View Full Version : Northeast Unschooling Conference?

03-10-2011, 05:48 PM

I'm wondering if anyone's attended this. The other area conferences are highly religious and we have no interest in hearing a speaker make the 'case for creationism'.

Unschooling feels a little, um, liberal and hippy-ish, which both DW and I lean. The conference is five hours away, near Boston. It seems like it could be fun for the kids, even if we decide unschooling is not our cup of tea. And we could build a few extra days into the trip to check out museums and learning centers and even visit a nephew who lives there.


03-10-2011, 08:55 PM
I'm not planning on attending (even though I live about 20 minutes away), but if you need any ideas of fun stuff to do in Boston, let me know!

03-10-2011, 09:26 PM
Oooooh, my advice is to go for it and then report back! I want to hear about what you see & do!

Edit: There's going to be a performance by Amy Steinburg. She seems to make the rounds of all the unschooling conventions.

03-10-2011, 09:29 PM
I just went to a conference that was of the highly religious sort...and I feel the same way as you. We were only there for a few hours (it actually lasts four days) because that was all we could fit into our schedule. We went to hear the seminar on beginning homeschooling in Maine which covered the laws and looking for curriculum, portfolios/testing required, etc. There were one or two other seminars that would have been interesting but most are just so conservative Christian out there ideas that, even for me who has no problem extracting the information that is helpful to me and letting the religious bits go in one ear and out the other, would not even consider attending them. If you think that you can get something out of the unschooling seminar then by all means go and do the same...take with you the information and ideas you need and let the rest go. I think that no matter why we decide to homeschool or what style we use, there is always something to be learned from each other. Of course sometimes what we learn is that what we DON'T want to do! ;-)

03-10-2011, 09:56 PM
I'm not planning on attending (even though I live about 20 minutes away), but if you need any ideas of fun stuff to do in Boston, let me know!

Will do!

I'm thinking it might be good for the kids to meet some peers who are homeschooling. Of course, we'll meet local kids who do, but the exposure to others with more varied experiences couldn't hurt.

Thanks, all.

03-11-2011, 05:28 AM
I've looked into this and even though we're not unschoolers, I think it would be fun and informative too. It's a drive for us (7 hours) but the closest thing to where we live, and I've thought maybe we can make it part of a bigger trip. I would also like for my son to meet other homeschoolers (we have NONE in our community) and he would have a great time. I'll let you know if we decide to attend and maybe we can meet up.

04-11-2011, 07:22 PM
I am sooooo glad I stumbled onto this! I took our 4 children--by myself--to a wonderful unschooler conference in Columbia, S.C. many yrs ago. We still talk about it, and how great it was. We will try to get our act together by August to get out to this conference. It sounds excellent. We've been unschoolers forever.

04-11-2011, 09:09 PM
interesting. have to see how the summer sugars out but I have family in that neck of the woods.

04-11-2011, 09:47 PM
This makes me wish I were an unschooler - it looks like a ton of fun!! If you go, let us know about it!

04-12-2011, 12:24 PM
Ooooh, I'm drooling now. My mil lives not too far away and if we end up going for vacation, I can slip out (hopefully bring the kids). A friend of mine told me about her experiences at the unschooling conference in WA last year: great ideas, constant mentoring, surrounded by families that are truly child-friendly, safe, fun, creative.

I have only recently really embraced unschooling and I couldn't be more pleased with the effects in such a short time.

04-12-2011, 01:29 PM
I have only recently really embraced unschooling and I couldn't be more pleased with the effects in such a short time.This makes me really happy to hear, albeto. I know how hard things have been.

But of course you stink, too, because your good experiences are tempting me to the dark side, lol. (I'm very relaxed but not unschoolish in case anyone else is wondering. Yet. albeto knows this.)

I want to hear more. :D

04-12-2011, 09:41 PM
But of course you stink, too, because your good experiences are tempting me to the dark side, lol. (I'm very relaxed but not unschoolish in case anyone else is wondering. Yet. albeto knows this.)

I want to hear more. :D

This is my conclusion, as a recovered curriculum junkie: Children learn through play.

