Consent in Education


I want to explore some ideas about consent in education. What I mean by consent in this instance, is the idea that a person be given the opportunity to consent to what instruction/direction/training/ they are exposed to/participate in, and also the idea that this consent can be withdrawn at any time.

To put this into context, lets consider reading. Currently, children are not given the opportunity to consent regarding reading. Parental choice in this regard is limited to two choices, accepting reading instruction without active consent by entering mainstream schooling, or choosing to home educate.

When a child is not in school, they can be given the opportunity to consent to the ‘teaching of reading’ and/or the act of reading itself. They can also be given information that will help them to make an informed choice about reading, such as evidence based information about the broad range of ages for reaching developmental readiness for reading. Their own lived experience will likely influence their views on and interest in consenting to read.  They can consent to reading as and when it feels right and appropriate to them.

Within schooling, no consent is sought, in fact mainstream schooling requires that intellectual or educational consent (which term is best I am not yet sure) is not sought. It is a system that is coercion dependent, and it uses an infrastructure of punishment and reward to facilitate and reinforce the coercive environment.

But why should it be acceptable that intellectual/educational consent be absent? Some may argue that a child is too young to be able to make a decision about consent, that asking them to do so would be age inappropriate and that adults should be trusted to make the decisions on their behalf.

To that I pose the question, are we not then doing something too soon? Would it not make sense to wait until time at which a child can make a consensual decisions, and in the mean time facilitate an environment in which for the most part children can demonstrate consent through their play choices? When schooling in some countries doesn’t commence until a child is 7 years old, we can be confident in saying that children will not be missing out intellectually or educationally by not being put through non-consensual ‘education’ in their youngest years. In my experience, by the time a child is 7 years old, especially if their life experience to that date has valued their voice and consent, they are in a position to make active and informed consensual choices about what they do in an environment designed for ‘education’.

Then we come to the barrier of fear, and negative stereotypes of children. The idea that given the freedom and opportunity, they would make bad, lazy, wrong or other negative choices. That they wouldn’t learn the right things, that they would do things in the wrong ways and so on.

But when else other than in childhood is there a better time for risk taking and mistake making? It is a fallacy to believe that there is only one magic moment to learn specific things. We know this as adults as we keep building our own knowledge banks, changing our minds, developing new skills and constantly shaping our world views based on new information that becomes available. Learning is a life long endeavour, the sense of rush and strict timings is a construct, not a necessity. We could afford children far greater freedom to determine the journey of their education without causing damage to their future.

And do we not believe also that sometimes the best or even only way to learn things is through what we might perceive as mistakes? Try something, find it doesn’t work and try something else until it does work? Maybe if I do it this way, or that, or look at it from a different angle, it will make sense? What if the very process of a consensual education journey provided the richest and most longterm learning experience of all, regardless of the actual content – the ability to think critical, to gather information to make decisions, to take personal responsibility, to realise that at no time do we know everything, and at all times we can find out more.

What more honest and richer an educational journey would we make if we were only asked for our consent, and given truthful and balanced context from which to make our decisions?

In the past it has been believed that doctors should hold all information, sharing as little as possible with patients under the premise that the doctors know best and the patient need not know. Perhaps this isn’t always in the past.

In the past it has been believed that women’s consent to sex was not necessary in marriage, and that their husbands had a right to their bodies regardless of their views. Perhaps this isn’t always in the past.

Perhaps one day it will be a thing of the past to believe that the minds, the intellects of children, are not their own, but are owned by others with power over them and who know best.

Or is that now?

The Grassroots Movement Revolutionising Education

For too long discussion about improving the education system has gone on. Tweaks are made here, tweaks are made there, but at the end of it, the system remains the same, the problems and inequalities continue. The reality is, the kind of change needed to address and overcome the fundamental issues inherent in the existing system are too significant to be achieved by the usual channels. It requires a bold and imaginative new way of thinking, it involves us stepping away from the system that exists altogether.

What would you do, if you were creating a system of education anew? I’m talking about a new build, rather than a restoration. If you were starting from scratch, right here and now, what would that education system look like? What type of environment and focus would you take? How would you go about creating the optimum environment for people to self-actualise, to explore their potential?

You may be thinking, this is fanciful pie in the sky nonsense. If you work within the education system you may be tired of ‘fixes’, you may struggle to see that another way is possible. Schooling and the current system of education is all we know, it’s what we take as the only legitimate place for learning to happen, and as central to childhood experience.

