Responding to Unschooling and Other Critics


Earlier this week, I got involved in a long and involved conversation on Facebook. I don’t usually do this, but this time, I didn’t have a choice. The discussion began on my timeline. It was rather a heated debate: There was more than one opinion.

So I’ve been thinking: How do we respond when someone challenges us with a different opinion? In particular, what if people criticise our decision to unschool? What is the best thing to say? I talk about possible responses in this week’s podcast.

In episode 58, I also answer the following questions:

  • Do I have all the unschooling answers?
  • Are labels important?
  • Can you call yourself an unschooler if you require maths but let the child choose the method?
  • When should we start strewing resources before our children? Should we wait until they develop a particular interest?
  • How do we translate natural learning experiences into the right educational language?
  • Do we need to be curious people?
  • How can we find lots of everyday learning to add to our records books?
  • When we’ve read all the Jane Austen novels, what can we read next?


Authors and Books Gemma-Rose (12) and I want to read

The Paradise Project by Suzie Andres

Jane Austen

Charles Dickens

Georgette Heyer: The Grand Sophy and Arabella

George Eliott: Middlemarch

Elizabeth Gaskell: Wives and Daughters, North and South, Cranford

Wilkie Collins: The Woman in White, The Moonstone

Blog Posts

Are You a Proper Unschooler?

Can We Say We’re Unschoolers if We Require Maths?

Dealing With Adverse Comments and Opposing Opinions

Podcast Music

60’s Quiz Show by Podington Bear(CC BY-NC 3.0)

I took these photos when my girls and I went to a local nature reserve a few days ago. I tell you about our outing in my podcast!


You can find my Stories of an Unschooling Family podcast on

and here on my blog.If you listen to my podcast… Thank you!

And if you’d like to comment on this week’s episode, please do. I’d love to hear from you!


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    • Chris
    • February 11, 2016

    Hey Sue…Well I completely missed the fb debacle. So sorry about that!

    What I don't get is, why on earth would someone go head to head with on an issue related to education, about which you are passionate and knowledgeable and have instilled a very successful model within your family? ! For heaven's sake, if nothing else, why can't people just live and let live? Unreal. I never actually considered what type of HSer I am, but recognize that I follow many of your "strategies" ( such as strewing) and philosophies… sure exactly ho to put that, but in general, I love your overall "style" of family and education! All while being very drill and kill…if that's possible! I think I'm a wannabe unschooler deep down ( ? )

    On another note, I just perused a few of the books on your daughter's list and was sent down a few rabbit holes from one title and author to another!…great suggestions! Pls thank her for me!

    I'm loving the posts Sue!

    TTYS my friend…getting our day started and a bit behind the 8 ball…hugs..xox

    1. Reply


      No apologises needed as far as missing the great FB conversation goes! It wasn't a great experience though I do think that a lot of love and support came from the exchange.

      The conversation wasn't actually about unschooling, but I thought that I'd use that example in my podcast because it is more relevant than the issue we were discussing on FB. (We were talking about clothes.) I do appreciate your support of our unschooling lifestyle even if that wasn't the topic of debate. I'm sorry I confused you.

      Going down rabbit holes… Oh yes, that's the problem with following links. One link leads to another which leads to another… I hope you enjoy the books you found. I will pass on your message to Gemma-Rose. Thank you!

      And thank you so much for stopping by. I always love having the opportunity to chat with you. xx

  1. Reply

    Loved this podcast, Sue. I also pondered why learning needs to be segregated and artificial on my journey towards unschooling.

    1. Reply


      It's sad we have to think in terms of individual subjects, dissect all learning and put it into the right educational language. Yes, it's artifical. Oh well, that's my job. The girls are too busy learning to think about that!

      Thank you for listening and for stopping by!

    • Wendy
    • February 12, 2016

    Thanks for the podcast, Sue! I was listening with two of my boys and we had a wonderful conversation about kangaroos (quite exotic here!) and weirs. I love discoveries of places like that close to home!

    The discussion about disagreements was a good example in the Year of Mercy!

    Thanks for all the book ideas!

    1. Reply


      I'm glad my podcast led to a wonderful conversation for you and your boys. I love finding out more about places close to home. So interesting! We're going to make a list of other places we can explore without going very far. Sophie and I are looking forward to some new photo opportunities!

      I hadn't thought about the Year of Mercy. Yes, it's good to think about these things especially during this year. The only problem is that when I think I'm making some progress in an area such as this one, I suddenly realise I still have a long way to go. Oh well, I'll keep trying!

      Thank you so much for listening!

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