George Leonard

Carol Hughes at Macomber Center

On Wednesday, April 24, at 7pm, the Macomber Center will host a talk by Carol Hughes, called "One Woman's Mission To Educate Her Children Without Traditional Schools" Carol Hughes is part of a group of forward-thinking individuals who made the courageous decision to keep their children out of school at a time when the movements of homeschooling and unschooling were all but unheard of. Many of these parents were forced to go “underground”, others had to research case-law in order to find the precedents that would affirm their right as parents to teach their children at home. Even this was no guarantee that the state would allow it. Unschooling would not be the established and thriving movement that it is today if it were not for people like Carol.

When Carol's first son was approaching school age she decided to start looking into options for him.  Like most new parents, she assumed that school was a good place for kids, but wanted to find the best fit for him. “My intention was to find a place that would celebrate the magic I had already seen in him. I wanted a place that would take his wonderful spirit to new heights”. She visited the best schools in the area. “I remember very clearly looking at the rows of desks at Applewild School in Fitchburg. My insides sank. I could not bear the thought of my child sitting for hours in rows of desks indoors day after day.”

Realizing that this process was going to be more difficult than she had originally thought, she began to dig deeper, looking for alternatives to traditional schools. One day she went to a bookstore and got a pile of books on alternative education. When she bought them up to the counter, the women behind the register asked, “Are you taking a course?” “No”, she said, “I'm on a course!” Indeed, one of the books she brought home that day changed her course forever.

In Education and Ecstasy, George Leonard argues, “...the typical first-grade experience probably alters the brain of your child even more than many LSD trips, doing untold violence to his potential as a lifelong learner... Perhaps it is no coincidence that the growth rate of intelligence falls off rapidly just at the point when the child enters school.” “When I read this”, said Carol, “I just knew I wasn't going to do that to my child”.

The course that Carol set out on over thirty years ago continues to this day. Though her kids are now beyond school age, she has never lost her passion for finding new and creative ways to help kids and parents navigate through the world of alternative education.

The Macomber Center invites you to come and hear Carol's story and engage in a discussion about the challenges and delights of educating our children.