I began offering unschooling as an option to my three children in 2001, when they were 8, 10 and 13. At the time, I had never heard of unschooling and thought I was the first person to think of it. My personal and philosophical journey had led me to examine many of our society’s assumptions about human beings and the world we live in. I observed that most people went to school as children and most people were unhappy as adults, and I wondered if school was teaching children the wrong things. It certainly didn’t seem to be teaching people how to be happy, or how to make the world work in a healthy and inspiring way.
I imagined a curriculum for my children that was based solely upon them learning how to be happy. I wasn’t sure if my idea was legal and I wasn’t sure if it would work. But it felt morally right on a very deep and personal level, so I decided it was worth the risk.
I was thrilled when, several months later, someone said to me “it sounds like you’re unschooling!” I was relieved to discover that my theory had a name, and that thousands of other people were also allowing their kids this level of trust and freedom, with amazing “educational” results as well. Until that point I had reasoned, even if my kids didn’t end up knowing math, at least they’d know how to be happy. I was excited to learn that they might not have to choose between one and the other.
Now I have three incredibly smart, fascinating, successful – and happy – young adults in my life. (Incidentally, they’re also all really good at math, and they think it’s fun.)
To put food on the table, I’ve spent most of the last many years working as a happiness consultant, applying what I’ve learned throughout this journey, and helping clients of all ages to have more fun and fulfilling lives.
One of the “secrets to happiness” that I share with my clients is NOT a secret to most unschoolers: trusting young people is not only the most respectful way to help your children grow into productive and healthy adults, but it also MAKES LIFE MUCH MORE FUN!
About my kids
Jonathan (28) has a degree in mechanical engineering from Temple University, works as a farmer, and spends most other waking moments playing guitar, drawing, doing yoga and pondering life’s deepest mysteries. He’s currently farming in rural New York, writing and performing music like crazy while learning about and creating a more sustainable way to live. He considers himself to be in an intense PhD Unschooling program, and thinks life is weird and wonderful.
Kayla (25) is a photographer, dance instructor, paper snowflake-maker, and Speech Therapist for Philadelphia Public Schools. She unschooled for her teenage years, spent a year working on an organic farm, got her undergrad degree from Temple University and a Master’s at George Washington University. She loves playing every kind of game, loves singing every kind of song, and loves baby creatures of all species.
Nikiah (23) is a dancer, a laugher, and the mother of a ferocious kitty. After radical unschooling for elementary school, she chose to enter public high school cold turkey and after two months she’d risen to the top of her class. When she felt done with the traumas of public school, she returned to unschooling until deciding to get a biology degree from Bryn Mawr College. Her spare moments are filled with dancing, jewelry making and gazing at the moon.
About my backers
I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without the incredible support I receive from three of my favorite people in the world: Kara Tennis, Aron Heintz, and Loren Thomas. I can never repay them for their generosity, their love, and their belief in me, in my family and in unschooling.