Unschooling in Paradise (Paperback)
Across the country, millions of parents are deeply dissatisfied with the education their children are receiving and see that too many bright, creative, and energetic children are falling through the cracks, losing interest in learning, or developing "behavioral issues." They know intuitively that if kids are not engaged in learning, they will not develop the capacities to deal with the multi-faceted problems of the 21st century. Between 1.5 and 2 million families have taken the dramatic step of opting out of public and private schools altogether and assuming the enormous challenges of home schooling or "unschooling" their children.
Most parents want their children to enjoy learning and become independent thinkers, self-reliant workers, and creative problem-solvers, and they care deeply about the social, emotional, and academic development of their children. Unschooling has become a compelling option for contemporary parents who doubt that institutionalized education can ever meet their child's distinctive needs or unleash their full potential, and who sense that the current fixation on common standards, rote learning, and over testing threatens to dull the minds and passions of an entire generation of young people.
Unschooling in Paradise is a work of narrative non-fiction that chronicles one family's experiment unschooling four such "bright, creative, energetic" young boys. Part memoir, part manifesto, the book uses humor and an easily digestible portion of educational philosophy to show the unique ways that children go about learning and to celebrate the intellectual and spiritual potential that lurks within all people. Unschooling embraces the idea that children possess an 'inner compass' that can guide them into and through rich and authentic learning experiences, and Unschooling in Paradise shows, in detailed and engaging stories, how this actually happens.
Though the narrative is set in a particular locale (rural Oklahoma) and at a particular time (the mid-1980's), which gives the story character, depth, and a sense of place, the themes--how children learn; why schools fail to engage kids' interest; the nature of free inquiry; productive idiosyncrasy; spiritual and moral development; children's inventive thinking; creativity, play and pleasure; and how to nourish ecological intelligence in the next generation--will resonate with all people who want to see children grow into intelligent, caring, productive, engaged, and enlightened human beings.
Unschooling in Paradise makes it abundantly clear that there is a fundamental mismatch between the way people are designed and the way schools are designed and suggests that the very fundamentals of education need to be challenged in order to bring about transformative change. It offers a unique window into the amazing things that can happen when there are no lesson plans, no required subjects, no learning standards, and no tests, but rather deeply engaged interactions between children and adults who are themselves seekers after wisdom. It asks how we can become attuned to the inner compass that guides young children and explores how to draw out (ēdūcere) the soul-felt desire they have to learn about and engage with the world. With warmth and humor, it challenges conventional wisdom about how best to educate children and points the way toward what we need to do to create truly dynamic conditions for learning in today's world.