The Parental Intelligence Newsletter

14 November 2010

Hi, this is Bob Collier inviting you to 'explore the psychology of happy and successful parenting', connect with bright minds, discover new ideas and sail outside the mainstream for a while without running aground.

All that and more.

In this issue of the Parental Intelligence Newsletter there are links to 38 articles, 2 videos and 9 notices and items of news. As always, I trust you will find in my latest collection of parenting, education and personal development ideas and information from around the internet something that will make a positive difference to your life - and, through you, to the lives of your children.

Please scroll down to pick and choose whatever is of interest and useful to you.

Thank you for being here! I appreciate this opportunity to be of help to you in your parenting adventure and wish you all the happiness and success you would wish yourself.

See you next time!




Unschooling Rules by Clark Aldrich

I first got to know of Clark Aldrich through an interest in the possibility of using videogames to practice behaviour in real life situations and that led me to subscribing to his blog Simulations and then to buying his book Learning Online with Games, Simulations and Virtual Worlds. When he started another blog called Unschooling Rules, I was intrigued to discover that he's a homeschooler.

Not an "unschooler" I think, as I understand that term - and indeed I'm aware that some unschoolers are not exactly over the moon about his choice of title for his more recent blog and its consequent book - but it's a clever and eye-catching play on words, and whilst there are no "Rules" in real "Unschooling", perhaps the use of the term "Unschooling" in this case is a reflection of how its application has been expanded so that it now seems to have evolved into a description of a particular mindset rather than necessarily an act or activity.

In any event, this compilation of "observations and perspectives" is as penetrating an exposition of "what's wrong with schools" as I've seen anywhere, even if the author's unflattering comparison of what he calls the "education-industrial system" with how people learn in the world at large doesn't go as far as suggesting that schools should be done away with altogether. Or at least, not the idea of some kind of designated place of formal education.

He writes,
"The premise of the future of education has to be that parents and students will be able to choose from a variety of models." And I would agree.

Nonetheless, there is much in this book that is highly critical of what schools can't teach, and of what they don't and sometimes won't teach; of the disregard schools have for what science (and personal experience) tells us about how human beings learn best, and of the back to front way schools often educate ("Animals are better than books about animals" was my favourite observation on that).

All of which I think is painfully relevant in our culture's new and unprecedented experience of educational opportunity, where every self-motivated individual with an internet connection is free to learn whatever they choose to learn whenever and wherever it suits them - the age of the "digital revolution" that has made schools the laggards of the education world and in need of the kinds of fundamental changes that Clark Aldrich explores through his ideas, often with the help of some wry and perceptive humour.

I do like this little book very much (which is why it features on my website!) and consider it recommended reading for anybody interested in the future of education, whatever form that might ultimately take. For "real unschoolers", I think it's a gift for biting back at the critics. It might however be a provocative read for parents with children in school who just want schools to be better than they've become.

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

Here's a review of Clark Aldrich's book by Wendy Priesnitz, editor of Life Learning Magazine:

Unschooling Rules by Clark Aldrich

Apparently, print publishing isn't quite dead yet - for which I'm very grateful! In fact, there seems to be an epidemic of people turning the contents of their blogs into print books (and, of course, e-books). And here's another one. Clark Aldrich is an independent consultant and homeschooling dad, known to many life learners because of his Unschooling Rules blog

There, he writes about his view of the future of education, which he predicts will be learner-driven…as will the revolution that will get us to that point. And now, he's collected these blog posts into a little self-published book called Unschooling Rules: 50 Perspectives and Insights From Observing Home-schoolers and Unschoolers On Deconstructing Schools and Reconstructing Education.

Aldrich says the title Unschooling Rules is both oxymoron and double entendre and the fifty "perspectives and insights" are "stream of thought." But they are presented as rules, nonetheless, which seems to me to be contrary to the unschooling ethos. (I counted more than forty occurrences of the word "should.") Maybe that's just because Aldrich hasn't totally deschooled himself yet (do we ever completely succeed at that?!). For instance, he writes about a "critical core curriculum," all three words with which many unschoolers would disagree.

