Learning to trust


Here's information about Unschoolers Unlimited. We are an informal network of people who are learning to trust our own and our children’s ability to choose the best ways to learn and grow.

Ned and I are parents of a 35 year old son. When Cassidy was a baby, we were inspired by John Holt, who said “Children do not need to be made to learn, or shown how. They want to and they know how.” We decided that Cassidy would determine what, when, where, how much and with whom he would learn. We never used school books or taught lessons. We answered his questions when he asked and helped him gain access to the real world when he wanted it. We called it unschooling.

When we went to homeschool support group meetings, the conversation was usually “How do I get my kids to do math, what curriculum do I choose, etc.” When we said we don’t “teach” our son, there might be one or two other parents who said “We don’t either, but we thought we were the only ones.” So we started a support group.

We hold family gatherings -- usually on the third Saturday of every other month. We come together to play and socialize, to support and encourage each other, to share ideas and information, and to reassure ourselves that we are not alone in believing that children and adults can be responsible for our own learning. We publish an occasional newsletter and a mailing list.

Our son celebrated his graduation (Magna Cum Laude!) in 2002 from Hunter College in New York City. After college he moved to Brooklyn and got into bicycle riding. He rode across the country to Seattle where he worked in bike shops and met the love of his life. Lucky for me, he persuaded Kim to come back to Brooklyn.

In 2009 he opened Bespoke Bicycles in Brooklyn NY.
http://www.gq.com/style/blogs/the-gq-eye/2012/05/store-spotlight-bespoke-bicycles.html
Now he and Kim and their beautiful twins live in Philadelphia.

Ned died peacefully at home in July 2009 after a long illness.
I continue to do this group because I love talking to people about homeschooling and enjoy holding their hands as they make the leap into self directed learning.

Please call or write if you have questions. I look forward to hearing from you and meeting you.

Courage!

Luz Shosie
Guilford, CT
203-458-7402
nedvare@ntplx.net


Would you like to receive our contact list and occasional newsletter? Send an email to nedvare@ntplx.net
There is no charge. We welcome contributions of any kind.

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What are your interests, concerns, or questions about unschooling?
mail to:
nedvare@ntplx.net

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What's new?


Unschoolers Unlimited Update
Luz Shosie, editor

Dear friends,
Our next Unschoolers Unlimited family gathering will be on Saturday, October 18, 2014 at our home, 22 Wildrose Avenue in Guilford CT. Come any time between 1 and 5 pm. Bring a snack or drink to share, if you like. Anyone who is interested in unschooling is welcome to join us for socialization, conversation, play, questions and answers, good food.

Please email nedvare@ntplx.net
or call me 203-458-7402 if you plan to come.

We will probably gather again in January, 2015. We generally gather on the third Saturday of every other month. If you'd like to come for a visit some other time, give me a call or email.
Check here for updates or sign up to be on our email list.   nedvare@ntplx.net

"Live your life as if school does not exist."     Ned Vare  1934 - 2009
http://school-is-hell.blogspot.com/     and       http://nedvarecelebration.blogspot.com/

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When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ to this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world.
- Fred Rogers


"The goal of real education is not to primarily deliver facts, but to bring you to the truths   
which allow you to take responsibility for your  life."   John Taylor Gatto

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From Holt Associates:
... all issues of Growing Without Schooling (GWS) are now available for free public access at www.holtgws.com. GWS was the nation’s first magazine about homeschooling, unschooling, and learning outside of school, founded by the late author/teacher John Holt in 1977

“All I am saying in this book can be summed up in two words – Trust Children. Nothing could be more simple – or more difficult. Difficult, because to trust children we must trust ourselves – and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.”     John Holt

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                                         power to the little people! Sadie and Emerson, 2011

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From
National Home Education Legal Defense, a national organization open to all who wish to join, that seeks to protect and defend the rights of families who wish to educate in freedom.

Freedom to educate:
Parents educate their children for a variety of reasons in a variety of ways. However, there is one thing that is crucial for all parents, the need to be free so that they are able to educate in the manner in which they choose in the best interest of their children. Together, we can and must retain this freedom; without freedom, there is only one choice: government schooling. That is not acceptable.

NHELD, LLC provides both information and assistance to its members.

NHELD, LLC believes, first and foremost, in empowering individuals to act in accordance with their conscience. NHELD, LLC does not believe in blindly following the word of anyone. NHELD, LLC also does not believe in just directing families to act in unison on the basis of an opinion that NHELD, LLC has formed on its own. NHELD, LLC believes in an informed, empowered citizenry, who is able to fight for freedom effectively when necessary.
Therefore, NHELD, LLC provides the services of:

1.      Notifying its members of any proposed legislation on the federal level, and on the state level (where possible) that will affect their right to educate in freedom;

2.      Informing individuals about where the entire proposed legislation may be located, so that they may find and read for themselves the text of the legislation itself;

3.      Advising individuals not to take the word of anyone else about what that legislation says, but to read the text for themselves in order to formulate their own opinion about the effect the legislation will have, and

 4.      Suggesting courses of action that individuals may wish to take.

 NHELD, LLC also acts with and on behalf of its members to resolve conficts with government officials.

http://www.nheld.com/
Attorney Deborah G. Stevenson
P.O. Box 704
Southbury, CT  06488
Tel. (860) 354-3590
Fax (860) 354-9360
Cell (203) 206-4282

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"In our family, you rebelled by going to school."     - Dhani Harrison (George's son)

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY

Sir Ted Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?
 The dominant systems of education are based on three principles -- or assumptions at least -- that are exactly opposite to how human lives are actually lived. Apart from that, they're fine. First, they promote standardization and a narrow view of intelligence when human talents are diverse and personal. Second, they promote compliance when cultural progress and achievement depend on the cultivation of imagination and creativity. Third, they are linear and rigid when the course of each human life, including yours, is organic and largely unpredictable. As the rate of change continues to accelerate, building new forms of education on these alternative principles is not a romantic whimsy: it's essential to personal fulfillment and to the sustainability of the world we are now creating.

