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Success Without School: Unschooling My Children from Birth to College (Paperback)
Consequences of the ongoing pandemic have seriously affected educational systems in the U.S. and around the world. School closures and the opportunities or nightmares of remote learning have caused many parents to reconsider options for schooling their children. Alternatives to going back to conventional school are currently hot topics, strongly motivated by growing racism and the social bullying that confront many youngsters and teens in today's school environment. (New Yorker Magazine, June 21, 2021, The Rise of Black Homeschooling.)
Jean Nunnally's memoir of her trials and triumphs in unschooling her two children from birth to college provides an enlightening insight into the innate learning ability of humans, showing how self-esteem, trust and personal responsibility were preserved and strengthened for herself and her kids. Unschooling, the author says, is the way we have learned throughout time and the way adults learn when they are free to pursue their interests.
Her book gives an overview of unschooling or self-directed learning, but so much more. Jean not only did the work, but her son and daughter are proof that unschooling works. They were each accepted in and graduated from prestigious U.S. colleges and testify, in personal reflections at the end of the narrative, to the happiness and fulfillment of their elementary and high school years following their passions, their hobbies, their music, their dreams, often in stark contrast to the struggles with traditional forms their peers were required to submit to.
Those unfamiliar with this unique educational approach, a subset of homeschooling, often argue from misunderstandings of the process. "What about socializing with their peers?" "Do I have to be a trained teacher?" they ask. Success Without School offers Nunnally's disputation of these and other popular myths surrounding the subject.
Along the way, Jean Nunnally points out aspects of her own transformation from a traditional background and a corporate career to the lesser traveled path of alternative education. She explains how her view of school changed, and changed her, as she proceeded to unschool her children. She leaves the reader with an encouraging description of the three jobs of an unschooling parent--exposure, facilitation, and modeling; and offers her unique approach to preparing an unschooled teen for college, and the specific challenges that required.