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Quotes About Life Learning / Homeschooling / Unschooling

“There is no difference between living and learning... it is impossible and misleading and harmful to think of them as being separate.” ~ John Holt

“Life learning is about trusting kids to learn what they need to know and about helping them to learn and grow in their own ways. It is about respecting the everyday experiences that enable children to understand and interact with the world and their culture.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz

“I am convinced that the best learning takes place when the learner takes charge.” ~ Seymour Papert

Life learning is about...by Wendy Priesnitz, Editor of Life Learning Magazine

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

“Schools sort, slot, categorize, package, and label. And they teach students that those activities are important. Most of us learned the lesson well. Even those of us who have rejected schooling for ourselves or our children carry those remnants with us.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz, Beyond School: Living As If School Doesn’t Exist

“Know yourself before you attempt to get to know children… First and foremost, you must realize that you too are a child, whom you must first get to know, to bring up, and to educate.” ~ Janusz Korczak

“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die is a process of learning.” ~ J Krishnamurti

Don't turn home into school, by Wendy Priesnitz

“There is something profoundly deadening to a curious, engaged child about the feeling of being watched and measured, or even, some studies suggest, the anticipation of being measured.” ~ Carol Black

“We learn simply by the exposure of living. Much that passes for education is not education at all but ritual. The fact is that we are being educated when we know it least.” ~ David P. Gardner

"It’s not magic; relationships are demanding, complex things, but discovering that all of the energy we’d ever used on fighting our children, cajoling our children, begging our children, coercing our children could go instead into finding solutions with them was more than a breath of fresh air." ~ Jan Fortune-Wood

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” ~ Anonymous, although often credited to Albert Einstein

quote by Fred Rogers

“Mindset change is not about picking up a few pointers here and there. It’s about seeing things in a new way. When people…change to a growth mindset, they change from a judge-and-be-judged framework to a learn-and-help-learn framework. Their commitment is to growth, and growth takes plenty of time, effort, and mutual support.” ~ Carol Dweck

“No one has to do anything in order to ‘socialize’ the children, or make them take part in the life of the group. They are born social; it is their nature.” ~ John Holt

“I recognize June by the flowers, now. I used to know it by review tests, and restlessness.” ~ Lisa Asher, unschooled teen

“Self-directed learning does not mean no adult involvement. It means no adult force/control.” ~ Carol Black

No one needs schooling...by Idzie Desmarais

“Learning is the human activity that least needs manipulation by others. Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful activity.” ~ Ivan Illich

“One of my early memories of school is wondering when they were going to start teaching me the things I didn’t know, rather than what I already knew. Many years later, I began to understand how, insidiously, school had reinforced my inadequacies and had left me with what I now called 'learned incompetency' and a fear of not being able to do things 'right' the first time.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz

“All I am saying ... can be summed up in two words: Trust Children. Nothing could be more simple, or more difficult. Difficult because to trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves, and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.” ~ John Holt

“When you get down to it, unschooling is really just a fancy term for 'life' or 'growing up uninstitutionalized.” ~ Grace Llewellyn, Guerilla Learning

Every child is an artist by Pablo Picasso

“Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.” ~ Paulo Freire

“In our family, the foundations of education and parenting were respect and trust. That wasn’t because we had some idea about how we wanted our children to turn out; we did it because treating them like we would any other human being was the right thing to do.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz

“Schooling not only destroys our passion for life, it also never allows us to know it exists. As children we have no choice but to place trust in our culture to meet our needs. We do what it dictates, expecting to learn how to live in the world. Placed in school, with a one-size-fits-all curriculum, we do not learn to follow the things in life that interest us and give us power as individuals.” ~ Urban Scout, Rewild or Die

quote about questioning children by John Holt

“I look forward to the day when those who offer self-directed educational opportunities further extend their trust in and respect for children and young people…and stop enforcing compulsory school attendance. That way, learners can truly pursue a self-directed education!” ~ Wendy Priesnitz

“I spent three days a week for ten years educating myself in the public library, finding mirrors for myself in hundreds of books. At the end of ten years, I was completely educated. I had read every goddamn book in the library, and I'd written a thousand stories.” ~ Ray Bradbury

“The reality is that the modern school is no silver bullet, but an extremely problematic institution which has proven highly resistant to fundamental reform. No system that discards millions of normal, healthy kids as failures – many of them extremely smart, by the way – will ever provide a lasting or universal solution to anything.” ~ Carol Black

It is a miracle...Albert Einstein

“Children do not need to be made to learn about the world, or shown how. They want to, and they know how.” ~ John Holt

“If we taught babies to talk as most skills are taught in school, they would memorize lists of sounds in a predetermined order and practice them alone in a closet.” ~ Linda Darling-Hammond

“You don't learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over.” ~ Richard Branson

“Children who live surrounded by rules, instead of learning about principles, end up becoming adept at getting around rules, finding the loopholes in rules, disguising non-compliance, or deflecting blame for non-compliance (i.e. lying about what they did). These are the skills that they then bring into adult life.” ~ Robyn Coburn

quote by Jean Piaget about learning vs teaching

“School days, I believe, are the unhappiest in the whole span of human existence.” ~ H.L. Mencken

“When you teach a child something you take away forever his chance of discovering it for himself.” ~ Jean Piaget

“The act of placing the power over learning and life into the individual's hands is both empowering and motivating. The 'motivation' people see in unschoolers is really a joy in learning that is seen far less often among the masses in school.” ~ Idzie Desmarais

