Category Archives: Éditoriaux


Crackdown on Homeschoolers

Merci de nous contacter si vous pouvez nous aider a traduire ce post.

Nous vous encourageons à commenter vous-même sur le projet de loi 144:

The Rédaq and some of our allies were included in the recipients of this open letter from a parent to Minister of Education Sébastien Proulx. We invite you to discover herein some of the realities of educating otherwise in Quebec. Thank you to the author, who has chosen to remain anonymous, for permission granted to publish this letter here. 

We encourage you to share your comments with the government on their proposed bill 144:


Open Letter:

Dear Minister Proulx,

I am an unschooling parent, who is trying to give my child the best education that I possibly can, as I believe most parents strive to do. From what I gather, the proposed Bill 144would seriously infringe on my civil liberties and my ability to choose what is best for my child with respect to his educationIncidentally, I am unable to find a copy of this Bill on the National Assembly website and have had to rely entirely on the media’s coverage, to determine its contents. Why is that?

I am extremely disappointed to see that you are choosing a “cookie cutter”, “one size fits all” approach to your proposed educational reforms. From what I have seen thus far, your rationale seems to position you on the WRONG side of history. There is an incredible opportunity here for mutual growth, shared learning and resources between “mainstream” schoolers, homeschoolers, un-schoolers, world-schoolers and others. There is more than one path to academic success.

Instead, what I am seeing is a top-down autocratic approach that seems to devalue parental authority, while looking to a severely broken system and trying to pass it off as the gold standard. While I appreciate the assumed intent of the Bill: to ensure that all children have access to a “proper education”; and to protect children from all forms of abuse, I have to challenge your authority to define those criteria.

I respect the diverse range of choices that other parents make in an effort to provide their children with the most appropriate and effective education possible. I can only hope that they also respect mine. Each child is unique and will flourish in an environment that best reflects their unique needs.

Under these new reforms, I could be subject to fines up to $60,000, and risk having my happy and healthy child removed from our family. Why should I have to live under such a draconian threat?

Is it because my wife and I have chosen to “unschool” (a learning approach that follows no rigid curriculum and, instead, is driven by the interests and imagination of the child) our child, to not follow any imposed curriculum, and allow him to retain his incredible enthusiasm for learning, rather than have his passion for learning extinguished by a coercive and competition-driven educational system? In the words of educational philosopher, John Holt, “Children are born passionately eager to make as much sense as they can of things around them. If we attempt to control, manipulate, or divert this process, the independent scientist in the child disappears.” Are the students in you schools awed by nature and the miracle of life and passionate about seeking out its mysteries? Can you honestly say with confidence that the vast majority of the students enrolled in schools do not spend time every day, staring at a clock and wishing they were somewhere else or doing something else? That is a situation I have yet to experience with my son.

Do you want to penalize us because you think that we need to subscribe to the prevailing philosophy of standardized evaluation and competition that is pervasive and practiced in most ministry run schools? Because, we have chosen, instead, to instill in our child the values of collaboration, caring relationships, consensus building and self-evaluation – which we deem to be increasingly necessary in today’s society, which is challenged by persistent inequality, violence and unhappiness?

Is it because we are a small, often persecuted and marginalized group (an ‘easy target’); just the latest victims of the type of colonialist thinking that resulted in Residential Schools – another situation in which the state granted itself the “authority” to remove children from their homes and communities, for a so-called ‘better education’? Have we not learnt enough from history to avoid the embarrassment and pitfalls associated with such misguided initiatives?

Is it because mainstream education is feeling a bit jealous of the fact that 83% of “unschoolers” go on to pursue higher education1, whereas, only about 60% of Francophone students and 70% of Anglophone students graduate from high school within 7 years2? Or, perhaps because many “unschoolers” attribute their academic success to the fact that they had to develop ingenuity and autonomy and resilience to pursue their interests in an unschooling environment? As a professional educator I am interested in understanding what experiences most enable students to fee self-actualized, fulfilled and become effective members of society, able to help our society to heal from its profoundly sick characteristics (more on that later).

Is it because you want to draw attention away from the fact that the last set of sweeping educational reforms that you initiated in 2000, lacked the commitment to back it up with resources; and so it failed miserably in meeting any of its worthy objectives3? I am prompted to ask “why don’t you clean up your own house before trying to tidy up mine?”

Is it because you actually believe that only the state has the exclusive moral and academic authority to identify and deliver a “proper education”? Have we all lost our minds? The current educational system has consistently failed to empower students to address society’s most pressing issues – particularly persistent inequity, human suffering and environmental degradation. In many instances Quebec’s schools have provided a fertile environment for the perpetuation of bullying, violence, discrimination and marginalization4. It should not be surprising that most of the students from such educational systems have limited abilities to contribute positively to society, and a significant number go on to undermine social wellbeing, thereby becoming an enormous cost to society. Although conventional education, may serve some students quite well, one has to wonder to what extent it is (perhaps unintentionally) brainwashing its students into accepting and perpetuating a dysfunctional and totally unsustainable status quo. It has consistently failed to create a generation of critical thinkers with the intellectual and emotional wherewithal to effectively address and reverse the destructive side-effects of the post-industrial revolution. On the whole, as a teacher, I don’t see my students striving to create a fair distribution of wealth, or to help save our planet from human caused misery and ecological unsustainability. Most are content to just find well-paying jobs that will allow them to live the “American Dream”.

