Erik on Unschooling

I love Amazon. I purchased 99% of my Christmas gifts from there, but I had to buy one thing for my husband through another online retailer. For some reason, they generated two orders of the same thing with two separate order numbers and delivered both packages. I called to have them issue a call tag and have UPS pick the extra package up because I’m not paying the postage for their mistake. The customer “service” representative argued with me, saying I was the one who ordered the product twice. I insisted that I was no newcomer to ordering online and that I only ordered once. I mean, c’mon! He kept arguing with me, until I said, ‘Amazon would never do this. Let me talk to your supervisor.’ Eventually, he said he’d email me a shipping label. Of course I have to drop it off at the post office, dammit. Not only that, in the email, they said I would be charged a set fee of some sort. Looks like I’ll have to dispute via Amex. Bh humbug!

Don’t forget about Erik’s Hour of Enlightenment radio show TONIGHT at 5:00 PM PT/7:00 PM CT/8:00 PM ET. No more than 15 minutes before the top of the hour, call 619-639-4606 to ask Erik your question. There are three ways to listen: Listen on the phone line, click on the “Listen” icon on the right sidebar of the blog or click on this link:

If you’ve tried to get on as a caller for months with no success (and I’m using the honor system here,) then please email me your question and the number you’ll be calling from. 

Enjoy today’s Best of Erik!

Me: Erik, what do you think about unschooling, since we were just talking about education.

Jamie: Wow, he just whistled really loud!

(Jamie makes a very loud whistling sound. I wish I could do that. Despite many a willing and now frustrated teachers, I can only make a pathetic whistling sound by sucking in. Sounds kind of like the death gasp of an old balloon.)

Me: I don’t know exactly what it is, but it’s basically, um, what is it, like not going to school but sort of like student-led learning? I think it is, like learning what the kid is interested in.

Erik: Yeah, it’s kind of like Montessori in a way. It’s less structured.

Me: Yeah.

Erik: It could stand a little more structure, but it is the new way of teaching kids. The public school system should just fucking fold, just quit.

Me: I agree. Now, I homeschooled Erik and the rest of the kids for a while and even in that there was some structure but every Thursday we’d do some cool field trips and learn in different ways with a lot of hands on experiences. It was really fun wasn’t it, Erik?

Erik: It was the best!

Me: Yeah, it was so much fun. So, what do you think about homeschooling and unschooling? Give me something that is more than just a couple of sentences here! Please?

Erik: Okay, I want all of the readers to know that if they’re thinking of having children or if they have children, I can honestly say 95% of them are coming in with more of a spiritual connection: indigo, crystal kids. And these poor little guys, they still work in a lecture education setting and that’s what public school systems are based on. If you want to save your children from being mislabeled as ADHD or problem makers, then look at teaching them the way that they know how to learn. Mostly that is going to be the self-led education process. The Montessori schools are this way. The Waldorf schools do more with art and creation exercises. The unlearning—

Me: What is that? Do you mean undoing the damage that the public and private schools have caused?

Erik: Undoing the damage not just from public and private schools but from society too.

Me: Ah!

Erik: The way society structures you, to lay you out. So it teaches you that you have the right to look at a structure or a role and identify if it’s going to be the best way you need to behave to work for yourself.

Me: Well it should also include undoing the structures that your family—your parents and siblings—have created too.

Erik: Amen.

Me: You know, they do it with all the best intentions, but—

Erik: They do. They do. Parents don’t like to think outside of the box cuz their kid will be different or nobody will be able to understand their child. Phony boloney. Let your child be your teacher. They’re going to do it anyway.

Me: Yep. Plus they want their child to march to the beat of society’s drum, because they don’t want society to hurt them. They want their kid to fit in.

Jamie (giggling): He puts the back of his hand on his forehead like someone who’s about to faint, like oh!

Erik: Oh dear god forbid us if we have independent thinkers! How horrible!

Jamie: So dramatic, Erik!

Jamie and I laugh.