However we also know that the system that exists today is fundamentally flawed. It is outdated. Gradually we are waking up to the realisation that an authoritarian system of education is an obsolete concept. As avenues for connectivity and self-study have opened up via the platform that is the world wide web, we are becoming experienced in interest-led and self-directed learning. We can find our own news, our own answers, our own solutions to problems. The current system of schooling is becoming a performance and a distraction from the new systems of education that are emerging.

Not only is the current system of education a red herring, it is also becoming more and more apparent that it is detrimental. The high stakes, competitive and standardised model works against our mental health, sense of self, and social justice. Pitting humans against each other for the duration of their most formative years of life ingrains and normalises the idea that some people are winners and some are losers, it teaches individualism rather than offering an environment ripe for experimenting, and exploring methods of cooperation. It creates a narrow, ageist, classist, ableist, sexist and racist neoliberal version of ‘success’. It is in conflict with the new sharing economy and collaborative rather than competitive ways of living and working. It is bad for our health and our concepts of work/life balance.

And this is a pressing and urgent concern for parents who are considering the options available to their own children’s education. We often hear of the importance of ‘choice’ in education, but what choice is there really when each option is based on the same dysfunctional model? What choice is there when all routes lead to the traditional model of schooling?

So here we come, back to the concept of a new-build system. As the arguments for opting in to the existing model fall flat, we have not only a problem, but a great opportunity. What is possible to build in it’s place? What scope is there to change what currently exists, to craft and nurture something entirely new? And I’m not talking about the future here, I’m talking about the now. In this moment is another system possible, is it already out there?

What if I told you that at this very moment there are children who from birth have been given the space to pursue their learning in a personalised, self-directed way, and that there are children being deregistered from school to join them. To live and learn cooperatively, without grading or testing, where their peers, of all ages, are their allies not their competition. What if I told you that in these conditions children develop skills in reading, in writing, in researching and critical thinking, in creating, without a classroom, but through their own curiosity and intrinsic motivation. Where mistakes are embraced as essential for learning, where there are no wrong answers, wrong subjects, wrong or right times to do or achieve certain things. Where they can follow their interests and own unique developmental readiness in the supportive context of community.

We can not afford to wait for ‘someone else’ to fix and rebuild the education system. It just isn’t going to happen, no matter the campaigning, lobbying, reasoning or ranting. Every moment we spend wishing that things were different is time and energy lost that could be redirected to working with each other on the alternative available to us right now.

The term ‘home education’ is an unattractive one, that conjures images of a chalk board on the dining room wall. However, don’t be misled. Home education is a gateway out of a broken system. It is an opportunity to work together to create something better. Something fit for purpose in the 21st century. Once we are free from the confines and rigid thinking of school based learning, we can expand and explore the true potential meaning of education. It frees us to work collaboratively with each other and the young people whose lives we are really talking about here, for them to be equal partners in manifesting this ‘new way’. It gives us the opportunity to model what learning without traditional schooling looks like, to challenge and overcome false beliefs, social norms and values about the capabilities, status and agency of children and young people.

By stepping through the doorway of home education to new connections and communities both virtual and in real life, we find a grassroots movement that will lead the way to revolutionising education as we know it. And believe me, it’s already happening.

This article first appeared in the Huffington Post.


Why do people home educate?


This article first appeared in the Autumn 2016 edition of Salad Days

There are as many reasons as to why people decide to home educate as there are families home educating. Each family comes to the decision in their own time, and in their own way. Some families realise that home education is right for them before their children are school age, or even preschool age, others enter the school system and later decide that home ed is a better route for them.

We didn’t start out thinking we would home educate, but as our children approached school age and we researched and thought critically about the education system and how they would experience it, the more we looked for an alternative.

This led to us exploring how children learn and thrive without school, and gave us the confidence to create the opportunity for them to pursue their education outside of the classroom. Dissatisfaction with the existing education system is one of the most common reasons given by families for their decision to home ed.

For one local parent, key to their decision making was their desire to give their child the opportunity and freedom to continue exploring the world around them with the self-directed curiosity and enthusiasm that they had shown since birth. Why disrupt something that was already happening naturally?

Another family initially planned to home educate until their children were 7 years old, but observing how it had given them the time and space to develop, learn and grow, at their own pace and around the things that most interested them, decided to make it a long term plan.

‘Too much too soon’ was another reason given by parents – concern that formal learning starts too young. England has one of the youngest school starting ages in Europe, three years earlier than in Finland, for example, a country renowned for one of the most successful, progressive and learner focused education systems in the world.