Is it because you are pandering to the ludicrous cries of all those “guilt-ridden” (and possibly envious) parents who cry foul when addressing the unspeakable cruelty of “unschooling” your child and sentencing them to a blight future and inevitable stupidity? Some have even, without evidence, characterised ‘unschooling’ as “failing to educate”. Is it possible that leaving the most important job of imparting knowledge and values to the most loved and cherished persons in a parents’ world, to a group of relative strangers, might be construed as “failing to parent”?5 I can’t count the number of times that mainstream parents have told me that my child will never be socialized if they don’t go to school. Usually, this is happening as my child is peacefully sharing his toys and inventing magical imaginative “worlds”, while their kids are shrieking “mine!!!” as they cling to my son’s toys. Please let me assure all those concerned that there are a plethora of opportunities for non-mainstream parents to socialize their kids. The difference for me is that I choose to do it in an environment that is supportive of a culture of collaboration, not competition, self-motivation rather than coercion, imagination instead of “colouring within the lines”, critical thinking and rich dialog rather than blind acceptance, and courageousness as opposed to feeling disempowered. Whether it’s hand-picked classes (e.g. dance, music, art, math…) or play groups or Nature programs or community activities and clubs (e.g. ornithology, scouts, archery, quilting…), sports activities and group outing (e.g. theatre, concerts, museums, etc.) – my son is given the unique opportunity to engage with his peers collaboratively in both mediated and unmediated settings. Very rarely is he told that he needs to “shhhhh” because he is interrupting a teacher who is doing his or her best to control 30 students. When I taught elementary and high school, I probably spent at least 20% of my allotted teaching time addressing class management issues. As an unschooler I immediately gained back all that learning time for my son.

Is it because you really think that I should accept the moral authority of the government (one that is sadly having to deal with exposures of corruption and collusion scandals) to choose the most ethical path for my child to follow? How many times have you and your colleagues voted to bolster the interests of Big Business to the detriment of your constituents and the natural world? Did I mention, “Clean up your own house…”6?

Is it because I should recognize that just being able to recite the alphabet and carry out multiplication, is far more important than being able to identify bird species by their songs; being able to prepare healthy meals and maintain a home in ecologically sustainable ways; be familiar with the medicinal uses of local plants; be able to identify all the trees and other plants within ones local ecosystem; knowing how to participate effectively in a mock parliament (with my child’s other unschooling friends); be able to garden and produce one’s own, unadulterated food; be able to dance and sing, and even do cartwheels on the lawn…? Even Jean-Jacques Rousseau, recognized what every study I have seen corroborates, that learning with a mentor, who models passion for the topic, will result in the student being more likely to excel in that area. The mentors and teachers of ‘unschoolers’ have the luxury of being able to provide these conditions, one that is extremely rare in public schools, given the high student-to-teacher ratios, which, sadly, are now the norm.

Is it because the government has a vested interest in not properly investigating and effectively addressing the risks and dangers associated with the human and environmental impacts of conventional farming, food production and processing, the excessive use of pharmaceutical products, excessive screen time, the omnipresent exposure to micro-waves, excessive consumerism, and the shortcomings of an educational system that has demonstrated so little innovation in the past 200 years; such that a person who lived in the 1800’s would have little difficulty recognizing today’s modern schools, despite their subservience to the ‘electronic take-over’. The same cannot be said of telephones and cars, or even clothing, to name a few aspects of society that have evolved over that time. Educational institutions and governments have been complicit in perpetuating a ‘Military-Academic-Industrial complex’ that has allowed the ongoing exploitation and destruction of our natural resources and our health and wellbeing. God forbid some subversive thinkers choose to question the sanctity of those institutions!

Perhaps the greatest possible aspiration of this Bill could be, to be more closely connected to a segment of the population, the non-mainstream schoolers, that have the means and resources to engage with our children in developmentally appropriate activities that capture the imagination and spur on the desire to grow and to learn. They have already realized that sitting for inordinate amounts of time in a classroom listening to a teacher, or a machine, is hardly an awe-inspiring or developmentally appropriate experience. Again, as John Holt suggests, “We ask children to do for most of a day what few adults are able to do for even an hour. How many of us, attending, say, a lecture that doesn’t interest us, can keep our minds from wandering? Hardly any.”