“What is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children's growth into the world is not that it is a better school than the schools, but that it isn't a school at all.” ~ John Holt

quote by John Holt

“Knowledge is an interconnected web of information and insight and doesn’t easily submit to subject divisions and grade levels. In my experience, optimum learning occurs when the learner can ignore such arbitrary constraints and venture where her pursuit takes her. Keeping the world whole and not dicing it up into ‘manageable’ pieces extends to boundaries between work and fun, between learning and other activities.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz, Life Learning: Lessons from the Educational Frontier

“Our whole theory of education is based on the absurd notion that we must learn to swim on land before tackling the water.” ~ Henry Miller

“Education is a private matter between the person and the world of knowledge and experience, and has little to do with school or college.” ~ Lillian Smith

I am learning all the time: Eartha Kitt

“None of the world's problems will have a solution until the world's individuals become thoroughly self-educated.” ~ Buckminster Fuller

“We socialize. It’s fun. Socialization, on the other hand, that’s where someone trains you how to behave in an institutional setting. Not fun.” ~ Sara McGrath

“The old system where every child was locked away and set into nonstop, daily cut throat competition with every other child for silly prizes called grades is broken beyond repair. If it could be fixed it could have been fixed by now. Good riddance.” ~ John Taylor Gatto

quote about school and prison

“We learn because we want to learn, because it’s important to us, because it’s natural, and because it’s impossible to live in the world and not learn. Then along comes school to mess up a beautiful thing.” ~ Peggy Pirro

“Ask questions to find out something about the world itself, not to find out whether or not someone knows it.” ~ John Holt

“Everything I am interested in, from cooking to electronics, is related to math. In real life you don’t have to worry about integrating math into other subjects. In real life, math already is integrated into everything else.” ~ Anna Hoffstrom

“As far as I have seen, at school...they aimed at blotting out one's individuality.” ~ Franz Kafka

Ivan Illich quote

“Since every effort in our educational life seems to be directed toward making of the child a being foreign to itself, it must of necessity produce individuals foreign to one another, and in everlasting antagonism with each other.” ~ Emma Goldman

“We ask children to do for most of a day what few adults are able to do for even an hour. How many of us, attending, say, a lecture that doesn’t interest us, can keep our minds from wandering? Hardly any.” ~ John Holt, How Children Fail

“We must demolish the institution of schooling because it impedes learning and enslaves children. Then we need to put both money and creativity into creating opportunities and infrastructures that respect children and help them learn.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz

Goal of education by John Taylor Gatto

“Education is hanging around until you’ve caught on.” ~ Robert Frost 

“What I always tell kids? The world is nothing like school. The world has ten thousand pathways. The world appreciates energy, independence.” ~ Carol Black

“Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mediocre educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom and go to the library and educate yourself if you’ve got any guts.” ~ Frank Zappa

“We do not learn because the process is fun, but because what we learn allows us to accomplish something.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz, Challenging Assumptions in Education

learning in the real world by Wendy Priesnitz

“Learning occurs naturally, but teaching isn't natural at all. The little ones are learning from the older children or from the adults, but nobody's teaching. They're learning on their own initiative, which is so powerful. You don't have to augment it. In fact, you can't really augment it. There's no way you can make a child learn better than he would if he or she wants to.” ~ Jean Leidloff

“Just as eating against one’s will is injurious to health, so studying without a liking for it spoils the memory, and it retains nothing it takes in.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

“Children are born passionately eager to make as much sense as they can of things around them. If we attempt to control, manipulate, or divert this process... the independent scientist in the child disappears.” ~ John Holt

magic

“My schooling not only failed to teach me what it professed to be teaching, but prevented me from being educated to an extent which infuriates me when I think of all I might have learned at home by myself.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

“We don't yet know, above all, what the world might be like if children were to grow up without being subjected to humiliation, if parents would respect them and take them seriously as people.” ~ Alice Miller

“Education itself is a putting off, a postponement; we are told to work hard to get good results. Why? So we can get a good job. What is a good job? One that pays well. Oh. And that’s it? All this suffering, merely so that we can earn a lot of money, which, even if we manage it, will not solve our problems anyway? It’s a tragically limited idea of what life is all about.” ~ Tom Hodgkinson

quote by Einstein about creativity

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” ~ Pablo Picasso

“For better or worse, we learn every day, wherever we are, whatever we're doing, whoever we're with. We learn good things, useful things, handy things - and we learn bad things, destructive things, things we might someday wish we hadn't learned. Life's like that. On the whole, though, learning serves us quite well, and we're constantly arranging and rearranging our learning so it's more useful to us.” ~ Helen Hegener

“School is the advertising agency which makes you believe that you need the society as it is.” ~ Ivan Illich

John Holt quote

“It is widely believed that Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was born from daydreaming about running alongside a sunbeam to the edge of the universe. Now let’s imagine if he had gone to school today, been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and put on Ritalin. The world would indeed be a different place.” ~ Ellen Rowland

“It's not that I feel that school is a good idea gone wrong, but a wrong idea from the word go. It's a nutty notion that we can have a place where nothing but learning happens, cut off from the rest of life.” ~ John Holt

“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.” ~ Rachel Carson

quote by Thoreau

“Perhaps the most basic assumption our society makes about education is that learning can and should be produced in people. This assumption leads to another one: Learning is the result of treatment by an institution called school.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz

“Learning from programmed information always hides reality behind a screen.” ~ Ivan Illich

“Your life, time, and brain should belong to you, not to an institution.” ~ Grace Llewellyn

“How could youth better learn to live than by at once trying the experiment of living?” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Roland Meighan quote about unschooling

“The anxiety children feel at constantly being tested, their fear of failure, punishment, and disgrace, severely reduces their ability both to perceive and to remember, and drives them away from the material being studied into strategies for fooling teachers into thinking they know what they really don’t know.” ~ John Holt

