For the Love of Learning – Exploring Unschooling – Epi#34


For the Love of Learning – Epi 34


For the Love of Learning Episode 34

Show Title:

Exploring Unschooling

Monday September 28, 2015  8:00 pm – 10:00 pm EST
Tuesday September 29, 2015 1:00 am – 3:00 am BST


Special Guests:

Pat Farenga
Idzie Desmarais
Pam Sorooshian



In this episode we will explore what it means to live and learn without school. We will talk about learning naturally through the world around us from the perspective of those who identify with the term “unschooling”.

However, we cannot have a conversation about unschooling without first talking about John Holt.

The late John Holt wrote:

“By nature people are learning animals. Birds fly; fish swim; humans think and learn. Therefore, we do not need to motivate children into learning by wheedling, bribing, or bullying. We do not need to keep picking away at their minds to make sure they are learning. What we need to do – and all we need to do – is to give children as much help and guidance as they need and ask for, listen respectfully when they feel like talking, and then get out of the way. We can trust them to do the rest.”

Sounds like a radical idea? Maybe, but the unschooling movement has made headway starting in the 60’s and 70s as progressive parents were inspired to follow freedom based learning. Many opted out of traditional “homeschooling” into the movement, but not because of religious reasons but because they were attracted to unschooling for a purely educational and lifestyle approach.

John Holt brought focus to the concept and the movement by naming it, writing about it, speaking about it and by publishing the first newsletter/magazine that supported the idea of parents choosing to educate their children outside the institutional and philosophical restraints of the educational system. He brought insights gained from his practical experience as an educator and theorist that validated the path that many had already chosen to embark upon. John Holt inspired people to re-think education.


Bios of Tonight’s Guests:

Pat Farenga

patPatrick Farenga brings more than 34 years of fieldwork, advocacy, and personal experience (he and his wife unschooled their three daughters) to help parents and children learn in their own ways. Farenga is a writer and education activist who addresses academic and general audiences about working with children, not on children, to help them learn.

Farenga worked closely with one of the founders of the modern homeschooling movement, the late author and teacher John Holt, and published Growing Without Schooling magazine (GWS) from 1985 until it stopped in 2001. GWS was the nation’s first periodical about learning without going to school, started by Holt in 1977.

Farenga speaks as a homeschooling expert at education conferences around the world—such as in Colombia, Ireland, France, England, Canada, and Italy—as well as on commercial radio and television talk shows in the United States (The Today Show, Good Morning America) and abroad.

Farenga writes about homeschooling and self-directed learning for a number of publications and operates the John Holt/Growing Without Schooling website, He is also a founding member of

Farenga’s books include The Beginner’s Guide to Homeschooling (Holt, 1998), Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling (Perseus, 2003), The Legacy of John Holt: A Man Who Genuinely Understood, Trusted, and Respected Children (HoltGWS, 2013), and the forthcoming How to Report Unschooling to School Officials (HoltGWS, 2015).

Farenga has also written chapters about homeschooling in Encyclopedia Britannica (2014, 2010), A Parent’s Guide to Homeschooling (Mars Publishing, 2002), Creating Learning Communities (FER, 2000), The Handbook of Alternative Education (Macmillan, 1994), The Exhausted School (Oxford Village, 1992), Schooling At Home (John Muir, 1990), and The Encyclopedia of School Administration (Sage, 1988).


Information, books, and other resources about unschooling and John Holt:

Starting to Homeschool with Pat Farenga (This video series will be available for sale by Sept. 30, 2015):

How to Report Unschooling to School Officials (this will be available for sale by Sept. 30, 2015):

Growing Without Schooling: The Complete Collection (this will be available for sale before the end of 2015). All 143 issues of John Holt’s groundbreaking magazine, reformatted for print and digital reading.

Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling,

The Legacy of John Holt: A Man Who Genuinely Understood, Trusted, and Respected Children,

Escape from Childhood: The Needs and Rights of Children by John Holt,


Idzie Desmarais

idzieIdzie Desmarais is a grown unschooler, cook, writer, feminist, and life learning advocate. She’s the author of the popular unschooling blog I’m Unschooled. Yes, I Can Write., and her articles have appeared in Life Learning Magazine, Home Education Magazine, and Our Schools/Our Selves, among others. When not busy writing (or procrastinating about writing), Idzie loves to make lots of tasty food, and has done so both professionally and in her own kitchen. She also loves genre TV shows, fantasy novels, going on road trips with friends, and cuddling with her dog and cats. Idzie lives with her family, furry and otherwise, in Montreal, Quebec.


Pam Sorooshian

pamPam Sorooshian is the mom of three grown-up unschooled kids: Roya (30), Roxana (28), and Rose (24). She is also an economics and statistics professor. Her family lives in Southern California and she is on the Board of Directors of the HomeSchool Association of California. Pam, and her husband, Cyrus, pulled Roya out of 4th grade, Roxana out of 1st grade, and never sent Rose to school at all. That was 20 years ago, and they spent about a month thinking “unit studies” were a good idea before jumping fully into unschooling.

Pam has been a frequent participant in online unschooling discussions and has spoken at unschooling conferences all over the country. She is the owner of the “Unschooling California” Facebook group. She thinks it is interesting that her children are making surprisingly conventional adult choices considering their very unconventional upbringing.

Roya has a BA in Recreation and Leisure Studies and an MS in counseling. She is a family therapist intern and a college professor. She also offers private homeschooling coaching by email. Roxana has BAs in both history and drama and an MA in drama and is about to start a masters program in library and information science. Rose has a BA degree in Deaf Studies and is an American Sign Language interpreter and sign language instructor. She teaches college courses to adult students with developmental disabilities. In spite of, or maybe because of, their unschooling backgrounds, they have excelled as college students and have received many academic honors, awards, and scholarships.

To Pam, unschooling means creating a peaceful, safe, and loving home life with many opportunities for exploration, invention, investigation, and conversation. It means very involved parents who pay close attention to supporting their children’s interests. And it means joy and closeness and a very special, very sweet, parent/child relationship.

Learning Happens: Unschooling Observations and Opinions –



Lainie Liberti

As always, you can find out more about your host, Lainie Liberti at her website and the alternative education & world schooling project she runs with her teenage son at: You can also connect with her on twitter @ilainie & facebook.

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