Are you assuming that I am not concerned about when my child learns to walk, talk, read, write, do math and learn to play a musical instrument. Barring obvious psychological deficits, I am very confident that by adulthood, through my child’s pursuit of his interests and passions, he will have acquired all the necessary skills (and many more than would be nurtured in mainstream ‘schools’) that he needs to pursue his career goals and live a healthy productive life. The average Canadian watches 22 hours per week of television (and also spends considerable amounts of time playing video games, in front of computers and other electronic screen devices). Doctors prescribe an average of 14 drug prescriptions per Canadian per year (not to mention the use of non-prescription drugs) 8. 18% of Quebecers are considered obese, according to a 2014 survey by Stats Can. These are, in part, the results of following the norms of a flawed and malfunctioning educational system.  Please excuse me if I choose for my child to opt out.

I am concerned that while you may economize on healthcare, by scaring prospective “unschoolers” from giving birth in hospitals and seeking medical care when needed, there may be a far more nefarious purpose to this Bill.  It seems that all non-mainstream students will be required to register with their local school boards, pay fees and incur new additional costs. All the while these students will not be using the resources, facilities or materials from the school board. Sounds like a cash grab!!! Although it seems unconscionable (and possibly unconstitutional) to me, to use an essential service that relies so heavily on user confidentiality/privilege, to go on a “witch-hunt” for unschoolers, I am not a lawyer, so I might be sadly mistaken.

It would be encouraging if the government were anticipating a return on a potential substantial investment, which has yet to be announced, in which the government would grant homeschoolers and unschoolers, financial resources and tax breaks – at least equivalent to the amount of money that they save the government, by not requiring their educational services and draining resources from the public kitty (i.e. fewer teachers needed, fewer books needed, less facilities needed, etc.). Incidentally, both homeschoolers and unschoolers play important roles in supporting a diverse range of economic activities; for example, they attend museums and use other community facilities (parks, libraries, etc.) at a time when most children are in school. And, because they are often not affiliated with a group or school, they do not pay the subsidized costs that school children often do. They often pay full price.

Is it not fair to assume that if the government has billions of dollars to waste –  on ensuring that Bombardier CEO’s can give themselves multi-million dollar bonuses for their failing performance, and invest millions of dollars to promote a sporting event that contributes towards air pollution and glorifies the consumption of fossil fuels (i.e. Grand Prix) – at a time when the survival of the human race requires us to significantly reduce our CO2 emissions – surely there would be available the small amount of money needed to support the provinces’ homeschoolers and unschoolers, without  taking an Orwellian approach?7

Even though I hold a post graduate degree and am a professional educator, I don’t think that this should determine how my comments are received. Anyone who can provide their child with a safe and loving environment, full of rich opportunities to learn and grow, should be given the freedom to do so; and to have their voice heard. That said, if any child, who fully understands the implications, decides to opt for conventional schooling, they should certainly be granted that right. Sadly though, your government is in no position, to laud its moral or academic authority over others, whose educational priorities do not concur with the governments’ limited understanding of teaching and learning.

Sadly, I see my primary role as a licensed teacher within the Quebec Educational system, as helping my students lead healthier, happier and more productive lives, through facilitating the healing of wounds that were inflicted upon them, to a large extent, by their conscription into mainstream schools? Typically, my students fear ridicule and resist sharing their thoughts and ideas – unless there are marks attached! They have suffered much in a system that has so often extinguished their intrinsic and spontaneous desire to learn. They have come to expect that conforming talent will be rewarded, and difference will be marginalized, and even penalised. How many of the students in state schools can honestly say that throughout their educational journey they felt loved, valued and respected, despite any differences in their ethnicity, learning interests, sex, age, nationality, socio-economic situations, religion, skin colour, body type, physical appearance, sexual orientation, beliefs and gender affiliation, etc.?

Why not investigate any cases of neglect and inappropriate refusals to send children to school, rather than impose strict educational attendance and pedagogical norms across the board?

If the School board wants to visit me (as often as necessary) to engage in pedagogical dialogue, and discuss whether or not my child is on track to become a contributing member of society, I’m open to that. But, I strongly doubt that they would possess the skills to do that adequately or effectively. You see, my aspirations for my child do not fit your “cookie cutter” mold and I am not confident that they can be met in a typical classroom setting or its curriculum. I want my child to be healthy, to consume healthy foods, to recognize the importance of minimizing screen time and the use of electronic devices, to retain and continue to develop his incredible imagination, to be autonomous, think critically, be happy, not need drugs to live a healthy life, be confident, loving, compassionate and empowered to confront the diverse challenges confronting his generation.

Mr. Proulx, I hope that your formal education has given you the skills and ability to honestly and effectively address these questions and concerns.


An anonymous unschooling parent, who will now shudder every time I have to engage with an institution (hospitals, etc.) that might expose me as an unschooling parent and its possible consequences.

P.S. I’ll be checking my mailbox for that check to support my unschooling efforts.








La socialisation et les centres d’apprentissage

English Version

Nous avons inclus des liens vers des informations de qualité a travers ce texte afin de permettre une lecture plus large, pour ceux ou celles qui le souhaites. Merci de votre intérêt.

La question la plus posée en éducation autrement est celle de la socialisation. C’est une bonne question et elle vient souvent de quelqu’un qui songe avec amour au futur de nos petits ainsi que de notre société.

