How to Discuss Unschooling


In cleaning up the old apartment house, as it was, before its demolition, I'm going through yahoogroups, saving some descriptions, leaving forwarding-mail notices (figuratively), and I ended up in the google version (also dormant) of UnschoolingDiscussion.  Here is the intro.  I will disable links to things that aren't there anymore. That was a sort of parallel group to this one—same three group owners (me, Joyce, Pam Sorooshian), but slightly different slant.

This intro was written in 2006 by Schuyler, who has gone on to other interests and I miss those days when she was likely to be in all the best discussions, making them better. :-)


Even though that's not this group, I think most of the points are as good as ever, and I thought it might be a good list to go through and discuss.  It can also be practice with this forum.



UnschoolingDiscussion Posting Policies

New List Members - please do not post anything to the list before you
have carefully read these policies. In particular, please notice that
we ask you to wait until you've been on the list for a couple of weeks
before you post.

It is our sincere wish to provide a forum for those seeking to deepen
their understanding of the unschooling philosophy. The primary purpose
of this list is to encourage the critical examination of ideas, beliefs
and viewpoints.

Questioning of deeply-held ideas and beliefs can be very uncomfortable
and sometimes responses to that process can stand in the way of people
getting what they need out of the list.

Therefore, we offer the following guidelines to help our members get
the most from the list:

    1. Read for at least a couple of weeks before posting yourself.
Spend that time getting a "feel" for the list and its members. This
will help you decide if this list is worth your time or whether some
other list might be more useful to you in meeting your needs.

    2 Expect your beliefs to be challenged. Welcome this as an
opportunity to critically examine your own ideas.

    3. When differences of opinion arise, stick to discussing ideas,
not the person with whom you are disagreeing.

    4. If you have a belief or practice that you don't want held up to
public examination, don't post it to the list.

    5. Before you hit "send," consider whether your post will
contribute positively to the unschooling discussion or help people
understand unschooling better. For example:

        * Posts should add something to the discussion, not just say
things like, "Me too," or "Thank you."

        * This list is international. State specific questions are best
answered elsewhere.  (Try (both long gone sites) and

        * This list's focus is learning through unschooling, not
homeschooling politics. Discussions of legislative and legal issues can
be found at  

        * List members should refrain from meta-discussion, that is,
commenting or complaining about a discussion instead of contributing to
it. Examples of meta-discussion are: "This list is not very friendly."
"That response seemed overly defensive." "Why do my posts get
criticized and not others?"

    6. Avoid using loaded terminology. For instance, "If you have no TV
restrictions why don't your kids just watch TV all day?" will get you
more useful responses than, "I don't see how your kids learn anything
if all they ever do is sit around like zombies watching unlimited TV."

    7. It is not useful to inform the list that you believe someone
else is being rude or discourteous; please trust the rest of the list
to recognize rudeness for themselves. Saying, "Jane was rude to me,"
just bogs down the list. It is also a waste of everyone's time when
participants attempt to correct or improve other list members' manners.
It never works and always disrupts the list. Avoid statements such as:
"Jane, here is my suggestion of how you could write more nicely so
people wouldn't think you are being rude."

    8. Our brains automatically supply a "tone" to posts as we read. It
can be helpful to imagine your best friend speaking the words you are
reading, in the gentlest, most well-meaning tone you can imagine. It is
unacceptable to attack the "tone" of the list or to make
generalizations about it. "I've been on many other lists and this one
is the rudest I've seen," would be unacceptable. Instead, attempt to
create a positive, helpful tone with your own posts by setting the
example you hope others will follow.

    9. Envision every post and response as a dish at a potluck dinner.
You won't love every dish at a potluck any more than you will love
every poster's style of help. But a dish/post may be exactly what
someone else needs. If you don't like a certain list member's
offerings, skip them and leave them for others.

    10. Read and write as clearly as you can. In casual conversation we
often don't realize how much we rely on others to fill in the gist of
our conversation based on what they expect us to say. But here, without
body language or inflection, all we have to go on are your words and
they should say what you mean. If you say, for example, you "never" do
something, it should not mean "almost never."

Our goal is to make the list as useful as possible for those seeking to
deepen their understanding of the unschooling philosophy. To do that,
all new list members are initially moderated to prevent spamming and
catch posts that could disrupt the list. People will also be moderated
if they disrupt the usefulness of the list. Potentially disruptive
posts will be returned for revision.

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