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I went to college only to find out later that the engineering degree I'd put a huge investment in was just simply not me. ...  With less pressure and more free space as a child I might have had a better idea of what to pursue. I figure that traditional school slowed me down by at least 20 years.
...
Learning as Unschoolers: Trusting My Child
Beth Taylor
Home Education Magazine Sept.Oct 2012

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The true test of intelligence is not how much we know,
but rather how we behave when we don’t know what to do.
John Holt

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From Uncollege.org:
Schools don’t have a monopoly on knowledge; you can teach yourself everything you need to know to succeed in life.  You can get a world-class education by reading the books listed below.  However, this list is in no way meant to replace college.  These books are just a place to start hacking your education.
UnCollege-recommended books for easy bookmarking and reference:   http://www.uncollege.org/reading-list/

Dale J. Stephens is a Penguin author, Thiel Fellow, and education activist. He founded UnCollege in January 2011 because we are paying too much for university and learning too little. Penguin will publish his first book, HACKING YOUR EDUCATION, in March 2013. He lives in San Francisco, California.

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 Dear Unschoolers Unlimited,
...you are a truly a calming entity in my life.  I am so thankful for you!!!!!      L.

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CT Experiential Learning Center (CELC) in Branford CT offers a middle school program,
including workshops and special events for homeschoolers,  geared toward students ages 10 – 14.

The offerings per session will vary through the year to include: science, music, writing, current events, thematic studies focused on ancient civilizations (includes work on research project and paper with “living museum” display presentation), nonviolence leadership, and group tutorial sessions on subjects of choice.

To register and for more information, contact us at mandm@CTExperiential.org
or call 203-433-4658.

The intention of the Connecticut Experiential Learning Center is to challenge students and nurture their highest potential. By providing a learning community based in the guiding principles of respect, integrity, responsibility and individual learning, the innate desire of all children to learn, grow, communicate, and create is honored.



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"...whatever we learn has a purpose and whatever we do affects everything and everyone else.... Whenever you learn something new, the whole world becomes that much richer."
from The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

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Parents are always saying, “The only thing I want is for my child to be happy.” And that might be true. I don’t know– I’m not a parent. ... But it seems to me that even if parents only want their kids to be happy, they are often talking about future happiness. As in, their kid will be happy because of all of the hard work that led to the success that led to the happiness.     ...
But nonschooling is about reminding ourselves of the things that matter. Reminding ourselves that no one is really sure how to get to future happiness,  and no one is certain how much certain kinds of success contribute to it, but I think things might be better for everyone if we just spent more time being happy now. Kids, too. Kids’ time and happiness is valuable, too.
Kate Fridkis, grown unschooler
http://skipping-school.com/

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from http://www.holtgws.com/
“Unschooling, for lack of a better term (until people start to accept living as part and parcel of learning), is the natural way to learn. However, this does not mean unschoolers do not take traditional classes or use curricular materials when the student, or parents and children together, decide that this is how they want to do it. Learning to read or do quadratic equations are not "natural" processes, but unschoolers nonetheless learn them when it makes sense to them to do so, not because they have reached a certain age or are compelled to do so by arbitrary authority. Therefore it isn't unusual to find unschoolers who are barely eight-years-old studying astronomy or who are ten-years-old and just learning to read.”

—Pat Farenga, Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling

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from
Why Deschooling? by Pam Laricchia
Deschooling is a general term used to describe this transition to unschooling, where we expand our definition of learning beyond the classroom paradigm. Conventional wisdom tell us that learning looks like teachers and listening and writing and tests. Even years after we’ve graduated, chances are our vision of learning is still locked within those four walls. But what might we see if we remove our school-goggles?

The guideline surrounding deschooling is that the process typically takes about one month per year of school or school-at-home. Right away that tells us that parents likely have the bulk of the work to do, which makes sense because we’ve been enmeshed in school culture the longest. The idea of a guideline makes me giggle a bit because it takes as long as it takes, but where the statement really helps is planting the idea that the process takes a while. Not a few weeks or a couple months, but some real time. Long enough that when you’re nearing the end, hopefully you’ve reached the point where you’re not even looking for the “end” any more.
- See more at:
http://livingjoyfully.ca/blog/2013/02/why-deschooling/

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iTunes University: Free Courses on Your Computer, iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad
 You won't receive a diploma, but you'll have the knowledge.