Nous vous offrons ici une douce réponse ainsi qu’un tour de la situation actuelle au Québec.

Les écoles publiques bien organisées présentent un grand bénéfice pour notre société :

  • Les jeunes apprennent à vivre avec les autres.
  • Les professeurs inspirent et instruisent.
  • Les jeunes vivent une variété d’expériences et de situations sociales.
  • Les finissants ont un gabarit en commun de connaissances générales et pertinentes.
  • Le contrôle de la santé et de la sécurité publique et la collection de statistiques sociales sont simplifiés.
  • La mesure de connaissances théoriques entre individus est simplifiée.
  • Ce sont des centres communautaires d’explorations et de développements culturels.

L’instruction en famille bien organisée présente un grand bénéfice pour un enfant:

  • Il est motivé par ses intérêts et il apprend ainsi plus rapidement, les notions lui apparaissent plus clairement et on note une plus grande rétention de ses apprentissages. Il développe des méthodes d’études plus efficaces à ses façons d’apprendre. (Perspectives on Psychological Science)
  • Au Québec, ses parents sont laïques et leurs raisons sont pédagogiques: “..aucune voix religieuse, anti-étatique ou philosophique ne semble dominer le discours des parents-éducateurs québécois…les principaux facteurs à la base de ce choix sont un désir de poursuivre un projet éducatif familial, une objection aux modes d’organisation du système scolaire, une volonté d’offrir de l’enrichissement et un souci du développement socioaffectif des enfants. (Université de Sherbrooke. C. Brabant)
  • Il sera bien capable de réintégrer le système scolaire s’il le désire. Selon le Protecteur du citoyen: “Plusieurs études consultées observent que les enfants scolarisés à la maison, au primaire et au secondaire, ont un rythme d’apprentissage et un taux de réussite scolaire équivalents ou supérieurs à ceux des enfants qui fréquentent l’école régulière.”

Plusieurs études spécifiques au Québec sont citées dans ce rapport du Protecteur du Citoyen:  La scolarisation à la maison : pour le respect du droit à l’éducation des enfants)

  • Il est plus engagé dans la société, plus satisfait de ses choix pendant sa vie d’adulte, et « life-long learner », Psychology Today, After Summerhill, H. Lucas amazon,ca 

La socialisation sous plusieurs angles

La socialisation est le fait d’apprendre à adopter certains comportements et attitudes. D’un point de vue sociologique, l’idée de confier une mission de socialisation à l’école vient du besoin d’assurer une culture commune aux diverses cohortes de jeunes intégrants la vie adulte. D’un point de vue psychologique, le concept de socialisation réfère davantage à la question du développement du savoir-faire chez l’individu afin de se comporter de façon respectueuse et efficace en groupes.

L’école est un milieu permettant de socialiser l’enfant. Cependant, le fait de faire l’école à la maison n’empêche en rien les apprentissages sociaux nécessaires à l’enfant pour bien s’intégrer à la société, ni dans sa culture ou par son comportement. En pratique, c’est plutôt l’inverse.

Une majorité de familles faisant l’école à la maison sont constituées d’au moins un parent avec un niveau d’éducation supérieur, et les jeunes vont à l’école postsecondaire dans plus de 74% des familles. De plus, ces familles font appel aux centres d’exploration scientifique, musées et centres culturels, en grande proportion. (Université de Sherbrooke. C. Brabant, HSLDA (1) Fraser Institute)

Pour le point de vue psychologique de la socialisation, apprendre à parler avec gentillesse, à attendre son tour, à exprimer ses émotions avec respect se fait dans de nombrables sphères informelles de la vie: activités culturelles, équipe sportive, parc, famille élargie, ainsi que dans des centres d’apprentissage communautaires. (Protecteur du Citoyen)

Il existe un souci que les enfants scolarisés à la maison ne deviennent pas trop isolés, trop endoctrinés aux croyances de leurs parents, et que leurs talents soient reconnus et soutenues.  Ce concepte que ca prends un village pour faire croître un enfant est souvent au coeur des décisions en famille. Par contre, quand les choses ne vont pas bien, cela peut s’agir d’un problème social, la “négligence éducative”, sous la veillance des professionnels de la dpj, de nos lois de protection de la jeunesse, et d’orthopédagogues d’expérience. En dehors de ces circonstances rares et complexes, les études concordent depuis plusieurs décennies: les enfants scolarisés à la maison ont d’excellents résultats sociaux. Ils restent confiants, peuvent exprimer leurs besoins et sons citoyens engagés jusqu’à l’âge adulte. (Université de Sherbrooke. C. Brabant, HSLDA (2))

Les centres d’apprentissage, une option parmi d’autres

Parmi d’autres solutions permises par la loi, les centres d’apprentissage représentent une synthèse des bénéfices de la scolarisation à la maison et des bienfaits de l’école publique. Ces centres sont riches de spécialistes passionné.e.s et d’une variété d’expériences et de ressources. Leurs administrateurs répondent promptement aux besoins spécifiques des familles participantes via des processus flexibles et démocratiques, sur lesquels dépend leur capacité de livrer les avantages des deux fonctionnements, ainsi que des services adaptés.

