Saturday, April 30, 2011


So let's talk about Unschooling!

When we first started thinking about homeschooling...which is now a couple years ago already, when we were considering starting a family...this was something we didn't even know existed.

For those of you don't know what it is, according to Wikipedia:
"Unschooling is a range of educational philosophies and practices centered on allowing children to learn through their natural life experiences, including child directed play, game play, household responsibilities, work experience, and social interaction, rather than through a more traditional school curriculum. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities led by the children themselves, facilitated by the adults. Unschooling differs from conventional schooling principally in the thesis that standard curricula and conventional grading methods, as well as other features of traditional schooling, are counterproductive to the goal of maximizing the education of each child."

In other words - child led & directed learning!

When I first came across it it was via some very radical unschoolers on the internet and I was astounded. Just imagine letting your children do whatever they want, whenever...where is the discipline?

As you can see my first thoughts were very sceptical, it seemed too radical, too out of the norm, too liberal, all in all just a little too trusting...and surely children can't be trusted to learn all by themselves?
Won't they just watch TV all day if left to their own devices, and how can they learn anything from that besides how to be a couch potato?
How will they learn anything at all?

These were just a few of the questions that crossed my mind, and despite being more of an "attachment parent" than anything else, I also found myself thinking that it was probably the more permissive type parent that allowed this kind of horror to be bestowed upon their spoilt offspring.
...oh our built in prejudices...

...and clearly the spirit of schooling was still strong with me (which is to be expected having spent years and years in schooling myself!).

Eeeeeeek!!!!! It's enough to give anyone nightmares!!!

Fast forward a few years and all my questions, searching and reading about schooling, homeschooling etc have led me to a place where I am now asking if perhaps the unschooling idea is the one that makes the most sense to me?

I've just recently finished reading John Holt's Teach Your Own, and I guess it's that book specifically that made the whole idea the most clear to me.
If there is anyone wanting to know more about it I can also recommend another book called The Unschooling Handbook which gives a better idea of how unschooling works in people's daily lives.

And if reading is not your thing I even have something in the audio visual line for you, it's a talk by Astra Taylor (director of Examined Life) on her life as an unschooled child, and it is very interesting, if you have an hour or so to spare you can watch/listen to her talk here

And lastly I leave you with some words by Spike Milligan:

"Education isn't everything. For a start it isn't an elephant."

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