However, his website is both reassuring and intellectually refreshing for many life learners. And the book - which is a quick read - could be helpful as a handout for those in your life who aren't sure of the wisdom of the life learning approach.

What is most important is that Aldrich is one of the guys whose words on this topic - as I mentioned in my article in Life Learning's July/August issue "Ready for a Changing World" - are seen to be authoritative because of his business world perspective. He is a self-described "global education consultant, labeled a guru by Fortune Magazine." He works with corporate, military, government, and academic organizations and "his projects have been patent winning and earned millions globally." In our sort of world, those credentials give him a high level of respect from which to question the institution of schooling and to espouse the alternative of self-directed education.

Reviewed by Wendy Priesnitz, editor of Life Learning Magazine
© 2010, Wendy Priesnitz. Published with the author's permission and with thanks.

Visit Clark Aldrich's Unschooling Rules blog for more information about his book


We Could Make a Society in Which People Cared
by Penelope Leach

There are no laws governing human decision-making. Within wide limits we can choose what kind of society we want to have and it is still open to us to make one which is for people to manage and enjoy.

...We could make a society in which people cared enough about people to realize the primacy of new people.

Read more ...

Sexism, Men, and Stupid Obstetrics
by Sarah C

I am routinely amazed by the ridiculous things done in obstetrics. So much of what is practiced is obviously not natural or normal, and yet has been normalized by years and years of use.

Read more ...

What Your Child Remembers
by Robin Grille

Most of us have been told at one time or another that children aren't supposed to remember anything that happens to them before - roughly - the age of two. Emotionally painful experiences during infancy will therefore have no lasting impact. These words might have been reassuring, if they didn't also imply that our infants don't remember the love we have given them, and so our love at this time has no lasting impact either. As science continues to throw open the mysteries of the brain, and the nature of memory, this kind of advice will gradually vanish. Every emotionally meaningful experience - whether joyous or painful - is stored in memory and has a lasting impact on a baby's developing nervous system. The way our world feels to us as babies influences our unfolding personality, emotionality and relating styles profoundly, for the long term. There are different kinds of 'memory', beyond the stories we can recount. And we 'remember' a lot more than we realise.

Read more ...

Circumcision: Already Illegal?
by Jennifer Coias

I often come across parents who do not agree that circumcision should be illegal. They usually argue by saying it is a parental decision like vaccination, homebirth, etc. Here is my response ...

Read more ...

Thank you for that item to Arp Laszlo

A little respect, please
by Pinky McKay

"Have I ever done anything abusive to you?" I asked my daughter who had just affirmed that I had never smacked her (I didn't think I had, but needed to check just in case maternal amnesia was causing mummy smugness). After a bit of a pause, my self-image as gentle mummy was shattered. "Yes, you have," she said with absolute conviction. "When I was little, if we went out, and I had a dirty face, you would spit on your hanky and wipe it."

Read more ...

Balancing Thinking and Feeling in our Learning as Parents
by Teresa Brett

One of the values expressed in our culture is a belief that thinking is of a higher value than feeling. As human processes, thinking and feeling are often put at opposite ends of the spectrum. We value rationality and logic. Our school systems mirror this hierarchy as well. Children are often cast as emotional and irrational beings. Part of our socialization of children involves the long process of teaching children how to control their emotions so that they are better able to navigate the world from a rational stance.

Read more ...

Beyond Behaviorism
by Chris White, M.D.

The last couple of posts I have been unpacking praise and trying to make the distinction between praise used as manipulation and praise that is simply the natural response of the heart when we see the great mystery manifesting through our child in the form of some new capacity or insight. What I am really pointing to is the importance of stepping out of the judgmental layer - the layer where punishments and manipulative praise are believed to be the best way toward appropriate behavior. Not only is this approach ineffective in the long run, it is also harmful to our relationship with our child.

Read more ...

Motivating Kids to Make Things Happen
by Mark Brady

Kids who make things happen are different from you and me. Imagine for example, that you're twelve years old and you decide that you want to give a TED talk to some of the world's best and brightest teachers, technologists and designers. What's the first thing you need to do? My recommendation: have parents who've adored you from birth and who taught you how to … grow some axons. Here's what you might look like if they did.