Bien que la nature unique d’une telle organisation doit être préservée pour maintenir son efficacité, il existe plusieurs structures possibles pour l’organisation d’un centre d’apprentissage, presque toutes actives de nos jours au Québec :

  • Écoles alternatives publiques (RÉPAQ)
  • Écoles alternatives privées, telles que Agile, Montessori, Vertes et Waldorf
  • Écoles démocratiques / Écoles libres
  • Centres éducatifs des Premières Nations
  • Centres d’apprentissage communautaires
  • École religieuse jour / en scolarisation à la maison de soir
  • Groupes d’entraide
  • Dans les centres de sciences/musées/musique/sports, etc.
  • À même les écoles locales
  • Services adaptés, publics et privés

Grâce aux éducateurs et aux familles qui animent ces centres, nos jeunes ont accès à la panoplie d’options que nos bonnes universités et quelques 200 ans d’écoles alternatives leur proposent. Ceux qui ont la chance d’habiter près d’un centre d’apprentissage peuvent ainsi vivre une éducation et une socialisation de la plus haute qualité.

La situation au Québec : Des zones grises et le Protecteur du citoyen

Au Québec, il est plus difficile qu’ailleurs au Canada, aux États-Unis, ou en Europe de s’assurer d’une vie sociale riche pour nos enfants en scolarisation à domicile. Toujours conscientes du besoin, nos familles forment des groupes d’entraide, avec peu de ressources et peu de certitudes vis-à-vis le respect de leurs droits d’une décision à une autre. Le Protecteur du citoyen a demandé aux membres de notre Assemblée nationale de répondre à ces manques.

La situation un peu bizarre des écoles démocratiques, aussi dites écoles libres, est un exemple d’une situation que la réforme pourra régler. Étant laïcs et souvent conçus par des gens urbains, engagés et éduqués, ces centres répondent particulièrement aux familles qui souhaitent promouvoir la pensée critique, la créativité et l’implication civique d’un jeune.  Il y a plus de 300 écoles démocratiques publiques au monde, dont 20 en France, 7 au Canada et plus de 30 en Israël. (IDEA, EUDEC)  Les finissants ont des bons résultats (After Summerhill, H Lucas,  Par contre, bien que tous les autres types de centres sur la liste offerte ci-haut existent au Québec, le statut des écoles démocratiques demeure en zone grise. Il n’y a pas d’écoles démocratiques au Québec. Pour être en opération, un centre d’apprentissage doit pouvoir engager des professionnels pour enseigner des ateliers ou des séries de cours, le faire en tenant compte d’une pédagogie bienveillante, et offrir ses services aux familles de toutes situations socio-économiques. De plus, il y a la question de la supervision parentale pour les jeunes enfants (requise, pour l’instant, que pendant les horaires scolaires). Pour illustrer: ces jeunes ne peuvent prendre un cours de mathématiques en groupe seulement qu’en soirées ou pendant les week-ends. Ce sont des complications coûteuses et pas très utiles. (REDAQ Blog: Les écoles démocratiques au Québec)

Heureusement, nous avons cette opportunité de discuter ensemble de ce qu’on veut offrir à nos enfants et à notre futur québécois, ainsi qu’aux gens des Premières Nations qui partagent notre système scolaire. Notre réforme historique se fait dans ces brèves semaines et mois, et de ce fait votre voix sur ces questions est bien importante. En conseils d’administration de parents et d’enseignants, chez nos représentants et intervenants aux commissions scolaires, et parmi nos élites et élus qui se dédient à la question d’éducation à domicile depuis ces derniers mois- plusieurs actions sont possibles et entamées et il y a beaucoup de bonne volonté.


Nous vivons de nos jours une belle chance d’impliquer les gens qui s’intéressent aux expériences éducatives de nos jeunes. La famille, les amis, les voisins et toutes ces ressources de nos communautés, de nos centres d’apprentissage et de nos écoles peuvent ainsi participer à la croissance de tous nos enfants et, par ceux-ci, à la croissance de notre société.

Merci profondément de votre intérêt et pour vos commentaires.

Tammy Mackenzie, tammy@redaq.caChristine Perry christine@redaq.caAnnie Duplessis,


LA RÉFORME : parlons-en!

Voici quelques chemins vers des actions, des discours de la collectivité québécoise en éducation autrement et sur la réforme. (Ainsi vit la démocratie 🙂 )

Actions politiques :

Actions solidaires :

  • Préparer un témoignage vidéo ou écrit pour la période de consultation qui s’approche
  • Participer au Symposium de l’AQED les 20 et 21 mai 2017
  • Suivre les actualités et participer aux conversations sur les pages Facebook du RÉDAQ  , de l’AQED
  • Nous contacter à pour trouver un groupe d’entraide local.
  • Participer à l’organisation des actions du Rédaq sur le Facebook du RÉDAQ et ses Ami.e.s
  • Nous faire part d’autres actions
  • Nous faire part de vos commentaires


Socialization and Learning Centers

Version originale, française

We’ve included links to quality information for deeper readings for those so inclined. Thank you for your interest.

