Spreading the Radical Unschooling Message


My Unschooling Book Series (23)

Not so long ago, I made a podcast called Why You Should Consider Radical Unschooling. I wanted to encourage everyone to let unschooling spill over into all aspects of life, and not just the educational part. I wanted to say, “Unschooling is very good indeed, but radical unschooling is even better. Take the next step. Don’t be scared.”

Don’t be scared? Yes allowing kids to make their own decisions about all areas of their lives might sound frightening. What if they make the wrong choices? What if they become wild? Will everyone think that we are irresponsible parents?

Radical unschooling has a very negative image. If you do some googling, it won’t take you long to find lots of frightening stories about kids who won’t wash and who eat nothing but junk food. Perhaps they’re reluctant to help with the chores. They might spend all night playing computer games or making lots of noise with their friends while parents want to sleep. By the sounds of it, these kids lead very self-centred lives. The stories might convince us that giving kids so much freedom is wrong.

But I don’t think these stories are necessarily radical unschooling ones. They sound more like unparenting stories to me. No, in my experience radical unschooling doesn’t look like this at all.

Radical unschooling is a life of unconditional love:

Live radically.

Love unconditionally.

When we love unconditionally, we become connected with our kids. We respect and trust them. They respect and trust us. We listen to each other and discuss. The lines of communication are open. And although kids could do whatever they like, they choose to use their freedom to do what is good and right. (Of course, no one is perfect.)

I could say a lot more. I did expand my thoughts in episode 109 of my unschooling podcast. I also spoke about radical unschooling in episode 80. I interviewed my teenage radical unschooler daughter Sophie in episode 110. And I’ve made a video about this topic and written a lot of blog posts that illustrate what it’s all about.

What I’d like to do next is gather all my thoughts and ideas together and write something for my unschooling book. So I’m going to listen again to the podcasts, view the video, and browse through my blog posts while making some notes which I’ll edit, hopefully, into something worth reading.

I might have more radical unschooling thoughts to share another day, but for now, I’m just going to embed one of Sophie’s Instagram photos here on my blog.

This morning, just before Sophie left home for work, she asked, “Is it okay if I post this photo of you, Mum?” After a quick glance, I told her I was happy to have my photo on Instagram. Sophie did some quick uploading and caption writing. It was only later after I’d dropped her off at work, that I got a chance to read what she’d written. As I read Sophie’s words, my heart overflowed with love and gratitude. The caption isn’t really about me. (I’m not posting the photo because I think I’m a wonderful mother.) It’s about radical unschooling.



Radical unschooling doesn’t result in wild kids who care about nobody but themselves. Instead, radical unschooling is all about connecting families together with strong bonds of love. Want to hear more? You could listen to my podcasts. Or I could get to work on the radical unschooling chapter of my book so that one day, you can read the message I really want to share:

Consider radical unschooling

Oh yes, I hope I can encourage you to find out more, trust and then give it a go!

Are you radical unschoolers? If not, have you considered letting go further so that unschooling spills over into all aspects of your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!


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    • Nancy
    • November 29, 2017

    Sue, I love the photo of you and the thoughts that Sophie shared with all of us. It is so obvious that you and your husband have done a wonderful job raising Sophie as well as your other children. Radical Unschooling in itself is a wonderful phrase and I love the thought that my Nathan can learn what he wants when he wants and is not restricted by a teacher’s parameters, or a school’s schedule. He expressed an interest not too long ago in playing the flute, he loves celtic music like his mom :). He said he would research it and get back to me if it is something he wants to pursue. He has even had me listen to recordings of celtic music segments that he likes on you tube. Nathan may pursue, or he may not. Whatever he chooses he will have his father and my full support! I wonder, if he was still in public school right now, would they be encouraging this interest? Would he even have the freedom to research it. I am so glad we Radically Unschool as well.

    1. Reply


      We all love celtic music too! A few years ago, Imogen taught the girls a few folk songs. Then Callum had the bright idea of learning to play the guitar so he could accompany them. Unfortunately, that passion didn’t last. We now have a beautiful green guitar sitting unused in the cupboard. I guess it’s waiting for someone else to take an interest in it! Another time, my children learnt an Irish song for a homeschool concert. They made themselves percussion instruments out of pieces of wood studded with nails driven through metal bottle tops. Everyone shook these while singing. That was a cheaper way to get some accompanying music!

      I love watching my kids researching and then going down different pathways with their learning. It sounds like you enjoy doing this with Nathan. It’s exciting, isn’t it? I don’t know why people worry that kids won’t learn unless they’re forced. Children (and many adults) are curious people!

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