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Sandra Dodd

“Finding clear ideas and a philosophy of learning is a daunting task. We may strain to hear a voice that solidifies our ideas concisely and fortunately for many unschoolers, Sandra Dodd’s vocal presence is a bright spot of lucidity. Her mind is a virtual box of magic, her innovative ideas for learning are just plain fun, and her passionate belief in unschooling articulates a philosophy of life.

A former junior high school teacher, Sandra lives with her family in New Mexico. Her three children have never been to school.

With clarity, certainty and humor, Sandra’s wisdom reminds us to keep asking questions and maintain flexibility when looking at the world.”

– From the introduction to an interview, by Emily Subler, in Home Education Magazine, 1998
How does unschooling work? There are many ways families can optimize natural learning in their lives, and find joy and laughter along with it. New unschoolers have had the same questions over the years, and experienced unschoolers go through some similar stages of nervous doubts. This book addresses and summarizes dozens of concerns and puzzlements about whether and how children can learn without schooling.

My review of Sandra Dodd’s Big Book of Unschooling
from Issue 161 of the
ital”>Parental Intelligence Newsletter class=”bold”>, October 2009

I don’t recall now where or when I first encountered Sandra Dodd on the internet, but I’ve been a member of her Always Learning discussion group since April 2007. It’s one of my favourite online places, and I nearly always return from a visit there with an idea or two to ponder upon.

Sandra is the “unschooling mother of Kirby, Marty and Holly, who never went to school.” At the time of writing, Kirby is 23, Marty is 20, and Holly is 17, and they’re all fine young adults and an asset to the world according to everything I’ve seen of them and read about them.

In other words, as far as “unschooling” is concerned, Sandra has ‘been there and done that’ very successfully. Now she’s written a book from her experiences in which she paints as clear and complete a picture of what “unschooling” is really all about as perhaps there can be. Is it simply an alternative to the school classroom? Is it an educational philosophy? Is it a parenting philosophy? Is it a lifestyle choice? Now you can be the judge.

I have to say, personally, I don’t use the word “unschooling” to describe my own situation. It seems to me a somewhat misleading term now that its historical significance is usually overlooked. But I certainly appreciate that, even so, it’s a long established and widely used term that is gaining currency in society at large and I think those viewing the world of the unschooled child from the outside will benefit greatly from having what is meant by this increasingly familiar term explained to them as fully as possible – what is it that actually lies beyond the description “unschooling”? Or whatever else we might choose to call it. In that respect, Sandra Dodd has done a marvellous job. Her book is, however, not necessarily for bewildered members of the general public. It’s primarily a book of wisdom for those who are already “unschooling” or who are thinking about it.

Given my admiration for what this lady has achieved and for the depth of her knowledge and understanding, I hope Sandra Dodd’s Big Book of Unschooling becomes “The Unschooler’s Bible”. It deserves to be. As well as being an inspiring read in any event, I think it answers every question anybody could ask about “unschooling”, or at the very least puts them on the right track to an answer.

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