Questions about socialization are familiar to people practicing alternatives to state-led education. It’s an important issue, and is usually raised by someone who cares for our kids and for our society.

Here is gentle response to some of those questions as well as a look at the current situation in Quebec.  

Well organized public schools are a great benefit to our society:

  • Young people learn to live with others.
  • Teachers inspire and instruct.
  • Young people experience a variety of activities and social situations.
  • Graduates have a common template of society’s general and relevant knowledge.
  • Control of health and public safety and social statistics collection is simplified.
  • The measuring of theoretical knowledge between individuals is simplified.
  • They are centers of exploration and cultural developments.

Well-organized family education is of great benefit for children:

  • They are motivated by interest and learn quickly, concepts are clearer, and retention more successful. They develop more effective and personalized learning methods. (Perspectives on Psychological Science)
  • In Quebec, their parents are secular and their reasons “are neither religious, anti-state, nor ideological. The main factors underlying this choice are a desire to pursue a family educational project, an objection to the current school system, a desire to offer an enriched experience and and the social and emotional development of their children.” Translated from the original version, this study: Université de Sherbrooke. C. Brabant .
  • These children are able to enter or reenter school if they choose to do so. According to the Quebec Ombudsmen: “Several studies consulted observe that children who are homeschooled, at the elementary and secondary levels, have a learning pace and academic achievement equivalent to or better than those attending school.” Several other studies specific to homeschooling in Quebec are cited in this report of the Protecteur du Citoyen: Schooling at Home: For the Respect of the Right to Children’s Education:  La scolarisation à la maison : pour le respect du droit à l’éducation des enfants.
  • As adults, homeschooled kids are generally more engaged in society, more satisfied with their long term choices, and life-long learners. Psychology Today, After Summerhill, H. Lucas amazon,ca 

Perspectives on Socialization

Socialization is about learning to adopt certain behaviors and attitudes. From a sociological view, the idea of entrusting a mission of socialization to school comes from the need to ensure a common culture among the various cohorts of young people integrating into adult life. From a psychological point of view, the concept of socialization refers more to the question of the development of the know-how in the individual for behaving in a respectful and effective way among different groups of people.

School is an environment that fosters socialization. However, homeschooling does not preclude the social learning necessary for the child to integrate into society and into their culture. In practice, it is rather the reverse. A majority of these families are made up of at least one parent with a level of higher education, and their kids go to post-secondary education 74% of the time. (Most of the others are entrepreneurs.) They make judicious use of scientific exploration centers, museums and cultural centers. (Université de Sherbrooke. C. Brabant, HSLDA (1) Fraser Institute)

From the psychological point of view of socialization, learning to speak with kindness, to wait our turn, to express emotions with respect is done in countless spheres of life: cultural activities, sports teams, parks, extended family, as well as in community learning centers. (Protecteur du Citoyen)

There is a concern that children in school not become too isolated, too much indoctrinated to the beliefs of their parents, and that their talents be recognized and supported. This concept that it takes a village to grow a child is often at the heart of family decisions. In some cases, when things are not going well, there may be a social problem, “educational neglect”. This is addressed by the professionals of the DPJ and our youth protection laws as well as by experienced orthopedagogues. Apart from those rare and complex circumstances, studies have been consistent for several decades: homeschooled children have excellent social outcomes. They remain confident, can express their needs and are committed citizens into adulthood. (Université de Sherbrooke. C. Brabant, HSLDA (2))

The Role of Learning Centers

Among other solutions permitted by law, learning centers provide a synthesis of the benefits of homeschooling and the benefits of public schooling. These centers work with passionate specialists with a variety of experiences, focuses, and resources. Their directors respond promptly to the specific needs of families through flexible and democratic processes on which depends their capacity to deliver the benefits of both operations, as well as appropriate services.

Although the unique nature of such an organization must be preserved in order to maintain its effectiveness, there are several possible structures for the organization of a learning center, almost all active today in Quebec:

  • Public alternative schools (RÉPAQ)
  • Private alternative schools, such as Agile, Montessori, Green and Waldorf
  • Democratic Schools / Free Schools
  • First Nations Education Centers
  • Community Learning Centers
  • Religious school day / homeschooling evening
  • Resource-Sharing Groups
  • In science / museum / music / sports centers, etc.
  • In local schools
  • Adapted services, public and private

Thanks to the educators and the families who run these centers, our young people have access to options that our good universities and some 200 years of the practice of educational alternatives offer. Those who are lucky enough to live near a learning center can benefit from an education and socialization of the highest quality.

The Situation in Quebec: Gray Areas and the Protecteur du Citoyen

In Quebec, it is more difficult than elsewhere in Canada, the United States, or Europe to provide a rich social life for our children in homeschooling. Always aware of the need, our families form self-help groups, with few resources and little certainty of respect for their rights from one decision to another. The Protecteur du Citoyen (Ombudsman’s Office) asked the members of our National Assembly to respond to these shortcomings.

