After my post about opting out being inaccessible, I was fortunate to dive in a bit deeper with other folks discussing accessibility, especially around unschooling, and there were a few other pieces to the conversation that I felt were worth expanding on.

I think there are two parts to the “accessibility” of unschooling that often get caught up together in the discussion that are worth teasing apart.

When I’m talking about accessibility, I’m referring to barriers possibly preventing parents or caregivers from providing an environment for unschooling to be possible. Barriers might be financial, but they could also be results of other factors like emotional well being, partner or marital conflict, or societal bias like racism (BIPOC folks are at a higher risk of having child services called on them which is often a worry for parents keeping their kids out of school).

There is however another aspect of accessibility that gets muddled in this conversation: whether unschooling is appropriate for everyone. And I wholeheartedly believe that the answer to this question is a resounding yes.

Unschooling is a counter cultural approach to education and is often hard for parents to understand. Deschooling is an ongoing process, involving the peeling back of layers of culturally ingrained beliefs around what education must look like in order for people to be successful in society today. And there are many, many layers.

When people say that unschooling wouldn’t work for their family or their kids, this is because they struggle to see past those layers of beliefs. Some parents say that unschooling won’t work for their families because their kids need more structure or don’t have the ability to be autonomous. This is because they don’t see what it might look like to have a non-oppressive relationship with their kids. They haven’t done that deschooling work. Their oppressive relationships are rooted in cultural beliefs but that does not make them truths.

So in this way, unschooling is accessible to everyone.

And so is opting out of other socially constructed oppressive systems! When cost, supports, and spoons don’t pose a threat, there are a lot of things that folks can do to stop participating in oppressive culture. A lot of these approaches are labelled as counter cultural and people believe that they won’t work, in the same way they don’t think unschooling works.

Some other approaches that I have heard people criticize as inaccessible: minimalism, anti-capitalism, localized systems for food and material goods, mutual aid networks, carceral and police abolition, decolonization. I’m sure you can think of others.

The key message here is that counter cultural doesn’t mean inaccessible. Culture teaches us a system of beliefs and presents them as truths, but if different cultures have different systems of beliefs, then these concepts are not hard fact. Different approaches are always available – we just need to be able to peel back those layers in order to see other approaches.