Your Learning from Living Moment

I've been editing the back issues of Growing Without Schooling magazine into a complete, more readable collection in both print and digital formats. Growing Without Schooling, Volume 2, is now available in print and digital formats. This volume contains issues 20 to 30 that contain many gems about living and learning alongside children in your daily life.

I'm choosing some of my favorite stories from each of these volumes and recording them to give you a taste of the treasure that's inside these books. I'll post a new one each week. As of 2018, I changed the name of this series from Your Living and Learning Moment to Your Learning from Living Moment. It's a minor change, but to me an important one because it emphasizes the agency and action of the learner more.

Several stories from GWS 20 about children and young adults teaching themselves to read and how adults helped them. The first story includes this observation from a mother: " My teacher training dies hard, I guess. I thought that I would have to present all new thoughts, words, and concepts to him and then he would learn them.
Pat Heiland (IA) writes about how she and her husband learned to support and work with their daughter's idiosyncratic learning. "Giving Anna the freedom to learn and grow has often required that we put aside our conclusions about education, however "liberal," and allow ourselves to become the students.

The first story contains quotes by teachers written on her daughter's report cards over the years and  The second story is about the joyful learning children do when parents don't pressure children to do school work.

These two articles address common issues when living and learning with your children: boredom and helping your children too much. Debra Stewart says, "Whenever my children say that there's nothing to do, I try to restrain the feeling that I am responsible for entertaining them every minute.
This is John Holt's reply to the question all homeschoolers are asked, "What about socialization?" John makes his points strongly, and they are as valid today as they were in 1980.
They Knew is about a newspaper clipping John Holt saved for decades and appeared in Growing Without Schooling 22. Mexican Circus Family (GWS 27) is a firsthand account of how children and adults learn from living.

A mom writes that her son is bored in preschool. John Holt replies, "... My feeling is that E, like all bright and happy little children, is strongly pulled in the direction of adults and their understanding, competence, and skill, and may find it boring or frustrating to have to spend so much time with little folks who don't know any more and can't do any more than himself."

One of the worst things we do to children is deny them the opportunity to participate in meaningful work until they complete their schooling. No one wants to go back to the days of children working in mines, but schooling children without giving them access to real work creates a different, modern set of problems. We learn individually for sure, but we also learn by doing things with and for others.

Two excerpts from primary sources about the education of Abraham Lincoln, who didn't spend more than 6 months in school in his life. He also says, "I never read textbooks for I have no particular motive to drive and whip me to it."

Delores Koene of Missouri writes about her journey to unschooling: "I am a mother of four children, ages 7–14, and we had our first unschooling experience this past year. I had my children enrolled in a Christian correspondence program. To me, it was like reproducing a public school right in our own home with me being everything from principal to janitor..."

A mom describes how her family got comfortable with unschooling: "My husband and I were both very relieved after reading your answer to "A Troubled Parent" in GWS #20 (see below). We removed our 8-year-old son, Atom, from school in September and have been through many of the same emotions . . ."

"A Troubled Parent." This is a long moment (almost 10 min.) but it is a complex subject. The writer's deep doubts about her ability to homeschool her children due to a lack of academic skills and John Holt's detailed and compassionate reply make this a good sample of the types of letters you read in GWS.

A mother wrote to GWS, “There must be other people in my situation where one parent is a confirmed unschooler and the other is not. I certainly do not want to destroy our family life over this, but it cannot help but affect us. If you know how others have worked out this problem, I would appreciate hearing about it …” John Holt’s reply will make you think.

Wes Beach is a public high school teacher who writes about his classes where he teaches “kids to read school policies, rules, procedures, and law to enable them to discover what options exist and to chart their own routes through the system. Some of my students spend virtually all their time in correspondence study and/or college classes.” Wes also describes how he sought and found ways to get his two teenagers more challenging classes and became an unschooler so they could take community college and other advanced classes instead of high school. This article appears in Growing Without Schooling 23.

Many of the early writers to GWS wished to remain anonymous, as this one does, for fear of scrutiny from school authorities. Nonetheless, parents continued to homeschool and share their stories, as this mother does. "The first two months at home were horrible.
This exchange of letters is from a mom in HI who enjoys facilitating her child's learning at home and asks GWS for input. Sasha K.: "I would find it very helpful if more parents could write GWS about the strategies they use to facilitate their child's learning, that is, how they amplify and elaborate on their child's initial expression of interest without imposing the kind of predefined goals characteristic of formal schooling ..."

"This article may be very useful to homeschoolers, not only as a guide in their own work with children, but also as something to quote from in their homeschooling proposals."—John Holt. This excerpt from math Prof. David Wheeler's paper contains his five principles of remediation, which can be helpful as you seek to walk a more patient path of learning with your children.

Art Horovitch, a high school teacher in Alberta, BC, writes to GWS about how homeschooling helped his teenage daughter flourish. However, his fellow faculty at school have trouble with homeschooling and Art seeks help from the readership of Growing Without Schooling.

This is a short piece written by John Holt about a child playing in the office while her mother volunteers there. It appeared in Growing Without Schooling 23.

Praise Junkies

Your Living and Learning Moment from Growing Without Schooling magazine. This is an excerpt from GWS 22, read by Patrick Farenga.