Adventures in Unschooling

A neat book.

Posted on: January 21, 2009

About three years ago I found a book on clearance at Chapters called Coloring Outside the Lines: Raising a Smarter Child by Breaking all the Rules. This book isn’t actually about homeschooling or unschooling although it really applies to both. It’s actually for the parents of kids who are in a structured school system.

The author believes that schools do an adequate job of teaching kids basic skills but the real education of children is highly dependent on parents.

The premise of the book is that schools do a lousy job of teaching  kids the most important skills for building intelligence. He claims that these skills are:

* Creativity: The ability to think outside the box not necessarily the ability to paint or play an instrument.

* Gumption: The ability to stick to something despite adversity.

*Communication skills: The ability to relate to adults in a proper way.

*Analysis skills: The ability to assess situations and find solutions.

*Curiosity: The ability to always ask questions and seek answers.

*Ambition: The ability to strive to fulfill their goals or thirst for answers. 


School impedes the development of these attributes in many ways. Some examples:

* Creativity: Insisting that there are right ways to interpret a book or play.

* Gumption: Not allowing kids to spend as much time as they want/need to fully explore topic. Before the child has a chance to explore something of interest they are asked to move on to something else.

* Communication skills: Some teachers will talk down to students. Students resort to socializing with their peers (which is fine) and learn to express themselves using slangs etc. They don’t learn how to relate to adults properly.

* Analysis skills: Schools think that analysis/problem solving skills are taught through solving math equations. This is not logical and doesn’t transfer into real world problems.

* Curiosity: School wants kids to stay focuses on the day’s lesson. They don’t have room for the unruliness caused by a student who has a million questions. There is also inadequate time for a student to satisfy his curiosity.

* Ambition: Schools have a pecking order. It is well implied by students, parents and teachers that if you do not study and get good grades you will not amount to anything. That is a fallacy. There are many successful CEOs that are high school drop-outs.

Schools were originally created to create a steady supply of factory workers. Not much as changed since then. The school system rewards students to absorb the text given to them and regurgitate the right answers. There is no room for different opinions or questioning the content.


There are many ways to save your self-esteem and your money. I am always surprised at all the different professions that offer apprenticeships. And all this time we have been sold this idea that education is more valuable than anything else and have spent thousands of dollars and years of our youth in colleges and trade schools just to get a job that pays barely enough to cover student loans!

No. My kids are going to get a life education. They’ll learn history from a variety of sources. They’ll learn math by calculating the price of cookies (or they won’t get any ha ha ha). They’ll learn about Canadian geography by going on road trips when all the other kids are stuck in classrooms, day dreaming. And most importantly they’ll learn how to relate with people. Even the tall ones. They’ll learn compassion and responsibility. They’ll get to read whatever they like and work on all sorts of project. They’ll learn how to problem solve by helping us solve our own problems.

Oh the places they’ll go. Oh what fun they’ll have!


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  • withoutloveweallperish: 50 books for $10!! As a book lover, that sounds like Christmas come early! Lovely library set up, need to set up one of those for myself!
  • theworldismysoyster: Sure. Just none of my kids. :)
  • goobrobinson: Hi! I'd like to seek your permission if I can reuse one of your pictures for my next post? Specifically the second picture.


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