The somewhat bizarre situation of democratic schools, also called free schools, is an example of a situation that the reform can resolve. Being secular and urban, and often established by engaged and educated parents and teachers, these centers respond particularly to families who wish to promote critical thinking, creativity and civic involvement in young persons. There are more than 300 public democratic schools in the world, including 20 in France, 7 in Canada and more than 30 in Israel. (IDEA, EUDEC) Graduates have good results (After Summerhill, H Lucas, However, although all other centers on the list above exist in Quebec, the status of democratic schools remains unclear. There are no such schools in Quebec. To be in operation, such a learning center must be able to hire professionals to teach workshops or series of courses, to do so in line with rights-based pedagogy, and offer its services to families in all socio-economic situations. There is the issue of parental supervision for young children to consider, as well. For the time being, that’s required only during school hours. To illustrate: these young people can take a group math or geography course only on evenings or weekends. These are costly and not very useful complications. (REDAQ Blog: Les écoles démocratiques au Québec)

Fortunately, we have occaision to discuss together what we want to offer our children and our future in Quebec, as well as with First Nations people who share some of our school system. Our historical reform is taking place in these short weeks and months, and your voice on these issues is very important. In parent groups, among experts and school boards, and among our elites and elected officials who dedicated themselves to the issue of home education in recent months – several actions are possible and started, and there is a lot of good will.


Today we have a great opportunity to involve people who are interested in the educational experiences of our young people. Family, friends, neighbors and all the resources of our communities, learning centers and schools can participate in the progress of all children and, through them, in the progress of our society.

Thank you very much for your interest and for your comments.

Tammy Mackenzie, tammy@redaq.caChristine Perry christine@redaq.caAnnie Duplessis,



Here are some paths to actions and discussions of the Quebec community in

Education, home education, and reform. (Herein lives democracy 🙂 )

Political actions:

  • Email your MNA, and let them know what’s important to you
  • Make an appointment with your homeschooling school board representative 
  • Follow the path of the law and Calls for Comments from the Assemblée nationale 
  • Discuss these ideas with your entourage

Social Actions:



Addressing Some Common Unschooling Concerns

This article is a response to the National Post’s article by Sarah BoesveldUnschooling: Raising Independent Trailblazers or Lazy Free Floaters?

Thank you, Ms Boesveld, for your excellent article. In it you raise many of the concerns of unschooling families, extended family, and policy makers with regards to this pedagogical choice.

I am an unschooling mom, an entrepreneur, and an educational reformer in Quebec. I’d like to offer you some links and resources for good information on modern unschooling.

Some demographics: In Canada, the majority of unschooling families are secular, urban, educated, and middle or upper middle economic class – enough for one parent to stay home and to cover the costs of all the materials and outings. They feel they are capable of doing excellent work with their child, and they’re surrounded by sufficient activities and shared interest groups to make sure that their kid is appropriately socialized.

Concern: Complex Subjects – “offers no curriculum to conquer”.

In your article you write that “curricula is tossed by the wayside” in unschooling. That is not accurate. Unschoolers don’t throw out curricula, they just aren’t compulsory.

In some cases, curriculums make the difference between unschooled people who do well, and those who struggle, because plans are pretty useful (though not required) for a person to be well adapted to their society. Sometimes that society is a tiny community in the Kootenays. But as you mentioned, civic engagement is high among the measured results for unschooled kids. They generally aren’t being raised in isolation. Many unschoolers use curricula from around the world on a wide variety of subjects, and I’ve provided some links below to a few popular choices.

Many people have similar concerns to those of Prof. Ungerleider, whom I quote hereon from the NP article:

Concern: Social Versatility – Children must learn “under the guidance of someone who is well prepared to manage [-] diversity and allow differences of viewpoints to prevail.”

As educated, secular/humanist families, many unschoolers agree, and 80% of unschooled kids go on to post-secondary schools in order to continue to promote a life-long love of learning (1: Psychology Today). The families who choose to live in a different society, such as world-schoolers for example, elite athletes and musicians, or off-gridders, retain their rights under the Canadian charter, the UN Charters of Human Rights and on the Rights of Children, and many provincial charters to a culturally appropriate education, and to make socialization choices appropriate to those cultural ones within the confines of child protection laws, thus allowing for a diversity of childrearing practices.

Concern: Independence – “When does the youngster begin to establish independence from the parent?’

Like in any family, the parenting philosophies of unschoolers run the gamut from helicopter to hands-off. In helicopter-leaning families, independence can develop as a rebellion in teen years, later, or never at all.  In hands-off families, independence is earlier and wider (2: Psychology Today). Most families sit somewhere in the middle, depending on the topic. For example, some families set strict screen time limits, some set none. These are questions in all families, of course, not just for unschoolers. But it’s a concern. For example, in Quebec, it is challenging to arrange opportunities for the kids to learn something without parental supervision during school hours. So, for a family that wants to broaden their child’s ability to navigate the world – a very common motivation for unschoolers who see traditional school as intellectually restrictive (3: Parenting Report) – they have to get pretty creative to meet that goal: form groups, sign up for classes, make deals with the local school to join the orchestra, start a club at the science center etc. Setting those things up incidentally increases their independence, which is useful but often needlessly complicated.