These free iTunes U courses can easily be added to your homeschool curriculum.  You'll find courses in science, math, and...well, with over 500,000 lectures, courses, books, and videos, you'll find all you need to keep yourself and your students learning.  In the app, you can build a course, and your student can switch between devices - from iPad to iPhone, for example - while studying.  
iTunes U  By Apple
Open iTunes to buy and download apps.


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in Connecticut
Two Coyotes Wilderness School
Raising the next generation of spring peepers
Please check out our offerings.  We have programs for homeschoolers, preschoolers, weekend programs, overnight programs, a ton of great summer camps and much more!
Justin Pegnataro
Executive Director, Two Coyotes Wilderness School
http://www.twocoyotes.org

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          “Education is the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty.”
           Mark Twain 

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from
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/02/26/1068595/-My-experience-as-an-unschooler?via=siderec

My experience as an unschooler
There is a wide array of opinions on home/unschooling floating around, both negative and positive, from those who have never experienced it, to those who are in the process of unschooling their children currently. One thing I don't often see though, is the perspective of an adult unschooler on the process.

Well, here is my answer to that. I'm 27 years old, and was unschooled from the age of 0 - 18. There's a lot of speculation on the effects of unschooling - on intelligence, socialization, worldview, etc. So I'm here to try and provide the perspective of someone who has been through the process and come out on the other side.

More unschooling videos:

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL782D887497E15DF1&feature=plcp

the Unschooling Channel!
https://www.youtube.com/user/UnschoolingChannel?ob=0

and  interviews of  John Holt:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQM6rHoP-5Q&feature=player_embedded#!

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"Here’s our first instruction: take a deep breath and relax. Really. The things you’re worrying about are much smaller factors in your child’s well-being than you might imagine. Many modern parents believe that children’s personality and adult behavior are shaped mainly by parenting -- but research paints a very different picture.
... Children are not passive recipients of parenting or schooling, but active participants in every aspect of their own development.
...One of the major ways that chldren adapt to their circumstances is through play. From preschool through adolescence, play is practice for adult life and helps to develop some of the brain’s most important functions."

Welcome to Your Child’s Brain/ How the Mind Grows from Conception through College
Sandra Aamodt, Ph.D.   and Sam Wang, Ph.D.

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"creative, confident and in control of their environment"
Teaching life lessons through tinkering: Gever Tulley on TED.com

Gever Tulley uses engaging photos and footage to demonstrate the valuable lessons kids learn at his Tinkering School. When given tools, materials and guidance, these young imaginations run wild and creative problem-solving takes over to build unique boats, bridges and even a rollercoaster!
http://blog.ted.com/2009/06/30/tinkering_schoo_1/

Gever Tulley, founder of the Tinkering School, spells out 5 dangerous things you should let your kids do -- and why a little danger is good for both kids and grownups.

http://www.ted.com/talks/gever_tulley_on_5_dangerous_things_for_kids.html

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“I began to schoolteach as an engineer would, solving problems as they arose. Because of my upbringing and because of certain unresolved contradictions in my own character I had a great private need not just to have a job but to have work that would allow me to build the unbuilt parts of myself, to give me competence and let me feel my life was one being lived instead of it living me. I brought to those first years an intensity of watchfulness probably uncommon in those who grow up untroubled. My own deficiencies provided enough motivation to want to make something worthwhile happen.

“Had I remained a problem-solver I would have drowned in life for sure, but a habit of mind that demands things in context sensitized me to the culture of schooling as a major element in my work and that wariness eventually allowed me to surmount it. The highest school priorities are administrative coherence, student predictability, and institutional stability; children doing well or poorly are incidental to the main administrative mission. Hence teachers are often regarded as instruments which respond best if handled like servants made to account for the silverware. In order to give these vertical relationships strength, the horizontal relationships among teachers— collegiality—must be kept weak.

“This divide-and-conquer principle is true of any large system. ...”

—John Taylor Gatto
The Underground Historyof American Education
A Schoolteacher's Intimate Investigation  Into The Problem Of Modern Schooling

If you appreciate John Taylor Gatto, the author of Dumbing Us Down (probably his most popular book), you'll appreciate this freebie read of his, The Underground History of American Education. http://johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/index.htm

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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
 Mark Twain
quotes from    http://thinkexist.com/quotation

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Kelly Lovejoy wrote a great description of the stages of unschooling - you can read it here.
 http://sandradodd.com/kellylovejoy/stages

"The first stage is the longest and most difficult and involves getting rid of all school-think, which includes classes and "instruction" and school-speak. We have to rid ourselves of the reliance on schools and teachers and testing and book-worship. We need to look deeply into the difference between "teach" and "learn". We ban classes and structure and nagging. It's accepting that grades and requirements and diplomas and curricula and extrinsic motivations truly have no meaning in an unschooling life. It's realizing that the whole world is related and inter-related: it's about NOT dividing the world into subjects: math is science is art is history is literature is FUN! It's a time for reflection on how we've learned the things that really matter in our adult lives. It's hard to let go of all that school-think, to go beyond what we've been *taught* was important and to value ALL learning as important."

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When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
John Muir

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The Things I Really Want My Kids to Learn by Sue Smith Heavenrich – “I think I’d put ‘making your own lunch’ at the top of the list.” Knowing how to make a tuna sandwich or whip up a pot of macaroni is as important as knowing how to divide fractions. Maybe even more important.”