“I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built up on the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think.” ~ Anne Sullivan

“It was never factually true that young people learn to read or do arithmetic primarily by being taught these things. These things are learned, but not really taught at all. Over-teaching interferes with learning, although the few who survive it may well come to imagine it was by an act of teaching.” ~ John Taylor Gatto

Children are born curious by Wendy Priesnitz

“It is among the commonplaces of education that we often first cut off the living root and then try to replace its natural functions by artificial means. Thus we suppress the child's curiosity and then when he lacks a natural interest in learning he is offered special coaching for his scholastic difficulties.” ~ Alice Duer Miller

“If there is anything we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could be better changed in ourselves.” ~ C.G. Jung

“This is really what the whole debate over compulsory schooling is about. Do we trust people’s capacity to be curious or not?” ~ Astra Taylor

quote about genius by John Taylor Gatto

“Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.” ~ John Holt

“Public education reflects our society's paternalistic, hierarchical worldview, which exploits children in the same way it takes the earth's resources for granted.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz, Challenging Assumptions in Education

“The whole educational and professional training system is a very elaborate filter, which just weeds out people who are too independent, and who think for themselves, and who don't know how to be submissive, and so on – because they're dysfunctional to the institutions.” ~ Noam Chomsky

quote by Grace Llewellyn

“Self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child's nature.” ~ Charlotte Mason

“School prepares for the alienating institutionalization of life by teaching the need to be taught.” ~ Ivan Illich

“Compulsory schooling is not public education. Public education is free public libraries, museums, guided walks in the forest, discussion groups, town meetings, public lectures, debates, forums, presentations, public performance, revolving apprenticeships, volunteer work, and open ungraded classes.” ~ Gina Cassidy

“Where is the wisdom lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge lost in information?” ~ T. S. Eliot

quote by Ivan Illich

“Children pursue life, and in doing so, pursue knowledge. They need adults to trust in the inevitability of this very natural process, and to offer what assistance they can.” ~ Earl Stevens

“Children engage in [free] play because they enjoy it – it’s self-directed. They do not play for rewards; they enjoy the doing, not the end result. Once they get bored, they go on to do something else – and continue to learn and grow.” ~ Sheila G. Flaxman

“We have a cultural notion that if children were not engineered, if we did not manipulate them, they would grow up as beasts in the field. This is the wildest fallacy in the world.” ~ Joseph Chilton Pearce

quote about learning by Simone Weil

“When I look back at all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all.” ~ Paul Simon

“Education is power, yes, but when it comes to formal schooling, this power is often misunderstood. The power does not lie with the recipient, but with the creator. Surely, the person who decides what you should and should not know has more power than the empty vessels the schooling system sees its students for. There is no better person to decide what you should know than yourself.” ~ Laura Schuerwegen

“Education is a social process. Education is growth. Education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself.” ~ John Dewey

kids don't need to be taught to learn

“Because schools suffocate children’s hunger to learn, learning appears to be difficult and we assume that children must be externally motivated to do it.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz

“If you like to make things out of wood, or sew, or dance, or style people's hair, or dream up stories and act them out, or play the trumpet, or jump rope, or whatever you really love to do, and you love that in front of your children, that's going to be a far more important gift than anything you could ever give them wrapped up in a box with ribbons.” ~ Fred M. Rogers

“People today do not even know what children are actually like. They only know what children are like in schools.” ~ Carol Black

Unschooling is a fancy word for life.

“A 'school-at-home' approach to homeschooling is just decorating the electric chair in different colors.” ~ Joseph Chilton Pearce

“Incidental education, taking part in the on-going activities of society, must again be made the chief means of learning and teaching.” ~ Paul Goodman

“Showing up at school already able to read is like showing up at the undertaker's already embalmed: people start worrying about being put out of their jobs.” ~ Florence King

Trusting children is radical.

“School takes our children away from any possibility of an active role in community life – in fact, it destroys communities by relegating the training of children to the hands of certified experts – and by doing so it ensures our children cannot grow up fully human. Aristotle taught that without a fully active role in community life one could not hope to become a healthy human being.” ~ John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down

“Growing up, I couldn’t understand the confusion. Wasn’t it obvious that I could learn math and physics if I wanted to? Couldn’t my uncle see that I had no use for chemistry but that if I did, I’d learn it? Why did anyone care, anyway? And why did people ask me if I knew math and English but they didn’t ask whether I knew about good nutrition or how to shingle a roof?” ~ Sarabeth Matilsky

“It is possible to store the mind with a million facts and still be entirely uneducated.” ~ Alec Bourne

Learning societies by Wendy Priesnitz

“The joy of learning is as indispensable in study as breathing is in running.” ~ Simone Weil

“If we value independence, if we are disturbed by the growing conformity of knowledge, of values, of attitudes, which our present system induces, then we may wish to set up conditions of learning which make for uniqueness, for self-direction, and for self-initiated learning.” ~ Carl Rogers

“Birds don’t go to flight school.” ~ Linda Dobson

allowing children to grow by John Holt

“If you don’t make mistakes, you aren’t really trying.” ~ Coleman Hawkins

“As a society, we must own up to the damage we do to our children...in our families and in our schools. We must also be willing to make the sweeping changes in our institutions, public policies and personal lives that are necessary to reverse that harm to our children and to our society.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz

“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.” ~ Isaac Asimov

Much education today is ineffective.

