Understanding What Unschooling Is All About
The term “unschooling” was coined in the 1970s by the late John Holt. Holt taught that the methods used to teach children in public schools where actually counterproductive toward the successful education of the students. Because children and even adults better absorb and retain information about subjects they're interested in or have a passion for, the "one size fits all" curricula available hinder the development of a child's ability to learn. Added to this problem, it's felt that forcing children to learn the restricted selection of material presented in these curricula can destroy their desire to learn, robbing them of valuable time during childhood and possibly damaging or delaying their ability to become who they were meant to really be as individuals.
Life equals education in child driven learning
Unschooling is education through living life. In this educational environment, solely the whims and interests of the child drive what they learn. A parent's responsibility is to facilitate the ability for their child to pursue as much additional information as their child is ready and willing to take in at the time they're inspired to learn about it. This could mean anything from having access to topic related books, websites, interactive media, field trips to museums or galleries, interviews with professional individuals working in fields that a child is interested in, and anything else that could both educate and further fuel a child's interest in a given area.
Broadening their world experiences
This method of homeschooling may be an unstructured way for a child to become educated, however, "child driven" learning doesn't mean parents don't have any influence on what their child learns. Parents can and should try to naturally involve their children in their daily lives and activities, as this will help their children learn about life in the real world. Parents should also introduce a variety of interesting topics and activities to their child to prospect for a broader range of interests and experiences.
Unlike what some may think about unschooling, deprivation of adequate socialization isn't a necessary part of this education. Many unschoolers have an abundance of social interaction due to regular natural interaction between themselves and family members and people they interact with on outings as well as organized sports, participation in community events, and other social activities.
Common concerns about unschooling
Common fears toward unschooling such as children having:
- insufficient education provided by uneducated or un-credentialed parents
- inability to learn what's needed as an adult
- a lack of exposure to other people, cultures and economies
- inadequate motivation to learn
All of these concerns can be addressed by parent's dedicated effort to discover and learn with their child, discover the child's unique intelligence and interests and seek out opportunities and resources to fuel their children's desire to learn.
The dedication is worth every bit of the effort as most unschoolers find that their children are more mature, have a closer connection with their parents, are greater motivated to learn what they need to excel as well as willing to pursue their own unique path in life rather than just being another employee at a job.