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Dear Unschoolers Unlimited,
Thank you SO much for the UnCurriculum article. (http://unschoolersunlimited.blogspot.com/)

I’m in PA, in a school district & state which require a daily log of school work. As this is my first year of “officially” homeschooling, I’ve been struggling to find a ‘guide’ for putting everyday life into “school terms.” I was deeply encouraged to be true to who I am & who the boys are (AGAIN – encouragement & reminders seems a recurring need for homeschooling parents). While I teach with a few “aids”, most “schooling” stems from good reading, real life application, and play.

THANK YOU for this very simple listing, which I will refer back to in those moments of forgetfulness & panic over what I could possibly write in ‘that log’.
A very, very thankful Momma in PA ~


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Video on TED.com
William Ury: The walk from "no" to "yes"      http://www.ted.com/talks/william_ury.html

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"Don’t be afraid of your own strength." by Diane von Furstenberg

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from NewEnglandUnschooling@yahoogroups.com

What I found really useful at first was joining and reading at
Unschoolingbasics, a yahoo group for those new to unschooling.

I also *really* like Sandra Dodd's daily emails of encouragement she sends out. You can see them and subscribe here:     http://justaddlightandstir.blogspot.com/

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from HEM-Unschooling@yahoogroups.com
Posted by:"HelenH"
Taking a Closer Look at Unschooling

Defining unschooling is a little like describing a color, and every bit as elusive. You can rely on commonly-held descriptions; for example, we generally all agree what blue looks like, but what about cobalt, aqua, navy, cyan, sapphire, azure, indigo, cerulean, turquoise or cornflower? It's the same with unschooling. There's a generally accepted definition, but then there are all these wonderful variations

Taking a Closer Look at Unschooling
http://www.homeedmag.com/closerlook/3/unschooling/


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Open Yale Courses provides free and open access to a selection of introductory courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University. The aim of the project is to expand access to educational materials for all who wish to learn.
http://oyc.yale.edu/

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The best way to know life is to love many things.
Van Gogh

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Joyfully rejoicing!
http://joyfullyrejoycing.com/

This site is about unschooling. And it's about parenting more peacefully. But overall it's about living more joyful family lives. If I had to summarize it the message would be "Put the relationship first and then figure out how to fit everything else around that."

As you're reading the parenting answers, probably the most useful piece of advice is:

Don't drop all your parenting rules at once. Just say "Yes!" more.

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Good video on childhood education--might be helpful to show doubting spouses or grandparents:
http://www.clicks.robertgenn.com/picasso-artwork.php

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"A child who is learning naturally, following his curiosity where it leads him, adding to his mental model of reality whatever he needs and can find a place for, and rejecting without fear or guilt what he does not need, is growing - in knowledge, in the love of learning, and in the ability to learn....
All his life he will go on learning."
~John Holt, in How Children Fail
http://www.holtgws.com/

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from   NewEnglandUnschooling@yahoogroups.com
~ This TED talk is very much addressing the unschooler approach to life
learning:

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/cameron_herold_let_s_raise_kids_to_be_entrepreneurs.html

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from www.huffingtonpost.com
No Homework and Never a Test - The Life of an Unschooler
" Up until a year ago I could barely spell. It was my own fault, because I was reluctant to take on the daunting task. Most parents would have intervened in this situation, but my mom says there's a cost to that.
"When you force someone to do something, especially when they're a child and there's an imbalance and a power relationship anyway, they lose part of their will and their confidence that they know what's right for them. And I think that's a pretty high cost for being a good speller."
Sam Fuller, 16, unschooler

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from NewEnglandUnschooling@yahoogroups.com
One of the best things about unschooling during the teenage years is the time and space to pursue interests. I have found that adults in the community respond amazingly to young people who want to learn from them. My son's interests were animals, birding, photography, music -- he volunteered at wildlife centers, developed wonderful relationships with area birders, joined the local digital photography club and birding group, hung out at open mikes, and played in bands. On weekends he'd get picked up by his 60-year-old birding mentor and they'd go out and have a blast with other adult birders. He loved their knowledge -- they loved his youth, enthusiasm, and sharper eyesight :). M.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNLSy8uXUK8&feature=related
The Levity Project is a social movement which creates change through public play, laughter, and celebration with the goal of creating a lighter and more joyful society.
The Laughter Flash is an event with The Levity Project where participants gather and laugh together for no reason. The purpose is to infuse a public space with the energy of laughter starting with the participants and creating a ripple effect to all who are present or who are passing by.
www.thelevityproject.com
Videography by Max Heiligman

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New England Science & Sailing
PO Box 733 · 70 Water Street · Stonington, CT 06378
www.nessf.org      860-535-9362       860-535-9362
Homeschool Programs at NESS.  We have many new offerings based in science, engineering, boats, math, art, marine careers, and even FISHING!!  We will be offering family classes again too!

