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TEDx Talks on Unschooling and Self-directed Learning

Athan and Hudson learning math skills while starting a small business selling clay creatures they created

Hopefully you read our post on High School Writing Contests for Homeschoolers. If you did, you briefly heard how we started as a Classical Education homeschool family who, very quickly, learned to embrace Unschooling.

I was lucky enough to learn about Unschooling very early in our homeschooling journey, because Athan decided about half-way through our first year that he was not going to do math anymore, none, at all.

His “decision” lead to some turmoil in our usually serene mother/son relationship. If you have known Athan at all during his 15 years of life, you know how close we have always been and that he is the most easy going being on the Earth, clearly he inherited that trait from my dad and my husband :)

I remember being in tears on the phone with our charter school teacher, sharing with her about our struggles with math and telling her that I was ready to send Athan to a brick and mortar school for the sake of our relationship, because I did not want be the one standing over him making him sit at the table crying over math. As I was pouring my heart out, she said the craziest thing to me,  “Throw out the math book!”

“I can do that?” I replied.

Well, I took her advice, we took a break from math for a number of weeks and then found our way into Living Math.  

After many years as a charter school homeschooler I know that not every teacher will tell you to throw your core subject books away, so I thought that we could share some other Unschool inspiring resources with you!!


TEDx brings the spirit of TED’s mission of ideas worth spreading to local communities around the globe. TEDx events are organized by curious individuals who seek to discover ideas and spark conversations in their own community. TEDx events include live speakers and recorded TED Talks, and are organized independently under a free license granted by TED.


Learning Through Unschooling with Callie Vandewiele at TEDxCambridgeUniversity.

Why Schools are Old Skool with Callie Vandewiele at TEDxNewnham.

Callie Vandewiele did not attend school until she was sixteen years old; now she is studying for a PhD. What happened? Callie was ‘unschooled’; free to make her own choices about the interests she followed, and to pursue them in the way that interested her most. Could unschooling be the way to prepare children for the twenty-first century? Callie Vandewiele is a Gates Scholar and PhD student at Newnham College at the University of Cambridge. She is a comedian, writer, activist, and knitter, and she is the product of ‘unschooling’ implemented by a liberal anarchist in the deserts of Utah. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.


School is Optional with Ken Danford at TEDxAmherstCollege.

Co-founder of North Star, Ken has been working intensively with teenagers and their families since 1991. Previously a middle school social studies teacher, first in Prince George’s County, MD, then in Amherst, MA, Ken left the Amherst school system to found North Star. He brought with him extensive education and training, including a B.A. from Amherst College in Psychology and an M.A.T. in Social Studies from Brown University.


Skipping School with Lua Martin Wells at TEDxCharleston.

Lua Martin Wells, is an unschooling advocate, a former French teacher and current Mount Pleasant librarian. She talks of how she unschooled her two children and let them direct their own educations.


New experiments in self-teaching with Sugata Mitra at TED Talk

Sugata Mitra is a Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University, England.

He tackles one of the greatest problems of education -- the best teachers and schools don't exist where they're needed most. In a series of real-life experiments from New Delhi to South Africa to Italy, he gave kids self-supervised access to the web and saw results that could revolutionize how we think about teaching.

1 commentaire

Heather Drake
Heather Drake
11 févr. 2019

What a timely article for me. My 12 year old, Ivah and I have just begun to embark on a project based learning experience. We will be learning what it takes to start a small business of her choosing from the ground up. It's so cool to see her excited about even the math that will be a major part of this endeavor. What a shift from her attitude about her math book/computer program. I have a very good feeling about this new learning avenue for us.

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