Unschooling School: supporting the Innate Philosophy of learning within our current schools, by Heather MacTaggart

Our world needs creative problem solvers. People who know how they learn, how to communicate, and are adept at creative collaboration. But how do we nurture these natural qualities within the current education system which is based on the Standardization Philosophy?  We politely, kindly, and insistently agitate for change. We join together and advocate for an education model based on the Innate Philosophy; children are born to learn. What they require from us are the spaces, tools, and support to allow them to do what they are naturally driven to do; educate themselves.

Of course, we can create alternative schools that are fully Self-Directed and we can demonstrate that allowing kids’ ownership of their education leads to success. We can and we have. But the system itself has not changed.

Three key realities thwart the opportunity for this change:

  1. Not all kids can attend these enlightened schools.
  2. We already pay for public education.
  3. Not all parents are able to Self-Direct (unschool) at home.

So what if we made space for change within schools by choosing not to comply with the age-segregated, curriculum-driven, testing, grading, and homework-laden structures? What if we insisted that our children be allowed to choose what they want to do at school? What if we let them know that there are lots of different avenues to gain acceptance into College or University or start careers?  What if we revealed to them that marks on a transcript are only one of many options?

Thus Unschooling School: a movement to create alternatives to school, within schools.


  • Provides tools, coaching, and creates a community so parents, students and educators can continue to participate in the public system, while firmly resisting its unnecessary regimen and coercion.
  • Helps parents/kids look at school as a smorgasbord of resources to choose from based on curiosity and passion.
  • Furnishes parents with the courage to trust their kids and allow them to opt-out of lessons, homework, and testing, and instead give them the freedom to spend time at school doing more of what they enjoy.
  • Outlines a new designation for students: The Free Learner (or FL). Similar to LD, students designated FL will also require accommodation in the class and school. The accommodations will vary and depend on the wishes/interests of the FL child and parent(s).
  • Shares worksheets and templates that explain what the Free Learner designation means and what accommodations their child will require.
  • Is a forum for FLs, their parents, and enlightened educators to network, share ideas, and help build the Unschooling School community, eventually creating Unschooling-Schools everywhere.

To better understand what we mean, we encourage you to spend some time with our friends Dr. Peter Gray and Sir Ken Robinson and with schools like Summerhill and Sudbury Valley.

Looking into the research, writing, videos and stories of any of these individuals and groups will lead to a plethora of information and a whole world that, in all likelihood, will have you conclude that Unschooling School is an idea whose time has come. 

Heather MacTaggart is a Director at Unschooling School

Email: hm@ChangeItUp.ca