Concern: Grades and Progress –  “Children should be able to reference their prior knowledge and experience and chart progress —how does one do that without grades?”

Unschoolers are encouraged to take on projects or themes to answer the questions they have about the world, as are kids in schools. Many of the same resources are used – books, curricula, clubs, web resources, experts, field trips. Measures of success are linked to the original question. If it is a simple one: why is the sky blue? Then the child has succeeded when they get the answer. If it is a complex one: how do I launch a rocket? Then the child will work on the question until it is answered to their satisfaction and, like in good schools but with a very much more focused mentorship, will be given the resources to succeed (algebra, space camp, rocket-building club). Success is measured by results. As for charting over time and keeping records, some do it with portfolios, others with journals or blogs or vlogs, or photo essays. A great many find various artistic pursuits. This will often comprise a significantly more complete personal record and progression of learning than might school grades, Some unschooling families would very much appreciate classes on various pedagogical skills, including year-to-year tracking.

Concern: Public Schools – “Unschoolers may not be giving today’s school system enough credit”

True. There is a definite push against traditional schools, particularly in areas of the country that have had to deal with child protective services instead of teachers to get educational support. As reformers, we’re working to protect these families so that they can exercise their rights without prejudice, and have access to appropriate expert advice. This is often offered through schools, but too often not to homeschoolers. In Quebec, the Protecteur du citoyen (Ombudsmen’s office) has asked the government to correct this situation. (4: Protecteur du citoyen). As for the school system, the teacher drop-out rate in Canada is as high as 25%. (5: UBC). Among students, our literacy rates are great, but our STEM rates are dismal. The system works to prepare the majority to work in current industries, but leaves behind some 30% of people before grade 11, mostly boys, and is institutionally unresponsive to technological, economic, or social changes. We can in public and in private do better for the ones we’re leaving behind. We should. Among other things, we can integrate child-led learning into public systems, which remain key to creating democratic and technologically sound cultures.

Fun fact: Some notable unschoolers include Elon Musk, Thomas Edison, many elite athletes and musicians, and most famous persons from before the advent of Universities in the middle-ages.

Concern: Reintegration and Higher Education – “Aren’t you just making it harder for your son or daughter to catch up in the future?”

According to this study, (6: Psychology Today), unschoolers tend to do well academically in tertiary education, be intrinsically motivated, and be more satisfied with their careers later on. Like other people, they tend to espouse their parent’s values. As in democratic schools – something like unschooling in groups – there is almost no incidence of “mathophobia”, dyslexia, adhd or, for that matter, bullying or age-discrimination (7: Summerhill School). When they do have trouble, they tend to be more adept at managing. As mentioned in your article, these young people are used to speaking up for their needs and getting the resources they need, as compared to their age peers.

Concern: Socialization – “I would be worried about the diversity of experience provided to the youngster”

We are, too. That’s why in the stricter provinces we need support to be permitted to assemble and share resources such as hiring experts or opening community centres, and why there are 7 democratic schools in Canada, and multiple learning centres in Quebec and elsewhere. This is especially vital in rural areas and for poorer families, who are mostly excluded from this educational option at this time.

Concern: Research – “More research needs to be done on the long-term effects of unschooling”.

Yes. Please!

“Dr. Ricci says studies have found homeschool kids do better on SAT tests and rank better in citizenship than their school-going peers.”

Here are some other studies. (Let us know of others?)

Awareness about this educational option is really helpful to getting the rights and support these families and communities need, and clearing some questions for concerned others (extended family, policy makers).

Please share, and read up, and enjoy the experience of accompanying young scholars, if you can.

-Tammy Mackenzie,

Unschooling by the books / Thanks for your article, Ms Boesveld. I hope you’ll be moved to remove one or two of your references to “tossing out curricula”?

Samples and Checklists: UNSCHOOLING CURRICULUM

Radical Unschooling Guidance

Global Vilage Curriculum K-8

Unschooling and Time4Learning

The unschooled version of a seventh-grade-ish curriculum plan for 2012-13

Pour ne plus sacrifier sa relation avec son enfant au nom de l’é

Par M-A Prud’homme
Cet article est la deuxième partie de l’article Une première visite d’une école démocratique.

Adolescent, j’étais toujours mal à l’aise pour ceux et celles de mes compagnons de classe dont les parents enseignaient à l’école…

Dans chacune des trois écoles conventionnelles que j’ai fréquentées au secondaire, j’étais mal à l’aise car je savais ce que les autres enfants (et moi) disions dans le dos de leur père ou de leur mère qui enseignait.

black-and-white-daughter-family-love-mother-favim-com-110567 Continue reading