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Book Launch
Natural Born Learners: Unschooling and Autonomy in Education

January 2014—Natural Born Learners: Unschooling and Autonomy in Education edited by Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko and Carlo Ricci.

We are pleased to announce that our reader is live.

Humans are natural learners. This collection of essays challenges much of mainstream beliefs about how people learn, encouraging the reader to consider deeply the need for learners to be trusted and listened to. Many of the authors in the book begin from a learner-centered, democratic perspective. Divided into three sections, the first part of the book deals with what constitutes a learner-centered approach to education. The second section addresses how some have implemented this approach. In the last section, learners who have lived learner-centred learning share narratives about their experiences.


Most of the pieces in this book are derived from interviews aired on the Radio Free School program that ran from 2002 to 2008 on 93.3 fm CFMU in Hamilton. It is divided into three sections:
1. What is unschooling/natural learning/self-determined learning;
2. What does it look like in practice, and;
3. The stories of those who unschooled and are now adults.

Interviewees were contacted. Volunteers helped transcribe all of the audio interviews into written text. Chapters were sent back to each of the interviewees and they were asked to reread the edited version and make changes as they saw fit, and to approve the form that it was in.
Although most of the pieces are transcribed and edited versions of interviews that were conducted for Radio Free School, some are pieces that were written for the Radio Free School blogspot. A handful of pieces were ones we solicited later because we felt they provided a valuable addition to the book.
Although, we do not claim to agree with everything that is written in the book, our goal is to provide an overview of what unschoolers, and those sympathetic to unschooling and self-determined education, are thinking and doing; and then allow each reader to make use of the ideas presented as they see fit.

We see unschooling as a learner-centered, democratic approach to education. We believe that it is through self-determination and autonomy that learning happens at its best. Furthermore, we believe that the unschooling worldview is about more than learning: it is about taking charge of one’s own life.
In editing this book, we are hoping to help people to realize that unschooling is not something foreign, but that it is something that we all do, all of the time. And more than that, when we unschool our most powerful learning usually happens. We unschool when we self-determine our learning about most anything. It could be about cooking, bike repairs, home repairs, math, physics, reading, music and so on. The list is infinitely long. Since we all do it, and it works so well, the goal is to ensure that we become more mindful of what we do when we self-determine our learning, and that we extend this powerful way of learning to more areas of our lives.


Foreword                                                                                      i
Introduction                                                                                    v
Part 1 What is Self-Determined Learning and Unschooling?                                                  1                                                                                              
Chapter 1    Schooling: A Highly Questionable Practice                                                                 2
                    John Taylor Gatto
Chapter 2     You Don’t Have to go to Grow:                                                                       14
                    Growing Without Schooling
                    Pat Farenga
Chapter 3     An Education in the Age of Climate Change                                                                31                                           
                    Satish Kumar
Chapter 4     A Learning System Fit for a Democracy                                                          40
                    Roland Meighan
Chapter 5    An Interview About a Sense of Self                                                                          50
                   Susannah Sheffer
Chapter 6    Trust, Not Education                                                                  71
                   Aaron Falbel
Chapter 7   A Conversation About the Magical Child                                                          88
                  Joseph Chilton Pearce
Chapter 8   Hold Onto Your Kids                                                                  99
                  Gordon Neufeld
Chapter 9   The Price of Praise                                                              105
                  Naomi Aldort
Chapter 10 The Words We Use:                                                              116
                   Living as if School Doesn’t Exist
                   Wendy Priesnitz

