The Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents



Homeschooling, homeschoolers

First parents realized they could do the same things teachers did in public schools, and often much better. They began to reclaim their children and families and it was called “homeschooling.” There was the idea of trying to duplicate, as much as possible, what public schools were doing it, but doing it at home. At the extreme end, parents tried to turn their homes into schools. There was lots of pressure at that stage and worry: “Am I duplicating school well enough?” There was still the programming that state employees were the authorities in their children’s education. State school officials, threatened by a movement that could jeopardize their jobs, resisted the movement both overtly and clandestinely. (One of the main tactics was the “official homeschooling” program run by the school, which was not true homeschooling, but a deeper invasion of the state into the family grounds.)

Unschooling, unschoolers

Then two things started happening with some families: First, they noticed that many of their children actually learned better and became more educated through leaving them alone and just supporting them in following their interests. (The same way an adult best learns!) Given the emotional security that comes with constant proximity to your parent, and a modicum of the world’s natural stimulation, children showed themselves as prodigious and constant learners when allowed to “follow their bliss.” They were even learning to read with just a handful of informal lessons; kids were following passions that led to all kinds of integrated, meaningful knowledge. Kids were finding their bliss and their passions at early ages. This was a miraculous realization and showed the full tragedy of the forced-learning experiment of public school.

The quicker parents, they realized that this was the superior way to education in the first place, and that children are insatiable and prodigious learners if left alone to pursue interests, with even spontaneous formal instruction when hungry for it. They began questioning the basic premise of a “school” as necessary to learning–or whether it is even helpful. These ones adopted the term “unschooling.” By using the term “unschooling,” the parents are saying: “We don’t buy the idea that schools are necessary to true education, and we have no need of turning our family into a school.”

Later, as parents regained the power they once gave up to the state, they remembered that it was entirely their cultural and spiritual right to decide what was most important for their children to know. They realized that this had been their unalienable right all along. Instead of “homeschooling,” the movement became known as “full parenting,” or “raising your own children.” A mother decided one day that it was more important for her daughter to know how to grow every kind of yam that month than to learn another software program or another tampered history. Another day a father interested his son in the stars through a telescope, Another taught his daughter the ancient mysteries of his astrology profession. Children became versatile and skilled in a hundred meaningful things, became virtuous people, and mature for their age, yet more childlike and appealing, than their institutionalized cousins. They received the intellectual, emotional and spiritual baton that they came here to receive from their parents.

Neighborhoods began to be neighborhoods again. Families began to be families again. Fathers began to teach their sons again. Mothers began to mother again. People began to be around in their homes during the day. Relatives began to visit and tell stories that were meaningful and never forgotten. Villages began to return that were more fascinating than anything on a CD-Rom disk, and safer and more stimulating than the parking-lots and corridors of any state institution.

Eventually, the welfare state and a cop on every corner were no longer necessary. The United Nations dissolved into a planet of peaceful tribes. People became human again while cities became green and filled with walking folks. Children played among them in safety throughout town and village, around the green, and by the sea.