Welcome to The Educating Parent Beverley Paine's archive of articles about homeschooling and unschooling written over a period of 30 plus years

HomeAbout Blog Articles Curriculum Resource Directory Shop Kids Pages Facebook

Download our FREE The Educating Parent Resource Directories today! Plus... more FREE resources!

Free download a quick guide to getting started with homeschooling and unschooling by Beverley Paine The Educating Parent in this excellent Resource Directory


Plan, record and report all in the one document! Always Learning Books planners available in each year level to suit your homeschooling needs, includes curriculum checklists
Australia's original homeschooling manual from veteran home educator Beverley Paine, how to write your own learning plan and curriculum to meet your child's needs
Let Beverley and friends help you design and write your own curriculum to suit your child's individual learning needs, learn how to prepare lessons, unit studies and more, record and evaluate your children's learning in this series of 3 parent workbooks developed on Beverley's popular homeschool manual Getting Started with Home School Practical Considerations
Introduction to
Home Education
  National and State
Support Groups
  Yearly Planner, Diary & Report Beverley's Original Home Ed Manual Series of How To
Parent Workbooks

Support Groups: National SA VIC NSW QLD TAS ACT NT
Registration Guides: VIC NSW QLD SA WA TAS ACT NT

Looking for support, reassurance and information?
Join Beverley's The Educating Parents Homeschooling and Unschooling Facebook online group.


Unschooling: A Case Against Nihilism

© Katarina Konkoly

Katarina Konkoly is a writer, poet, and mother.
Her websites, open to submissions, are www.seamother.com , www.earthexpression.com ,
and www.backyardselfsufficiency.com .


At the 2011 Australian Unschooling Conference I witnessed what I perceived to be a rising belief that the unschooling philosophy is a mere derivation of the more pervasive philosophy of existential nihilism, whereby the facts of life exist without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value.

Whilst I would not dispute that the principle non-violent communication skills, primarily that of being non-judgmental, may be helpful in loving families, especially when one hopes to undo years of prejudice adopted from external influences without critical thought, I beg to differ that unschooling and existential nihilism have any similarities at all. I believe them to be in conflict with each other on a basic level, as one represents love of life and its potentials, whereas the other represents love of nothing at all.

During the conference, the audience repeatedly heard international guest Quinn Eaker utter this mantra: "It's neither good nor bad, right or wrong, it just is'". If schooling is neither right or wrong or good or bad why are we choosing to be unschoolers in the first place? If I took this philosophy of nihilism as my main determining principle in life, I would have no critical faculty of thought remaining whatsoever, and would simply subject my children to going with the flow of what is considered 'normal': no harm could be done by my decisions or non-decisions. Their lives simply 'are' - a fact of the universe - with no more action required on my part as a parent. This calls into question in its entirety the role of the parent as guide to our children, a role we as unschoolers have deliberately and consciously chosen as an alternative to handing responsibility of our children's education and welfare over to the state and its institutions.

Although the form of non-judgment propounded by Mr Eaker looks deceptively similar to accepting our children for who and what they are, this is not actually unschooling, the basic premise of which I believe to be valuing of life, in particular our children's lives. If I regard nothing as right or wrong, good or bad, I cannot value anything, because to value something I naturally regard it as good. If I value nothing as good, then I believe I cannot even value my own life. If I do not value my own life, I cannot have morality, because morality is essentially a personal philosophy of how to protect and enrich what I consider as worthwhile to my existence. What primal being, living on this earth, what animal or infant, does not even value its own life?

If we are really to "live as little children" as Eaker invited, evocative of the way of the Buddhist teaching of a beginner's mind, then we must at the very least value our own lives, as unschooled children do. No attachment parenting mother or father would dispute that children are born with a concept of good and bad - they know that to be fed is good, carried is good, shown gentleness and affection by people whom they know is good, to be warm is good. Take any or all of these things away, and they scream, and they will scream as long as they need to scream until someone else recognises the good in these needs too.

