Taylor describes an approach to education known as unschooling, which attempts to provide a relatively unstructured educational experience, informed by progressive values, outside the framework of mainstream education, and in particular outside the conventional system of compulsory K-12 education in the USA. Unschooling can take the form either of homeschooling, as experienced by Taylor and her three siblings, or of “free schools” that implement the approach in a group setting, illustrated by Taylor’s visit to the Albany Free School in Albany, New York. Unschooling emphasizes trust in the learner’s innate curiosity and ability to learn. Taylor stresses the coercive and competitive elements of mainstream K-12 education, and the resulting evils, which unschooling aims to avoid: persistent boredom, indoctrination into the values of the capitalist workplace (including toleration and acceptance of persistent boredom), alienation from the learning process, and fear of failure. Unschooling poses a challenge to less radical progressive critiques of conventional education, which attempt to curb the worst excesses of neoliberal meritocracy in schools, but do not offer a fundamentally different alternative.
- Dana Goldstein replies: “Liberals, don’t homeschool your kids: why teaching children at home violates progressive values”
- Other works by Astra Taylor
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