“Children are born passionately eager to make as much sense as they can of things around them. If we attempt to control, manipulate, or divert this process, the independent scientist in the child disappears.” ~ John Holt

“The problem with common sense parenting is that it makes a range of unwarranted and ultimately harmful assumptions. It assumes that a child’s physical dependency on parents signals an exception to treating them as autonomous human beings. It assumes that coercion is harmless. It assumes that children are innately irrational, yet will become incrementally more rational despite being routinely coerced and not accustomed to making rational and creative decisions throughout their lives. In short, it assumes a very poor educational theory, one in which thinking can be routinely hampered by coercion whilst expecting the rationality that has been destroyed by coercion to appear by adulthood.” ~ Jan Fortune-Wood

“Do not worry about your problems with mathematics; I assure you mine are far greater.” ~ Albert Einstein

“College isn't the place to go for ideas.” ~ Helen Keller

schools and democracy by Noam Chomsky

“Creative work and critical thought, which produces new knowledge, can’t be conditioned; indeed, conditioning prevents these things from ever happening.” ~ John Taylor Gatto

“Being around people who seek to evaluate us feels risky. After all, they might disapprove. When children become aware of being watched and timed, they naturally grow tense and wary. Sometimes they will avoid an activity altogether if they feel judged.... Other times, particularly when quitting is not an option, children will become hooked on praise as a way of avoiding the potential shame of failure.” ~ Lael Whitehead

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” ~ Albert Einstein

socialization and unschooling

“The mere fact that most school attendance is compulsory reflects an attitude of mistrust of children and their desire to make sense of the world. In fact, if governments were really serious about their professed goal of developing, nurturing, and enhancing the intellectual and moral autonomy of the young, would they not have to abolish compulsory, externally imposed education?” ~ Wendy Priesnitz

“Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” ~ Oscar Wilde

“If you reject the authority of schools, why look for another authority to replace it with? All of us look to home educators who are further along the road than us for hints and ideas, but let’s not make gurus of anyone.” ~ Susan Wight

“The parent knows that the child cannot be artificially motivated to learn; they know that he is already motivated by the strongest driving force on earth: his inner intent.” ~ Joseph Chilton Pearce

Buckminster Fuller quote about self-directed learning

“Teaching does not make learning…organized education operates on the assumption that children learn only when and only what and only because we teach them. This is not true. It is very close to 100% false. Learners make learning.” ~ John Holt

“Children don’t need to be taught how to learn; they are born learners. They come out of the womb interacting with and exploring their surroundings. Babies are active learners, their burning curiosity motivating them to learn how the world works. And if they are given a safe, supportive environment, they will continue to learn hungrily and naturally – in the manner and at the speed that suits them best.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz

“We are faced with the paradoxical fact that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought.” ~ Bertrand Russell

quote by Chris Mercogliano from Life Learning Magazine

“Think of reading like riding a bicycle: One doesn’t consciously name the muscles involved or the particular actions required of each, or the parts of the bicycle, or Newton’s laws of motion, or the physics of gears, or the changes in brain chemistry associated with balance. One gets up on the seat and starts to pedal.” ~ David Albert, What Really Matters

“Learning is rarely linear in nature when it is genuine, and if someone has a passion for a particular subject or activity, they won’t need to be told to practice; on the contrary you’ll have a difficult time keeping them from it.” ~ Amy Milstein

“I was fortunate enough to extricate myself before insensibility set in.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore, on quitting school at 13

What we call education

“My grandmother wanted me to get a good education, so she kept me as far away from schools as possible.” ~ Margaret Mead

“My ideal educational system would be a society in which knowledge was widely free and widely and freely shared, and children were everywhere trusted, respected, safe, valued, and welcomed.” ~ John Holt

“The most potent force for change...is the growing recognition of millions of adults that their own impoverished expectations and frustrations came, in large measure, from their schooling.” ~ Marilyn Ferguson

“People can spend a lot of time discussing education without ever discussing learning.” ~ Ken Robinson

quote about learning to talk

“The force-feeding process of schooling is so relentless that many students gag on it. They tune out or leave school, and in some cases, become permanently soured on learning.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz

“The condition of alienation, of being asleep, of being unconscious, of being out of one's mind, is the condition of the normal man. Society highly values its normal man. It educates children to lose themselves and to become absurd, and thus to be normal.” ~ R.D. Laing

“I suppose it is because nearly all children go to school nowadays, and have things arranged for them, that they seem so forlornly unable to produce their own ideas.” ~ Agatha Christie

unschooling quote by Wendy Priesnitz

“Most of us are tactful enough with other adults not to point out their errors but not many of us are ready to extend this courtesy to children.” ~ John Holt

“Life-long learners start their education at home.” ~ Beverley Paine

“It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry.” ~ Albert Einstein

“I was shocked to see how genuine learning is when it is truly interest-driven and spontaneous. Without pressure or coaxing, my five-year-old son became interested in dinosaurs and paleontology, the Galapagos Islands, Charles Darwin, King Arthur, Native American history and culture, global conflict, our impact on the environment, electrical circuits, aviation, space, volcanoes, sharks, a wide breadth of math-related topics, and so much more.” ~ Jennifer Head

the joy of learning by Simone Weil

“Four years was enough of Harvard. I still had a lot to learn, but had been given the liberating notion that now I could teach myself.” ~ John Updike

“Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.” ~ Beatrix Potter

“Education: free and compulsory – what a way to learn logic!” ~ Frank van Dun

“The idea that people should study for about 12 years and then start living is more deeply seated in our culture than many people realize.” ~ Larry and Susan Kaseman

what is education by Robert Frost

“The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed a standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.” ~ H. L. Mencken

“I wonder why so many parents still want to keep their children hidden away in schools, when they could be learning in the wonderful, bright, ever-changing, always-stimulating real world.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” ~ Alvin Toffler

free and compulsory - not logic

“If children are engaged with and observing the world, they’re learning about it.” ~ Ross Mountney

