Real School Choice with Unschooling School

Show Overview

What does real school choice look like? Creating a school within a school for free learners. Heather MacTaggart has been working to change the education system in Canada for 23 years. She has attracted a team of educators with a combined experience of 229 years in education to expand the Unschooling School movement around the world. 

Join the Unschooling School movement as a parent, learner, or educator. 

The invitation is for learners to become Free Learners by creating an individual education plan (IEP) that declares they are a free learner. Free Learners utilize the resources and facilities of their local public school as it fits with their IEP and opt out of classes that they are not interested in. 

Unschooling School invites educators to become Responsible Subversives by supporting Free Learners. Wha

Connect with Heather and Join the Unschooling School Movement

Unschooling School website for creating real school choice within your community.

For families in the United States, connect with Carl Rust

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Books and Resources We Mentioned

Get Out of The Way and Let Kids Learn: How We Can Transform Schools and Reintroduce Natural Learning by Carl Rust

The Real Lord of the Flies in The Guardian

School Transformation by Wayne Jennings

Composing a Life by Mary Catherine Bateson

Rise Academy 

Episode Highlights

1:10 – Unschooling School is a movement and community hub to put the power back where it belongs – in the hands of the learners and their families. Why don’t we use the resources found in schools to serve kids? We are in charge and we are going to insist that the public resources be used for the good of kids.

2:40 – We have bought a lot of beliefs that are just nonsense. 

3:10 – Schooling as a process of colonization of people and the mind. All of the structures are self-reinforcing and have been used by dominating cultures to colonize groups of people – dividing kids by age groups, you have to do the same thing at the same time, and there is a set of information that you need to know to thrive. 

5:10 – How Heather has tried everything to change the education system. 

6:15 – We need to educated kids, and include indigenous people, in a way that doesn’t kill their creativity and ingenuity. 

7:00 – Most people don’t know anything about self-directed education and the alternatives that are available. Trying to change the system using a network of independent schools is too slow, it will take over 100 years. 

8:38 – Unschooling School tells kids and parents, “This is your system. You pay for it.” Educate yourself about self-directed education to learn that there is a better way. By becoming a Free Learner, you can educate yourself within the system. Heather invites all kids to create a Free Learner Plan (an I.E.P. for free learners). 

10:50 – With freedom comes tremendous responsibility. 

11:42 – Unschooling School provides resources and direct access to Heather and her team to walk you through the process of creating a Free Learning school within a school.

14:20 – Do you really need a high school diploma? Unschooling School offers a free learner diploma that is more rigorous than a standard high school diploma. It requires a young person to know what is next and what they need. Heather shares there are eleven different ways to get into college without a high school diploma. 

16:50 – Everyone blames everyone else in the school system. High schools blames universities. Universities blame high schools. 

17:10 – Education for the 6 Cs: creativity, communication, collaboration, critical thinking, compassion, community. 

19:20 – We are biologically born to educate ourselves and driven to succeed in the society we’re born into. We just need the environment and tools to do this. We need schools to start serving kids. 

20:20 – For kids entering elementary schools now, 62% will be doing jobs that don’t exist. So how can we use curriculum? 

22:00 – The real “Lord of the Flies” – as told in the guardian. Boys stranded on an island for 8 months created a perfect community. The author of Lord of the Flies was a deeply depressed man who gave us a depressed version of humanity. 

23:30 – Busting the toxic myth that kids are lazy. The allure of the illicit – when we make something illicit, we want more of it. When you take that away, natural instincts will guide us to healthy choices. 

25;10 – 12% of neural connections established in childhood break apart and form new connections so that human society can evolve beyond the current generation. Adolescence is a time for differentiation from your parents so that you can move on and do new things. Adolescents’ unrest and desire to do something different drives innovation and cultural evolution. 

26:40 – How Peter Puget became captain of a ship at age 14. Our instincts and senses are still geared to be hunters and gatherers. We need to let adolescents do real things. How do we change age restrictions for employment for kids who want to work? 

31:00 – The power of a group of like-minded people. This will become a movement when small groups of people band together and start meeting with the Principal of their school. 

34:00 – Why does someone need to wait until college to pick the areas of study that they are interested in? 

35:00 – Everyone should reverse design their lives and then figure out their education path. The power of giving yourself time when you are young to try lots of different work to see if you actually like it. Experimentation and problem solving for what you want is what we need young people to master. 

38:42 – Failure is a great thing. Just do it faster. The option to drop out or opt out is fantastic. You stick with something when you are passionate about it. Stick-with-itness – you have a personal reason to do it. 

40:15 – Responsible Subversives keep the light on and work for change. The term comes from people who were trying to get out of the Soviet bloc.

40:50 – The core team of six people behind Unschooling School have a collective experience of 229 in education, in 45 towns in 11 countries. They think that this how change happens – by empowering parents and inviting educators to come along. There are lots of people in the system that want change. If parents were pushing for something else, it would free teachers to do something new. 

44:50 – There is no such thing as a system, there are just people. Every school system says that children are the center of what we do, but don’t act like it. Find a line in the Department of Education or school district mission and lean into that. 

47:00 – Anxiety, stress, depression, and suicide are correlated with decreased free play time and increased schooling. We have reorganized society around school. If we just look at them differently, schools can be places of free play, mixed-age learning, and interest-driven learning.  

49:50 – The structure, repetition, and memorizing in schools kills interest. 

51:00 – The school within a school approach is the quickest way to transform schools and offer places for free learners. 

52:00 – Three things would create transformation and good – a Free Learner Plan for every student, the ability to opt out of classes they are not interested in, and a free learner room in every school. 

56:00 – The power of learning that you are in control of what you learn. Go straight to a life where you are doing what you want to do. 

57:50 – This is an amazing opportunity to redesign schools so that they work for kids. What if we just took a year off of curriculum? What if we let kids gather around themes and ideas that are of interest to them and allow teachers to support them? 

Want more School Choice Options?

Check out my book, Instead of Schooling: Educating for Creativity, Resilience, & Happiness. It’s loaded with great self-directed school choices and resources.