Unschooling is not the same as non-coercive education

From the archives: Posted on 26 Feb 1994

“Unschooling is non-coercive education, as John Holt taught us.”

I think many unschoolers would disagree with you there. In my experience, many of them have a very narrow definition of “education” and hold an incoherent theory in which the putative ill-effects of coercion only apply to areas deemed “education”. They range from “never offer, never refuse” (not interventionist enough imo) to having a pedagogical agenda, or in some cases they get their children to do projects. Whilst I have been known to quote John Holt, he was not a great theoretician – he was not really interested in educational philosophy and the growth of knowledge. For example, his book How Children Learn seems not to talk about how knowledge grows at all. He is variable – sometimes brilliant, other times not.

See also:

Sarah Fitz-Claridge, 1994, ‘Unschooling is not the same as non-coercive education’, https://www.takingchildrenseriously.com/unschooling-is-not-the-same-as-non-coercive-education/