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“The ability to think outside the box develops over time, a result of study, observation, thought, and a valuable collection of abject failures and stunning successes. Only your attention can give you the tools you need; only your time can hone them. If upon completion of your first year of homeschooling you are on your way to thinking outside the box, if your children are uncovering and following interests with the time available to them, if education is emerging as something you all do for yourselves instead of having it done ‘to’ you, congratulations. You are a homeschooling success.”
Linda Dobson    http://www.parentatthehelm.com

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Consumption is a word used to describe acts of acquisition – generally, the acquisition of things, in exchange for money. Unconsumption is a word used to describe everything that happens after an act of acquisition.       http://unconsumption.tumblr.com

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“Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college, but it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards, so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something--your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever--because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference.”
Steve Jobs       Commencement Speech at Stanford, 2005
http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/steve_jobs_how_to_live_before_you_die.html

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Environmental Education Lesson offered by US Fish and Wildlife Service

Homeschool Educators:

It is part of the mission of the US Fish and Wildlife Service to provide environmental education programs to the local community FREE OF CHARGE.

A new environmental education lesson is available to your students from the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge in Westbrook, CT.    http://www.fws.gov/northeast/mckinney/

This lesson is based on Connecticut state curriculum standards for the 4th grade level. It provides a basic introduction to the National Wildlife Refuge System and the migratory birds that can be seen right here in our state. It utilizes a Powerpoint presentation with graphics, includes a question/answer session, a research session and a birdhouse building activity. All materials will be provided by the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge.

This lesson can be given at our headquarters building in Westbrook to groups of about 15 people or smaller. If you are able to assemble a group of more that 15 people, we can travel to a venue that you provide to complete the lesson off site.

If you are interested in having this lesson presented to a group of students, please contact me using the information below.

Thank you for your interest, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Shaun Roche, Park Ranger
Stewart B. McKinney NWR
US Fish and Wildlife Service
733 Old Clinton Road, Westbrook, CT
860-399-2513 ext. 111

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Man’s heart, away from nature, becomes hard.
Luther Standing Bear

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7 Tips to Help Your Child Learn Without Teaching
By Linda Dobson
http://www.parentatthehelm.com/6522/7-tips-to-help-your-child-learn-without-teaching/

Children are humans. Humans learn.  That’s what they do, if well-intentioned adults don’t interfere with or, worse, destroy, their natural curiosity. With this basic concept in mind, let’s explore seven tips that allow you to help your child learn without turning into “the teacher” of your worst nightmares!

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"A child enters school as a question mark, and leaves as a period." -- Neal Postman.

?.?.?.?.?.?.


Dear U.U.
I just wanted to thank you for sharing your time and experience with us. It's beyond inspirational to me as a parent doing things differently to hear about the experiences of others who went a similar way. It's so nice to know that there's a community out there that we can be a part of. I really appreciate the work you and your family have done to pave the way for other families in CT.
L.
 
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“Never let schooling interfere with your education.”
Mark Twain

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It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
Aristotle

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Dear Unschoolers Unlimited,
I thank you so much for the emails and the wealth of knowledge within.  I truly appreciate your time and although it did not click until I read your email, I have in fact read your book!  A retired doctor lent it to me  when my kids were just babies.  I am honored to speak with you.  I also thank you for not giving up and for you and Ned's dedication to the truth of the education system and the courage to do what was right for Cassidy.  In doing so you have managed to be a lighthouse in the midst of a sea of lies and manipulations.  You and Ned through your life have brought peace, knowledge, and courage to countless other families. Thank you for helping to pave way through this societies illusion.  While reading your book I remember thinking we would have so much to talk about.  Mostly though I was thankful that I was not alone and I was right about the education system in our country.  May we stay in touch and I can not wait to meet you. 
L.

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“… what I said at the end of Escape From Childhood was this: People who feel their children are full human beings and ought to be treated that way should try, within the geographical boundaries of their community, say, to set up a sort of invisible network, in which adults can treat children as we hope all adults will someday treat them. I think of what Paul Goodman used to say to radicals: ‘Suppose the revolution was over and you had won - how would you live your life then? Well, live it that way now!’”
From a 1981 interview with John Holt

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    It seems that in the rush to give children every advantage — to protect them, to stimulate them, to enrich them — our culture has unwittingly compromised one of the activities that helped children most. All that wasted time was not such a waste after all.
It has always been; it will always be. Play is children’s most important work.
Linda Dobson’s Parent At The Helm
http://www.parentatthehelm.com/

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Dear U.U.
... Your email is inspiring. ... always wanted to homeschool ... but ...  He enjoyed kindergarten and first grade. ... Today will be his last day at conventional school.  Frankly, I am a bit scared about whether I will be good enough, but more so I am very excited. There is so much to do and learn and he can do all in a more tranquil, supportive and loving setting.
Thank you!
J

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from Home Education Magazine, Sept/Oct. 2011
http://homeedmag.com/
“I had learned in school that one can only enjoy things one is good at, and, more critically, one should only pursue things one is good at, and furthermore, resources should only be expended for students to participate in activities they are good at. And, still further, one shouldn’t undertake anything difficult unless one is prepared to sweat at it. I am a living demonstration that all four principles are schoolish mythology, and act as detriments o the ultimate quality of our lives.
“This is not a paean to mediocrity. ... But I also have learned that I need not be a passive spectator, and that I can take control of my experience, and my learning, at whatever level I choose. It has taken me four decades to get there, and an awful lot of deschooling, but I am thankful to have arrived.”
David H. Albert

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Thanks for all your emails, calls, visits! I love hearing from you!

Luz


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A Normal Day?

