At long last! The book is here! You can buy on amazon.com (books at amazon.ca available shortly)
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.
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
Chapter 3 An Education in the Age of Climate Change 31
Chapter 4 A Learning System Fit for a Democracy 40
Chapter 5 An Interview About a Sense of Self 50
Chapter 6 Trust, Not Education 71
Chapter 7 A Conversation About the Magical Child 88
Joseph Chilton Pearce
Chapter 8 Hold Onto Your Kids 99
Chapter 9 The Price of Praise 105
Chapter 10 The Words We Use: 116
Living as if School Doesn’t Exist
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
Chapter 14 Aware and Alive 164
Chapter 15 From Albany to Now 173
Chapter 16 Guerrilla Learning 179
Chapter 17 Getting Kids on the Streets 188
Chapter 18 Improving Unschooling through
Strewing and Spirituality 199
Chapter 19 Learning Together by Starting an Educational Co-operative 215
Chapter 20 The Everyday Lives of Black Canadian
Monica Wells Kisura
Chapter 21 The Praxis of SelfDesign as a New Paradigm for
Chapter 22 Home Education in Quebec 256
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
Chapter 25 Pioneer Unschooler 292
Chapter 26 Growing up Weird 300
Chapter 27 I Love my Life 305
Chapter 28 I’m Educated 314
Chapter 29 Redefining Success 324
Jessica Claire Barker
Chapter 30 Unschooling Experience 329
Chapter 31 I’m Unschooled and Yes, I Can Write 336
Chapter 32 The Subtle but Radical Frame of Being a
Contributor Versus Being Successful 340
Chapter 33 More Time is More Freedom 348
Chapter 34 Motivation, Method, and Mastery: How I learned 352
Music Without Being Taught.
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
Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko is a free-lance writer and blogger. She blogs extensively at Natural Born Learners (radiofreeschool.blogspot.com) 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 bekoko.ca.
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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I love this cover! Very excited for your book!
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