Yet although a child recognises the needs of his own life, and makes judgments as to what helps and harms him, it is also true that over the course of years the needs of most children are not met with loving attention. Their intrinsic self-love is eroded with neglect and cruelty, whether intentional or not. And this is what unschooling parents are explicitly and consciously trying to avoid. Because we don't want our children, once full of limitless potential, to come to doubt their judgment and regard their selves as unworthy even of life. Tormented by doubts, confusion and depression many children grow up addicted to self-harm.

Even if their instinct for self-preservation to some extent remains in the face of onslaught by a repressive culture, they are in danger of the destruction of their minds. If as Eaker pronounced that "nothing matters", that "everything is energy" and without form, there can be no physical consequences, can there? We can act with impunity. If we buy into this cultural myth that nothing matters, not even killing everything and everyone on this planet, because, like the fuels we consume it's just "all energy" and without judgement we can continue to consume what is not ours. Not in the selfish way that a baby consumes milk - out of love for her own good - but out of an abused child's desire to destroy everything on earth to make up for the destruction of her soul. The contention that we should judge nothing as "good or bad", "right or wrong" - when drinking water is polluted, food is poisoned, air is contaminated, our whole house is in fact on fire - appears to me to be the final culmination, albeit in another guise, of a self-destructive culture.

I believe that when a child shuts down their dreams and desires, chooses to value nothing as good or bad rather than face the dark thought that they are themselves bad, for having been unworthy of a parent's unconditional love, what comes to pass is that the individual forgets who they are. She accepts the judgments of others in place of her own ability to make decisions and conforms to what others think is good for her, because after all "who are they to judge?" Quinn Eaker invoked the audience to suspend their judgment by saying "It's not good or bad, right or wrong, it just is" I'd rather stand up and declare, hands on my chest, "I am good! We are all good!" Instead the audience sat silent, mutely engaging in a socially acceptable form of secret self-sabotage.

Let us truly be as children, and recognise with all our beings the value of every life that exists on earth, our own lives, and the lives of our children. Let us show both inquisitiveness and reverence for the natural world, and for all the creations of man that remind us of our beauty. And if anyone tries to diminish our potential or destroys what we love, we have full permission to kick and scream, and bite, even as little children do.

All writers, and speakers for that matter, are propagandists: they have something to say, something they value, or frankly they wouldn't bother presenting it. I am proud of my morality of self-love. I value life. And, with all due respect, a person who claims to judge nothing as good or bad is the only real advocate for total destruction that this world has. Unschooling is a moral choice for parents: it is a way of approaching our relationships with our children, partners, and society at large. Unschooling is my morality of choice. Let us all choose wisely, because unschooling empowers us, whereas nihilism renders us out of existence. As unschoolers, we can feel confident to question those such as Quinn Eaker who seek to inform us, as well as question the intention and morality driving the organizational force behind future conferences whereas as nihilists we can't. 

Was this article helpful? Was it worth $1.00 to you? Your gift of $1 or more helps to keep this site operating offering encouragement and reassurance to families wanting better outcomes for their children.

Thank you for your gift contribution!

Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.

Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

"You've been an inspiration to me, I love the way
you really listen to people."

"Whenever I read your writing I always come away
with increased confidence in my ability to provide and
share a wonderful learning journey with my family!"

"Your guidance, understanding, support and words of
wisdom changed our lives. We now offer support and
organise many homeschooling events for others."

"Thank you once again for your prompt and friendly service.
I am convinced that your books are going to add
quality and peace of mind to my journey of teaching my kids
at home! Just from studying your website, until almost
2am in the morning, I 've been encouraged!"

"Thank you for all your many,many reassuring words
over many, many years. You probably don't know exactly how valuable you are to the Australian Home Education community. I've been reading your stuff for maybe 8 years or more now. And I'm very grateful."

Want to learn how to write your own education plans to suit
your unique children's individual learning needs?

Looking for quality curriculum and teaching tips?

Access 228 plus workshops and presentations from all of the Australian Homeschool Summits subscription membership, expert advice tips and resources online in the comfort of your own home in your own time everything you need to plan and register with ease!