That's how the human develops, as surely as learning how to feed oneself and walk and run. Traditionally, children learn about life between school lessons. They learn how things work (pill bugs are found under rocks), they learn how people work (playground politics), they learn the relationship between things (bmx bikes jump), and they learn bout themselves (what fascinates them). During lessons they learn facts and how to best retain them (study habits). Eventually they learn to analyze them.

Unschoolers accommodate learning about life by eliminating the formal lessons so there is more time to learn, and what the child naturally learns has all day and night to sink in. I say all night because without the added stress of assignment deadlines and playground politics (including the ones found in the homeschool), the brain is more efficient at absorbing and solidifying new information because it's not competing with this other information. The more they learn, the more their "database of knowledge" is (to coin my oldest ds' phrase), which means they have more resources with which to make connections. This of course leads to learning in greater detail how things work (neurophysiology), how people work (what a researcher does all day), and the relationships between things (calculus supports physics which supports neurophysiology). The facts are still learned and they're still analyzed. The difference is, because the motivation is intrinsic, the learning is eager and people tend to gravitate towards what they're good at / what they enjoy.

I give neurophysiology as an example only because it's familiar to me because of my oldest ds, but in essence it doesn't have to look academic at all to be learning. Playing Guitar Hero is still making important connections, still adding to the "database of knowledge". Unschoolers watch what catches the attention of their children, then add to it what they can by getting involved in the exploration, and adding (strewing) more information into the environment. For this reason, a 13 yo playing Guitar Hero isn't "doing nothing" because she's not studying Alegebra. She's getting her developmental needs met as surely as she did toddling around the house years ago.

Today my 13 yo bought herself a mandolin with her own money. The connections she's making is associated with fine arts, which lends itself to knowing history and language art skills, for those of us who fret about academic knowledge (pointing at myself here). Play looks differently at 13 than it does at 3, but it's still all about developing mental connections. More importantly, imo, she's learning that her relationship with her parents is based in mentorship rather than a conventional expectation of obedience (curriculum). My kids are learning to trust us with their vulnerabilities and that is giving them even more security and confidence, imo, which gives them a better play experience, which results in more effective play. I say effective because play really does have a function - learning.

A quote from the article linked in my siggie:

So I trusted in nature from day one and noticed an interesting thing: children play, and their best learning happens through play. Children are designed to be curious. From birth on, they want to know and figure out everything. Children are driven to succeed. They are constantly challenging themselves and can actually accomplish it all through a biologically implanted process that we call play.

It just seems to me that this is the natural process. Evolution at work - learning is through play. Heck, at the ripe old age of 42, I still like to play (generally on homeschool forums!), and it's where I do my best learning. I'm also learning that in this short time, my kids' personalities are really taking off. They're becoming more confident because they're allowed all the time they want to pursue what really catches their attention. They no longer expect to play politics with me to earn a reward or avoid a punishment (well for us it was earn a reward or delay said reward). I find them more cheerful and helpful than when I organize how they will help and what kind of emotions I will tolerate.

It's just such a difference in the home and frankly, the academic connections being made (out of turn, but made nonetheless) is just a perk for me right now. I don't feel nearly so anxious now that I see a few nephews spending a few semesters in community college despite the classes given in a conventional school setting. I'm watching which ones are motivated to learn and which ones really haven't yet found what they enjoy (or I should say, haven't learned how to support themselves doing what they enjoy). So even if they don't pick up on the academic requirements in a natural setting, there's an option just a few miles down the road that will catch them up with their traditionally schooled peers. But in the short time I've let go of my curriculum expectation, I'm not worried about them picking up this information.

Oh dear, this is too long already. Sorry, I just kept going. It's time to pop some popcorn for a movie....

04-13-2011, 10:10 AM
I would go bc Kelly Lovejoy is excellent, encouraging, smart, fun and a JOY to listen to. She also has boundaries which is an area many unschoolers seem to have trouble with. She is incredibly permissive but she expects her children to respect her dh's need for sleep, for instance, and keep it to a dull roar late at night. That sounds normal to most of us but radical unschoolers might not be so "normal."

Laura Flynn Endres isnt super, imo, if I am thinking of the right person.

The LARP should be very fun for the kids tho!

adding: I liked Erika a lot when I met her.