Alternatives to School

For those who do not enjoy and flourish in conventional schools there seem to be few choices: homeschool or enroll in a private school. However, even most of those choices mimic the conventional school model, so for someone who does not learn or enjoy the way school teaches they are not great options. To find support for simply not doing school, to just continue living and learning with your children as they grow up, using conventional schooling on an "as needed" basis, if at all, is increasingly difficult in our hyperschooled society.

I believe children need time to think alone and to play in groups; time to read about (or be read to), discuss, and explore the world around them. They don't need constant adult supervision and direction to fill their time. How can they ever learn self-management and self-discipline if we don't give them the time and space to do so themselves?

My work towards this end has been to support homeschooling, unschooling, and learning outside of school as best I can. In recent years I've been fortunate to find others who feel the same way, including some who see democratic schools, learning centers, and community activities as natural allies for such work, and some of us have joined to create a new website to help promote alternatives to school, not alternative schools:

The site was announced on Monday, August 26, with the publication of Dr. Peter Gray's essay, "School is a prison—and Damaging Our Kids," in the online magazine, Salon. It's debut has caused quite a ruckus in the comments section there, with many people expressing doubts that children can learn well on their own. If you feel otherwise, can you add your voice to the discussion at Salon?