“It is a miracle that curiosity survives a formal education.” ~ Albert Einstein

“When you see a car hurtling toward your child, you push him out of the way before you engage in conversation about Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards. We must stop harming the children presently in our care. Right now. Today.” ~ Susan Ohanian

“What does education often do? It makes a straight-cut ditch out of a free, meandering brook.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

choice to create learning society by Wendy Priesnitz

“If you’re a 'nice' teacher, and you’re not 100% clear that most of your students are in your room by force, under threat of punishment, up to and including the use of police power, you’re gaslighting them. You can only freely choose what you’re free to walk away from.” ~ Carol Black

“It is an exacting and exhausting business, this damming up the flood of human potentialities. What energy it takes to make a torrent into a trickle, to train that trickle along narrow, well marked channels!” ~ George Leonard

“Artificial learning takes what is simple and natural and turns it into a complex array of objectives, goals, measurements, administrators, supervisors, counselors, and transportation experts. Natural education requires only a guide providing direction, and a learner ready to discover and create goals and values that are personally meaningful.” ~ Linda Dobson

quote by John Taylor Gatto

“I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.” ~ Eartha Kitt

“One of the first things a family tries to teach its children is the difference between good and evil, right and wrong. One of the first things our schools do is destroy that distinction.” ~ John Taylor Gatto

“Our rapidly moving, information-based society badly needs people who know how to find facts rather than memorize them, and who know how to cope with change in creative ways. You don't learn those things in school.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz

“Deschooling is a time of convalescence. The time required to recover from formal education varies with the amount of time one was exposed to the disease and the individual’s resiliency. A resilient child who is exposed to school for a few months can recover in a few weeks. But a child who was profoundly injured can take months or years to recover, if ever.” ~ Léandre Bergeron

George Bernard Shaw quote about learning by himself

“The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as long as we live. ~ Mortimer Adler

“My job is not to teach at all, but to find the opportunities for my kids to learn. NOT knowing something can be an advantage, as it reminds me of the wealth of resources out there in the community and world, if only we are willing to go look for them.” ~ David Albert

“Children are not our own art products to be turned out well, but their own life work in continual process.” ~ Jan Fortune Wood

“If feminism is the radical notion that women are people, how much more radical is it to extend personhood to children?” ~ Wendy Priesnitz

trust children by John Holt

“A person's freedom of learning is part of his freedom of thought, even more basic than his freedom of speech. If we take from someone his right to decide what he will be curious about, we destroy his freedom of thought. We say, in effect, you must think not about what interests and concerns you, but about what interests and concerns us.” ~ John Holt

“Following passions, no matter how unconventional or non-academic they seem at the time, can get young adults to exactly the same desirable places that other kids spend all of high school nose to grindstone trying to achieve, with all the attendant pressure and stress.” ~ Karen Hollis

“We are shut up in schools and college recitation rooms for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a bellyful of words and do not know a thing.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“There are so many children in our world who need love, and food and shelter, and acceptance, and support, and trust. No one needs schooling!” ~ Idzie Desmarais

quote about learning at home by Claude Monet

“It’s difficult to trust your child in a world that insists children aren’t able to be trusted. But if children are given the resources to make educated decisions, with someone helping and guiding them through their decisions, trust is natural... Embracing and trusting your children can help them find out who they are, what they’re comfortable with, give them the tools they’ll need in life, and most importantly, enable them to trust themselves and you.” ~ Carla Martinez (age 16)

“My teachers could have easily ridden with Jesse James for all the time they stole from me.” ~ Richard Brautigan

“It is absurd and anti-life to be a part of a system that compels you to listen to a stranger reading poetry when you want to learn to construct buildings, or to sit with a stranger discussing the construction of buildings when you want to read poetry.” ~ John Taylor Gatto

School is the experiment - Wendy Priesnitz

“Any child who can spend an hour or two a day, or more if he wants, with adults that he likes, who are interested in the world and like to talk about it, will on most days learn far more from their talk than he would learn in a week of school.” ~ John Holt

“Forced association is not socialization.” ~ Adele Carroll

“What makes people smart, curious, alert, observant, competent, confident, resourceful, persistent – in the broadest and best sense, intelligent – is not having access to more and more learning places, resources, and specialists, but being able in their lives to do a wide variety of interesting things that matter, things that challenge their ingenuity, skill, and judgement, and that make an obvious difference in their lives and the lives of people around them.” ~ John Holt

John Taylor Gatto quote

“Our schooling has led us to misunderstand the difference between the power to do something and the force that makes us do something. We were told one too many times to sit in our seats and listen, to put up our hands when we had to go to the bathroom, and to buy what we were offered.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz

“The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed a standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.” ~ H. L. Mencken

“Unschooling and natural learning unfold from the center - our centers. Our kids’ centers. Our families’ centers. The question we need to ask each day is what is central to our needs, as individuals within a family, within a community, within a society, within the family of humanity.” ~ Beverley Paine

“Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.” ~ Arthur Koestler

quote by Charles Eisenstein

“Raising children with an emphasis on intrinsic rewards is not a technique, a method, or a trick to get them to do what the parent wants them to by subtler means, but a way of life, a way of living with children with real respect for their intelligence and for their being.” ~ Mary Van Doren

“If we want a learning system fit for humans in a democracy, we have to face up to the stark proposition that school is not the solution, it is part of the problem.” ~ Roland Meighan

“All the time you are in school, you learn through experience how to live in a dictatorship.” ~ Grace Llewellyn