Me: It does more harm than good in the long run for groups of kids but unfortunately they’ve seen kids who didn’t fit in to society committing suicide right and left. That’s a problem, you know. That’s a problem. It’s very difficult. Of course it’s not very common, but they see it. They see it. But the parent is responsible, in part, to give their child the support they need when they march to the beat of their own drum instead of society’s or their peer’s.

Erik: Yes. Here’s the big difference. Society and schools teach what is right by teaching what is wrong. They put the punishment out there so that the kid stays on track. They give the grade, but if they don’t meet the grade, you don’t get the reward. So, they’re teaching the positives by pushing the negatives.

Me: Yep. That’s awful.

Erik: So then all of a sudden the kids identify who’s different, who’s wrong, who doesn’t fit in, and then you’re creating kids who are quick to judge. If you look at the alternative schools, they don’t pull that shit. They let the child do what they feel is best for them, and they teach them how you can label without using a judgment.

Me: Yeah. That’s what my books are all about. You have to create an environment so that kids become self directed instead of externally directed. It’s actually pretty easy.

Jamie: He’s raising his hand and pointing his finger at his chest and saying, “That’s me!”

Me: It’s actually easier than raising externally directed kids!

Click HERE to learn more about unschooling.

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Elisa Medhus

  • Jacqueline Orszulak

    Thank you
    My one son was in special ed and half of it was a nightmare
    Definitely need improvements
    Not saying it’s easy for the teachers
    God help us all!!

  • Fiona

    I was allways bunking off school because I couldn’t fit into the school structure. I didn’t have learning disabilities but I was allways away in my head dreaming. I suppose I wasn’t focusing or engaging enough.
    but instead of engaging with me the teachers used to punish me or criticise me over minor petty little things ( like drawing flowers all over my history homework).
    I can remember in primary school
    they said I wasn’t getting on with my work so they shut me in a room on my own away from the other children.
    My friend (who was in my class) said to me years later that she thought it was funny because I was never at school ( or bunked off alot) but when I was there I knew all the answers and used to explain it to her.

  • Georgia95Luciana Todesco

    I agree with Erik. Both my children went to a Waldorf/Steiner school. I wish I had homeschooled Bria though. She was diagnosed with ADD and had trouble concentrating.

  • Kathryn

    As a child, my “only” motivation to go to school everyday, were the following reasons: Art, PE and lunch! KM

  • madhub1

    It’s so sad to read this commentary on the US public school system where many teachers pour their hearts into their days with children. They are dedicated men and women who have chosen a profession that is belittled in this country. Where parents blame them for their own inadequacies as parents. Erik has never been a teacher in a classroom. When he is truly able to witness the goodness that does take place in many of our American classrooms, then his feedback will be considered credible. And when he has favorable suggestions as to how to improve a situation where teachers are at the mercy of politicians who have little understanding of the educational needs of children (many living in poverty), we educators will gladly listen. So far there seems to be only complaining on his part.

    • M&M

      I agree completely with the point about great teachers that pour their hearts into teaching their students and how valuable that is. In my experience and what I’ve seen that has a huge positive effect on students, way beyond what they learn about the specific subject. A great teacher can implant confidence and a sense of personal empowerment in a person better than anyone. Those teachers absolutely have their work cut out for them in schools these days, trying to teach accountability and consequences as well as knowledge, success and empowerment when what so many people want is just an easy way out.

    • He had a few bad experiences with teachers. One even called him stupid to his face. (He had learning disabilities.” But I’m sure he understands, now, that that was just the human ego.

      • Fiona

        Thats bad. That ‘teacher’ should of been sacked.
        There’s nothing wrong with having learning disabilities
        and unfortunately anyone can come up against a stupid teacher.

    • Lorri

      “. . . a situation where teachers are at the mercy of politicians who have little understanding of the educational needs of children . . . ”

      Do you realize that in one sentence, you yourself said the public school system is pretty bad?

      Of course there are going to be exceptions where things are pretty good, but I think Erik was talking about the system as a whole being badly designed in the first place. If it was well designed, you wouldn’t feel “at the mercy of politicians” who don’t know what they’re doing

      I don’t think it’s a reflection of the teachers; it’s a reflection of a system that’s been in place for a very long time.

