Those “Crazy” Unschoolers

I realize I am probably one of maybe 100,000+ people who are going to blog about this today, but what can I say?…OCCASIONALLY I fit in with the crowd. 

If you even vaguely keep your ear to the grindstone of the homeschooling world, you probably heard about the Good Morning America story this morning on unschoolers.  I actually watched it in real time because a friend called to let me know it was coming on.  So I got ready to watch.  I even called in Uber to watch with me.

And we sat there excitedly waiting – – in awe that they were doing a feature piece on unschooling on morning television! Then, our awe slowly turned to confusion, and then basically to disgust as we realized that not only were they profiling the two most radically “unschooled” families in the universe, but that they were actually generalizing that all unschoolers looked like that.  Even worse, the commentators decided to drop out honey-soaked judgmental condescensions every chance they got.  (“well-meaning”, “crazy” (thanks George!), “playing hooky”)

What bugged me the most was that the piece really had very little to do with unschooling at all.  I’m guessing GMA edited out all the parts where the parents outlined the benefits of this form of education, the parts where they quoted liberally from Holt, and the parts where they show the children actually able to put two sentences together that make some semblance of intelligent sense.  At least I HOPE they edited out those parts.

Instead, they decided to focus on the ridiculousness of parents who don’t really make their children do chores, or have house rules, or even attend to personal hygiene.  If that’s the case, then I don’t know what the big deal is.  It’s basically just natural selection at that point, right?  The universe is bound to weed out those whose teeth fall out before they are 12 anyway, and leave behind the strong, publicly educated children who eat the healthy foods from the school cafeteria and ALWAYS follow the rules.  It will all work out in the end.

GMA is doing a follow-up on this story tomorrow where all the crazed teachers whose egos this story threatens can call in and ask questions of these model parents.  I’m going to sleep well tonight knowing that these two will be speaking for me and all my unschooling friends as they field questions about the legal and societal implications of their decisions. 

You know those teachers who have been out of work since the economic downturn?  The ones who have been struggling to find some meaning in their life since their time in the classroom?  The ones who have time to sit around and watch GMA in the mornings while they scan the want-ads. Whatcha wanna bet they may have just found a cause they can all rally around and start campaigning against in their spare time??

18 Responses

  1. Arrrgggghhhhh!!! I absolutely hate, hate, hate it when the media or anyone else picks out a random example (usually even not an applicable example) and tries to apply it to all homeschoolers. Hang in there! I think it would be interesting to unschool, but I’m not brave enough to try it.

  2. Once again – unschooling is turned into no learning – but it sounds like it means absolutely no responsibility or interests ventured either . . . .I’ll have to look it up tomorrow when they post it on line. . .

  3. It was really aggravating to watch. It’s that broad generalization that I just can’t stand. Sure a few families might be that extreme but it’s not all of them. Also it kind of seemed that they not only were trying to generalize them as an example of all unschoolers but also apply them to homeschoolers in general in some ways. It really seemed to just turn into a general anti-homeschool propaganda piece. It will probably be even worse tomorrow.
    Also why was her example of in school learning PE? I mean really volleyball, basketball and football are your examples of what they are missing out on?

  4. OMG, I guess I’m the only person who missed this today. I’m going to see if they have it on their website for viewing and then watch the follow up tomorrow. Thanks for the head’s up!

  5. Topsy, your sarcastic tone is the PERFECT antidote to the vitriolic nonsense that got spewed over on GMA today.

    I have a non-homeschooling friend who works on GMA, and here is what he wrote on facebook in response to my comments about this segment:
    “Those guys [meaning, for clarity, those who work on GMA] are idiots.”

    So chin up, fellow unschooler!
    And for goodness sake, don’t watch it tomorrow.

    • No worries…I will NOT be watching today. Far too busy to be bothered by it all and then far too sane to let it eat into my conciousness for yet another day. Just another drop in the bucket of ridiculousness…now we are off to learn and ((gasp)) brush our teeth!!!

  6. Ugh! The worst. I missed it too but, from what I’ve been hearing and seeing across the interwebs, it doesn’t sound like I really “missed” all that much. Time for us all to keep on, keeping on – again.

  7. BAHHHH makes me glad we do not watch tv. I tried to watch it online but…well you know…dial up. 😉 Why with anything that is not mainstream do they have to take an extreme rather than what the average of a group does? I saw there was also a video “homeschooling a child with autism” *gasp*

    Gosh I hope my mom didn’t watch it! She probably knows better too by now.

    Topsy you are a little crazy but in the good sense of the word! {hug}

  8. The editing looked a little extreme to me. I got the distinct impression these parents were pretty radically misrepresented. The interviewer also seemed to be playing to the gallery. Just a hunch here but I reckon they were simply going for ratings and controversy rather than trying to present an accurate piece of journalism. Seems to have worked though.

    • We humans are far too predicatable, Mike!! I mean look, they got all this buzz on the blogosphere AND another ten minutes of free programming out of it today!! Who says those folks at GMA are mindless idiots. Not me. No siree. 😉

  9. It was disappointing, but not surprising. Your post, however, is hilarious! Bravo!

  10. I missed it today, and from everything I heard, I’m glad that I did! I’d heard that Pat Farenga was going to be on – was he?

    • If he was, I missed it, FM. But I’ll admit, I tuned out immediately after the segment.

  11. I missed it too since I watch NBC. Our Hs group was approached by a local reporter but we were concerned about misrepresentation and not really welcoming. These negative ‘reports’ are what make people look at us weird when they hear the word ‘homeschooled’. Homeschoolers are pigeonholed and that won’t ever change.

  12. I didn’t watch it. I heard all about it. And I don’t plan on watching it now. I don’t need this kind of negativity from the media in my life. *sigh*

  13. The same family have been interviewed on CNN at It’s really interesting to see the same content without the manipulative editing. They come across in a completely different light, even though the interviewer is still clearly not 100% familiar or comfortable with unschooling.

  14. The piece GMA really bugged me and the commentators that refused to acknowledge that there was any difference between homeschooling and this radical approach to unschooling this ONE family took.

  15. The piece GMA did really bugged me and the commentators that refused to acknowledge that there was any difference between homeschooling and this radical approach to unschooling this ONE family took.

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