Am I Hackschooling Now Instead of Just Homeschooling? I Hope So!

I said I’d update you on my quest for knowledge that I could inpart to my childrenwhich didn’t require book learning. Of course I realize that I impart knowledge to my children every day without picking up a book. They gain their own knowledge every day from all sorts of sources in addition to books. We go out into the world on a regular basis, I’m outspoken and so are they. So living-from-life experiences are wonderfully plentiful. Today for instance, they heard a diatribe from me against someone not wanting to tip a waitress who they thought made more money than they did (after they’d enjoyed a week in a 5 star hotel)?! And they heard a values vs. materialism, ‘What’s real happiness?’ rant against someone who seriously didn’t want to marry anyone who couldn’t afford a huge rock as a wedding ring. All important points of view to consider I think!

My fire was lit today by two wonderful experiences – one a TED video 

 the other a piece on a random website I came across when I typed ‘What is creativity?’ into Google.

I showed the TED clip to my son and I really hope something rubbed off onto him. This 13 year old hackschooler/homeschooler is a real inspiration. I got the clip from – I subscribe to their feed and almost daily inspiration. 

Both these clips reminded me of a favourite TED lecture that I’m sure I’ve posted about before – The TED lecture that’s had more than 14 million views!!

Have a look at these and tell me what YOU think whilst I continue my search for unschooling peace of mind, despite figures in the community apparently letting us down.

A few days ago, I was shocked that Danya Martin, a major figure in the radical unschooling community (and I wouldn’t even describe myself as a radical unschooler), author of a book I’ve read called ‘Radical Unschooling: A Revolution Has Begun’ said in a Jeff Probst TV interview that she sleeps easy at night because her kids pass standardized tests! I shouldn’t think my very bright two kids could! They haven’t been taught what is tested on a standardized exam and it’s not the sort of knowledge you can pick up out in the real world. But it sure would assuage my unschooling anxieties, that make me feel so tired (see previous post) and give me backache, if they did! But I am not prepared to spend the time to teach to the test. I don’t want to WASTE their precious time doing this and fortunately I don’t have to reassure ‘You’re ruining my grandchildren’s lives’ parents or grandparents  which is an understandable reason for requiring your kids to take annual standardized tests. I’ve message Danya to try and get some clarification the role of standardized tests in her home. I’ll update you with an answer if I get one. What role, if any, do standardized tests/exams, or any other tests for that matter, play in your unschooling household?

IF YOU’RE NEW TO HOMESCHOOLING MIDDLE EAST, welcome! If you are interested in reading about our homeschooling adventure, I recommend that you start reading from ‘Day 1’. Why I recommend starting at Day 1 is because this adventure into homeschooling has been a rollercoaster; philosophically and emotionally, which you might learn, seek solace from or even be thoroughly entertained by. It started in Bahrain on 22 February 2012 and continues in Dubai. My kids are Edward aged 8 and Petra aged 4. For you to get the full intellectual and dramatic impact, it’s best to start at the beginning. You might be contemplating home educating and wonder what those early nail-biting days feel like or you might enjoy reading somebody else’s take on an experience we share, or you might be more generally interested in my thoughts and feelings on education and parenting. Whatever the reason you’re reading, I’m really humbled that you’re taking your valuable time to do so and I really hope I can be some kind of hope or inspiration for you. Thank you! 


The fastest way to access ‘Day 1’ is to look for ‘Archives’ on the right hand side of the home page, click on ‘February 2012’ and scroll down to the bottom of the page that opens. If you want a quick first visit, you could type a term e.g. ‘socialization’ or ‘university’, into the ‘Search’ box or of course you could just read my latest posts without doing anything!


AFTERWORD: If you would like to make life easier (who doesn’t?!) scroll down the right hand side of the page and click the ‘Follow’ button. Posts will be delivered to your email inbox until such time you may not want them anymore.