Adora is different in ways happily, that research has begun to identify. That's the good news. The bad news is that we'd all have a much easier time with producing creative results if we'd been trained and supported in practicing making things happen at a much earlier age, the way she obviously was.

Read more ...

Just Do It ... Badly
by Ken Mossman

I'm not sure exactly when it starts, but at some point, we humans develop this strange need to "get it right."

Don't get me wrong - there's value in "getting it right" - it's just that we put so much energy into "getting it right" that it becomes difficult to get "it" going at all, whatever "it" happens to be.

Read more ...

We Are All "Special Needs" People
by RoniJoy

My children taught me an incredibly profound lesson today.

We ALL have "special needs" of one kind or another - which, in the big scheme of things, ties us all together and makes us not so different after all.

Read more ...

Forms of Bullying
by Ronit Baras

In the past, people considered physical aggressiveness as bullying. Being a form of violence, it was easy to distinguish. Every physical act that was meant to hurt someone else physically was violence and therefore an act of bullying. However, the modern definition of bullying is much broader, so that made many people think there is a lot more bullying today, when in fact, it was here all along, but it was much more acceptable.

Read more ...

The Tyranny of "Should"
by Sam Turton

What is "should"? It is a word/symbol that we use to indicate an image in our minds of something other than what is.

Let's take a mundane example. The weather forecast says the skies should be clear. We get to the picnic, and it's cloudy. We say, "the sky should be blue!" We get upset at the weather reporters, and even at the sky itself for not being what it should be.

This is crazy.

Read more ...

Handling Unwanted Parenting Advice
by Elizabeth Pantley

"Help! I'm getting so frustrated with the endless stream of advice I get from my mother-in-law and brother! No matter what I do, I'm doing it wrong. I love them both, but how do I get them to stop dispensing all this unwanted advice?"

Read more ...

When Girls Think Their Looks Mean Everything
by Laura Weldon

As little girls, Elissa's friends were rambunctious and wholly themselves. They pursued their own interests with no concern for other people's opinions. They drew comics featuring hilarious dialogue, danced and laughed simultaneously until they fell down in breathless mirth, conducted basement science experiments, and pretended they had super powers. Their mothers talked about how freely their girls expressed themselves, grateful to have strong daughters.

Then it started.

Like a relentless viral infection, one by one these girls succumbed to our appearance-obsessed culture.

Read more ...

We Don't Need No Age Segregation
by Laura Weldon

It's a pivotal coming of age experience to be accepted by elders one admires. Until that time it's hard to feel like an adult. These experiences are frequently depicted in movies, but children and teens in our culture are almost entirely segregated from meaningful and regular involvement with adults.

Read more ...

The Things We Have Lost Because Of School
by mamapoekie

There is this article I want to write, but every time I think of it, it becomes a book in my head even before I get to put some words onto virtual paper. On of the sidetracks of this topic is me thinking about how much gets lost by schooling.

I can see a raised eyebrow already, but please keep an open mind and bare with me.

Read more ...

Trust the Feelings You're Having about Your Child's Education
by Linda Dobson

My e-mailbox overfloweth. There's no question anymore that a significant number of parents are questioning what's going on in public schools today. More importantly, they are searching the Internet for information and resources, and reaching out to anyone they think may be able to help them in their dilemma.

Read more ...

Mistakes in Education
by Jerry Mintz

It's too bad that the school reformers and the billionaire funders have to make every mistake there is to make on their way to, perhaps, finding the real clue to how learning actually works.

I think they mean well. Probably they feel a little guilty about having so much money when so many people have so little. So some of them think that they can spend their way to making the current system of schooling work.

The problem is that they are doing all of this from the wrong paradigm, an old one that hasn't worked well for a long time, a very long time.

Read more ...

Escape From the Institutional Straitjacket
by Perry Marshall

I recently finished reading Gatto's book The Underground History of American Education, a strapping 8″x12," 400-page text. As big as it is, it's so fascinating it's almost impossible to put down. It traces the forces behind compulsory education in America from the mid-1800′s to the present, in all of its hideous complexity. This book was extremely insightful because I myself am an educator of entrepreneurs. I am in the education business.

Read more ...