    • PaulinhosmBR

      Ok, they pour their hearts into their days with children, but they are nothing but puppets of an outdated and hideous educational system. I’m 23, self directed, and no teacher had a positive impact on my life, they where stupid and bullied me because I’m an introvert. I can relate a lot to Erik and I agree 100% with him. It’s time for us to face the truth.

  • Cheryl

    Hey Elisa, I have a quick question before I start on the topic at hand.. Is Patsy Cline on your list of people to channel? I have searched and searched, but I can’t find ANY channeling sessions with her, and she’s probably one of my top favorite people of all times. Ever since I was little. So I would really love to hear from her, if able of course.
    Now for the topic. I am definitely wanting to go the home schooling route. The only reason I’m a little stand offish is because, I didn’t do well in school. My husband is a little stand offish, mainly because, he’s afraid our son won’t develop the social skills he needs. But we were talking about it recently and we even thought the same thing with the field trips. Even if it’s just going to the Library and letting them pick out a book of something they’re interested in. Since we have family up in PA, we even thought about doing the Gettysburg tours. I love the idea of creating independent thinkers. I am not sure if it’s just the kids I’m seeing, or if a lot of kids I’m seeing and hearing from are just in a stage.. but I really don’t feel like there are many independent thinkers… They kind of just follow the herd & there’s barely Any true acceptance anymore. It scares me and goes against everything I dream for my son. I even remember being in school and getting on a subject that I Really wanted to stick with and keep learning about, but we ended up moving forward to another. That always kind of upset me. I know I have quite a few years before my son needs to go to school. He’s not even here yet! Lol But I’ve thought about this for years.. I’m hoping by then, that I can get over the restrictions I have on myself!
    Much love all! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

    • I don’t think she is on my list and I won’t be able to get to all the 400-ish now on my list in my lifetime, so I can’t add any more. As for homeschooling, I’d go with a school that gives you a teacher and curriculum to work with like Laurel Springs in Ojai. They look at all the work done and have conference calls with you and your kids.

      • Cheryl

        Oh Wow! Yea, that’s totally understandable! Lol Thank you So so much for the suggestion on homeschooling. I’m definitely going to look into that a lot more. I glanced over something like that a few months ago along with the (I think it was) 3 main options for homeschooling in my state.

      • We loved Laurel Springs but I’m sure there are others. Check to see if your school district will give you financial aid for it. Mine wouldn’t, unfortunately.

      • Cheryl

        That would be so helpful, if we are able to get it. I am adding these to my “Homeschooling List” as we speak. Thanks again for the suggestion. My beliefs and aspirations set aside.. The public schools around me have some of the lowest ratings, I think I’ve ever seen. I don’t know anyone who is, or has homeschooled their kids either. I live in SC now, and I am almost positive that I’ve even seen commercials about homeschooling in SC… And the government setting up certain programs for families who want to homeschool… It was something along those lines. I wouldn’t have thought about it if you hadn’t mentioned it! It was a few months ago, and the pregnancy brain is Real!

      • That’s why I’m all for school vouchers/choice. It would stimulate the competition and improve quality. Also, get rid of tenure and make employment contingent upon performance, not seniority.

      • Cheryl

        I Definitely agree!

  • Alphonso de Barbo

    In a society like the US, where consumption and material priviledge is the highest in the world, and your expectation that you have the right to do whatever you like (to hell with anyone else) you have the luxury of denigrating an education system that has served you very well. Where else does your child have the chance to socialise and learn to function and cope with being part of a group – society.
    In my country, the children, apart from the priviledged few who attend private schools, are more than happy to attend school where they encounter teachers who are encouraging and supportive – unlike the experiences many of them have at home. The stories I could tell you!
    Before you throw out the baby with the bathwater, you will need to think very carefully about what you are going to replace your present education system with… saying it’s bad and unworkable is not helpful, providing a better alternative that is available to EVERYONE is… think about it…

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