What is deschooling?

For parents, deschooling is a deconditioning of one’s way of thinking about education. It involves reevaluating what education is really about, what the learning process looks like in real life as opposed to just the institutional setting of school, what knowledge and skills are important to learn as opposed to just assigned by the standardized curriculum of the school system of mass instruction.

For children, deschooling is a time of decompression (sometimes de-tox or recovery) from the school environment they’ve been in, so that they can relax out of their school-related stress and re-discover their natural curiosity and love of learning. When used as a transition to homeschooling, it’s also a time of adjustment as they move into new ways of doing things.

Note: The term “deschooling” was probably first used by Ivan Illich, a critic of the institutions of modern Western culture. Wikipedia describes his 1971 book, Deschooling Society, as “a groundbreaking critique of compulsory mass education. He argued that the oppressive structure of the school system could not be reformed but must be dismantled in order to free humanity from the crippling effects of the institutionalization of all of life.” (quote retrieved on March 25, 2020, from

Articles on deschooling (by OFTP member Sarah Wall) (by OFTP member Sarah Wall) (by former OFTP member Pam Laricchia)

Homeschool blogger Jeanne Faulconer has a number of posts about deschooling: