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Education Insights: Unschooling Rules (A Book Review)

By Oliver DeMille

Once in a while a truly great book comes along that you just can’t wait to tell everyone else to read. Unschooling Rules by Clark Aldrich is that kind of book.

I started reading in the afternoon and couldn’t put it down until I finished.

My first thought when I completed the last page was, “I wish I had written this!” My second thought was, “I need to read this again.”

Those who have read and studied A Thomas Jefferson Education (TJEd) or Leadership Education will find this book especially enjoyable. It covers a lot of TJEd themes, but with its own interesting twist.

As I read it I kept saying, “Yes! Absolutely! Right on!” I haven’t seen a book so totally capture the vision of Leadership Education in home school in a long time.

But I’ll let this outstanding book speak for itself. Here are some quotes from this fabulous little book:

“In many schools across the world, children en masse get dropped off and enter buildings where they become the recipient of linear ‘teaching’ and tests. They go home, do homework, and start over again the next day—all for the goal of preparing them for the next level of school and meeting broad and dubiously constructed standards.”

A better “…type of learning answers such questions as: ‘What do I love doing?’ ‘What is my dream?’ ‘What gives me energy?’ ‘What are my unique strengths?’ and even ‘What is my role in a group?’”

“There are two reasons to learn something: either because you need it or because you love it.”

“Twenty-five critical skills are seldom taught, tested or graded….adapting, analyzing and managing risks…being a leader…gathering evidence, identifying and using boards of mentors and advisors…managing projects, negotiating, planning long term…”

“Don’t worry about preparing students for jobs from an Agatha Christie novel…”

“One computer + one spreadsheet software program = math curricula.”

“Five subjects a day? Really?”

“Maturing solves a lot of problems.”

“Grouping students by the same age is just a bad idea.”

“Tests don’t work. Get over it. Move on.”

“The future is portfolios, not transcripts.”

“Outdoors beats indoors.”

“The predominant academic milieu should be walking. When walking, children can talk. They can think.”

“Under-schedule to take advantage of the richness of life.”

“But it will not be the governments, or their school systems, or other of their institutions that will drive real innovation in reconstructing childhood education. It will be as it already is, the homeschoolers and the unschoolers.”

These are just a sample of the many wise things in Unschooling Rules. As I said, this book fits right in with the TJEd model of leadership education and home school. I highly recommend it book for every parent, teacher and administrator involved in modern education. It is a manual for great learning.

My friend Jeff Sandefer wrote in the forward to this excellent book:

“Each child has a spark of genius waiting to be discovered, ignited, and fed. And the goal of schools shouldn’t be to manufacture ‘productive citizens’ to fill some corporate cubicle; it should be to inspire each child to find a ‘calling’ that will change the world. The jobs for the future are no longer Manager, Director, or Analyst, but Entrepreneur, Creator, and even Revolutionary.”

This is a great book for our time — whether you home school or not. Five stars! I hope you’ll read it right away. If you are new to TJEd, read this great book right along with A Thomas Jefferson Education.

If you’re already familiar with TJEd, Unschooling Rules provides another excellent witness of what really works for truly quality education. This book belongs on every shelf, and its ideas need to be in every mind!


odemille 133x195 custom The Amazing (Ironic/Tragic) DebateOliver DeMille is the founder and former president of George Wythe University, a co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd Online.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.


  1. I bought this book on Kindle the other night. It’s a remarkably easy read, with short, engaging chapters that get right to the point. Thansk for the recommendation.

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