Welcome to the World of Home Education
and Learning without School!

We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine


Getting Started with
Home Educating Series of


#1 Create Your
Own Curriculum

#2 DIY Lesson Plans
& Unit Studies

#3 Recording and Evaluation Made Simple

$10.00 each (includes postage)

let experienced home educators Beverley, Tamara and April walk you through HOW to create a learning plan that builds on solid foundations that works for YOUR family AND ticks all the boxes for home educaton registration with part 1 of this getting started with home educating serioes of parent workbooks, Create Your Own Curriculum!
Let experienced home educators Beverley, Tamara and April walk you through HOW to create a learning plan that builds on solid foundations that works for YOUR family AND ticks all the boxes for home educaton registration!

To see the full range of Beverley Paine's books on homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning visit Always Learning Books

Tap into Beverley's experience
through her books

"Your books, your blogs helped me beyond words... they helped me to find comfort in knowing it is ok to choose exactly what is best for my family." Nisha

"Your books and information are mind blowing and already I am feeling good about this new experience." Diane

"Your guidance, understanding, support & words of wisdom changed our lives." Leslie

"I feel specially inspired by Beverley's words and, the more I read her comments, the more inspired I feel, since my need for support, respect for different parenting styles, and information are fully met." Marijo
purchase Beverley's practical and common sense books on homeschooling and unschooling
Connect with Beverley and ask questions
through her online The Educating Parents Homeschooling and Unschooling Facebook support group

The information on this website is of a general nature only and is not intended as personal or professional advice. This site merges and incorporates 'Homeschool Australia' and 'Unschool Australia'.

The Educating Parent acknowledges the Traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Owners, the Custodians of Australia, and pay our respects to Elders past and present and extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people viewing this website.

say goodbye to home education registration stress with this ultimate rego bundle from Fearless Homeschool

complete comprehensive step by step program that teaches you how to craft your ultimate homeschool

Australia's best home education consultant, let Tamara Kidd guide and help you prepare your home education registration application or review

Online science lessons for primary school aged home educating children

30% discount for purchases from ReadyEd Publications when you use the code 'homeschool' at  the checkout

reset your mindset for homeschooling success with deschooling essentials a quick course to help build your confidence as an educating parent

200 pages of templates, planning pages, tables, prompts and record sheets to organise your whole year!

subscription video art lessons by Australian artist

Australia's premier online annual conferences, lifetime access to video and audio recordings, freebies, notes and associated resource guides.


$29 each 2023 2022 2021
$25 each 2020 2019 2017

"Biggest and best Aussie homeschool event of the year!"

Home education is a legal alternative
to school education in Australia.
State and Territory governments are responsible
for regulating home education and have different
requirements, however home educating families
are able to develop curriculum and learning programs
to suit the individual needs of their children.

animated Australian flag

Without revenue from advertising
by educational suppliers and Google Ads
we could not continue to provide information
to home educators. Please support us by letting
our advertisers know that you found them on
The Educating Parent. Thanks!

Beverley's books are excellent for building confidence as a home educator says Tracey, homeschooling mum.

Support Centre
Contact Us | Join a Support Group | Beverley's Books | Resource Directory | Blog | Donate

About The Educating Parent
Beverley Paine | April Jermey and Always Learning Books | Advertise with us


What is Home Education Why Home Educate Getting Started & Registering Different Ways to Home Educate
Life as a Home Educator Resources & Support Teens and Beyond Curriculum and Teaching Tips
Unschooling & Natural Learning Travelling & Home Educating Record Keeping Children's Pages

animated smiling face Thank you for visiting!

Beverley Paine, The Educating Parent
The opinions and articles included on this website are not necessarily those of Beverley and Robin Paine,
nor do they endorse or recommend products listed in contributed articles, pages, or advertisements.
This website uses browsing cookies and conducts other means to collect user information in order to display contextual ads.
Text and images on this site © All Rights Reserved 1999-2023.