“In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” ~ Eric Hoffer

“In the end, the secret to learning is so simple: forget about it. Think only about whatever you love. Follow it, do it, dream about it. One day, you will glance up at your collection of Japanese literature, or trip over the solar oven you built, and it will hit you: learning was there all the time, happening by itself.” ~ Grace Llewellyn

when the word school becomes an artifact of the past by Wendy Priesnitz

“Education is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.” ~ John Dewey

“At the end of the assembly line, there is no guarantee that the diploma signifies competence, knowledge, or maturity.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz, Challenging Assumptions in Education

“Homeschooling is an act of liberation and an act of passion. It is an occasion to walk away from institutional images of life and to embrace a vision that is filled with personal meaning and unmistakable truths for our families. The quality of awareness that comes from the heart is more dependable... Homeschooling... is about helping make it possible for children to reach maturity with healthy, curious, fully conscious minds.” ~ Earl Gary Stevens

“Life learning not only nurtures each child’s unique abilities but also leaves ample space for these gifts to unfold. This takes time and understanding. The alternative deprives not only the child, it also deprives our world of what that child might become.” ~ Laura Grace Weldon

trusting ourselves as parents...by Wendy Priesnitz, editor of Life Learning Magazine

“Skill to do comes of doing.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Many adults believe with every fiber of their being that children belong in school. Full stop. Whether school is that great a place or not is not really the main issue on the table. Most adults simply don’t have better ideas for kids.” ~ Kelly Hogaboom

“The notion that making mistakes is bad is one of the worst aspects of institutionalized education. We learn to live in fear of failure. The focus becomes passing tests at the expense of learning, and so we become timid and small in our approach to learning new things.” ~ Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko

“I’ve concluded that genius is as common as dirt. We suppress our genius only because we haven’t yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves.”~ John Taylor Gatto

What school teaches by John Taylor Gatto

“If I had to make a general rule for living and working with children, it might be this: be wary of saying or doing anything to a child that you would not do to another adult, whose good opinion and affection you valued.” ~ John Holt

“Personal empowerment begins with realizing the value of our own life experience and potential to affect the world. Our children deserve the opportunity to be part of – and learn from – the daily lives of their families and communities.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz

“We can think of ourselves not as teachers but as gardeners. A gardener does not grow flowers; he tries to give them what he thinks they need and they grow by themselves.” ~ John Holt

children are not products  to be processed on an assembly line

“Life is learning, learning is life. Unschoolers simply do not think there are times for learning and times for not learning. They don't divide life into school time or lesson time versus play time or recreation time. There is no such thing as 'extracurricular' to an unschooler - all of life, every minute of every day, counts as learning time, and there is no separate time set aside for 'education'.” ~ Pam Sorooshian

“I am always doing things I can't do, that's how I get to do them.” ~ Pablo Picasso

“There is no Nobel Prize for knowing a little about a lot. Our culture supports specialists: experts in their one or two fields who build up their work over a lifetime. From a young age, we are pressured to focus our attention and learning onto one subject. But what if specializing isn’t the best way to go about learning?” ~ Anna Simmonds

doing the right thing as parents by Wendy Priesnitz

“I can’t give you a brain, but I can give you a diploma.” ~ L. Frank Baum

“When [unschoolers] use negative language about schooled people, it’s alienating. If we really mean it when we say that we want more people to learn about and understand unschooling, and I truly believe that most of us do, then being superior about it isn’t going to help.” ~ Idzie Desmarais

“How is it that little children are so intelligent and men so stupid? It must be education that does it.” Alexandre Dumas

“We need to separate our identities as people from our university degrees. That of course, ultimately means letting our names appear naked on our business cards.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz, Challenging Assumptions in Education

“I loved learning; it was school I hated. I used to cut school to go learn something.” ~ Eric Jensen

The child cannot wait.

“Nothing enrages me more than when people criticize my criticism of school by telling me that schools are not just places to learn maths and spelling, they are places where children learn a vaguely defined thing called socialization…I think schools generally do an effective and terribly damaging job of teaching children to be infantile, dependent, intellectually dishonest, passive, and disrespectful to their own developmental capacities.” ~ Seymour Papert

“Few have the ability to predict what is meaningful for another person – especially without possessing insight as to why the knowledge matters, or to what purpose its intent. The costs of determining relevancy for others are witnessed daily in the lives of those continually seeking what originally held meaning for them as children.” ~ Amy Spang

“It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.” ~ Albert Einstein

Wendy Priesnitz - quote about trusting kids

“Trusting ourselves as parents is as important – and as difficult – as trusting our children.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz

“People will always try to stop you from doing the right thing if it is unconventional.” ~ Warren Buffett

“Collecting data on human learning based on children’s behavior in school is like collecting data on killer whales based on their behavior at Sea World.” ~ Carol Black

“There were no sex classes. No friendship classes. No classes on how to navigate a bureaucracy, build an organization, raise money, create a database, buy a house, love a child, spot a scam, talk someone out of suicide, or figure out what was important to me. Not knowing how to do these things is what messes people up in life, not whether they know algebra or can analyze literature.” ~ William Upski Wimsatt

children have so much exuberance

“Children learn how to speak by listening to others speak. They learn how to converse by watching and listening to others converse. They learn how to hold books by watching other people hold books.” ~ Becca Challman

“The founding fathers in their wisdom decided that children were an unnatural strain on parents. So they provided jails called schools, equipped with tortures called education. School is where you go between when your parents can't take you and industry can't take you.” ~ John Updike

“Allowing children to do what they want requires that adults be confident that the children are engaged in something valuable, even if we can’t see the merits on the surface.” ~ Janet LoSole

Grace Llewellyn quote about school being a dictatorship

“Children learn how to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions.” ~ Alfie Kohn

