How A Steady Diet Of Standard Education Is Choking The Creativity, Health & Fitness Out Of Our Kids And What You Can Do About It.

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I was homeschooled my entire life, K-12. So I was intrigued by a recent article in Outside Online that begins like this:

“In early September, in a clapboard house situated on 43 acres just outside a small town in northern Vermont, two boys awaken. They are brothers; the older is 12, the younger 9, and they rise to a day that has barely emerged from the clutches of dark. It is not yet autumn, but already the air has begun to change, the soft nights of late summer lengthening and chilling into the season to come. Outside the boys’ bedroom window, the leaves on the maples are just starting to turn.

School is back in session and has been for two weeks or more, but the boys are unhurried. They dress slowly, quietly. Faded and frayed thrift-store camo pants. Flannel shirts. Rubber barn boots. Around their waists, leather belts with knife sheaths. In each sheath, a fixed-blade knife.

By 6:30, with the first rays of sun burning through the ground-level fog, the boys are outside. At some point in the next hour, a yellow school bus will rumble past the end of the driveway that connects the farm to the town road. The bus will be full of children the boys’ age, their foreheads pressed against the glass, gazing at the unfurling landscape, the fields and hills and forests of the small working-class community they call home.

The boys will pay the bus no heed. This could be because they will be seated at the kitchen table, eating breakfast with their parents. Or it might be because they are already deep in the woods below the house, where a prolific brook trout stream sluices through a stand of balsam fir; there is an old stone bridge abutment at the stream’s edge, and the boys enjoy standing atop it, dangling fresh-dug worms into the water. Perhaps they won’t notice the bus because they are already immersed in some other project: tillering a longbow of black locust, or starting a fire over which to cook the quartet of brookies they’ve caught. They heat a flat rock at the fire’s edge, and the hot stone turns the fishes’ flesh milky white and flaky.

Or maybe the boys will pay the bus no heed because its passing is meaningless to them. Maybe they have never ridden in a school bus, and maybe this is because they’ve never been to school. Perhaps they have not passed even a single day of their short childhoods inside the four walls of a classroom, their gazes shifting between window and clock, window and clock, counting the restless hours and interminable minutes until release.

Maybe the boys are actually my sons, and maybe their names are Fin and Rye, and maybe, if my wife, Penny, and I get our way, they will never go to school.

Hey, a father can dream, can’t he?”

Today, I have that dreaming father on the podcast, and you're going to learn everything you need to know about unschooling, alternative education models, sustainable homestead living, and much more. Even if you don't live “in the sticks”, you're going to pick up plenty of advice about how to raise your own children or help those around you raise their children to become independent, free-thinking resilient kids who know how to thrive in unpredictable situations.

My guest is Ben Hewitt, author of Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting Off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World, and in this interview, you'll discover:

-How Ben and his family live like royalty on a thrifty budget, and how you can too…

-How to find mentors and internships for your children…

-How Ben's children learned how to read with no “formal” education…

-The difference between unschooling and homeschooling…

-How to unschool even if you don't live on a farm or a homestead, especially if you're in an urban environment…

-How to ensure that your children don't become isolated loners or socially awkward…

-Potential alternatives to unschooling for people who aren't confident doing it or don't have the time…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

-Book: Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting Off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World

-Book: The Nourishing Homestead: One Back-to-the-Land Family's Plan for Cultivating Soil, Skills, and Spirit

-Book: Deschooling Society

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about unschooling? Leave your thoughts below and either Ben or I will reply!

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

12 thoughts on “How A Steady Diet Of Standard Education Is Choking The Creativity, Health & Fitness Out Of Our Kids And What You Can Do About It.

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  2. Steve Garcia says:

    Great episode! We unschool our children in central San Antonio and we are in a co-op with a couple other families in our area that do the same. Ben’s book Home Grown was a huge influence for us to move forward with this method. It’s been a great thing so far.

  3. Beni says:

    To anybody saying their social skills will be deteriorated, you’re correct ONLY if the kids don’t socialize. Duh. So simple fix. Socialize them. I knoe and can name 4 fsmilies off the top of my head who raised their children in a COMPLETELY alternative way (similar to what is talked about here) and they are amazingly impressive with their ability to communicate clearly and openly to people of ALL ages, not just their like-aged peers. So don’t just assume that, because you’ve met or heard of some kids who are weird cause they were raised in what you think is the same way Ben talks about here, all kids who don’t follow the mind numbing, frankly pathetic current public schooling system will be socially awkward.

  4. stevecooper37 says:

    All sounds well and good but the ultimate result is ending up with your kids having the social skills of a mosquito.

    1. Jay_Rocket6 says:

      agree, sounds really well

  5. Trineoty1 says:

    This was an awesome podcast. My husband and I have been studying sailing families for a few years. We are getting ready to take the leap to become a sailing family and unschooling has been the option we've chosen for our kids. My kids are both in high school. My son is not interested in college right now; he wants to travel the world. What better way to let him see the world then sailing around it? We've been in this hamster wheel system for many years, and I want so much more for my kids. I think it's great that Ben and his wife have the confidence and resilience to not be afraid to take a different path. I applaud you both!

  6. Kat says:

    Great perspective on homeschooling! I home school my 4 children and am always interested in learning not only how other families are succeeding, but also what challenges they face. Thanks for taking time out from the normal health issues to talk about a topic that is growing by leaps and bounds in our country.

  7. Tara says:

    Not impressed by this guy!

  8. gfeazy says:

    I have so many issues with this method of raising kids. Ugh. I agree that the one size fits all approach of the USA education system is poor but, in general, I find and have found that 99% of alternatively reared kids are not well adjusted to the 'real' world. On a side note I love how much effort and time "white people" put into making life difficult for themselves.

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