Some families come to home educate because of their children having had negative experiences in school, whether that be bullying, inadequate support, or just that a traditional school environment is an uncomfortable fit.

The stress and restriction of standardised testing and assessment, seen by many parents and teachers as counterproductive to learning, was another reason given for opting to home ed. Through home education children are free to be themselves, and to be treated as individuals – they can pursue their own unique path to educational success.

Local parents also mentioned the opportunity home education offers in regards to respecting children’s rights, particularly children’s right to have their views and feelings listened to and taken seriously. Home education allows the best interests of the children to be prioritised above any other agenda.

With a thriving local home educating community, the option to home educate is more accessible than ever before. Families can decide to home educate knowing that they will be able to spend their time with other home educating families, that their children will be able to socialise with children of a range of ages, and participate in regular activities and events. Families have the opportunity to contribute their own creativity and skills to building a fantastic educational experience for their children.

Overcoming the shame of not going to school, and progressing education activism.


I’m going to write about something quite painful today.

Painful, but important.

I’m going to talk about the shame that you can feel for doing something different to what others expect, to what you yourself expect. In this case, I’m going to talk about the shame of not going to school, of your children not going to school, of home education, but really this could apply to lots of different examples of diverging from the social narrative of ‘normal’.

As we live and grow, we internalise a lot of norms and values around us. They come to be the barometer by which we measure our selves and others, the indicators of good and bad, right and wrong, winning and losing. They tell us what we think we need to know to make the ‘right’ choices and to get life ‘right’.

There is a very strong social message about schooling, how important it is, the bad things that will happen if you don’t do school right, or heaven forbid if you don’t show up. This story is told through politics, through families, through international development strategies, through schooling experiences and school rules. The telling of it is pretty relentless, and any challenges to it are likely to end badly. We are told this story by people we love, they were told this story too, we’ve all been told it many, many times.

The story runs a pretty tight binary as well: school = good, not going to school = bad. There isn’t really any grey zone in the popular narrative of this.

The problem with social norms and values is, sometimes – maybe often times – their foundations are a bit shaky. They may come from a place that we don’t even know, a time generations before our own births. They may have been dreamed up by people without our best interests at heart. They may originate in other ideas that today we would totally disagree with. Only thing is, because of the way we learn and internalise norms and values, we can believe these things to be truths, that they tell us what is natural, what is normal, what is essential. When we think of them as ‘truths’ rather than as ideas, it can prevent us from thinking critically about them, from challenging them. When we believe in them and they are the basis of how we see ourselves and others, it makes it difficult to say, or to even realise that we can say: “Is this actually true?”

And if through circumstance, because our own critical thinking has been unlocked somehow from the standard model of norms and values – maybe because of our actual needs and being, or the needs and being of someone we know and care for, or because we are presented with information that radically challenges/undermines the norms and values around us, it can be painful.

It can be painful, and it can be scary.

And if we decide, on the basis of this information, to actually start living in a way that contrasts with the general social norms and values, although consciously we can know what we are doing makes complete sense to us, the subconscious internalisation of the norms and values that tell us it is wrong, risky, deviant, bad, can mean that we experience shame in living in a way that is most true to us.

We can feel shame or fear, even though we know what we are doing makes sense. Even though we know that based on the information we have, it is the path worth walking. We can know this on an intellectual basis. In terms of our heart though, we can still hurt by going against the norm. We can feel fearful, anxious. It can diminish our sense of self worth and challenge what we know of ourselves.

Lets talk about what happens when we move away from the education system, to create something else.

It is well documented, in many many places, that the existing education system that we have in the UK, is highly problematic. This is told to us by teachers, by educationalists, by headteachers, by psychologists, by students themselves, by parents, by mental health campaigners, by people from other countries with different systems, by people involved in alternative models education.

It makes complete sense to get to work on this. It makes complete sense to want something different for your own children, for society. It makes complete sense to do work to maybe change the system, probably to create something entirely different.

It makes sense to not want to send your children into the education system. It is a very rational and meaningful conclusion to reach.

Despite this, for the reasons given above, actually doing this work, making the decision as a family that you will do something other than school, to home educate, to manifest a new and different system of education to what currently exists, can cause us pain.

We learnt for lots and lots of years that not going to school was deviant, risky, likely to result in FAILURE. Even though we know that the existing system is troubled and flawed, deeply embedded in our subconscious is the feeling that not going to school is bad, and will result in bad things happening to us, and overcoming that feeling, the creeping sense of shame, can be a daily challenge.

