A Week in the Life of An Unschooled Teen
Text and Photos by Jim Strickland
M y fourteen-year-old son Sam doesn’t go to school. The
very idea of it sends chills down his spine. And, no, my
wife and I don’t conduct math or geography lessons at our
picnic at a nearby park. (Sam does have younger siblings, so
hanging around our house is not usually his preferred option!)
Samara’s dad then picks her up later on his way home from
kitchen table. The very idea of that sends chills down my spine! work and Sam reluctantly retires to his room to write love poems
So, while most of his peers are in sitting in classrooms, what ex- and dream about next Monday.
actly does Sam do all day? Is he really learning anything? And if I’m not kidding about the love poems – Sam writes a lot of
so, what? Well, to help answer these questions, let me describe a poetry and stories for fun. His mom and I are constantly amazed
typical week: at his creativity and talent. Where did he learn how to write?
Who knows, but he does love to read and is always listening to
Monday books on CD from the library. For Sam, learning to use lan-
Sam rolls out of bed around 10:00 a.m., gets dressed and guage effectively has been a very natural process that probably
pulls his bike out of the garage. He absolutely loves his bicycle, began with us reading aloud to him when he was a child, as well
an Italian street bike he got from Sharing Wheels, our local bike as the fact that his mom and I talk a lot about a wide variety of
co-op. Sharing Wheels collects used bikes and provides the topics in our home. Kids pick up language like sponges when
tools and workspace for members to refurbish them for sale, do- they are immersed in it. Sam learned to use a keyboard out of ne-
nation or their own personal use. Ron, the founder of Sharing cessity when he started communicating with his friends online.
Wheels, is a strong advocate of biking as a way to promote When chatting or sending instant messages, you can’t
peace in the world – less need for oil, less need to fight over oil. communicate what you can’t type.
Makes sense to me.
Once on his bike, Sam rides the two miles to his job at Tuesday
Zippy’s Java Lounge, our local coffee shop and community Up at 10:00 again and off to Zippy’s on his bike. On Tues-
gathering place. His work there includes many aspects of the days, however, Sam gets off work an hour early so he can have a
restaurant business – prepping and making menu items, serving short break before he and I go together to volunteer at our local
customers, running delivery and shopping errands on his bike animal shelter.
and, of course, doing dishes. Sam doesn’t get paid for his work Our animal shelter has a very extensive volunteer program
at Zippy’s, but his mom and I ha