Unschooling Cassidy or How Cassidy Unschooled Us

Dear Unschoolers Unlimited,
Can you describe a normal day, say when your son was eight or nine?  How do you get out of the house on time or the teeth brushed?  … It annoys me to wash clothes and then find the clean clothes not put away or lying on the floor. Things are crunching as I go through her room!   W. J.

Hi W. J.
Well, it's all a little fuzzy, but I'll try. I do remember the clothes on the floor and that crunching sound. We definitely had some unpleasant moments over teeth and getting places on time. Sometimes we were late or didn't get there at all. Sometimes there was unhappiness. But mostly what I remember is what joy it was to live and learn together. I did ask Cassidy for help with the housekeeping, but tried not to make it into a battle. Usually we remembered that we were the adults responsible for taking care of Cassidy and he was the kid whose main job was to play. Yes, there were times when it was all too much work and I was annoyed, frustrated, tired, cranky, etc. But I tried to think of that as my problem, my attitude needing adjustment. And usually I could adjust it (sooner or later). I relaxed about my housekeeping. I study t’ai chi, go to class every week, practice every day. Having an outside interest and discipline has been very helpful and I think good for Cassidy, too.

Our kids are our teachers and one of the ways they teach us is to push our buttons, push our limits. They make us better, stronger, more patient, more loving than we ever thought we could be. And they help us have more joy and more fun than we ever thought we could have.

When he was 8 & 9, Cassidy was really into origami and Legos. About that time we got our first computer, which he set up and taught us how to use. He loved to read and to be read to. Lots of Tin Tin and Asterix  comics and all kinds of books. He loved games and puzzles, spent a lot of time in his room. We worried that he wasn’t interested in sports. He did like to go walking with me at that age. He took classes at the local arts center and museums. His friends were kids in the neighborhood and they all went to school, so he spent a lot of time alone or with us. We did participate in a few activities with homeschoolers, but didn't really click with many of those kids and he didn’t like us to try to “socialize” him.

He always liked to stay up late and sleep late, but when he was about 8 or 9, he read a book about cats (we had 2) that said they should be fed at a regular time every day. He decided, for some reason, that 8 am was the right time, so he set his alarm and (all on his own) got up faithfully every day -- until he decided that some other time would be ok.

He amazed us with the things he learned -- mostly it was a mysterious process, not anything that looked like “learning math” or “learning geography.” He was curious and we just tried to help him gain access to whatever was interesting to him. We did suggest things and often he was open to our ideas -- because he had the option to turn down our brilliant ideas.

Sometimes, the days seemed so long and I wondered if I’d ever have a little peace & quiet. But it really did go by so fast. Now my house is quite orderly and very quiet. Yes, I miss him sometimes, but I’m so happy and proud to see him on his own. And so grateful for the time I was privileged to spend with him.

Enjoy your time together.  
Luz
 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cassidy's bike shop


Bespoke Bicycles, Fort Greene, Brooklyn, NY
http://www.bespoke-bicycles.com/


Bespoke Bicycles was founded in 2009 by Cassidy Vare. It's a shop for the everyday rider, so we specialize in bikes and accessories for the city. Whether you just want a nice way to get around the neighborhood, want to go grocery shopping or run errands, or give up your car and do everything by bike, we are here to help. We sell new bikes from Raleigh and Pashley, and an assortment of parts and accessories that we think are the best combination of quality and price.

Service and support are the backbone of the shop. We perform expert repairs and adjustments, cleaning and alterations. We also want to help you get to know your bike better--we think it makes for a better cycling experience.

If you've got a good bike that just doesn't quite work for you, bring it by and we'll see what we can do to make it better. If you want to learn in-depth what makes it better, stay tuned for our upcoming classes.

We custom-build bikes too (the word 'bespoke' means custom-made or made to order). We start with a frame (we stock frames from Surly, Soma and Velo Orange, and we're dealers for Gunnar and Waterford, but if you have a frame already we'll use that too) and pick out parts with you to make your perfect bike.



Bespoke's owner, Cassidy, had been working in other shops for years, and thinking about opening his own shop someday. In 2008, he discovered that his great-grandfather, George Collett, had also been in the business; George started out as a track and event racer, and went on to open a bicycle shop in New Haven, Connecticut, around 1902. With history apparently on his side, Cassidy opened Bespoke's doors in April 2009, in vibrant Fort Greene, Brooklyn.





Sunday, June 6, 2010

Resources



SUGGESTED READING

John Holt: Teach Your Own, How Children Learn, Escape From Childhood, Learning All The Time, A Life Worth Living, Instead of Education, Never Too Late, Freedom and Beyond
Thomas Armstrong: In Their own Way and The Myth of the A.D.D. Child
Polly Berien Berends: Whole Child, Whole Parent and Gently Lead
David and Micki Colfax: Homeschooling For Excellence and Hard Times In Paradise
Linda Dobson: The Art Of Education and The Homeschooling Book of Answers and more
Patrick Farenga:The Beginner’s Guide to Homeschooling and Teenage Homeschoolers: College or Not?
John Taylor Gatto: Dumbing Us Down and The Guerrilla Curriculum
Mary Griffith: The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World as Your Child’s Classroom
Susan and Larry Kaseman: Taking Charge Through Homeschooling
Agnes Leistico: I Learn Better By Teaching Myself and Still Teaching Ourselves
Grace Llewellyn: The Teenage Liberation Handbook and Real Lives
Susannah Sheffer, Ed.: Everyone Is Able: Exploding The Myth Of Learning Disabilities
Matt Hern, Ed.: Deschooling Our Lives
Daniel Greenberg: Free At Last
David Guterson: Family Matters
Alfie Kohn: Punished By Rewards
Jean Liedloff: The Continuum Concept
Alison Stallibrass: The Self-respecting Child
Charles J. Sykes: Dumbing Down Our Kids
Nancy Wallace: Better Than School and Child’s Work
Cafi Cohen: Homeschoolers' College Admissions Handbook
Jan Hunt: The Natural Child, Parenting from the Heart
Luz Shosie and Ned Vare: Smarting Us Up, the undumbing of America
Laura Grace Weldon: Free Range Learning


