Survey: What's on-topic for unschooling?

The Results: What's on-topic for whole life unschooling?

As happens on big lists, some members on my Facebook unschooling group are discussing how off-topic posts affect the group and whether or not the group should allow off-topic posts. My question is what constitutes off-topic?

I know that some folks extend unschooling principles only as far as academic-type learning while others, myself included, extend those principles further. What, then, constitutes off-topic when unschooling includes your family's whole life?

My thoughts: I want the group to be of value to unschooling families. Some topics are more like off-shoots than off-topic, i.e., educational issues, nutrition, behavioral issues. I don't mind these off-shoot topics. Other topics (i.e., politics, religion) are a bigger leap away from what I would consider on-topic: learning and family life.

I sympathize with folks who want to get an unschooler's perspective on a political view, and while I don't mind skimming past those types of off-topics, I can see how it might frustrate others who'd rather find more focused posts on an unschooling group.

What do you think? Comments?


  1. To me, on-topic means specifically related to unschooling. For instance, even though we extend unschooling to all of life, all of life is not relevant on the list.

    Two examples of what I mean:

    Recently, our beloved Manx cat, Margot, died rather suddenly. That fact alone is not relevant as a post on an unschooling list, in my opinion.

    If, however, I talked about how we found her on a Tuesday morning, and were cable to have a small sweet funeral, how my daughter learned about rigor mortis and decomposition from touching and observing Margot's body, and how we are processing her death, as unschoolers, that's relevant. If I talked about how Margot, in life, triggered much talk of evolution, Irish islands, Koko the kitten-loving gorilla, feline characteristics and body language, and taking our pets' needs into account, It might help us, to discuss it, and it might help someone else, too.

    I love the music of Paul Simon. That's not relevant to an unschooling list.

    If, however, i posted about how much Annalise loved the "talking drums", and how they fueled her early fascination with percussion, or how Jeremiah learned about paradoxes and imagery, through that music, that would be relevant.

    Maybe it's not so much about the topic, but how it is framed and presented.

    I have had a feeling, on your page, that there are a few posters who are more interested in gaining attention, or perhaps creating conflict, than in actually discussing unschooling. It seems there are better places for that (places I would likely avoid).

    To me, unschooling is about creating peaceful relationships, and posters who have a tendency to explode all over the page at the first hint of someone disagreeing with their viewpoint, or who ridicule others, do not seem to be helping that. It creates a threatening air that, to my mind ,cannot possibly be good for either unschooling or the open and free exchange of ideas and information that is the only reason I participate in lists.....

    I hope this wasn't to long, and that it helps....you are very brave to take on owning and maintaining a list, and i appreciate its being here. Thank you! =D

  2. I enjoy your facebook Unschooling group, Sara. I'm not as concerned with on or off topics, as I am with kindness and respect between members who post here. What I liked best about your group when it started was that I find it less contentious and kinder than some other unschooling groups I've tried (and left).

    I'm more bothered by "oh, you read tarot cards? that's crazyness" posted in what feels very snarky and mean, than I am by the posting of "unschoolers are unconventional people, watch this link about voluntaryism". I'll choose to skip over the voluntaryism or the like topic, because I know how contentious they become and I'm just not interested in posting on that topic. I'd rather not see either, but I find careless passionate sharing less offensive than outright meanness.

  3. I've also left groups where folks were aggressive and unkind in their responses. I don't want that to happen to my group.

  4. Wendy PriesnitzSeptember 30, 2012

    Sara, I agree with both Sylvia and Shan. While it can sometimes be tricky to ascertain people's motives, I respond to the tone of their posts as much as the content or their motives. If I am not interested in the thread, I can ignore it. But if enough people are routinely judgmental, rude, arrogant, or mean (no matter their perspective on the topic - in this case unschooling), I tend to move on from a group.


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