There are certain things that I find helps with overcoming this feeling. Even as I write this now I can feel it lingering around my heart. That I am even writing about ‘not going to school’ triggers a little adrenaline. And the reality is that until we reach a point where there is a general awakening and acceptance across society that our education system needs radical change – a shift in the narrative, norms and values about schooling – we are likely to always feel a little of this. So what can we do to help?

For this I take guidance from other movements that are working at overcoming false social beliefs, norms and values, where something is being moved out of the ‘deviant’ and into the light.

Lets take the LGBT+ movement, for example. Being gay used to be a criminal offence, in our very recent history. Being trans has only in very very recent years started to gain socially transformative traction. What can we learn from the progress of LGBT+ folk that might help us in our own work?

Here are my thoughts:

  1. This can be a painful process, there is no way around that. We need to find ways to sit with that discomfort, to feel it, whilst knowing that it isn’t telling us that something is wrong.
  2. Self-care is important. Sometimes its worth putting ourselves out there, other times it makes more sense to work amongst ourselves, with like minded people that enable us to make progress rather than answer for and explain ourselves constantly. Community matters. Sometimes we need to just focus on ourselves and our own immediate families needs and to forget the wider context for a while.
  3. Being visible helps in ‘normalisation’. Showing up, sharing photos, living ‘without shame’ even if we feel scared inside, makes a difference. It gives others courage, it demonstrates another way, it fundamentally challenges peoples beliefs which can cause tipping points in progressing social norms.
  4. We can organise, cooperate, and support each other. There is a risk with trail blazing that the internalised/subconscious feelings of being deviant can prevent us from being open, honest and loving to each other. It can make us feel easily threatened and defensive. If we can move beyond that to working together, that has great potential consequences.
  5. We can educate ourselves to reassure ourselves that we are not alone. There is a long history to educational activism. People have been working on these issues in different ways, around the world, for many years. Connecting with that work, learning from what has already happened, what has already been thought about and done, can give us context to what is happening now and encourage us that we are not by any means the first or the only ones on this path. Knowing the history of the education system, alternatives to schooling, the history of childhood, can inspire us and help us reframing our own norms and beliefs.
  6. We can be compassionate and empathetic to those around us who may be unaware of the issues, who don’t understand life without school, or who feel stuck between a rock and a hard place because for whatever reason, separating from the existing education system isn’t an option at this time. School vs not school is a binary concept that is unhelpful, and frankly, unrealistic in the current circumstances> Because of the nature of the issue there is a lot of grey zone, it is’t as simple as black and white, right and wrong. Being aware of that can help mitigate the sense of frustration that things aren’t moving quickly enough, or that people just ‘aren’t getting it’, and frees us up to do what we can, from where we are, with what we have.

Keep on keeping on folks, wherever you are in your journey, however your work looks, small acts add up. And remember, if you’re not going to school, you are not alone.

Attachment parenting anti-intellectual? It’s a social justice movement.


I’ve just read an article by Hadley Freeman about attachment parenting, and it makes for interesting reading. I will be the first to admit – attachment parenting is a messy subject, actually, all parenting discussion is messy. Same thing goes for education discourse, things get complicated, fast.I thought I would pick up on a few points, though, with a view to moving things forward.

First things first, I believe the Sears definition of ‘attachment parenting’ is dated, and I do not personally identify with it. As Hadley points out, Sear’s was coming from a patriarchal place. Let’s leave his definition in the 20th Century, where it belongs, and instead refocus on where attachment parenting currently fits, amongst intersectional and third wave feminism.

Early on in the article comes the line: “this is the approach of the moment, just as Gina Ford’s more scheduled method (strict bedtimes, an unbreakable routine) was a decade ago; to a certain degree, it is the reaction of a new generation of parents against Ford and her ilk”. So, is attachment parenting a reaction against Gina Ford et al?

Yes and no. In my experience, attachment parenting isn’t a reaction, as such. The majority of parents that I know who relate to attachment parenting, actually found the name after they were parenting in that way, not before. They didn’t research ‘parenting methods’ and then pick one, they were already parenting in an ‘attachment parent’ type way before they new it even had a name. They were doing what felt right to them in terms of listening to and meeting the needs of their baby.

However, once these parents realised that their behaviour towards their baby was not the social norm, they then sort out to find out why, and if they were alone. In doing so, they came across parenting theory, which included discovering attachment parenting and Gina Ford.