Don’t feel shy! Please always feel free to email me ( or ideally post comments* on any of the days you read, however old they are. Commenting helps others who may well like to have more ideas or suggestions about the topic concerned or you can ask me a question that you think others might also like answers to.

If you’re too busy to comment that day, but enjoyed what you read, please do press the ‘Like’ button at the end of the post. Again, you have to have clicked on the title of the post to get the ‘Like’ button option at the end of the post. Commenting, ‘Liking’ and Following is much appreciated as it encourages more people to read homeschoolinginthemiddleeast! Take care. Have a great day and thank you for visiting.

*How to make a comment  If you are reading posts on the homepage, you will see at the bottom of the post, in tiny grey writing either e.g. ’7 comments’ or ‘Leave a comment’. Click on this to add yours. If you’ve clicked on the title of the post, you can see any comments that have been left already, and space for your own, right at the bottom of the page. Your views are valuable and it’s always good to have debate.




About homeschoolingpenny

Hi and welcome! My name is Penny and I used to live in Bahrain but In November 2012 moved to Dubai and now we live in Granada, Spain! If you want to contact me my email is I recommend you start my blog on 'Day 1' but please enjoy whatever you dip into. 23 February 2012 marked the first day of no more school FOREVER for my two kids. Edward, who is nearly 10 had attended a variety of schools since he was very little. Petra, who is now 6, has never gone to school. On this date we decided Edward was never going back to school and Petra never would go to school. We hope to successfully homeschool from this day forward, although we would consider an alternative school as an option- if there was some amazing Sudbury or other really alternative school. Actually, I prefer the term 'home learning' than 'homeschool' because I don't like to think of school coming into our home. In fact, I hope to go further and guide/learn alongside, rather than teach, my kids using the 'unschooling' philosophy to instill a lifelong love of learning in them. We lived in the Middle East and now Spain all of which are very challenging places to home educate. This is an exciting journey that I used to blog about regularly, at first it was on an almost daily basis. Please join me on our travels and I hope we might be able to help each other out along the way. I certainly hope I can be a source of support and comfort and, in time, knowledge to all potential/presently participating homeschoolers/home educators/unschoolers. Good luck to us all! If you want to read about why I started home educating, why I pulled my son out of a 'very good' private school mid-term, how I felt at the very start and how my philosophy has evolved, please start from 'Day 1' of the blog. Please do post comments at the end of any days that you read. Your opinion is valuable and it's great to start up debate amongst other people commenting too, however old the post. Thank you for visiting homeschoolingmiddleeast.
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2 Responses to Am I Hackschooling Now Instead of Just Homeschooling? I Hope So!

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Penny,
    When my kids were at school the teachers had concerns that they had “learning difficulties”. I didn’t know whether I was one of those Mums who just thinks her own kids are wonderful, or whether I was correct in thinking my kids are pretty bright, and have no problem understanding often complex things. Because their “learning difficulties” were being identified with standardised tests I did a little research into them myself, and I read some very interesting research on standardised tests, and wish I had made note of the details, because I would like to give due credit and not plagiarise, but the researcher came to the definitive conclusion that standardised tests are great for measuring how well someone can perform on standardised tests, and not much else. I still find myself laughing at that.

    • Yes, that is true. I must remember that. And to be fair to Danya Martin I got an email straight back from her today saying the following, “Hi Penny, I never said that my kids took test on the Jeff Probst show. I said they were “evaluated” every year, which only means that I hired an Unschooling friendly evaluator to go over my blog and the notes that I have taken over the year of our experiences. She translates our real-life experiences into “schoolese” or school language and sends it into the state. I never said my kids were tested. They never have been.” I seem to remember saying they passed something, which I assumed to be tests, but fair enough. We don’t have to do any kind of massaging of our activities to please any authorities in Dubai but maybe it would be quite reassuring if we did, if we could do it the way Danya does and for our kids ‘to pass’! Thanks so much for the comment!

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