“S“Sadly, children’s passion for thinking often ends when they encounter a world that seeks to educate them for conformity and obedience only.” ~ bell hooks

“School is about learning to wait your turn, however long it takes to come, if ever. And how to submit with a show of enthusiasm to the judgment of strangers, even if they are wrong, even if your enthusiasm is phony.” ~ John Taylor Gatto

“Society allows children a sense of wonder for only so long. Before they are force-fed, children are naturally hungry to learn. There’s no quicker way to kill that sense of wonder in kids than to shove useless facts down their throats. Facts they no more care about than a shot in the arm. Facts that may do them more harm than good, as too much boring data destroys natural wonderment, curiosity, and imagination.” ~ Debra Elramey

quote about learning by Wendy Priesnitz

“It is hard not to feel that there must be something very wrong with much of what we do in school, if we feel the need to worry so much about what many people call 'motivation'. A child has no stronger desire than to make sense of the world, to move freely in it, to do the things that he sees bigger people doing.” ~ John Holt

“I don’t know what’s more disturbing to me – the fact grownups think children are less-than-people so don’t feel, think, or notice the same stuff grownups do; or the fact some grownups recognize the personhood of children on some level but think it is their right to tromp all over them anyway.” ~ Kelly Hogaboom

“When you want to teach children to think, you begin by treating them seriously when they are little, giving them responsibilities, talking to them candidly, providing privacy and solitude for them, and making them readers and thinkers of significant thoughts from the beginning. That's if you want to teach them to think.” ~ Bertrand Russell

High school after no school

“Children are born to be curious, independent, active, self-directed learners and will remain that way if school doesn’t dampen their natural curiosity about the world by turning learning into something unpleasant and coercive.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz, Beyond School: Living As If School Doesn't Exist

“We all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls.” ~ Robert R. McCammon, author

“The truth is we don’t know how to teach our children about nature because we ourselves were raised in the cinderblock world. We are, in the parlance of wildlife rehabilitators, unreleasable.” ~ Carol Black

“Real wisdom is not the knowledge of everything, but the knowledge of which things in life are necessary, which are less necessary, and which are completely unnecessary to know.” ~ Leo Tolstoy

Quote by John Taylor Gatto from speech

“Today for Show and Tell, I've brought a tiny marvel of nature: a single snowflake. I think we might all learn a lesson from how this utterly unique and exquisite crystal turns into an ordinary, boring molecule of water, just like every other one, when you bring it in the classroom. And now, while the analogy sinks in, I'll be leaving you drips and going outside.” ~ Calvin, from Calvin & Hobbes comic

“Education cannot make a person into something; it can only provide space for a person to discover who they are. Being fully human is not derived from doing things the way that someone or something has told us to, but by being who we are, the person we were born to be.” ~ Tammy Takahashi

“Immersed in an oral world, living in the same social sphere as adults, unrestrained by segregating institutions, the medieval child would have had access to almost all of the forms of behaviour common to the culture.” ~ Neil Postman, The Disappearance of Childhood

“I watched an 18-month-old stacking blocks, completely absorbed. When she successfully stacked 3 blocks, I exclaimed, ‘Good job!’ She turned & looked at me with an expression that said, ‘Excuse me. Did somebody ask for your opinion?’ Then she stopped playing with the blocks.” ~ Carol Black

inhibit problem-solving quote by Wendy Priesnitz

“It was at home I learned the little I know. Schools always appeared to me like a prison, and never could I make up my mind to stay there, not even for four hours a day, when the sunshine was inviting, the sea smooth, and when it was joy to run about the cliffs in the free air, or to paddle in the water.” ~ Claude Monet

“Those who have most at stake in the old culture, or are most rigid in their beliefs, try to summon people back to the old ideas.” ~ Marilyn Ferguson

“When people can interact with art on their own terms, they learn to trust – and enjoy – their own perceptions of art. They also learn to trust and depend on themselves for their own education.” ~ Gina Cassidy

“What we call education and culture is for the most part nothing but the substitution of reading for experience, of literature for life, of the obsolete fictitious for the contemporary real.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

quote by Wendy Priesnitz about computer use

“Home-based education is not an experiment. It’s how people learned to function in the world for centuries. And there is no reason to think people today can’t do the same thing. School is the experiment, not the lack of it. And I think that experiment is in trouble.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz

“It’s exciting to see how fast your kids learn and grow. I’m not too worried about them, particularly the ones who like to break rules and don’t follow instructions; those are the ones that will do just fine because they know what’s important to them.” ~ Michael Dell

“I exclusively attended public school... And I can honestly say that on the day of my graduation, if you had given me a pop quiz on history, science, or math, I would have in no way been able to pass it – despite the fact that I completely understood it at the time that it had been 'taught' to me, and had even made a good 'grade' on it.” ~ Jessica Bowman

education quote by Seth Godin

“Education now seems the most authoritarian and dangerous of all the social inventions of mankind. It is the deepest foundation of the modern slave state, in which most people feel themselves to be nothing but producers, consumers, spectators, and 'fans,' driven in all parts of their lives, by greed, envy, and fear. My concern is not to improve 'education' but to do away with it, to end the ugly and antihuman business of people-shaping and to allow and help people to shape themselves.” ~ John Holt

“Although I wasn’t able to articulate it at the time, it annoyed me that many people seemed to think that they knew what I should know better than I did.” ~ Sarabeth Matilsky