The drive to learn
from Nurtured By Love

"Help me understand about unschooling. I know kids learn to talk and walk with no overt teaching but they learn by example, I think these are more of a biological drive in the human being. I am not sure learning Pi falls under the same category."

Read more ...

Learning alongside the child; one of the great joys of home education
by Simon Webb

One of the biggest differences between home education and school is of course the use of questions. In schools, questions are usually asked by adults. At home, it is children who tend more to ask the questions. I say that at school it is the adults who ask the questions, but that is not strictly speaking true. The great majority of these 'questions' which the adults are apparently asking are not really questions at all, if by this we mean requests for information. They are instead questions to which the adult already knows the answer. 'What is six times five?, 'What is the capital of France?' and so on. When children ask questions, on the other hand, it is usually because they want to find something out.

Read more ...

'Unschooling' Lets Children Dictate Their Learning
by Shannon Hori, South Florida News

Who needs textbooks and lesson plans? Some parents say children should decide what they learn, not teachers. That's the basis of a controversial educational philosophy known as "unschooling", a movement that's gaining traction across the country.

Read more ...

Thank you for that item to Sandra Dodd

Unschooling is frightening
from Radio Free School

You want learning to be regulated. Standardized. Average. Leveled. Predictable. And frankly not that exciting.

So to have a movement where learning is unregulated, un-measured, unaccounted for is frightening. Nobody knows what they know except the learner- him or herself. Tests can't tell us because tests are not applicable in unschooling.
Because you basically have to trust; which seems a very poor thing to go on-doesn't it?

Read more ...

Unschooling and Your Critical Relatives
by Naomi Aldort

"I would feel so great about our daughter's unschooling if only my in-laws weren't driving me nuts with their doubts and criticism," says an exasperated father at his phone session.

"Why do you discuss your daughter's education with them?" I ask.

Bob is silent. Finally he says shyly, "Well, shouldn't I?"

"Sure, if it adds joy and clarity to your life... but does it?" I question.

Read more ...

Yes, We Are "Real" Unschoolers
by RoniJoy

I had a friend good-naturedly tease me that "organized unschooler" was an oxymoron.  And, I agree, at first blush, it may seem so.  In fact, it seemed like enough of a contradiction to me, in the past, that I was afraid/cautious about mentioning any of my organizational tendencies when in groups of unschoolers.  "If they knew I made spreadsheets and organize projects for my kids, they won't think I'm a 'real' unschooler."

Read more ...

Advice For A Wannabe Unschooler: Widen Your Concept Of Education!
by Tiff

Top 5 things to do to reinvigorate learning if you are a wannabe unschooler, homeschooler, schooler, parent, grandparent, human being.

Read more ...
Thank you for that item to Shannon Burton

How My Children Learned to Read
by Pam Sorooshian

Do you remember how much fun it was when your child was learning to talk? How each word was just adorable? How you'd strain your imagination, at first, to figure out what the sounds he was making might mean? How he slowly became easier and easier to understand? How he surprised you sometimes when he popped out with a word you didn't know he knew? How he just "all on his own" started putting the words together and how they slowly turned into phrases and then sentences? Do you remember how he made mistakes by putting words together in ways that made sense logically, but just weren't the way we speak the language? Did he make up words? Did he mispronounce them? Wasn't it amazingly wonderfully satisfying to watch the slow, but inevitable, progress he made in speaking? Think for a minute about what your role was in that development.

Read more ...

If you give a kid a Nintendo…
by Mary Gold

"But he'll just play video games all day! He'll never DO anything!"

How many times have I heard that statement? The conversation usually begins innocently enough. "Joey is begging for a Nintendo, but I don't know…" We talk awhile about what game systems are in my house. We dance around the subject of prices or system capabilities. We question the accuracy of the game ratings. Then the real question makes itself known. The frantic question. The big roadblock to unschooling question. "But won't he just play all day?" My answer is always the same, a definite maybe. But not forever. And it's never just about the playing.

Read more ...

Why I Think Unschooling is the Best Option… For Everyone.
by Idzie

I think an easy to digest, and common, opinion about unschooling is that it's not for everyone, and won't work for some kids.  This is an opinion held by many unschoolers, and that's quite fine.  But it's not my opinion.