The problem with Gina Ford is that she represents a very authoritarian, oppressive parent child model. Attachment parenting gives people a voice, agency and personhood from birth. Gina Ford promotes a view that babies are the property of the parents, and encourages parental domination in the parent/child relationship. In terms of intersectional feminism, that is a very big issue.

Which leads us on to the anti-intellectionalism/anti-science claim made about attachment parents in Hadley’s piece.

In my experience, the absolute opposite is true. Attachment parents discover attachment parenting via critical thinking. They are questioning social norms to do with parenting – that are historically rooted in oppression – and looking to find out whether there is any evidence based justification for them. For me it has triggered intellectual consideration of whether it is ‘natural’ for young people to be subjugated to adults, and why and how that subjugation is socially constructed. Is there any good reason why I, as an adult, shouldn’t respect and listen to a child?

We live in a society that still refuses to accept that hitting a child is wrong, as we once refused to accept that hitting a woman was wrong, and demand scientific evidence to prove so. We refuse to provide full protection under the law for children to be free from being hit in their homes by their parents. The second class citizenship of children is so deeply entrenched in our mindsets and belief systems, that we have to provide scientific research to defend the view that isolating a person in room, distressed to the point of vomiting, is wrong, because on the basis of their age, people feel that it is acceptable and justified and some call it sleep training.

Is there an attitude of enlightenment amongst attachment parents as claimed in Hadley’s piece? I would say that feeling comes with time – the more time you experience a parent child relationship that is based on respect, trust and empathy, the more enlightened you feel about the importance of children’s rights, and aware of the normalised marginalisation and social injustices experienced by young people on a daily basis. It is the same sense of enlightenment that you experience when you realise how patriarchy has impacted society, how racism has impacted society, how sexism, and all other embedded discriminations impact us.

Does attachment parenting offer a set of rules for parents to follow so that they can nail parenting ? No. There are no rules – there is just the persistent intention to care for and respect your child as a person, in a socially just way. It so happens that that care often manifests in behaviours associated with attachment parenting – sleeping with your babies/children, breastfeeding longer than average, slowing down to a child’s pace and gaze, carrying your baby both for comfort and reasons of practicality. But none of these behaviours are essential. In fact, no two families for whom attachment parenting resonates looks the same, because every child is unique, every family member is unique, and attachment parenting is shaped entirely by that.

Contrary to the view posed in the article that a downside of attachment parenting is that it promises parents total control and responsibility over how a child turns out, I would argue the opposite. Attachment parenting is about creating the space for a person to feel respected for who they are, in all their individuality, from birth. The idea is that by experiencing respect, empathy and their voice being heard from day one, a person will not only feel free to be themselves, but also see the importance that all people experience that same freedom.

I do agree with Hadley that parents have never been subjected to so much advice from so many different places as they are now. This to me highlights the state of flux the parent/child relationship is currently in. We are evolving beyond patriarchal models of the family – and by patriarchal I mean family models in which adults hold dominant roles and children submit. But the transition is a messy one, complicated by many factors such as other social constructs that act as barriers to family members feeling respected, and that their needs are being met.

Hadley states that “there are times when attachment parenting seems to have made some women feel worse” and in this we are in agreement, although perhaps for different reasons. Parenting in a respectful and empathetic way can be triggering to parents. It can result in deep reflection of their own experiences in childhood and relationships, which may cause discomfort and identify trauma that had previously been hidden. It also highlights the very problematic nature of our society’s relationship with children, for example the issues with developmentally inappropriate institutional, industrial models of childcare and education that negate children’s rights. The experience of attachment parenting highlights how ill suited our society is for families to care for each other, and how poor work life balance can be.

Our society is not built to afford respect and personhood to young people – in the same way that it once wasn’t/still isn’t built to afford respect and personhood to women. There was resistance to women’s emancipation,  and there is resistance to the emancipation of children. The idea of sharing privilege can be perceived as inconvenient and threatening. It requires people to confront uncomfortable truths. We are in a position where we need to reconstruct our social norms and institutions to be inclusive of the youngest members of our society, and that is essential but painful and tiring work. Attachment parenting makes parents aware of the issues that we face. But if we want to create positive social change, I think that’s a good thing.

Consent is absent in the education system – why aren’t we talking about it?