“Whatever an education is, it should make you a unique individual, not a conformist; it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges. It should allow you to find values which will be your road map through life; it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whomever you are with; it should teach you what is important, how to live and how to die.” ~ John Taylor Gatto

quote about curiosity by Freire

“I look forward to the day when the transition from passive learning to active living has ended and we all see the word "school" and its various forms as a strange little artifact of the past. That will be the day when there is no longer a need to label how we live (and inevitably learn) in our families, to devise parameters for those labels, or to judge those who disagree about their definitions.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz

“The pupil is ... 'schooled' to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new.” ~ Ivan Illich

“Learning doesn’t have to be fun for kids to enjoy it. In fact, if we make learning fun all the time, we spoil it for them. They know that learning isn’t necessarily about having fun, that often it’s a challenge and is sometimes quite difficult. And they know they are up to that challenge.”  ~ Beverley Paine

“I think the big mistake in schools is trying to teach children anything, and by using fear as the basic motivation. Fear of getting failing grades, fear of not staying with your class, etc. Interest can produce learning on a scale compared to fear as a nuclear explosion to a firecracker.” ~ Stanley Kubrik

quote by A.S. Neill about free children

“Education rears disciples, imitators, and routinists, not pioneers of new ideas and creative geniuses. The schools are not nurseries of progress and improvement, but conservatories of tradition and unvarying modes of thought.” ~ Ludwig von Mises

“We speak of our familiar school experience almost as though it were an integral part of nature itself, a natural and essential part of human childhood, rather than the vast and extremely recent experiment in social engineering that it actually is.” ~ Carol Black

“We destroy the love of learning in children, which is so strong when they are small, by encouraging and compelling them to work for petty and contemptible rewards, gold stars, or papers marked 100 and tacked to the wall, or A's on report cards, or honor rolls, or dean's lists, or Phi Beta Kappa keys...in short, for the ignoble satisfaction of feeling that they are better than someone else. ~ John Holt

“Our job is obvious: we need to get out of the way, shine a light, and empower a new generation to teach itself and to go further and faster than any generation ever has.” ~ Seth Godin

What children can learn without help

“It is as true now as it was then that no matter what tests show, very little of what is taught in school is learned, very little of what is learned is remembered, and very little of what is remembered is used. The things we learn, remember, and use are the things we seek out or meet in the daily, serious, nonschool parts of our lives.” ~ John Holt

“The question of whether this unconventional lifestyle of life learning prepares kids for the 'real world' is not really a question to me at all. Our children have always been a part of the real world.” ~ Gaye Chicoine

“I think it is wonderful to be the son of parents who have made [the choice to unschool me], but maybe our son will want to go to school. Choice and freedom are different things. One must not give only a choice, one must also give freedom. For example, if we offer a vegetarian the choice between pork and beef, there is a choice, but there is no freedom; there is no freedom to choose what matches his convictions.” ~ André Stern

“The child in a classroom generally finds herself in a situation where she may not move, speak, laugh, sing, eat, drink, read, write, think her own thoughts, or even use the toilet without explicit permission from an authority figure.” ~ Carol Black

quote about unschooling by Wendy Priesnitz

“The philosopher wants to empower us while the expert wants to stand over us and make us dependent on him.” ~ John Holt

“In our culture, trusting and respecting children is radical; everything else is details.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz

“How does one learn that 'experience is its own reward' unless one has had experience? The answer is one doesn’t, until one has the experience of it! And if you are always seeking external rewards, or avoiding punishments, it is easy for this learning to pass you by.” ~ David H. Albert

“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” ~ Paulo Freire

quote by Paul Henderson about government involvement in learning

“The freedom to make mistakes provides the best environment for creativity. Education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don't.” ~ Anatole France

“Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.” ~ John W. Gardner

“I can’t look back on my self-directed childhood without thinking of the experience as a gift. I was able to explore what childhood can be; I was given the time to learn about who I was and who I wanted to become, and to discover that doing things differently can be both exciting and empowering.” ~ Zoë Dalton

“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” ~ Paulo Freire

understanding power by Wendy Priesnitz

“If we truly are living as if school doesn’t exist, we can stop describing ourselves in school terms. We can de-couple learning – and the life we’re living with our families – from the institution of school. When we use words like 'unschooling,' we are reacting to school, rather than leaving it behind as the short-term social experiment it was.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz

“You cannot teach a person anything; you can only help him find it within himself.” ~ Galileo

“Of course adults are vital to young people’s lives. They provide safety, guidance, love, and much more. Kids know they can ask trusted adults for help or advice. They do so more eagerly when they recognize these adults won’t overwhelm them with information, quiz them on what they are learning, or take over. Adult responses simply need to stay in proportion to a young person’s request.” ~ Laura Grace Weldon

“You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for a buck fifty in late charges at the public library.” ~ Will Hunting

quote by Pat Farenga re John Holt

“Children engage in [free] play because they enjoy it – it’s self-directed. They do not play for rewards; they enjoy the doing, not the end result. Once they get bored, they go on to do something else – and continue to learn and grow.” ~ Sheila G. Flaxman

“I was not a creation of the schoolmaster: the Government Board of Education was not consulted when I took birth in the world.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore

“Children don’t naturally think in terms of math or reading being “hard;” we create those feelings if we force them to learn these skills before they are developmentally or emotionally ready, or before they are interested in or see a need for them.” ~ Wendy Priesnitz

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” ~ Mark Twain

“Mass schooling damages children. We don’t need any more of it. And under the guise that it is the same thing as education, it has been picking our pockets just as Socrates predicted it would thousands of years ago. One of the surest ways to recognize real education is by the fact that it doesn’t cost very much, doesn’t depend on expensive toys or gadgets. The experiences that produce it and the self-awareness that propels it are nearly free. It is hard to turn a dollar on education. But schooling is a wonderful hustle, getting sharper all the time.” ~ John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling

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