Read more ...

Deschooling Ourselves
by Tara Wagner

Most of us have been schooled, primed in our thoughts to support the methodologies used on us as children. Even if we didn't attend school, chances are the mentality of our culture was ingrained upon us, a mentality that insists on a linear and coercive means of raising children. It's the idea that things "should" be done in a particular way and that deviation from that ideal will result in ignorant, unintelligent, unruly or undisciplined children and adults.

Read more ...

10 Ways to Do Self-Directed Learning
by Blake Boles

Self-directed learning is as natural as breathing. Yet it's easy to forget how to discover stuff for oneself after years of schooling.

Try this thought experiment: Imagine that your close friend is diagnosed with a new and rare disease, and she is put on a waiting list to see a specialist. As a concerned friend, you decide to research the disease yourself.

How would you go about this? Would you start with a Google search, talk to your friend the nurse, e-mail the author of an article on the disease, or take a community college class to understand basic disease-fighting processes? If those attempts didn't produce results, what would you do next?

Read more ...

Your Own Self-Directed Graduate Program
by Steven

College is not for everyone, and while tuition and fees have increased over the past year by 14.1% for public institutions and 6% for private ones, there is a growing need for individuals to assess whether or not college is the best route to go (over the past two decades, these prices have doubled). Simply spending $20,000 a semester for a degree you won't ever use is not always the best use of your time and resources. My goal in this post is not to persuade you one or the other what you should do, but to provoke you to ask fundamental questions before making a decision that will impact the rest of your life and career.

Read more ...

Thank you for that item to Susan Gaissert

Learn to Drive Safely-Leveraging a Virtual World for Immersive Driver's Ed
by Karl Kapp

There are many creative ways to leverage virtual world platforms from conducting job interviews over a distance to conducting training on critical incidents to machinima to teaching new military recruits.

And here is another useful application. Teaching people how to drive.

Read more ...

When it Comes to Your Dreams Sometimes the Best Advice is to Ignore Everything Your Parents Told You
by Valerie Young

When Robin Williams told his father about his desire to become an actor, his dad advised him to study welding - "just in case." My own parents urged me to become a teacher, but it wasn't because they noticed the early signs of a gifted educator. My parents' dreams for me were far more practical. Going into teaching was a Plan B - in case something happened to my future husband, I'd have something to "fall back on."

Most of the time my parents did get it right. But everything I learned about achieving career bliss I learned by actually ignoring my well-meaning but cautious parents. That's because, if you aspire to find work that you truly love, some of what your parents taught you could actually work against you.

Read more ...

Unjobbing: A New Pardigm of Work and Life
by Wendy Priesnitz

In the 1970s and 80, my family led an educational revolution; our children learned at home, instead of at school, and without the trappings, expectations, competition, lack of respect and trust, and coercion that is part of school. I call this "life learning" but some people call it "homeschooling" or "unschooling" or variations on those words. ... There is a similar term for the way I choose to make my living: "unjobbing."

Read more ...

Constructive Emotions: Why Anger and Fear Are Your Friends
by Joshua Freedman

Listening to the news for an hour is enough to stir fear in anyone. Like a clammy fog, the fear seems to constrict your heart and drain your energy.

It feels bad -- so it must be bad, right?

While fear and other unpleasant emotions certainly can be debilitating, these emotions are not bad for you, they are not destructive, and they are not negative. Rather, they are a source of vital information and protection.

Read more ...

How to avoid the damage caused by psychological labelling
by Mark Tyrrell

Why it's so important to understand that mental health problems are normal.

Read more ...

9 Amazing Reasons to be Optimistic
by Laura Weldon

If you could scroll through history searching for an era where you'd like to spend a lifetime, what would attract you?

Probably peace and prosperity. Probably a time when the arts flourish and science is open to new wonders. Probably too, a time period when people behave morally, care for one another, and uphold higher ideals than selfishness.

Does it make a difference to your answer if you don't get to choose where on Earth you'll be born?  Into what class, gender, creed, and ability?

You'll probably want to stay right here, right now.

Our 24 hour media attention on what's terrifying and what's superficial steers us away from the big picture.  That picture, looking at the wider view, is actually pretty heartening.