Part II Lights. Camera. Action! (This is How it Works).                      121

Chapter 11 We Don’t Need No Education,
                        We Don’t Need No Thought Control:
                        Reflections on Achieving Musical
                        Literacy and the Importance of Unschooling                                                      122
                        John. L. Vitale.
Chapter 12 What Does it Mean to be Educated?                                              138
                        John Taylor Gatto
Chapter 13 Democratic Schools                                                      149
                        Jerry Mintz
Chapter 14 Aware and Alive                                                      164
                        David Albert
Chapter 15 From Albany to Now                                                      173
                        Mary Leue
Chapter 16 Guerrilla Learning                                                      179
                        Grace Llewellyn
Chapter 17 Getting Kids on the Streets                                                      188
                        Matt Hern
Chapter 18 Improving Unschooling through
                        Strewing and Spirituality                                                      199
                        Sandra Dodd
Chapter 19 Learning Together by Starting an Educational Co-operative      215
                        Katharine Houk
Chapter 20 The Everyday Lives of Black Canadian
                        Homeschoolers                                                      221
                        Monica Wells Kisura
Chapter 21 The Praxis of SelfDesign as a New Paradigm for
                        Learning                                                              233
                        Brent Cameron
Chapter 22 Home Education in Quebec                                                      256
                        Christine Brabant
Chapter 23 Learning From Within and From All That is
                        Around Us                                                      264
                        Seema Ahluwalia and Carl Boneshirt

Part III They’ve Grown Up                                                              285         

Chapter 24 Life is a Field Trip and You don’t Need a Permission                                            286
                       Dale Stephens
Chapter 25 Pioneer Unschooler                                                              292
                       Kate Cayley
Chapter 26 Growing up Weird                                                              300
                       Kate Fridkis
Chapter 27 I Love my Life                                                      305
                        Eli Gerzon
Chapter 28 I’m Educated                                                              314
                       Candra Kennedy
Chapter 29 Redefining Success                                                              324
                       Jessica Claire Barker
Chapter 30 Unschooling Experience                                                      329
                       Peter Kowalke
Chapter 31 I’m Unschooled and Yes, I Can Write                                                      336
                       Idzie Desmarais
Chapter 32 The Subtle but Radical Frame of Being a
                       Contributor Versus Being Successful                                                      340
                       Sean Ritchey
Chapter 33 More Time is More Freedom                                                      348
                       Brenna McBroom
Chapter 34 Motivation, Method, and Mastery: How I learned                                                      352
                       Music Without Being Taught.                                                                    
                       Andrew Gilpin
                       About the Editors                                                      360


“For those who want to restore natural learning—whether for themselves, their children, or all of society—this book is a great resource. We can all learn here from contributors who have helped to explain how natural learning works, from those who have helped to make such learning more possible in today’s world, and from those lucky individuals who grew up learning naturally.”
- Peter Gray, Research Professor of Psychology at Boston College and Author of Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self- Reliant, and Better Students for Life.

“This book explores the roots of self-direction and offers a series of highly insightful and creative ways to help people be open, peaceful, natural learners. The roots of democratic living are fostered by what is said here. School administrators, teachers, parents, students, politicians and virtually all citizens will benefit from reading this. I most highly recommended this unusually fine and stimulating book.”
- Conrad Pritscher, Professor Emeritus, Bowling Green State University

Editors Biographies:

     Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko is a free-lance writer and blogger. She blogs extensively at Natural Born Learners ( and has founded Personalized Education Hamilton to facilitate self-determined learning in her community. She works for a not-for-profit environmental organization as a project manager and coordinator. She lives in Hamilton, Ontario with her husband and three children who were all unschooled for a time.
Visit her website to see other writing at

     Carlo Ricci is a professor of education and currently teaches in the Graduate Program at the Schulich School of Education, Nipissing University. He edits and founded the Journal of Unschooling and Alternative Learning. He has written and edited a number of books including The Willed Curriculum, Unschooling, and Self-Direction: What Do Love, Trust, Respect, Care, and Compassion Have to Do With Learning; and Turning points: 35 Visionaries in Education Tell Their Own Stories (AERO, 2010) with Jerry Mintz; and The Legacy of John Holt: A Man Who Genuinely Understood, Trusted, and Respected Children (HoltGWS, 2013) with Patrick Farenga. He has also written numerous articles on unschooling and self-determined learning. He lives in Toronto, Ontario with his wife and two children.

Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko

Dr. Carlo Ricci

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1 comment:

Alanya said...

I love this cover! Very excited for your book!

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