NEWSLETTERS

Home Education Magazine - PO Box 1083, Tonasket WA 98855 1-800-236-3278 http://www.homeedmag.com
Unschooling.com -- Free online newsletter http://www.unschooling.com
Life Learning: the international magazine of self-directed learning PO Box 112, Niagara Falls NY 14304-0112 1-800-215-9574 www.lifelearningmagazine.com
Taking Children Seriously - 5668 Township Rd 105, Mount Gilead, OH 43338 419-947-6351 http://www.takingchildrenseriously.com/
CT Shore news & events, free email newsletter http://www.shorelinehomeschoolers.org
info@shorelinehomeschoolers.org


CATALOGS

*Home Education Press PO Box 1083, Tonasket WA 98855 1-800-236-3278 http://www.homeedmag.com
*John Holt’s Book Store/FUN Books, 1688 Belhaven Woods Ct. Pasadena, MD 21122-3727
*These free catalogs also include lists of resources, support groups, helpful organizations, and answers to frequently asked questions. Very helpful. Support them if you can.


ORGANIZATIONS AND RESOURCES

National Home Education Legal Defense: Attorney Deborah Stevenson (860)354-3590 http://nheld.com/
Ct Homeschool Network info@cthomeschoolnetwork.org
Eli Whitney Museum: 915 Whitney Av. Hamden CT 06517 203-777-1833
National Home Education Network PO Box 41067, Long Beach, CA 90853 http://www.nhen.org
WPKN Radio: 89.5 FM, 244 University Av. Bridgeport CT 06601 203-576-4895 http://www.wpkn.org
The Alliance for the Separation of School and State: 1071 N Fulton St,
Fresno, CA 93728 559/499-1776 voice www.schoolandstate.org


ON THE INTERNET

Ned’s blog: http://school-is-hell.blogspot.com/
Legal information: www.nheld.com
CT Homeschool Network http://www.cthomeschoolnetwork.org
CT Shoreline Homeschoolers www.shorelinehomeschoolers.org
Discussion and support for unschoolers in MA, VT, NH, ME, RI and CT http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NewEnglandUnschooling/
CT Homeschoolers Inclusive has an email list with announcements & activities:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CTHomeschoolersInclusive/
CT homeschoolers discussion group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CTHomeEducators/
Unschooling: http://www.unschooling.com
http://www.livingjoyfully
www.sandradodd.com/unschooling
Ned Vare: The School Wars, a series of columns in our local newspaper: http://homepage.mac.com/luzshosie22/TheSchoolWars/Menu4.html
I Am What I Am, Anne Ohman http://www.livingjoyfully.ca/anneo/anne_o.htm
Greater New Haven Homeschoolers: Subscribe: GNHH-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
finding local and state groups: http://www.homeedmag.com/wlcm_groups.html
Parenting from the heart: http://www.naturalchild.org
John Holt: www.holtgws.com

Nedvarecelebration.blogspot.com
 Khan Academy. http://www.khanacademy.org/   over 2,100 videos and 100 self-paced exercises and assessments covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history.   free   

http://joyfullyrejoycing.com/
Open Yale Courses provides free and open access to a selection of introductory courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University. The aim of the project is to expand access to educational materials for all who wish to learn.     http://oyc.yale.edu/

get lucky!

R-E-A-L - L-I-F-E



"Children do not need to be made to learn, or shown how.
They want to and they know how."
- John Holt, author of How Children Learn

Holt spent many years teaching, observing, and learning from children, but any parent can see that children are born wanting to grow up to be part of the adult world. They are so curious and eager that it seems almost impossible to keep up with their drive to do and learn everything.

Then at some point learning gets separated from the rest of life and turned into schooling. We are taught that learning means sitting still, doing as you're told. Insatiable, passionate learners are turned into bored, rebellious, frightened or passive students. Loving parents become frustrated and burned out teachers. There must be a better way!

The good news is there are lots of parents and children who are growing without schooling -- living/learning in their own way, at their own pace, without text books, lessons, tests or coercion. And there are more and more stories of unschooled children who grow up to be happy, confident, competent adults doing meaningful and satisfying work. Ready to give unschooling a try? Here's my handy list of reminders for letting go of schooling and enjoying a REAL LIFE:

R - Relax. It sounds easy, but it takes practice. Being a parent may just be the most difficult challenge of our lives. When you start to feel stress coming on, take a breath, take a hike, take a nap; take up knitting or square dancing or scuba diving. Take it one day (or one moment) at a time.