Read more ...


Laurie A Couture Author of Instead of Medicating and Punishing

"Laurie A. Couture, author of Instead of Medicating and Punishing explains that her book will help parents heal their children's emotional, behavioral and learning problems at the root causes, without mainstream treatments, diagnoses or psychiatric medications."

Watch at (1 min 36 secs)

Tom Chatfield: 7 ways games reward the brain

"We're bringing gameplay into more aspects of our lives, spending countless hours -- and real money -- exploring virtual worlds for imaginary treasures. Why? As Tom Chatfield shows, games are perfectly tuned to dole out rewards that engage the brain and keep us questing for more."

Watch at (16 mins 29 secs)


Neuro-Linguistic Programming: Liberating Parents

A new and different parenting book from Australian NLP Consultant and Life Coach Keith Gilbert.

"... this is what Liberating Parents is all about.  It is training for parents so that you can learn the essential processes for creating, maintaining and enjoying mental and emotional health and wellbeing. And when you have these skills and use them on a daily basis then you become a model for your children of a balanced, creative and free individual… which is exactly what you want for your children!"

My favourite parenting book ever.

Visit Keith Gilbert's Neuro Linguistic Parents website for more information

Join the Liberating Parents group at Facebook

How I Parent

A short and hopefully useful instantly downloadable FREE ebook about how I've parented my own children.

Read more about that here 

Guiding Stars of the New Parenting Movement

Be sure to download your FREE copy of my Guiding Stars of the New Parenting Movement ebooks while you're here if you haven't done so already.

These ebooks are FREE with my compliments and are packed with valuable insights and useful ideas to help you in your parenting adventure.

Volume 1 - an introduction to the work of Michael Mendizza, Robin Grille, Laura Ramirez, Jan Hunt, Pam Leo, Pat and Larry Downing, Alfie Kohn, Marc Prensky, Kali Wendorf and Jan Fortune-Wood:

Download it from here  

Volume 2 - an introduction to the work of Aletha Solter, Kim Wildner, Naomi Aldort, John Travis and Meryn Callander, John Breeding, Scott Noelle, Beverley Paine and Alan Wilson

Download it from here

The Wildest Colts Make The Best Horses

"Children have no need for perfect parents; they need really good imperfect parents who keep thinking and never give up." - John Breeding, Ph.D., Author of The Wildest Colts Make The Best Horses.

Visit Dr. Breeding's website at

Birth for Men

"Pregnancy, birth and fatherhood can be intimidating - but it doesn't have to be that way.  We don't have to just wait and see - we can think about it, visualize it, learn and be prepared for it.  What I offer to other fathers-to-be is experience, compassion and support for the biggest change they will ever experience.  With preparation and the right mindset, birth can be an amazing, empowering experience for the mother AND the father.  And there may be nothing more fulfilling than being a father, learning and growing along with your beautiful children." - Arp Laszlo, Birth for Men

Saving Penises

Saving Penises is a non-profit group based out of Washington, D.C. The 'team' branches out across America to Oklahoma and Oregon, as well. Our purpose is to supply parents with accurate information regarding circumcision and proper intact care. We created Prepuce Information Packs which include 50+ pages of material, as well as 3 DVDs full of helpful information."

Find out more at

Learning Freely Network

"Learning Freely Network is a worldwide network of Natural Learners, Unschoolers, and other, autonomously learning, Home based Education, families and groups. linked together by clickable maps, which allow people quick and easy access to news, legal and contact information, from worldwide locations."

Learn more about Learning Freely Network at

Zero Tuition College

"Zero Tuition College (ZTC) is a blog that explains how to replace the 4-year college experience with self-directed learning."

More information at

Multiple Intelligences

"Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, summarized by Sandra Dodd with commentary and examples from Ronnie Maier and Katherine Anderson."


Thank you for reading the Parental Intelligence Newsletter!

The next issue of this newsletter will be published on or about 28 November 2010

Subscribe now and stay in touch

Published by Bob Collier, Canberra, Australia  

Email: bobcollier[at]parental-intelligence[dot]com 

Subscribe to the Parental Intelligence Newsletter

Read the current issue

Parental Intelligence