The concept of consent has rightly received increased attention in recent years. Last year the Education Select Committee published “Life Lessons: PSHE and SRE in schools” a report raising frequently the issues around consent, and people’s understanding of what it actually means. It included this quote from research produced for the Office of the Children’s Commissioner:

“young people generally understand what is meant by giving consent to sex, but have a very limited sense of what getting consent might involve. Young people are able to describe what consent means in theory, but real life contexts make a significant difference to their perceptions of what non-consensual sex looks like.”

The thing with consent is that it isn’t really about sex, and persistently linking the two things effectively misses the point. Consent is about an person’s right to ownership and control of their own body and mind. It’s about a person knowing that they have agency, that they are entitled to determine and defend their own personal boundaries. That they get to decide what happens to them, and how. Consent is the act of a person agreeing that they are willing to participate in something.

And perhaps that is the reason why consent education in schools (if it happens at all) is often so tightly linked to sexual contexts – because addressing the meaning of consent fully, in a school environment, is problematic, as it raises the question of how consent is – or isn’t – experienced in school.

Where can consent be found in school? Students (until the age of 14 when they have some very limited and structured options regarding subject choices) have no, or very, very marginal influence over what they do. They can not opt out of class, they can not determine for themselves what they would like to learn about, or how they would like to learn it. They often have very little freedom over how they experience a lesson, where and how they sit during it, or how they might participate. They have no chance to say no. That is an environment without consent.

They can not decide to not attend a lesson with a particular teacher, even if that teacher has mistreated or abused them in some way. From personal experience I can say, having been on the receiving end of abuse from a teacher, despite complaining both in person to the head teacher and a complaint being made in writing to the school, no action was taken to protect me from that teacher, and I was forced to continue with their class despite the fact that doing so was highly stressful.

Not only are students deprived of opportunities to actively consent to their experience in school, there is a system is in place for them to be punished for noncompliance. Opting out is not an option without the threat of shaming/punishment. You can not even choose to disengage within a lesson to which you have not actively consented in the first place, your attention is required and not providing it results in punitive consequences.

Just think for a moment about this: if a child in school says, no thank you, I don’t want to do that, is the response to that request usually a person modelling the definition of consent?

Is it surprising then, considering that children are socialised in a non-consensual and punitive environment for 12, highly influential, formative years of their lives, that while intellectually they may understand the notion of consent, they have little practical awareness of how to apply it to their daily lives? Is it surprising that people of all ages struggle with the concept of consent and personal autonomy, when they have been deprived of it in the very environment in which they believe to have been educated?

If consent matters, why doesn’t it matter in school, and why aren’t we talking about it?

Curious parents discover unschooling.

In this video, André Stern describes how he came to never go to school:

“I never went to school, because of a decision, or more precisely, an attitude of my parents. The attitude of my parents is pretty simple to summarise. They have always been very curious, and their curiosity led them to ask themselves a question: “What will be the next natural step within the spontaneous development, within the spontaneous disposition of the child?”

Curious parents ask questions a lot. A person might not even realise their level of curiosity before becoming a parent. Being in a position where every day requires you to make an infinite number of decisions that directly effect the lived experience of another human is a sure fire way to reveal a person’s level of curiosity. Responsibility can enhance curiosity.

Curious parents like to know what, who, when, where, why and how. They like to explore situations, not only through their own lens, but empathetically through the lens of their child’s experience.

We live in social construction, and curious parents will be questioning that construction  and identifying areas that may require improvement. For some curious parents, the very experience of living with and witnessing the development of a person from birth will ignite their curiosity so much that they will want to be present in that experience every step of the way.

What curious parents will quickly discover is that many of the social constructs that effect people from birth do not work in the best interests of those people. Depending on their time and inclination, they may be drawn to research into how things got constructed that way, the historical roots and the reasons for us living in a society with a tradition for marginalising, trivialising and silencing the voice, needs and individuality of humans from birth.

As time goes on and the start of ‘formal education’ approaches, curious parents will notice that a standardised, authoritarian, institutional setting is not in keeping with children’s natural behaviour of curiosity and learning.

They will have watched and partnered with their child in their earliest communications and in their development of rolling, crawling, walking. They will have observed them in their development of speech, witnessed their vocabulary extend and expand. They will have seen their capabilities unfold, uniquely over time.

And they will have realised that what a person needs to continue in that growth is a supportive space, not schooling.

From there, their questioning will develop to consider how as a parent they can hold that space, how can they build community around the concept of that space.

Their curiosity will lead them to discover unschooling, and from there, the possibilities are endless.