E - Enjoy. The challenges of parenting are great and the rewards are even greater. The years go by so quickly -- embrace each stage and welcome the changes. If you take pictures, write a journal or make a scrapbook, you can enjoy it again when the children are grown and the house is quiet and orderly.

A - Accept and acknowledge the absolutely amazing, awesome and authentic
individuals who share your life. Allow them to "be how they grow."

L - Love is the greatest gift. Giving is receiving. One of Ned's last wishes was that he had told his kids more often how much he loves them. He said, “I want everybody to know that love is the most important thing!”

L - Learn from and learn with your children. Learn to play, learn a new skill, learn about yourself. Learn to trust, learn to let go. Look how your children are learning! Listen. Laugh lots. Living is learning. Teaching is largely unnecessary.

I - Investigate intriguing ideas. Interest leads to learning. It's an infinite and interconnected universe of ideas and information. One thing leads to another -- you can start anywhere, stop when you've had enough. Improvise. It's impossible to predict exactly which skills or knowledge will be needed in ten or twenty years.

F - Fearlessly forgive and forget. Schooling forced us to be fearful; unschooling encourages us to be brave. Have the courage to fail. We all make mistakes. Forgive yourself and forge ahead. "Forget everything you learned in school." Did your first boss tell you that? It's still good advice. Have fun. Have faith. Fool around. Be flexible. Fix something. Fourish.

E - Expect miracles. Encourage and enable exploration. Eschew ersatz
educational edicts. Embody the traits you wish to pass on. Empower your
children (and yourself) to experiment, to engage in a life worth living and
work worth doing.

The Uncurriculum



“To parents I say, above all else, don't let your home become some terrible miniature copy of the school. No lesson plans! No quizzes! No tests! No report cards! Even leaving your children alone would be better; at least they could figure out some things on their own. Live together, as well as you can; enjoy life together, as much as you can. Ask questions to find out something about the world itself, not to find out whether or not someone knows it.”
John Holt Teach Your Own

No school books? no tests? no grades? Well what, then???

Play is children's most important activity. It's the way they figure out how the world works, what part they have in the world. Cassidy and his friend used to say, “Let's betend...” and then spend hours being race car drivers, cops, robbers, parents, space cadets, puppies, babies, hunters, merchants, explorers.... Scientists play with theories, writers play with words and ideas, inventors play with materials & concepts, parents learn how to play again...

Work: No, I don't mean forcing kids to do chores, but allowing, encouraging (and having patience with) them to join you in your work at their level of ability and interest; helping them to find access to their own work in the real world when they choose. Real work. Real tools. Real responsibility. Volunteering, getting paid for some of those chores, apprenticing, starting a business...

Reading: Being read to (if and when you and they enjoy it); seeing others read for pleasure and curiosity; playing with books, letters, words, maps, puzzles, board games, comic books... No pressure -- some learn to read at 4, some at 12 & by the time they're 16, no one can tell the difference.

Math: Instead of math lessons, check out the fascinating and beautiful books in the library. Pocket money or allowance, getting & spending; blocks, cards, dominoes; sports & games; origami; cooking, gardening; building a model or a tree house, measuring distance, angles, heat, light, weight, speed...

Science: Humans are born scientists. Encourage curiosity & help kids go where it leads: mud, pets, rocks, bugs, stars, trains, bicycles, fishing, swimming, computers, dinosaurs, food, bodies, weather...

Art & music: real materials and instruments, lessons & practice (if kids choose) or messing about with piano, recorder, ukulele, drum, clay, paint; seeing art & artists, acting, listening to music, dancing, playing along...

Doing nothing: thinking, dreaming, watching the clouds, imagining... Often “doing nothing” means kids are not doing what parents think they should be doing. Which means kids are doing what they choose, which is the best way (maybe the only way) people learn. The point is, schooling, textbooks, and most “educational materials” are artificial, boring and limiting. Real life and real work are unlimited, unpredictable, fascinating. And kids know the difference.

Let the Children Play



Let the Children Play
Ned Vare

Parents seem to believe that a child's life needs to be completely organized and supervised by people who are supposed to be “experts in child development.” We do not believe that at all. In fact, we can make a strong case for the exact opposite: Leave children alone to decide what they'll do, with whom, when, and how; don't supervise or interfere unless they ask for it, and then only minimally.

What I'm suggesting is to let children PLAY. As our society becomes more psychotic, stressed, pressured, and fearful, what's missing is free-form living -- spontaneous, unplanned activities such as we did when we were young and simply left alone with a friend or two or more. I believe that many of us are unable to cope with today's demands because we did not get enough independent play while we grew up. Too much organization has made us conformist and anxious instead of creative and self-assured.

One of today's great tragedies is that most public schools have eliminated recess (my favorite class in school) for children above the fourth grade. That means children are even more limited in their opportunities to interact freely with each other. They are stuck indoors all day with those of the same age, the same abilities and a similar background. This process is artificial, coercive and unnatural.

I believe that the entire time spent on schooling is a total waste - compared to the value of allowing children to make their own decisions, learn to live with the consequences of their decisions, and enjoy the autonomy this process offers. Need proof? Watch all animals as they grow up -- playing (and being left alone) is essential and imperative training for successful life. Nothing can take its place.