at ‘doing the right thing’. If you just don’t care enough you can do harm whether you’re a parent unschooling or a teacher working in a classroom. And vice versa. I believe that kids can grow with life and limb in a school and at home 🙂 And I’m sure you agree with me, don’t you?

    Keep up the good work, Tiff and the rest of you rebels. To shake up the good old That’s How It’s Always Been Done a little is a way to go.

    What did the Beatles say again? “All you need is love.”

  8. Hey, Tiff and everyone! I linked up to your response yesterday. I’m also working on another post. xo xo xo

    Amy @ On Bradstreet

  9. Thank you so much for posting about this drama! We have begun to unschool our children just recently and I am already amazed at the difference that it has made in our family! It saddens me to think about all the bad rap unschoolers are getting right now in our society!

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