The Unschooling Unmanual

Highly Recommended by me!

My first impression of The Unschooling Unmanual was, well, um, not so good. It seemed to be a book for beginning unschoolers, and that is not me. It seemed to be a mishmosh of essays, personal reflections, and quotations that had been arranged by the “throw-them-up-in-the-air-and-see-where-they-land” method, and that’s not my style. But it is edited by Jan Hunt and her son Jason, and I admire Jan’s work with The Natural Child Project, so I decided to read the book anyway.

The first essay is “Why Choose Unschooling?” by Rue Kream, the author of the wonderful book  Parenting a Free Child, so that made me happy.

The second selection, preceded by a Monet quote comparing school to a prison, is by Jan Hunt. It is called “The Natural Love of Learning,” and it references John Holt and John Taylor Gatto. All of the basic tenets of unschooling theory are discussed — for example, the idea that children know best how to learn what they wish to learn. I didn’t learn anything new from this essay, but it was a good refresher course in why we unschoolers choose this path. (Hmm, the essay before this one was about choosing to unschool.)

The third section is “Mary’s Memoirs” by Mary Van Doren, a veteran unschooler.  Her memoirs are a recurring feature in the book, and they are similar to blog posts. I realized that Mary’s attitude and example of an unschooling life reflected the tenets that Jan had written about in the preceding section.

And so it went. My first impression of The Unschooling Unmanual was incorrect. It is for veterans as well as newbies, and it is not a mishmosh. Reading this book is like attending an unschooling conference or, even better, sitting around with a group of unschooling friends and talking about the life.

The contributors are top-notch, it’s an easy read, and it does what Jan Hunt’s work always does: it inspires you. Thank you, Jan and Jason, for this worthwhile addition to the literature of the movement.


5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    sunnymama said,

    I would like to read this 🙂

  2. 3

    I enjoyed this book, too. I don’t know that it was the best book for veteran’s but I thought it was fantastic to give to family members or friends who are interested in what-the-heck-we’re-doing. It’s also a great, slightly more gentle intro for people who might freak out easily over anything too “radical”. lol


  3. 5

    Karen said,

    Going on my library list, right now.

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