Reflections on Deschooling

— by Ricci Kilmer —

One of my great areas of cerebral and practical interest is that of education. What is it really? It’s not school, or I should say not only school. Education is much, much bigger. So how should we look at education? Many people of faith think of it with an “in” or “out” approach. You either keep them “in” the public school system or you take them “out”. But many times the actual style of education that is happening with the “home” crowd closely resembles the structure, if not the content of the “school” group. But education doesn’t stop with the schools. We have opportunities all around us all the time for learning and growing that go way beyond what school offers. How should people of faith think on those issues? The question I personally want to answer with education is not, “What job can I get?”, but “What skills and knowledge do I need to live a meaningful life?”

Here’s my background: My degree in college was in Mathematics Education which qualified me on finishing my studies to teach 4-12 grade mathematics and K-8 all subjects (due to my added endorsement in elementary education.) Before you get too impressed with the Math part let me tell you that if I hadn’t had study partners in my Junior and Senior years I would have drowned in the sea of all those letters and numbers. Anyway, I ended up substitute teaching for 2 1/2 years and I had my own 1st grade class for 2 years. When my daughter was born I really started looking into various kind of models of education since I was thinking of teaching her at home. A couple of the models I looked into were:

  • Montessori
  • Waldorf
  • Charlotte Mason
  • Unschooling/Deschooling

And to be honest, I found things in each that I liked. Deschooling, however held a certain mystique for me and still does. Reading about it really gave me sense of the possible. And I began to wonder, if it does that for me what would that style of education do for my children? So I am setting myself a task.

I’ve been reading a book by Matt Hern entitled, Everywhere All the Time: A New Deschooling Reader. This book has a great collection of authors, including deschooled kids themselves. I am going to be pulling different thoughts, ideas and quotes from this book and take some time for reflection. I’m not looking for a one-size-fits-all model to lay like a template over my life and that of my children, but more a way of thinking about education that incorporates it into all aspects of my life. I’m excited to see where this will lead.