The Free Range Childhood—next to a school


I feel like this picture could stand alone, it’s so great: the wild and free unschooled child, climbing a tree at his leisure, while the school children roam about behind their prison fence for the duration of their Scheduled Recreation Time. “Walking the yard”, I think it’s called?

High five to me for getting this excellent shot. I just thought it was so funny when I looked across the road and saw it.

It could stand alone. But L told me a little more about it, so I’ll include that too. He said he wound up drawing a small crowd of fascinated children, wondering who this mysterious kid was that could play beyond the fence. They asked him what school he went to, and when he explained that he was homeschooled, they erupted into envious proclamations of wishing they were homeschooled. As happens. Which immediately was followed by the requisite math quizzing. As happens—always math. Children are taught that school is the place learning happens, and that their worth is directly tied to the information they can spew forth on command—how else would we convince them to politely devote their best hours, against their nature, to sitting still and listening? So they quiz. L was pleased that he easily answered a few of their questions. He was unconcerned with the ones he didn’t know—math is fun puzzles; the amount of it that he knows has nothing to do with his value. He doesn’t know he’s “supposed to” be sensitive about any of that.

Anyway, then the bell rang, the kids were called away, and L tired of the tree climbing so he came back to the house—a momentary collision of worlds, come to an end.

6 thoughts on “The Free Range Childhood—next to a school

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  1. Would have been better if he could also quiz them with simple questions such as,

    which mathematical formula would you use to tell me the height of the tree I am climbing without measuring the tree from the roots to the top? (Pythagoras theorem).


    1. Actually that’s what his dad said—he should prepare himself with his own quiz questions that they definitely won’t know the answers to! I just think it’s telling and unfortunate that school kids always feel the need to compare and compete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is better to ask questions that are simple to show them there’s an entire world of maths the school is depriving them of, that they also already think about, that school does not answer while home education does. To make the pupils appreciate and wish they had the same understanding of the world. All kids have interests that math applications can enhance their enjoyment of the interest.


  2. “Walking the yard”—ha! I really feel for schoolers.

    “—always math.” There is something deeply involved about this fact. It always comes back to math. I’ve yet to figure out why, but I know that understanding why schoolers are obsessive about math would reveal a lot about why schooling refuses to move on.


  3. Thank you for sharing this great picture! We are beginning our homeschooling journey, and this picture, along with the story, captures the essence of why we want to keep our kids out of school. Thank you for sharing.


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