the network for radical unschooling families
My fam and I are looking to relocate back to the US from Japan in the next 6-12 months and would LOVE to find unschoolers to connect with.
My question to you is this:
Where in the US would you say are the big "hubs" of Unschoolers? (if there even are any)
We desire to live near other like-minded families who unschool!! (Don't we all?! :-)
We're looking to put down roots somewhere where we can buy a few acres, build a small house, grow our food and hopefully be "off-grid". A job or income shouldn't be a problem as my husband is planning to work from home.
Where should we land?? HELP?!
Several areas of East Tennessee, specifically Jonesborough, Erwin, Johnson City, and Elizabethton, are great for what you are wanting to do. The climate isn't too severe either in summer or winter (with the occasional exception). We have a pretty good sized unschooling community here and the homeschooling group is very open to all styles of homeschooling. Registering as a homeschooler is easy as well.
There have been several discussions about this:
At one time I thought it would be cool to live near other unschoolers too. It would be less stressful to be around parents you don't need to explain your beliefs to and who are less likely to give conventional punishing type advice to problems.
The reality is that unschoolers are human and can be just as close minded and judgmental as non-unschoolers ;-) Many people are drawn to unschooling and natural living and living off the grid for reactionary reasons, because they hate the conventional world. Which means mind-set wise a chunk of the alternative living people are more akin to Christian fundamentalist than they are to the open, accepting-of-differences ideal unschoolers often picture of unschoolers! ;-) Being around parents who are limiting their kids to natural foods and natural lifestyles you *will* find kids who are sneaky and rebellious, exactly one of the things those parents think they're escaping from.
I think now a better environment would be around creative types, maybe around towns that artists are drawn to. Artists are more likely to accept differences not for philosophical or reactionary reasons but because that's who they are :-) (I would suggest areas that draw engineers and nerds too, but that unfortunately gets tied up with high pressure academics.) Another good place to look are large metropolitan areas with strong unschooling communities.
One problem with looking toward unschoolers as "fellow tribe members" is that for most kids unschooling isn't their interest. It may be what shapes the atmosphere of their home but limiting their contacts to unschoolers limits the pool of potential friends. It's cool to imagine unschooled kids as having a broad range of interests so that any child will find someone who matches, but the reality is it will be hit and miss. (Except for one girl, all of my daughter's friends were schooled.)
If your kids' main interests are raising their own food and living off the grid, moving near others with that interest will make it easier for them to find (adult) friends. (Many of the kids, though, will be living a lifestyle that doesn't match their interests.) If your kids' interests are outside what the off-the-grid parents think of as acceptable, a chunk of the people are going to make your kids feel wrong and like outsiders.
The questions to ask are "Are the good parts good enough to put up with the potential bad parts?" and "Will this meet my kids' needs?"
-=-Another good place to look are large metropolitan areas with strong unschooling communities.-=-
Like around Long Beach California, but it's expensive to live there.
If you go for an inexpensive option, maybe you can afford to travel to unschooling gatherings and conferences. Deb Cunefare keeps a list of them here, and you can subcribe: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/unschoolingcircuitriders/
I know it seems kind of like becoming an unschooler is like joining a church. If you're Mormon, you'll want to go to a place with a large enough population that there will be lots of support and activities. If you're Baptist and you move to another city, finding a church would be high on the list. And when you got there, those people would welcome you profusely and give you a printed schedule of all their activities, and fawn over you so you wouldn't go to another church instead. There's some competition, and they'll be hoping you'll tithe generously. :-)
But unschooling isn't like a church. No family is obligated to help or welcome another family, though many will and do, especially when they're new to it, so they can meet people.
It's as easy to clash with another unschooling family as it is any random family, pretty much. Some are strict about diet or behavior. Some are way too loose, and the kids might totally irritate you.
All other things being equal, other unschoolers could be a very cool draw.
It shouldn't be the first draw, though, I think.