The Big Book of Unschooling

23 Aug

Sandra Dodd studied at the University of New Mexico, read John Holt’s writings on school reform and learned about Open Classroom Philosophy in the 1970’s. Once she had children she states that she got introduced to Attachment Parenting, the La Leche league and her life naturally progressed to a situation where her three children never went to school. It might interest a reader to recognize the fact that all the content in this book comes from a mother who has raised her children following the very principles that she has written about. Today Sandra Dodd’s children are grown and are successfully living their lives pursuing things they are interested in.

The Big Book of Unschooling is a book where all the material is derived from Sandra’s unschooling website. The dedication at the opening of the book also thanks a Pune unschooling mother – Hema Bharadwaj – for providing Sandra Dodd with the idea for converting the content from her website and mailing list into a physically tangible book that one can leaf through.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part is Sandra’s writings on a variety of topics ranging from deschooling, stages of unschooling to unschooling for infant and toddlers. Those who might be skeptical that unschooling philosophy is rooted in a radical thought process might be interested in the sections on world famous psychologists (Gardner, Maslow and Piaget) and how their theories directly apply to an unschooling life with children on a day to day basis.

The second part of the book is a collection of essays written by Sandra that have appeared in various publications. It also includes a compilation of quotes from various other unschooling parents who have contributed to Sandra’s mailing list over many years on how various issues in parenting have been addressed from an unschooling perspective. The book ends with a list of resources which include links to online soundbytes, blog listings and Q&As that explain Sandra’s journey in the path of unschooling.

The format of this book is easy to read. It consists of short essays that could be read in a sequence or independently. This format works particularly well for a parent who might be interested in a specific topic ( e.g. bedtime, food etc. ) and wishes to read only about that topic without having to go through pages of content.

Although this book is named the ‘Big book of Unschooling’, it could prove to be a valuable resource of ideas and a source of reflection for any parent that wishes to improve their relationship with their child. The fundamental core message that runs throughout the chapters of the book is to be a parent who is connected with their child rather than one who is attempting to control.

For those completely unfamiliar with world and philosophy of unschooling, this book might equate to jumping into a flowing river headlong without knowing how to swim. Having said that, it might be possible for complete newbie’s who are interested in learning more about unschooling to gain much from the Big Book of Unschooling if they follow Sandra Dodd’s advice of “Read a little, Try a little”.

For more seasoned homeschoolers this book is definitely a ‘must-have’ on the shelves that one can reach out for in periods of doubt or browse through at leisure for pure inspiration.

Name of the book: Sandra Dodd’ Big Book of Unschooling
Author: Sandra Dodd
ISBN: 978-0-557-18155-1
Pages: 350
Publisher: Lulu.com

Pushpa Ramachandran

Pushpa is a mother to a three year old daughter. She also works part time as a speech pathologist helping people with disabilities. She is very drawn to the philosophy of Attachment Parenting and Natural Learning. She occasionally explores her personal challenges and celebrations through her writings. She also maintains a private blog that serves as a memory log of their tender moments as they live and learn together as a family!


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